And the Verdict Is . . .
And the Verdict Is . . .
I believe everyone should go to law school and not practice law. Law school teaches you communication skills and a thought process that are very advantageous in anything you do.
My parents owned a Century 21 franchise, so I grew up in the business and knew our market. I graduated from Fordham Law School in 1985 and spent the next four years as a real estate attorney, mostly working in the area of conveyances. But I realized I wanted to be involved in the entire transaction, not just part of it.
Company: RE/MAX Team
Jackson Heights, New York
Number of offices: 1
Number of sales associates: 50
2012 gross sales: $169 million on 348 transaction sides
2013 gross sales: $169 million on 361 transaction sides
2014 projected sales: $180 million on 380 transaction sides
At that time RE/MAX was new in our area. I liked its business model, which I see as more of a salesperson-oriented business than a broker-oriented business. I got my broker-owner license and opened our office in 1991. My parents were in the process of shutting down their business, so I moved into their space. They had 150 agents, and about 20 of them stayed with me. The rest moved on.
Productivity Starts with Prospecting
Our fundamental belief is that prospecting is the key to success. Technology is important, but it can be stifling at times. It’s easy to get caught up in activities that are not productive. Real estate is a people business. You have to be out meeting people and shaking hands.
RE/MAX gives us wonderful tools on its website for creating flyers and brochures, but the problem is most of the agents don’t use them. They don’t take the initiative to go to the computer and create a promotional piece to market an open house or themselves. Some agents become intimidated by the many choices, and others -aren’t capable of doing something that looks professional. I suspected that if I produced the materials myself, our agents would use them. It has been very successful for me.
Building a Marketing Department
About six years ago I hired a graphic designer and invested in a good, high-volume color copy machine and a binding machine. We started out by creating customized hardcover listing presentation books and added on from there. Now we have a catalog of templates for about 50 assorted flyers, brochures, mailings, invitations, letters, and information sheets, most of which I wrote. They are all posted on a wall, so everyone can see them and say, “I’ll take that.” We also have a simple input sheet for the agents to tell us what they want and when they need it, and we produce it for them. We’re taking the burden off of the agents, so that they can do what they do best, which is to list and sell.
Another benefit is our marketing materials conform to the law. Here in New York, we have 18 pages of rules: You must have the name of the office and the main office phone number. You can’t just have your name and cell phone. You can’t abbreviate “real estate” to “RE.” My documents are compliant. Agents doing this on their own may not get everything right.
The system gets better and better every year. About two years ago, we found we no longer needed the graphic designer. Our templates and processes were in place, and today all of our materials can be produced with Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint. Most high school and college students know how to use those, and I can hire them part-time for $10 an hour to do the production. The students are so tech-savvy: Whenever anyone has a computer problem, they can fix it.
The costs are relatively insignificant. I charge agents $5 for a listing presentation book, and I pay about $2.50 for the covers. I give my agents, free of charge, 150 color copies of any marketing piece they want. If they want more, we charge 10 cents a copy. My lease on the copier includes toner, so all I pay for is paper. I could charge more, and they’d gladly pay it, but I’m not inclined to do this as a profit center. I just don’t want to use our resources frivolously.
For the agents, the materials generate business. If I give 150 “just sold” flyers, chances are the agent is going to distribute them. That exposes the sale to other potential sellers, and, inevitably, someone comes up and asks what the agent is doing. I’ve had agents come back to me and say, “I was handing out flyers, and this guy started talking to me. I’m going to list his house.”
For me, I save on promotion and advertising for the brokerage. We don’t have the budget to spend on that. Many brokers have that problem. But when I have an agent giving out 1,000 pieces, my office name is everywhere. It’s not just promotion for the agents. It’s promotion for me.