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Follow the Leader: Top Agent Justin Havre on the Value of Technology

October 19 2012

justinhavreJustin HavreJustin Havre is a real estate agent from CIR Realty in Calgary, Alberta. CIR is the largest independent firm in Canada with about 650 agents. With his team, Justin Havre & Associates, he has been number one or two in his brokerage over the last three years. To put that in perspective: in 2011 they were number one, closing 171 sides with an average price in Calgary of about $430,000.

I sat down with Justin recently at a technology conference put on by his web technology provider, Real Estate Webmasters, to find out how technology fits into his success.

One thing that became clear immediately was Justin's intent to make technology an integral part of his business from day one. Before real estate, he worked in the cable industry on the technology side, but, after some time, decided that he wanted to make a change.

He set his sights on real estate. He chose CIR Realty (Canada's largest independent brokerage) because of the great virtual tools they offered and their overall commitment to technology. Everyone in their office, he pointed out, does their own documents online, manages their deals online--including deal processing--right down to payment of commissions. It was exactly what he was looking for.

The Value of Technology

Like most agents that recognize the importance of technology, Justin had a website when he started, but wasn't happy with the results in terms of lead generation. He also found it slow and painful to get things gone with the vendor he was using at the time. He set out to find a new vendor that he felt would provide him the type of technology product and service he was looking for.

I asked him to take me through the process of how he chose a website provider and how it was working. I was surprised to find out that he still has the original website he switched from several years ago, along with two more.

Without giving away specific numbers, suffice it to say that Justin and his team spend more money on technology than many real estate companies. He invests in SEO and, as seen by having three websites, he is totally committed to technology.

havre websiteWhen I asked him why he had three sites, he explained that it is hard to be right for everyone on just one site and that people have different preferences. He uses each site to appeal to a very different segment of his market at the consumer level, as well as the property level. While his main site main site generates the majority of his leads, he says the other are still very valuable in bringing new business.

When I asked him how it has worked for him, the numbers were dramatic. He smiled and said that he started with his first new website in 2008, and from 2008 to 2009 his production increased by 92 percent. From 2009 to 2010, it increased 31 percent; and from 2010 to 2011, it increased 84 percent. Without a doubt, he credits these jumps were due to an increase in his online business.

Choosing a Vendor

Obviously, having three sites has a cost, but Justin feels that investing in his websites--from design to SEO--must be a regular line item in his budget.  First, he recommends finding a vendor that:

  • You are comfortable with
  • Has the right personality fit for what you are trying to accomplish
  • Delivers what they say they will

He added, though, that anyone who thinks you can just put up a website and let it sit doesn't have a handle on what it takes to be successful with technology today. Websites, like leads, have to be worked. In fact, on the day we did the interview we attended a seminar on new Google search algorithms, Panda and Penguin, to understand the impact they have on Google search rankings. He sees this type of activity as an integral part of keeping his website at the top of his market.

I asked Justin what advice he would give to other agents that want to use technology to dramatically build their business. He made three key points that are worth sharing:

  • Find a vendor that fits your vision and style and that delivers what they promise.
  • Be prepared to invest in yourself. Good technology is not inexpensive, but with smart decisions, you get what you pay for.
  • Don't think of technology as an event, think of it as an ongoing process. You have to continue to learn, tweak and adapt to remain successful.

Looking Towards the Future

justinhavreandassociatesTwo areas they do want to improve on--staying in better touch with people they have done business with and increasing their lead conversion rate. He admitted that with the amount of new business they get each year, they had not done as good a job as they intend to do in these areas moving forward.

Justin says that lead conversion is now on top of his priority list and acknowledges that he still has lots to learn. While he may stumble a bit at times, he knows that if he keeps working on it, things will all fall in place.

For Justin Havre & Associates, 2012 is on pace to be a record year, once again. The goal is to blow 2012 out of the water in 2013. He added, in closing that, "Morgan Carey (CEO, Real Estate Webmasters) and Real Estate Webmasters have been a huge part of the reason for my success, as they provide a superior product for my industry that enables my business to grow yearly."

The key to remember is regardless of what vendor you choose, you have to work with them to be successful. So, find a vendor that fits your personality and your budget. Remember that you can't just buy it and walk away--it is a day-to-day process!

Other articles of interest: Birdview IDX | AgentOffice