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Wendy Forsythe on Cultivating Relationships within Your Brokerage to Drive Success
"Get involved in your local board. Get involved in your state association. Get involved in the National Association of Realtors. Get involved in YPN or the Women's Council of Realtors or the Chamber of Commerce. Whatever it is, get involved, because that is only going to bring benefit," says Wendy Forsythe, Chief Operations Officer at HomeSmart International. Here are a few highlights from the video above: The importance of relationships as an agent, broker, executive and industry leader The importance of stepping forward. The power of not giving up. Rather read it? Check out the transcript here: Mike Schneider: Welcome back to another episode of our First Person series. Today I have Wendy Forsythe, the chief operating officer at HomeSmart International, and we're gonna be talking about the intersection of relationships and business, particularly in real estate. So-- Wendy Forsythe: Great. I'm excited to be here. Mike Schneider: So, our company's called First, and we like rewind all the way back to, how, when, and why did you get into real estate? Wendy Forsythe: Yeah, so, my real estate story started when I was in college, in Northern Canada. Mike Schneider: Wow. Wendy Forsythe: And I got into real estate as a summer job. So I got my real estate license in the summer in between my second and third year of college. And, sold a bunch of houses that summer. Went back to school, continued selling houses, finished my degree, continued selling houses, and here we are now. Mike Schneider: And here we are. Wendy Forsythe: Many years later. But, I fell in love with the industry and I knew that it was my career and I knew that it would give me opportunities that I hadn't even imagined at that stage. Being in my early 20s and, fast forward and I've just been so fortunate to be a part of this industry and, now I live in the United States and here we are. Mike Schneider: Yeah. Well, and now you're running a really big brokerage. Tell us a little bit about HomeSmart and your role there. Wendy Forsythe: Yeah. So, HomeSmart International, has 166 locations across the US. We have, as of this recording, just under 16,000 agents-- Mike Schneider: Wow. Wendy Forsythe: --and growing. Mike Schneider: Congratulations. Wendy Forsythe: Yeah. It's an amazing company. Very much focused on providing our agents with great service with a business system that allows them to reach their goals for their personal lives and professional lives and really a business model of the future in our industry with all the changes that are happening. So, it's an exciting place to be. Mike Schneider: I love that. I love the innovations on business model and technology and all of that. One of the things that's a mainstay pillar for our tech company, and I think for the industry is that relationships are really central. So, you've seen a huge spectrum of the industry. Wendy Forsythe: Yes. Mike Schneider: Can you talk a little bit about how relationships drive this business? Because a lot of people say that, but what does it actually look like? Wendy Forsythe: Yeah. I mean, there's so many different perspectives. So my days selling as an agent, I mean, relationships were key. You had that sphere of influence and those were the people that transacted with you multiple times, sent you referrals. And I think that's very consistent today. Mike Schneider: And that was a big percentage, the majority, what was that of your business? Wendy Forsythe: Uh, a big percentage of my business. Mike Schneider: Yeah. Wendy Forsythe: I mean, like any new agent starting out it, it took a while to get there. Mike Schneider: You have to build it up. Wendy Forsythe: Yeah. And then as I progressed into management and I owned my own brokerage for a number of years working with agents. That transition into their business, that relationship component. When I started working in more of the corporate roles that I work in now, we still see those relationships from the agent to the consumer perspective, but there's a whole other dynamic that opens from the relationship of leaders with-- Mike Schneider: Yeah. Wendy Forsythe: --agents, you know, in the company, with other people in roles like management and support roles, operations and training and, and all of those roles, to the industry. I mean, we work in an amazing industry. And, I've always looked at it from a point of abundance. So we come to conferences. We go to events. Maybe we're kind of competitors in a way with other brands and other companies. But, I believe in sharing and building those relationships and they can do well and we can do well and our companies can do well. And, you know, we can all prosper from that regard. So, I've been very fortunate to have long standing relationships with a lot of people as we've moved through different stages of our careers. And that's, ultimately what keeps us motivated and what really, sort of, nourishes the energy level that we need to do what we do everyday. Mike Schneider: That's great. I think that's becoming a theme too as we talk about relationships, the network component, that you really are building, and to your point, not just an individual agent's core asset, right, which is their network. But what you're talking about is the industry that you now are able to tap into [inaudible] at a broker level, at an executive level, as you're taking new business models to market. Wendy Forsythe: It is. And even at a local level, for agents, I always encourage agents, you know, "Get involved in your local board. Get involved in your state association. Get involved in the National Association of Realtors. Get involved in YPN or the Women's Counsel of Realtors or, the Chamber of Commerce." Like, whatever it is, get involved, because that network effect of those relationships is only gonna bring benefit. And when you isolate yourself, when things aren't going exactly as you hoped, you don't get the support of those relationships and that network around you. And, ultimately we all go through ups and downs, so that support system makes a big difference. Mike Schneider: That's a great recommendation, push. As you think back through being a broker, owner back in the day or from, some part, a lot of our, our viewers are agents, uh, is there a tip or a trick that you used or that you coached or that you still do today in terms of nurturing and maintaining relationships? What's something-- one thing somebody could go and say, "I'm gonna do that in 2019?" Wendy Forsythe: I don't know if it's a tip or trick. I mean, being yourself and being authentic I think is, the best thing you can do. And, I particularly remember as I was listening to young agents starting out, you meet other people that are maybe more seasoned or you aspire and you think, "Look, they've got it so together. They know everything. They know everyone. You know, I'm not there, so maybe I would sort of, hang back because of that." Mike Schneider: Sure. Wendy Forsythe: And, I just really encourage people just to like, just step forward and be yourself and say hello to somebody that you've never met. Introduce yourself. And then, just care. So, be in that moment in that relationship. And some of the people that I have the greatest admiration for have that quality of, when you and I are talking, we're in that moment together. Mike Schneider: Right. Wendy Forsythe: And then we may shift to the next conversation, but I'm in that moment, and I think that's a great quality to really foster as you think of developing your relationships personally and professionally. Mike Schneider: That's interesting. It does seem like that's something that you can learn and develop if you're intentional about it. Wendy Forsythe: Right. Mike Schneider: Um is there a question you ask? Is there something-- so you're getting to know someone new. I mean, I think that's where we get to the tip and trick level. How do you take the conversation there and be in that moment? Wendy Forsythe: It depends on the setting, but I love to ask people-- and particularly in my role, because I'm traveling across the country, I'm spending a lot of time with our HomeSmart agents, our franchise owners. I get not as much time as I would often like to spend with those people. But-- I get some time to connect. So if I'm just meeting somebody, I love to just ask them about their real estate story, cause I think we're all, like, living and writing our story every day. Mike Schneider: Yeah. Wendy Forsythe: So, you know, if we're just meeting, I'd be like, "Tell me about your real estate story." And they'll tell me about how they started in the business, why they started in the business, where they're at now, where they wanna go. And that gives me a lot more of a interaction that I can really build upon then, "Well how long have you been in the business? Well, do you like real estate? Well, why did you get your license?" So, uh, that's one of my favorite questions that I ask a lot. Mike Schneider: I like that. I like that and that you could have lots of different questions that fit that mold. But it's both, what's the story and you have the opportunity to talk about dreams and, future too. Wendy Forsythe: Right. Mike Schneider: Where do you wanna go next? Wendy Forsythe: Because what it tells me is what's important to them. Mike Schneider: Yes. Wendy Forsythe: Right? So, however they decide to take that question and answer it back to me, tells me what really is their passion and what are they excited about. So if they start telling me about, kids or vacations or debt or divorce or-- Mike Schneider: Right. Right. Wendy Forsythe: --anything, cause I get lots of interesting answers. Mike Schneider: Responses. Yeah. Wendy Forsythe: And I genuinely like people and I really like the psychology of human science. Mike Schneider: Yes. Wendy Forsythe: And, you know, why do we act the way we do? Why do we react the way we do? What is predictable about it? What is unpredictable about it? So, I've always had, that curiosity from that, element of things. So, I like hearing those answers. I think about them often at the end of the day, the people I talked to and the conversations that we had. Mike Schneider: I love that. I love that. Is there anything as you think back to either when you were running a brokerage or with, HomeSmart as a brokerage too, that you are, are implementing or coaching or trying to, you know-- what does the relationship side of the business look like there in terms of how you help your agents with that? Wendy Forsythe: Yeah. I'll focus on-- actually, I'll answer that-- I'll focus on working with our franchise owners. Mike Schneider: Yeah. Wendy Forsythe: Cause we do a lot of work on leadership. Mike Schneider: Okay. Wendy Forsythe: So, we're a large franchise company. We have independently owned and operated offices in multiple states across the country. So that's kind of our front line to the agents, cause the agents are actually making the choice to work with that local-- Mike Schneider: Of what they're gonna do and how they're gonna implement it. Sure, Wendy Forsythe: Yeah, that local owner is part of the HomeSmart brand. So, spend a lot of time, coaching and helping those business owners build their businesses. So, of course, leadership is a big component of that. Building culture is a big component of that. And, you know, when you're focusing on that, kind of, giving back mentality, you see amazing things happen with that. So that's part of what is a constant development phase, is, how do I be a good leader? What does it mean to be a leader? Are we providing the support, the tools, the relationships that the agents need and want when they're with our brokerages? Mike Schneider: That's really helpful. Well, we'll end on this one, but is there anything that you wish you had known or that you would've done differently if you had known a few years ago? Wendy Forsythe: Oh, yeah. I try to practice this now, but I have an awareness of it now that I wish I had told myself younger, and a few years ago. And that would just be everything's gonna pass. Take a breath, it's gonna pass, it's, it's gonna be okay. Whatever the outcome that I'm striving for when I don't hit that outcome, that it's okay. I'm gonna get another chance. Mike Schneider: It's alright. Wendy Forsythe: It's good. Just, keep moving forward. And it-- and I have a phrase, relentless forward momentum. Mike Schneider: Relentless forward momentum. Wendy Forsythe: Yes. So, just keep moving forward. Mike Schneider: Just keep moving forward. It'll pass. Wendy Forsythe: It, it'll pass. We'll figure it out. We'll make it okay. Mike Schneider: Wendy, thanks for being on. Wendy Forsythe: Thank you. Mike Schneider: I appreciate it. Wendy Forsythe: Thank you, it was my pleasure to be here. To view the original article, visit the first.io blog.
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Think Your Lead Generation Is Expensive and Ineffective? Watch This Short Video for 3 Lead Gen Tips from Industry Experts
Lead generation: two words to strike unease in the heart of any dedicated agent or broker. Funneling potential clients into a sales cycle takes time, energy, and resources... and then comes the actual nurturing of the lead to convert them into a customer. Technology continues to change the way we market ourselves to clients. Lead generation has moved from the tactile world of newspaper listings and flyers to a digital landscape with seemingly endless options. And yet, navigating this terrain of resource-hungry advertising platforms can be treacherous on all sides, especially when only an average of 2% of leads are ready to move to contract within 30 days and it could take up to seven years to close a deal for the other 98%! If it seems like a daunting task to come up with new leads, you're not alone. Many agents face similar issues in their campaigns to create business through lead generation, whether they hire a service or pursue new leads themselves. Recently, Bondilyn Jolly, VP of Marketing at Elevate, an online lead generation and marketing provider, sat down with Denis Pepin, Broker/Owner of United Real Estate Professionals in Huntington Beach, Calif. to talk about common lead generation challenges and their solutions. Here's the video and recap: Problem: Lead generation is expensive. Solution: Generate new leads from your current clients. As an industry average, for every $1000 spent on lead generation, only $10 is spent on lead nurturing. Disrupting this statistic will set you apart from other agents who simply walk away after a deal closes. Actively maintaining a relationship with past clients positions you at the top of their minds when someone they know starts talking about moving. According to NAR's 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Profile, 90% of buyers would use their agent again or recommend to a friend—take advantage of this fact. Problem: More leads exist than actual business. Solution: Lead gen that specializes in analytics could provide higher quality leads—meaning, customers that are more likely to buy. Investing in companies like Elevate that work closely with dedicated and experienced marketing professionals to add value to their lead gen services can help ensure you're seeing a profitable return on your dollar. Problem: Most agents do not have a system to effectively handle and nurture inbound leads. Solution: As part of your sales funnel model, it's extremely important to send potential clients down a tested, proven track towards contract to get the most out of your leads. If you're losing clients at a certain step in your cycle, don't keep trying the same methods over and over until you wear yourself out—change your approach! The best thing to do when you're feeling stuck is to find a reliable, consistent company to work with that responds to agent/team needs.
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Retention expert Eric Pearson has 13 ways to make sure good agents stay with his brokerage. He has a plan for agents in all stages of professional experience from trainee to team leader. Eric has decided to provide every possible tool and service they need to enjoy unfettered growth within Pearson Smith Realty – using leads from realtor.com. How can you offer a program for new agents that won't be outgrown once they achieve success? We have 13 different compensation models, so it's very customizable to the real estate agent in terms of what their needs are and where they are in their career. The goal of our lead program is to generate revenue, but it also builds agents and helps them get to the next level. They don't always have the financial resources it takes to get out there and do online lead generation given today's cost. This is our way to help them grow and ultimately lead to a brokerage built off agent productivity. What is your "starter package"? We start newly licensed agents with a program on our All-Inclusive Lead Package. Basically, this provides agents with leads to get started -- and realtor.com is definitely one of our biggest sources. In addition to other syndicated sites, we also use pay-per-click and Facebook. We teach and we train those agents how to convert. We currently provide leads to 125 of our agents on this package. They will probably make up around $750 million of our volume this year – and likely half a billion dollars in sales is from the brokerage supplied leads. How much of your company business comes from leads? From round numbers in terms of what we track, I'd say we're getting about a third of our business from online leads. Some of the other 750 agents associated with Pearson Smith Realty are doing online leads as well; they just do it at their own capacity and spend. The rest is about 50 percent from our database / sphere of influence with a smaller percentage coming from other pillars that agents choose to attack—whether that's general networking, expired, withdrawn, FSBO, circle prospecting, door knocking and open houses. Why so much emphasis on company paid leads for new agents? It's a structured way to help an agent ramp up quickly. Everybody knows the main con in this business is that ramp up period. It takes an agent a year or so to get going and that could mess with mindset and frustration comes into play. It's our way to say, "When you join our brokerage, you're going to be rocking and rolling in four months if you follow the business plan we lay out." How do you help your agents convert? The initial package is run very similar to a team. It doesn't have the constraints of a team, such as having to brand themselves to a team or having to have transactions and listings credited under the team leader's MLS. They're individual agents. They are just held to high accountability and performance metrics. To back this up, we have coaches and mentors and people really putting in a lot of effort. This drives a lot of our revenue and what the main goal is honestly when an agent goes on that package at the end of year one they come in and say, "Hey, I closed 18 deals, Eric!" I then ask, "How many were leads versus how many were personally generated business?" At the end of year one, it's typically, "Well 15 were leads and three were my own." So they stay on the lead program—it only makes sense. It's going to help them continue to grow. It's also going to build their future and their database and SOI (sphere of influence). How do you retain agents who have outgrown the starter program? At the end of year two, I usually see it shift and be a little bit different of a story. "Hey Eric, I closed 30 deals. Fifteen were leads, 15 were my own." I'm usually telling them at that time, "We have several other packages in our brokerage that may be a better fit for you now because your business is rocking and rolling." At that point, they usually make that transition. At the same time, we fill an agent into a new lead spot and repeat the process. How did you decide on 13 packages? Currently, it's 13. We probably will narrow it down some. It's not like you go from needing leads to all of a sudden, "I just want to be a complete individual agent." The progression is typically "I need leads," and in that package, we're also paying for everything for them -- we paid for all the listing expenses, transaction coordinators, etc. This allows them to focus on servicing clients and growing their business. The next progression for a lot of people is "My business is built up. I don't need the leads anymore, but I want to increase my compensation." They may still not quite be ready to lose that coverage of the other items when they get a listing. They still want the brokerage to cover the expenses involved in that transaction. This allows them to invest in their own lead generation without having to worry about some of the additional expenses, and in additional help with bandwidth. And the top people who may not need as much help? Eventually, they want to be an individual agent. It gets a little bit more about compensation and you see someone say, "I no longer need leads, I no longer need the services. Now I just want to go out there build my own procedures and processes and go prosper." So they typically jump to that package then. Do you have a place for starting a team? Yes we have team packages. Our ultimate goal is never have a ceiling for an agent. We have 13 total packages, but with each one usually compensation rises, and they lose some of the services from the brokerage because they don't feel they needed them anymore and they would rather run it their own way. Can an agent change their mind? It's very customizable. We allow the agents to choose every quarter. You hear it every day from everybody else that "This is an agent centric environment." We truly believe our job is to serve our real estate agents, and if we do that the right way, those agents are going to take such great care of their clients. It's going to be a win-win all the way around. We put a lot of pride into that—so it's not just in terms of our packages. We have the best brokerage recruiting incentives. You hear a lot about the profit share models and all those different things. Ours is a revenue share based model and more lucrative then any other brokerage out there. Is this helping you compete in your market? From a tech perspective, they get everything. This is every agent in the brokerage—from the CRM, to leads, and a number of top level tech tools that are coming at no cost to those agents. We're transitioning into another level in 2019 where we will make it even more customizable for agents. I'm super excited about that because it's going to allow agents almost on a transaction to transaction basis to determine what they feel they need during that time. When I look at real estate brokerage in general, it's basically going the way of discount, the way of tech companies that may offer discounts with the goal of one day replacing the agent. My goal is to give the agent everything possible from compensation, training, best in class technology, leads, ability to scale, etc. End of the day, if we service our agents correctly, my belief is having highly skilled agents that offer amazing customer service will win against the disruptors all day long. Are the realtor.com customers receptive to your agents and converting? I'm extremely happy with realtor.com. We run our numbers every day and it offers an incredible ROI. Agents need to give it time. When we put someone on to our lead packages for four months, we don't expect anything to happen right away. Most agents get a realtor.com lead and expect to convert the first one or two. But in reality, we're bringing an incredible amount of those to conversation and getting the highest conversion to closing in terms of any other source that we have. I cannot speak any more highly of what realtor.com is doing. There's a huge difference between a voluntary inquiry on a specific property. When I get that realtor.com lead, that person could be hot that day because they've been on realtor.com for one month already searching and they voluntarily push that button to make that inquiry -- so it's far and away the best online lead you can get out there, in my opinion. As long as somebody is able to give it the time needed and the investment needed to get the number of leads to actually get to a conversion-to-close ratio, there's not a better purchase in the industry, in my opinion. How do you get agents engaged with the leads? If you're on leads with us, you'll have a day that is your day to receive leads. It's nothing but constant training, coaching, kickoff off meetings, scripting—whatever is needed so that the agent is constantly learning and understanding how to get the best conversion possible. We give them a lot of time to get going. We put them in a process where they're getting the coaching/mentorship everything that they need from one another to make sure they're in a position while they'll be able to have speed to lead and then set them up with a CRM that's going to let them see a high level of success. What differentiates the Pearson Smith company? Culture, in my opinion, is our biggest value proposition in terms of things that we do and what comes from the management down. It's open door policy. We're here every single day. We're the first one in and the last one out. I'm kind of the real estate side of things, which is the Pearson; the Smith is my uncle Chuck, who comes from the corporate world and runs an incredibly efficient back-end operation. How do you encourage innovation and idea sharing? I literally read everything that comes through here. If an agent has an idea or suggestion that we feel we can implement and at a high level, and it makes sense, we're definitely going to make sure we do that. We have cultural things that we do, whether it's a Saint Patrick's Day party or the annual crab fest. We bring in bands and make sure we're inviting families and things like to meet not only the agent, but the people that are important to them to be successful in the business. We all know it takes a lot of sacrifice to be a significant other of a real estate agent because they're often on-call 24/7, so we want to appreciate them as well. So back to where we started: what is your goal in making your company a place that an agent would never want to leave? I want them to grow and achieve their goals with no limits. If a person is a good fit from a character level, believes our core values and overall vision, there is not a brokerage in the industry that offers or cares for their agents more than us.  
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Next Week's Don't Miss Event: First Live Interview with New NAR CEO Bob Goldberg
For the first time ever, Bob Goldberg, the new CEO of the National Association of Realtors®, will answer questions via live video about the issues that are top-of-mind for the real estate industry. You are invited to attend this exclusive Facebook Live event on Tuesday, August 15 at 3 pm Eastern / 12 pm Pacific. It will be moderated by Andrew Flachner, co-Founder and CEO of RealScout. REALTORS® and brokers, let your voice be heard! Goldberg will field questions directly from you about the issues that matter most. Submit questions prior to the event on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with hashtag #AskBobNAR. Goldberg is NAR's first new CEO in 36 years. After taking the helm on August 1, this will be the first chance you can personally connect with him about the issues most important to you. "As a graduate of the NAR REach® program, RealScout believes REALTORS® are critical to the success of our industry," said Flachner. "We are excited to connect Goldberg's vision directly to the real estate community." Register here to attend the live video interview on Tuesday, August 15 at 3 pm Eastern/12 pm Pacific.
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Changing Buyer Behavior to Convert More Web Leads: A Q&A with San Diego broker Jesse Zagorsky
A dynamic leader who started his career in 2003, San Diego real estate broker Jesse Zagorsky is a self-proclaimed, unabashed geek when it comes to digital marketing and lead generation. In this brief interview, he shared how he has churned through various lead sources to find the one that works best for him, and how his team works to change web lead behavior starting on the very first call. If you were to go back and look at customers you have met online – when did it first come onto your radar? Were you an early adopter of online marketing? I was an early adopter – I was focusing on online marketing since I got into my real estate career in 2003. That was pretty much the beginning of online marketing. I have worked with every provider in the real estate space. Some were referral models and others were pay for lead programs. At this point, I must have tried every provider of online leads. You were an early adopter, but I imagine you have a lot of competition now! According to NAR's 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 51 percent of last year's home buyers found their future property online and brought it to the attention of a real estate professional. Does this seem possible to you? Absolutely. I actually think 51 percent may be low. Even though we have instant access to properties as agents, so do our clients, and the reality is that buyers are looking at houses often before a REALTOR® has had a chance to look that day. I actually think this is a good thing. The value proposition has changed; our role as an agent is not just to find the house, as it is in executing all of the other elements of the process.
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Follow the Leader: Merle Whitehead
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How a Black Sheep Transformed His Personal Brand into a Successful Brokerage
When Peter Lorimer first entered the real estate industry, didn't fit into the stuffy corporate formality of his brokerage. That doesn't mean he didn't try--at first. "I hated it," he says in the video interview above. The former record producer and DJ eventually told his wife that he wanted to quit working at his current firm to start his own. "The moment I did that, everything took off massively." Lorimer's Los Angeles based brokerage, PLG Estates, features the rebellious and creative vibe that he himself embodies--informal, but hip, and always in the know. In this video, Realtor Sam DeBianchi talks to Lorimer about how he used his personal brand to transform his firm into a successful company, and the tools and techniques he used along the way. Part of that success came with, again, breaking with tradition. Lorimer says that shiny brochures don't sell houses. "What sells houses is exposure," he says, "and there's no better exposure than social media." He estimates that 70 percent of his company's clients are aware of what they're doing on social media. Giving away informative content is another trick Lorimer uses. He creates videos on everything from market trends to information on escrow and contingencies. This not only draws in customers, but it attracts agents that fit his brokerage's vibe to the firm. For more on how Lorimer built his company with his personal brand, watch the video above.
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Opening Doors to Real Estate Investing
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Meet Patrick Arkeveld, Lone Wolf's New CEO
Recently, Lone Wolf founder Lorne Wallace stepped up to the role of Executive Chairman of the real estate software firm and appointed Patrick Arkeveld to step in as Chief Executive Officer. The transition came at a key time in the evolution of Lone Wolf. The firm has been on an aggressive path of launching new products and acquiring real estate technology companies, warranting an additional capital investment by partner firm Vista Equity Partners. WAV Group founder Victor Lund connected with Mr. Arkeveld to create this article for RE Technology's "Follow the Leader" series. Everyone who knows Lone Wolf's founder, Lorne Wallace, understands that his core passion in business comes from his love of the real estate industry coupled with a deep understanding of accounting and operational best practices within a real estate brokerage. Lone Wolf grew from 50 employees to more than 300, causing the founder to seek ways to strengthen Lone Wolf's bench by engaging specific operational expertise from large software companies. "There are a lot of great software products in the market today. But there is a difference between having a great product and running a great software business. That is why I brought on Patrick Arkeveld," says Lorne Wallace. Patrick Arkeveld joins Lone Wolf from Constellation Software, the global software conglomeration that operates hundreds of software products across multiple industries. Constellation trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange at a $10 billion valuation (TSE:CSU). While at Constellation Software, Mr. Arkeveld worked in a wide variety of industries, ranging from product groups with $2 million in sales to groups with in excess of $100 million in sales. In many ways, Constellation is a huge version of Lone Wolf. Coupled with onboarding Arkeveld, Wallace has engaged the operational excellence of the consulting group within Vista Equity Partners. With Vista's guidancem coupled with Arkeveld's executional expertise, Wallace believes that his firm is poised for exceptional growth while continuing to enhance their product development, and all the while focusing on customer satisfaction. Patrick's LinkedIn profile is here.
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Lean, Mean Brokerage Machine: Technology Empowers Firm to Operate with Zero Debt
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A High-Volume Brokerage on the Solution that Enriches Their Bottom Line
One of the principles of running a lean business is eliminating redundant processes, like duplicate data entry, and automating others in order to free your team from the grip of time-wasting tasks. Because brokers rely on dozens of elements--websites, accounting solutions, document and transaction management, and beyond--it can be difficult to untangle the knot of over-complicated data in order to streamline a business. That's why many enterprise-level brokers are increasingly turning to all-in-one solutions to handle the lion's share of their back office needs. Using one solution rather than several unrelated solutions means that data flows freely between components, eliminating mistakes and wasted time. Currently, there are only a few companies that offer all-in-one solutions. Today, we're evaluating one company that offers a full suite of solutions that encompasses accounting, a "front office" intranet, document and transaction management, brokerage and agent websites and more. We spoke with Teresa Powers, a long-time Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies' Complete Enterprise Solution user, to hear about her brokerage's experience with the software. Teresa Powers is the Director of Operations for RE/MAX Professionals in Lakewood, Colorado. Her firm adopted Lone Wolf's accounting solution, brokerWOLF, in 2006 and added the company's front office platform, WOLFconnect, and document and transaction management solution, loadingDOCS, in 2012 and 2014, respectively. One reason Powers' brokerage repeatedly turned to Lone Wolf's solutions is because even though they're feature-dense, they're easily adaptable to her business's unique needs. "Any canned software program thinks that they know how you should run your business, but that isn't always true," Powers says. "We have our systems in place, and we're able to take Lone Wolf's software and make it work with how we like to run our businesses and how we like to function. That has always been very easy to do." For RE/MAX Professionals, that means handling the needs of a multi-office, high volume production company that serves 400 agents. "I've got files being processed at eight locations and so to have everything go into one system, pretty much 99 percent error-free, is huge for me," she says. "We close over 6,000 files a year and it just saves me so much time."
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Management Migration: A Sign of the Times
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Advice from a Veteran Public Relations Expert: Use Local PR to Build Strong Local Real Estate Brands
Real estate brokers for decades were the "voice of real estate" in their local markets. It was pretty straightforward: Most daily newspapers had real estate sections and there were hundreds of journalists dedicated to covering real estate exclusively. They were always writing about real estate and contacting local brokers, as brokers had the data they needed and knew the local market and trends better than anyone else. But times are changing. PR isn't what it used to be. With the pressure to differentiate services and stand-out among the larger brands, it is even more important for mid-size brokers to understand how they should use PR. To get a better understanding of the situation and what brokers can do to stand out in their local markets, we spoke with Kevin Hawkins, President of WAV Group Communications and an experienced real estate public relations guru. Imprev: How has local real estate PR changed over the years? KH: Essentially, newspaper real estate sections and their editors have disappeared from the media landscape. Now, real estate is just one of many beats assigned often randomly to a business reporter and few know the beat deeply because they write about it infrequently. The result is that you are more likely to read a story in your local newspaper citing Zillow than a local brokerage. Imprev: What can brokers do to create or maintain visibility of their brand in their local markets? Is it a losing cause; should they throw in the towel? KH: No, don't throw in the towel just yet. Local brokers can win back their share of voice in their local markets, but they have to be proactive to win over the journalists, bloggers and social media influencers that are writing about real estate in their local markets.
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Back to Basics
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Follow the Leader: Ken Moyle from DocuSign Leading Real Estate into Faster Transactions
DocuSign Chief Legal Counsel Ken Moyle isn't necessarily a person that many in the industry are familiar with, but without him, real estate transactions would look a lot different today. We all think of DocuSign as one of the leaders in digital transaction management, but few understand the pioneering efforts that Moyle and DocuSign have led on behalf of REALTORS®, home buyers, and sellers behind the scenes. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Moyle about these efforts and the future of online transactions. Simplifying FHA Transactions Over the past few years, the FHA has become a much larger force in the real estate business. As recently as 2010, the FHA lacked a process to handle transactions that were "DocuSigned." It didn't recognize the electronic signature as a safer, more effective, and more transparent way to fulfill the regulatory process. Moyle spent 18 months educating and discussing policy with FHA representatives, including acting Director of Single Family Vicki Bott and Commissioner David Stevens. Today, REALTORS® are able to electronically sign an FHA transaction due, in large part, to the diligence of Moyle. You might ask, as I did, how did he position himself so well to be able to have that kind of influence? Like anything, it came with hard work and persistence. Moyle had a leadership role in the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). The group was formed to help individuals and organizations use secure, efficient, easy-to-use, and interoperable identity credentials to access online services in a manner that promotes confidence, privacy, choice, and innovation. Moyle also has been involved with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) mortgage eClosing conversations.
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DocuSign's Mike Dinsdale: Leadership from the CFO Position
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Automated Listing Video Platform For Brokers From VScreen
Earlier this week, VScreen launched ListingVideos.com, an automated and data-driven video service for real estate brokers that features their listings via professionally animated video and graphics. VScreen envisions the new service as a replacement for property slideshows and virtual tours. You can learn more about the product via this press release. To learn more about ListingVideos.com, Steve Pacinelli interviewed VScreen founder Stephen Schweickart. Below, you can check out a sample video and the transcript of their Q&A session. Q and A with Stephen Schweickart 1. From start to finish, how long does it take to create a video? The videos are real time, so they are created whenever the consumer clicks 'play.' Regarding set-up for the broker client, this usually takes up to 3-4 weeks from the time they sign a contract. Then all their listings will have completely up-to-date videos into perpetuity. The videos can be as long as the broker wants them to be (depending on how many scenes they want, they can run as long as 2.5 minutes), but we recommend around 90 seconds for optimal results.
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Is Data Scraping Taking Money from Brokers’ Pockets? Realtor.com’s Curt Beardsley Says, ‘Yes’
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Broker Jan Hooks on Technology
It's time for another broker interview on the Solid Earth blog. This time we're talking with Jan Hooks from Fort Walton Beach on the Northwest Florida coast. Jan is heavily involved in her Association, holding a long list of positions, including the 2010 Emerald Coast Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors; 2010 Member of the Women's Council of REALTORS®; 2010 Women's Council of REALTORS® Emerald Coast Entrepreneur of the Year; 2012 South Walton REALTOR® of the Year, and last but not least, she's the 2013 President of the Emerald Coast Association of REALTORS®. Jan is also committed to education and holds several certifications: Certified Distressed Property Expert; Certified Real Estate Broker Manager; Certified International Property Specialist; Council of Residential Specialists; Resort & Second Home Property Specialist; Florida Military Specialist Certification; Accredited Buyers Representation; Green, LMC, TRC, E-Pro, AHWD, A-REO. 1. What's your opinion on the health of the local market in general? Also, are there market segments doing really well, or really badly? Our inventory is low right now. Builders are buying up vacant lots and tracks of land at a discounted price and building new homes. We're seeing multiple offers coming in again. The market is definitely moving. 2. What percentage of your agents have smartphones? Since I am a boutique real estate company, I will speak to the membership of Emerald Coast Association of REALTORS® and take a guess that more than 85% have smartphones; all of our agents use smart phones as a basic tool.
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Technology and the Road Ahead: An Interview with Broker-Owner Lee Garland
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Follow the Leader: An Interview with Krisstina Wise
This interview was one of the most successful in our Follow the Leader series. We're highlighting during the holidays as one of our favorite articles of the year. If you make the rounds of real estate conferences or spend any time following real estate on social media, you’re sure to have come across Krisstina Wise and her brokerage in Austin, The GoodLife Team. Krisstina truly is a leader to follow, having transformed her small company into a powerhouse to be admired and emulated. Krisstina took some time out of her busy schedule to share some of the keys to her success. We’ll share our interview with her here.RE Technology: You've experienced an explosion of awareness about your brand. What factors do you believe led to this? Krisstina Wise: The brand really has taken on a life of its own. However, there are a few factors I can point to that contributed to this. 1) We were early adopters of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. We were out there in the beginning when social media allowed brand awareness to spread.
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Educating Buyers and Fostering Good Will
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Technology Helps Facilitate Five-Star Service
By now, you have probably realized technology plays a large role in every business. But did you realize that when it comes to real estate, being on the technological forefront is absolutely critical for success? Read on as RISMedia's Lesley Geary interviews Krisstina Wise of the Goodlife Team about incorporating technology into her winning business plan, as well as other tips and tricks. Krisstina Wise The Goodlife Team Real Estate Brokerage Years in real estate: 17 Region served: Austin, Texas How important is technology for building new business in today's market? Critical. At my brokerage, we are known as innovators. We have been repeatedly looked to for best practices. In fact, Apple recently profiled the Goodlife Team for a case study. Our website has won numerous awards, and if you Google us, you will see we consistently receive five-star reviews. Technology allows us to serve our customers better, work better and attract the best agents. Talk about your use of social media. We use social media all the time, but it's really old news for us. Facebook is a key ingredient to our marketing and branding. It allows us to deliver content and engage with our customer base at an immediate and very high level. Our agents are all active on social media and they work with their clients on Facebook. Our team has a Twitter handle and we also publish an e-magazine.
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Technology Enhances Winning Formula
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Never a Better Time to Buy
Guest contributor FrogPond TV provides coverage on Ted C. Jones, Ph.D, Chief Economist, Stewart Title and his advice to the renters across America. The number of new rental units is 40% less than last year.  Because of the fewer number of apartments, the rent is actually going up 4%. Sub-markets like San Jose's housing market has gone down.  If you are looking at renting, consider the state of the housing market. There may never be a better time to buy than now.
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A New Spin on Agent Ratings- Don't Criticize, Just Compliment
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Want a New Way to Generate Leads via Mobile Technology?
Did you know you can Google “Free QR codes” and create your own QR codes?  It’s true.  This technology is not patented and therefore costs nothing to generate.  Better yet, real estate technology vendors are offering this service for free too! The next step with a marketing tool, like QR codes, is lead generation. How do you track the success of your marketing efforts?  If you can’t measure it, does it have the value or reach you expect? The good news is that QR codes can be harnessed to validate marketing efforts, providing real estate agents and brokers with and understanding of who viewed your marketing, and more importantly – your QR code will track the potential customer’s phone number. This week we were able to preview the Goomzee QR code solution (www.goomzee.com) for real estate professionals. We spoke with Mike Sparr, founder of Goomzee.  Before founding Goomzee, Sparr worked for Nokia and believes in keeping a pulse on mobile consumers to target emerging technology trends.  While Goomzee started working with QR code technology three years ago, Sparr believes the time for QR codes is just now in the beginning stages.
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New Innovative Way to Market Properties: QR Codes!
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Using Market Statistics to Gauge Brokerage Productivity
If you are thinking about how to boost agent and office productivity and utilizing key tools to track and monitor your success relative to the activity in your local area, consider market statistic products. The real estate industry in particular has seen a lot of local market weaknesses that have brought angst to the consumer market.  Providing market statistics to your agents, can certainly work to establish them as local experts and trusted real estate advisors. Most brokers think of market statistic offerings in terms of providing a tool to their agents.  Certainly this is a key component to most market statistic services, but it is not the only way brokerages can effectively leverage this data to drive their business. This week I spoke with Michelle Carter, VP of Sales & Operations at Trendgraphix and we discussed the value of real estate brokers using market statistics to drive their business.  Michelle is clearly passionate about the value market statistics offer the broker.
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Development Differences Part II
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Closing.com Interview with Victor Lund
While at Inman Connect 2010, Julie Han with Closing.com interviewed Victor Lund, CEO of RE Technology, Inc. and founding partner of WAV Group. She asked Victor about Inman Connect and what the highlights of the show are, to explain RETechnology.com, and she asked his opinion on the following topics: 1.) What new tools are emerging for agents? 2.) How does social media help agents? 3.) What technology trends do you foresee in the future? Click play below to see a recording of the interview.
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Home Closings Made Easy
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