In September 2018, the BREL team was recognized as the 83rd Fastest-Growing Company in Canada by Canadian Business Magazine [Related: BREL Team Named one of the Fastest Growing Companies in Canada]. We’ve been a team for 10 years now, so while we aren’t an overnight success, we have learned plenty of lessons along the way. Here’s our best advice for growing your real estate business.
1. There are no ‘growth hacks’. Truth is, it takes hard work and hustle.
We’ve spent countless 16-hour days working, missed important family events and even cancelled a couple of vacations along the way. We tried things and failed, and tried again. We’ve pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Along the way, we realized there was no magic button to “getting on the first page of Google’ and no easy button to building a brand that consumers love. No matter what the experts might try to sell you, it all comes down to hard work and hustle.
2. Listening is more important than talking.
This one didn’t come naturally to us. Heck in 1990, I was voted ‘Biggest Chatterbox’ in my high school’s Hall of Fall awards. Learning to listen to what Buyers and Sellers truly want and crafting the solutions to deliver on that is a critical part of our success. It would have been so much easier to build this business for us, rather than for our clients. But our clients spoke loud and clear: they wanted immediacy in response, near 24/7 availability and transparency. They had opinions on our font choices and feature sheet paper too 😁
3. It’s ALL about the client experience.
Truth: Being a Buyer or Seller in Toronto kinda sucks. There are 50,000+ agents of varying quality to choose from, bidding wars to contend with, questionable agent tactics, not enough supply of houses and it’s bloody expensive. Did I mention it’s expensive? We consider it our life’s mission to make the buying or selling process as pain-free as possible. Just last month, at the 2018 BREL team retreat, we spent a day ‘painstorming’ – coming up with 99 pain points of being a house Buyer in Toronto, and 99 pain points of being a house Seller. The result? Some incredible new tools and programs for our clients that’ll be rolled out over the next few months.
4. Do what you do well, outsource everything else.
Real estate requires agents to be skilled at so many things: marketing, sales, operations, client relationships, systems, staging, negotiating, pricing, interpreting data and more. Who could possibly be experts at all those things? Early on, we realized we needed to capitalize on what we did well and outsource everything else to experts, so we built the team. It’s why we have full-time in-house stagers and marketers and admin staff; it’s why our agents specialize in different types of properties and clients; it’s why we have external cleaners, photographers, copywriters and every kind of home professional on speed dial.
5. Systems must be at the core of everything you do.
You can’t scale a business to grow quickly without having the best systems and internal processes to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. That means obsessing over client database and task management software, partnering with the best electronic signature programs and developing detailed workflows that would make your heads spin. It means spreadsheets…so many spreadsheets! And it means constantly innovating and changing those systems as new and better ones get developed. [Sorry about the new CRM/task manager this month, team – Mel]
6. Know who your clients are and design your experience and team around their needs.
We know that 60% of our clients work in marketing/advertising/technology, and more than 10% work in medicine or law – they’re busy and have high standards for everything they purchase. We know our Buyers and Sellers are mostly between 30-45 years old and either have young families or are on the cusp of starting them – they’re juggling a lot of competing priorities. We know they are tech-savvy and expect a real estate experience that mirrors the rest of their lives. We’re constantly reinventing how we work with our Buyers and Sellers to reflect what our clients need.
7. Invest in the things that matter to clients.
Over the last few years, we invested over $250,000 in our staging warehouse inventory because we know that staged homes sell for more money. We hired the best staging, marketing, concierge and admin staff so that our clients wouldn’t have to do the heavy lifting themselves. We threw our hearts (and $$) into our website and social media because we know that when more eyeballs see our listings, that means higher prices for our clients. We invested in becoming designated Certified Negotiation Experts so our clients would know they had skilled negotiators on their side.
8. Don’t always listen to the so-called “experts” – be true to yourself.
Many of the ‘marketing experts’ who target REALTORS have never sold a house and don’t really understand the emotional roller coaster of buying and selling. Many of the ‘sales experts’ are stuck in the Glen Gary, Glen Ross days of Always Be Closing and think that the best way to build your business is through high-pressure sales and manipulation. And many brokerages are giving agents the same advice that helped them succeed 30 years ago, only times have changed. Listen to the experts…but decide for yourself who you want to be and how you want to build your business.
9. Find a mentor…or 10.
We’ve been fortunate to have met some truly incredible people over the last 10 years who have helped shape our business. Some have listened and mentored and challenged us to be better. Some have written books or spoken on stages and ignited something in us that revolutionized our business. Thanks to: Chris Smith, Katie Lance, Jimmy Mackin, Dan Norris, Ben Kinney, Brad Inman, Ken Goodfellow, The Seattle Divas, Gwen Daubenmeyer, Larry Sage, Mike Michalowicz, Scott Stratten, Ivan Sher, Seth Price and so many more.
10. Don’t get distracted by bright shiny objects.
There’s a saying in real estate: if you really want to make money in this business, forget selling houses and sell something to REALTORS instead. There’s an endless stream of companies trying to reinvent the real estate industry. While we love innovation, we also recognize the hazards of getting distracted from the basics of what we do. I’ve seen too many realtors fail because they got distracted by the bright shiny objects, the next best thing. Sometimes, just doing the right thing with the right people will take you where you want to go.