Many agents feel like they’ve been running on the same hamster wheel for a while now. Tight market conditions have agents searching, scraping, and clawing for listings. As we like to say, he or she who lists, lasts.
The overwhelming response to our recent article on How Long Will This Last inspired us to bring together a superstar panel of agents, who are also MEC clients, to discuss some tactics they are using to grow their teams and take more listings.
Sharing successful growth strategies with you today is a panel of agents, hand-selected by Debbie and me because they are among the best in their markets.
Where attention goes, energy flows.
Meet Katie Prendergast, the owner of Firefly Realty of Keller Williams Realty in Asheville, NC. Katie leads her eight-person team dynamically through experience and incentives. Katie’s team is tracking for 150 units closed in 2021. She believes a large part of their success lies in her team’s culture and fun-loving approach to goal achievement.
Katie’s team at Firefly Realty works to generate attention, intention, and energy around key areas of their focus. They do so through a variety of team challenges and initiatives, designed both for collective motivation and internal competition.
While Katie was away on vacation earlier this year, she created a challenge for her team to set 7 listing appointments on her behalf, with the reward being a fancy team dinner at a restaurant of their choice.
To sweeten the deal, Bill offered to join them in Asheville and ride the local pub cycle if they were able to set 8 listing appointments. Katie’s team earned their fancy dinner by meeting their goal of 7 scheduled appointments. Sadly, they will have to wait to don their #billonthebike branded t-shirts for another time.
As a result of her challenge, Katie was able to go out of town for a week, recharge, and come back to a calendar full of listing appointments. The team was able to go out to dinner together and have a wonderful time.
Katie and her team are able to remain steadfast on month-long contests and initiatives through daily updates. It helps that she encourages focus on only one initiative at a time, in order to keep the attention of her team and their efforts energetic.
Her ability to remain present for her team and offer reward-based incentives has resulted in more listings and a super-charged team dynamic.
An “Offertunity” to Win
Meet Christy Bradshaw, owner and team leader at Magnolia Living Real Estate a RE/MAX group located in Charlotte, NC. Her five-person team closed 100 units in 2020 and is set to close roughly 150 in 2021. Much of her nearly 50% growth this year can be attributed to her unique approach to winning listings and her equally fun approach to marketing.
Christy has grown her business strategically by offering a flexible listing commission structure.
She began reducing commission percentages for sellers in one specific neighborhood who would also use her team for buyer representation. To these sellers, Christy offered limited-time percentage savings. Through these efforts, and subsequent referrals, she has since closed 50+ listings in the same neighborhood over the past 3 years.
Christy loves the ability to offer an incentive as her secret weapon when competing for listings. As the only listing agent on her team, she is laser-focused on winning every listing appointment. Having a willingness to remain competitive in her market has proven to be her secret sauce.
She has also developed an a la carte listing menu for her clients so that they may pick and choose a percentage discount that works for them, which also allows Christy to choose her own commission.
Because she doesn’t buy leads and relies heavily on her sphere and referral business, Christy is driven to discover a method to boost additional referral business. Her flexible listing commission structure certainly does so, and it isn’t the only advantage Christy has to offer sellers in her market.
It is important to Christy that her listings feature only high-quality photography and great video. She believes that styling and staging go a long way.
What in the world is “Vignetting”?
Vignetting, as she refers to it, is the art of styling and sprucing up space. Though we have yet to fact-check this claim, Christy believes she may have made the word up.
In her own words, vignetting, by definition is: “To take an empty bookshelf and add some little green stuff”. That’s a listing trend we can get behind.
A true creative at heart, Christy loves to create fun marketing opportunities for her team as well as for her clients. Since she is truly marketing for herself using her personal flair, she believes that anything goes.
A perfect example is one of Christy’s recent listing videos. For this video, Christy and a team of talented individuals recorded a parody of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ that not only went over well with buyers (the listing sold quickly) but went viral in just one short week!
Christy emphatically believes that video as a whole is a great way to show your authenticity, have fun, and gain engagement while maintaining a professional image. She says she does not regret pushing her creative side in order to show she is good at what she does and is relatable.
Follow Christy on FB here to see examples of her humorous video marketing.
Impressive for sure, Christy isn’t the only agent adding 50% growth to their team this year.
Go ahead and ‘Make Me Move’
Meet Mark Rucker, Team Leader and Owner of the Rucker & Associates real estate team at Keller Williams Realty in Greenville, SC. The bulk of Mark’s business is built on referrals from past clients, friends, and family. His five-person team closed 100 units for roughly $31M in 2020 and is on pace to close over $40M for 2021.
What’s the secret to Mark’s success? Purposefully working on and connecting with his sphere of influence.
Mark uses a simple text script to connect and set appointments with his sphere, and he finds huge success in doing so. He engages via text using a market statistic for their neighborhood that is difficult to ignore. Through these texts, Mark offers to sit down with each contact to offer an equity analysis on their home.
By scheduling these appointments, Mark is able to build out two very important lists.
1. The ‘Coming Soon’ List –
Mark’s ‘Coming Soon List’ is composed of homes with a 90% or better chance of hitting the market within the next 60-90 days. These are potential sellers with whom Mark has already conducted an equity appointment and knows they are motivated to sell. These homeowners may be close to listing and are just waiting on repairs or some other factor prior to listing their home.
2. The ‘Make Me Move’ List –
The people on Mark’s ‘Make Me Move’ list are people who, for the right price, would sell their home as an off-market listing.
Mark makes sure everyone on this list is open to the possibility of an off-market transaction; essentially saying “bring me the perfect offer and get me out of here”.
This type of transaction necessitates an agreement between Mark and the homeowner that such an offer is made, and accepted, in a manner that moves it quickly without having to go to list.
Each of Mark’s two lists exists in a format that is shared internally with his team. This allows his buyer agents to cross-reference his lists with their own list of eager buyers, playing matchmaker between them and Mark’s sphere.
Adding to his desire to grow his lists, Mark mentions that communicating with his database through these appointments is rewarding for him. He is able to offer a list of options to his clients that are win, win, win.
Here are the options Mark lays out:
- The equity analysis is given and the client decides not to sell. That’s okay. Mark asks for a referral and is able to build his sphere.
- The equity analysis is given and the client decides to refinance. That’s okay. Mark puts them in contact with a lender and is able to gain referrals to build his sphere.
- The equity analysis is given and the client decides to sell and also to buy. This is ideal for Mark, and the client, and a happy buyer.
- The equity analysis is given and the client decides to sell and build new. This is great, too. Mark helps them find vacant land and connects them with home builders. He gains referrals and builds his sphere.
- The equity analysis is given and the client decides to stay in their home and pull out equity in order to go buy an investment property. As a great wealth-building option, Mark’s team can help them on the buy side, he gains a referral and builds his sphere.
Mark enjoys helping his clients find solutions and the Equity Appointment, Coming Soon List, and Make Me Move List are all great ways to do that.
Get the info into their hands
Meet Sherri Gregory, Broker and team leader for the Gregory Home Team of Keller Williams Realty in Sweet Home, Oregon; and her Director of Operations, Chelsea Corliss. Together with their ten-person team, Gregory and Corliss sold 250 homes in 2020 for a total of $65M. The team is currently on track to beat that this year.
When asked about their growth and listing success, both Sherri and Chelsea agree that their geographic farming efforts have helped them to win big this year.
The current challenge of the Gregory Home Team is the same as in almost every market; inventory levels are low and they have numerous eager buyers.
Chelsea explains how some creative scouting and rolling up her sleeves are getting the job done.
“I began by finding the most desirable properties in our area,” said Corliss of their geographic farming strategies.
The beginning involves an 8×8 marketing plan (8 pieces of direct mail in 8 weeks) to a specific geographic area, followed by one piece every 21 days to the same area, and a brand new 8×8 plan rolling out to a new area to expand the farm.
Receiving a new marketing piece each week for eight weeks, these prospective sellers are strategically shown homes similar to theirs for a relatable snapshot of what their home could be worth in this market. These pieces are a combination of letters, postcards, and other touches offering neighborhood market trends, inventory updates, appreciation statistics, and even a free market analysis for their home.
In an effort to offer a solutions-based approach, one of their marketing efforts serves to tell their prospects: you don’t have to be homeless, there is equity in your home and, though you may be concerned about where you’ll go and what you’ll do, we have options.
The Gregory Home Team started with an out-of-town farm because, in their market, growth is headed in those areas at a rapid rate.
They found that this initial target of out-of-town people is generally more established in their homes and as such, many are not quite ready to move, or at least to make a decision. In this case, the property owners go on a seller nurture plan.
Once one farm area reached the end of the first 8 weeks, Sherri and Chelsea adopted another area for 8 weeks. On their second round, they moved in-town, reaching those who may want to move out of town. They have found that these people were ready to move more quickly, giving Sherri another opportunity to contact their out-of-town farm, this time playing matchmaker to a buyer ready to make an offer.
When asked about their campaign to reach their haven’t met audience, Sherri expressed that listing appointments generated from people who are brand-familiar, but not yet clients, was strategic.
She explains that her team reaches out to homeowners with 20% equity or more in their homes. Her tactic for setting no-commitment appointments now will likely result in a listing in the near future. She views this as an investment in her overall plan.
For many, Sherri says, it simply isn’t about the price for them.
“It is sometimes that they have some maintenance issues or they aren’t staged for sale. I make it easy for them. They give me the dates they want to close and they are given an instant offer.”
A collective effort made possible by an investor, who will often lease back to the seller while Sherri’s team finds a home for the seller.
A winning strategy of give and take
Both Sherri and Chelsea agree they have found that in this market, farming is proving to be a better way to gain more listings than their online marketing efforts.
Getting the information in front of prospects was the key. According to Sherri, the in-town transactions are happening sooner. These are part of the Gregory Home Team’s haven’t met audience, people who hadn’t realized the equity they had in their homes. They have become easy and quick listings because they were ready.
In order to make sense of these farm marketing efforts, the Gregory Home Team focused on the ROI of their overall listing lead generation tactics, removing some of their allocated online marketing budget and placing it into their farming campaign. With the same amount of budget, they are currently yielding a better ROI on their farm marketing in the present climate.
Playing matchmaker –
With this ever-growing list of buyers and roughly 1000-1500 prospects in each geographic farm location, Chelsea decided to break down their list of buyers by neighborhood. She then sent handwritten matchmaker letters to several homeowners. These letters included information about the specific buyers who desire to purchase a home in that particular part of town.
While they are seeing early results from the handwritten letters vs. typed letters, they anticipate that, due to the strong message, they will yield exceptional results.
Business isn’t the only thing we’re building
Through strong teams, all things are possible.
Katie and her team at Firefly Realty love to do fun things in and around Asheville, NC, and they love doing these things together. Speaking of her contest rewards, Katie says the beautiful thing about them is that they are all things her team can do together.
Her team emphasizes the importance of remaining close-knit and in communication with each other, especially now that her team has moved to a hybrid schedule in and out of the office. They conduct daily morning Zoom sessions where they share their intentions for the day, the progress being made toward individual and collective goals, and how they can help and support each other.
Katie says that remaining available to her team, regardless of how busy she is, has proven to be a uniting factor. Showing her team that she is there for them no matter what is her primary objective.
Christy says her team is “motivated by luxury handbags”. 🙂
She stresses the importance of laughing together, staying connected, and keeping it light.
She is growing her team, and a recent hire on the admin side has helped them all stay aware of the need to support each other, and to stay connected for the sake of personal and professional development. The team has a collective appreciation for growth and gratitude for leverage.
For Mark, family comes first. His team at Rucker & Associates is his second family.
Together they do a lot of team activities. There are frequent backyard BBQs and field trips to arcades. Celebrating team members’ birthdays is also very important to them. Mark sets aside the entire afternoon for each member of his team on their birthday. They choose what they want to do and the team obliges.
Mark is self-described as laid back, and says he treats his team with love that is genuine and well-received.
It isn’t all fun and games at Rucker & Associates. His team holds daily Zoom meetings at 8:45 am. These meetings are 5 minutes long, and with a five-person team, he allows each team member one minute to communicate their daily list to each other for intention and accountability.
The Gregory Home Team is another close-knit family team. Sherri’s team enjoys giving back to the community together.
Their most recent initiative, Donut Friday, is a popular community effort. They deliver donuts to nominated businesses on Fridays. Sherri says you would not believe how many members of the community want other businesses to receive donuts.
In addition to providing sweet treats to local businesses, Sherri’s team conducts monthly community clean-up efforts. These clean-up events have grown to involve other members of their small, rural community, which is a beautiful unification effort.
The members of the Gregory Home Team stay in communication through the communication tool Slack, and also via their private FB group where they share memes, videos, and goofy things to keep them laughing together, even while apart.
Chelsea encourages an open-door lunch for days when they are in the office together. During these lunches, team members all sit and chat over lunch in the office.
With so much to be grateful for, the team holds weekly meetings that begin with each member sharing gratitude, an exercise rooted deep in their team culture.
Parting thoughts –
The agents featured on our panel are building their businesses in ways that are authentic and true to them and their team members.
We think it is impressive to hear the new ‘traditional’. The adaptation and efforts being made to hold teams together not only in order to remain bonded, but to grow and succeed. At Middleton Elite Coaching, we encourage our clients to conduct team huddles and gatherings to keep their networks strong.
Katie believes the key to success is systematic and encourages putting systems in place to become more efficient, and to keep growing and moving forward. She knows this isn’t possible at Firefly Realty without her stellar operations team and a collective willingness to grow.
Mark believes in being mindful to stop and smell the roses. Take time off whenever possible. Unplug, get refreshed, get recharged, and ready to reload for success.
Christy recognizes that consistency has been big for her team. She is intent on holding herself accountable to touch clients consistently, every week, through systematic follow-up, meetings, texts, phone calls, and any method possible.
Sherri cautions not to chase trophies. While you may want to close as many deals as possible, it is important to give great client experiences and to know your ROI. Make sure that your methods make sense for your business.
Chelsea encourages taking action. Build a plan and then execute. Tweak as you go, and don’t let the unknown stop you from making forward-moving progress.
We thank you for trusting MEC with your businesses. We challenge you to take action on some of the things you learned today and go win the rest of the year!
Bill + Debbie
P.S. – Many thanks to our talented panel of agents. We invite you to send your referrals for Asheville, Charlotte, Greenville, and Sweet Home to the agents below:
Katie Prendergast – Firefly Realty Asheville, NC
Christy Bradshaw – Magnolia Living Real Estate – Charlotte, NC
Mark Rucker – Rucker & Associates – Greenville, SC
Sherri Gregory & Chelsea Corliss – Gregory Home Team – Sweet Home, OR
Clients and team members received bonus resources following our live session. If you are interested in becoming a client and receiving these perks, contact us here.