Minnesota associate broker-owner Chad Schwendeman’s secret sauce is twofold: spend big on marketing, and invest in associated services — such as property management and title — to give clients a better experience.
For the past two of his four years at Exit Realty, a real estate franchisor with offices across the country, Schwendeman has won Exit’s Tri-Real-A-Thon Award, known as the “Iron Man of Exit” for excellence in taking listings, closing transactions and growing his brokerage through introducing others to the company (at Exit, agents can earn a recruiting bonus).
His real estate sales team, The Chad Schwendeman Group, based in Baxter, Minnesota, and serving the Brainerd Lakes area, was recognized as the top Exit Realty team in North America while his brokerage, Exit Lakes Realty Premier, ranked as the third-largest grossing office for brokerages with a single location. In 2017, his team booked $134 million in sales and over 600 transactions. The brokerage currently comprises four listing partners, 10 buyer’s agents, three ISAs (inside sales agents), a photographer, two listing assistants, one CPA, three closing coordinators, one marketing coordinator, a director of client first impressions and an office manager.
Perhaps what Schwendeman is best known for at Exit is his approach to marketing and branding. He is not afraid to spend money on it — $50,000 a month, in fact, to keep in touch with clients, broaden his market, bring in new business and attract leads to his listings.
To promote high-end listings, Schwendeman creates single-property videos to blast across YouTube and other social media. The videos cost around $3,000 to $5,000 each, and Schwendeman hires actors (or in one case, his own children, Sophie and Rowen) for the videos, which are made by a South Carolina production company.
“It’s essentially a three-to-four minute movie about the house; there is always a story line, and the engagement has been phenomenal,” Schwendeman told Inman. “We have sold a house to a client from Arizona who fell in love with the house from the video and asked for a CD copy of it when they bought.”
Social media indeed is a big part of Schwendeman’s marketing. In addition Facebook, to he company is active on LinkedIn, which Schwendeman says works well for more affluent business professionals who might buy second homes in his market. But Schwendeman is still a big believer in print advertising, spending over $100,000 a year on it in the towns he covers — Brainerd, Baxter, Nisswa and Crosby, a 60-mile radius.
Beyond his marketing on steroids, Schwendeman, a Baxter native who went to the local high school, is a partner in a property management firm. He also owns a construction company that launched in January 2016, and he is a partner in a title company. Rather than consciously building a salable business, he said, “the businesses are being built organically to fill needs within our core business of real estate.”
He has a guaranteed sales program — “if we don’t sell your home, we’ll buy it!” — which doesn’t often come into play given the money he shells out on marketing his listings. But the homes he buys about once a quarter go into the property management company, while the construction business gives him a steady supply of contractors, always handy for readying a home for sale. The investment in associated services also allows him to have more control over the client experience, even more so than trusted referrals.
“If they have a bad experience with the title company, that’s a reflection on us,” said Schwendeman. “We want to be their Realtor for life, so it’s important to us to give them such an outstanding experience; there’s nobody they’d rather call.”