This is part of “Fighting back,” a new series of profiles on how broker-owners are responding to industry disruption.
A lot of brokers tout a people-first mentality, but Nico Hohman walks the walk. As the broker-owner of Hohman Homes Real Estate Brokerage & New Home Consultants in Tampa, Florida, he invests his energy in finding the right people for his business, rather than finding the “best” people.
He’s only hired 7 percent of the candidates he’s interviewed in the past two years because he believes that success comes from having happy, productive agents. And he tailors his agents’ experience with the brokerage to their needs.
He also believes in serving his community, both locally and his real estate tribe. He serves on the Hillsborough Board Historic Resources Review Board (HRRB), which strives to protect architectural and archaeological sites, and he serves on the Board of Directors at Greater Tampa Realtors and writes for Realtor Magazine and lends his voice as a contributor with Inman.
As a broker-owner and consultant broker for Opendoor in the state of Florida, he’s got his finger on the pulse of consumer trends, and he enables his agents to compete.
What is your no. 1 asset in this environment?
The best thing we have at our brokerage is the people within our organization, our teammates. We call our agents teammates, and we call our brokerage a team — not because of how we operate, but because everyone believes that the best way to succeed in the real estate industry is to put the needs and wants of those around you ahead of their own personal and professional accomplishments. Our teammates are engaged, intelligent and open to new ideas.
I have a three-round interview process to make sure that we’re getting the right people on the team. In the past two years I’ve interviewed 502 individuals and have only offered a position to 36 of them. We’re looking to bring on the right person — not just the best agent.
How do you leverage what you have?
As a brokerage, I believe in putting the wants of the agents ahead of what the consumer wants. Ultimately, a productive and happy agent is going to make a valuable and positive client.
To make productive and happy agents, we have to meet them where they are in their business. We offer tailored packages to agents in three stages: career builders, growth seekers and top producers.
A brand new agents needs and wants education and mentorship. A high-volume agent needs and wants more free time for their personal life and to spend less money in their business.
An agent with a growing business model wants more leads to feed into their system. By leveraging what we already have into customized offers for each teammate, they will each be able to maximize their strengths to get what they want from their business.
What new things must you do to compete?
The best thing about being an independent brokerage is that we can adapt and pivot our business models virtually overnight if we see a need or want from our consumers.
We launched an instant offers program — Ready Offers — because we saw a need in the marketplace for that service. We started our property management division this year to steady our corporate income when a dip in the market cycle occurs.
I keep my eyes and ears open to what agents and consumers want. I then implement those desires into our business plan quickly to stay ahead of the competition.
Are acquisitions the way to fend off change?
I don’t believe acquiring another real estate brokerage is a means of fending off change. An agent joins a brokerage because of the the tools and resources that brokerage provides.
If there’s a change in what that brokerage can provide (including its culture), an agent has little incentive to stay. When one brokerage acquires another, often times you lose that sense of culture that brought the agent to the brokerage in the first place.
As a real estate broker, I would look to acquire a different type of business to complement the real estate services we already provide. For example, acquiring a title company, a general contracting company or an advertising agency all would be valuable lines of business in our corporation to keep agents and clients in our ecosystem.
Do you explore alternative business models yourself?
I believe the most successful businesses are the ones with several complementing streams of income. It’s not about changing what you do, it’s about building a large moat around your core competencies to keep your castle safe during an uprising.
When times are great in the real estate cycle, we can rely on the brokerage division keeping the company going. When times aren’t so great, we can rely on the property management division. And in any market cycle, we’ll have the ancillary lines of business that overall help the company stay afloat.
Does your technology strategy change?
Our technology strategy is simple and does not change. Technology is a tool to help people do their job more effectively and efficiently. A hammer does not pick itself up and drive a nail into a stud to build a home. A person first has to decide to use that hammer.
Similarly, a CRM does not decide to send an advertising campaign to our a farm area. Our teammates first have to decide when, where, why and how to set that advertising campaign. That CRM simply makes the job easier.
Whatever piece of technology makes our team more efficient and more effective, we will use it. Whether it’s a 3D virtual home tour or a landline and pen, we’ll use it.