How are real estate broker-owners responding, adapting or changing? Here’s what Kendall Caputo, broker-owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Synergy in the Great Daytona Beach, Florida area, is doing.

This is part of “Fighting back,” a new series of profiles on how broker-owners are responding to industry disruption.

Kendall Caputo

Kendall Caputo is broker-owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Synergy a leading, full-service, real estate team made up of 25 full time career minded real estate professionals supported by two admins  who delight in helping people buy and sell homes in the Great Daytona Beach, FL area from its two office located in Flagler Beach and New Smyrna Beach.  Together they create a vibrant image and a premium brand that reflects the tastes of our generation. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Synergy offers an inviting space and a premium experience for a select group of agents who value positive energy, collaboration, and unforgettable service.

What is your no. 1 asset in this environment?

Our core values. Core business values are crucial in setting the tone as to how a business will operate and prosper. They establish a company’s personality, and they speak to what is important to the organization. Core values do not change from time to time to suit various situations, they define the company’s culture and they hold the team accountable.

Service and emotional engagement are not just words to us — they are the very fabric of who we are. We believe in simplicity and in making magical moments for our customers. We believe in being better, not by comparison to others but by comparison to ourselves.

Through our commitment to being a values driven company, we distinguish ourselves by exceeding expectations. We attract the best talent and we deliver meaningful results to our customers. Delivering meaningful results not only makes us feel good about ourselves, but it creates loyal customers and goes a long way to “change proofing our business.”

How do you leverage what you have?

Before we can talk about how we leverage what we have, we need to define what we have and what we are not. We are not a fit for everyone. We are radically different and we plan to stay that way. We are zealots for our culture. We are a firm for professional, career-minded sales people. This is not a place to “hang a license” while working toward some other career goal, and we are not a place for real estate hobbyists.

We have an amazing collection of real estate professionals who not only embrace our values but who live them, a team who delights in helping people buy and sell homes in our community. Together we create a vibrant image and a premium brand that reflects the tastes of our generation.

We create an inviting space and offer an exceptional experience for a select group of customers who value positive energy, collaboration and unforgettable service. Then we wrap that in a lifestyle brand (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate) with soul. We respect our consumers, and we are confident that they can tell the difference between real service and what my colleague Joe Rand refers to as “disrupters, discounters and doubters.”

There is no magic voodoo here. Service and emotion engagement still work. In fact, in a world of call centers, portals and smart yard signs, it works better than ever.  

What new things must you do to compete?

It is not so much what we need to do to compete, but what we need to do to adapt to shifts in the market. Our focus is diversifying income streams and specialization.

Our current diversification strategy includes property management, title insurance and relocation services. Our specialization strategy is penetrating niches where expert skills make our company more suitable or attractive to consumers than our competition. Some of the niches we are concentrating on include elder care, divorce and self-directed IRA investing.

Are acquisitions the way to fend off change?

Acquisitions are a way to grow market share, but just because you can acquire another company does not mean you should. If the company of interest does not share our values, a similar culture and approach to business, the acquisition can change the personality of your business, and not necessarily in a good way.

Do you explore alternative business models yourself?

I break down business models in two different ways: consumer facing models and agent facing models. For the most part my answer would be no in both areas. Consumer facing residential real estate was, is and forever will be about people helping people. No i-buyer program, discount brokerage model or smart yard sign is ever going to change that.

There will always be a small segment of the market that will choose convenience over price, so the i-buyer programs are not going away, and there will always be homesellers who don’t appreciate what Realtors do, who will be susceptible to discounter tactics so that limited service brokers will always have a small market share.

The stakes for homeowners are high and we believe sellers will generally want a trusted advisor who can help them get market value for the most expensive asset they own. Full-service people-oriented business will always have dominant market share.

Just like consumer-facing models, there are different brokerage models available to agents. I recognize the existence of these models, but I am focused on knowing who our ideal agent is, and we believe we have built a model that is a perfect match for them.

Does your technology strategy change?

Of course. We can’t ignore changes in technology. If we did, we would still be using the old “listing book.” But this is an area where I think a lot of brokers can get caught chasing squirrels. Agents need tools that support their business, not distract them from it.

We do our best to stay out front finding what technology works best and helping agents implement those tools with impact. Our goal is to offer simple technology that actually works.

Prospect leads are easy to come by, but the quality and exclusivity of leads is poorer than it was just a few years ago, because while the number of available leads has exploded over the recent past, homes sales have not.

The number of leads that convert into business in the future will be lower across the board. The biggest challenges for us are delivering a consumer experience they like then nurturing, qualifying and prioritizing new needs.

We are constantly looking for delivery models in this area and are particularly intrigued by voice assist and artificial intelligence platforms. But at the end of the day, we believe people want to work with people.

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