Tim Heyl got on top of the team-building trend a full decade ago. “I thought I knew what I was getting into but didn’t have any practical experience in real estate,” he remembers. So he spent the first three years in the business building up his customer base by making phone calls, then leveraged one piece of the puzzle at a time until he’d created a powerhouse.
Heyl will be discussing his most closely held secrets as a team leader in a panel discussion at Inman Connect New York, January 29 through February 1 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. He told us about why teams need to have a high level of control over their business, the importance of focusing on seller leads as a team — and more.
Tell us a little more about your session. How will it address how the industry can embrace the shifting market?
There are certain teams that have a high level of control over their business and others that don’t. When you have a strong operational back-end that consists of your lead generation, your lead conversion and your customer support, a strong support function for all those pieces, then you have the opportunities to deal with the disruption. Right now what’s happening is these disruptive offerings sound great, and soon they will be great, but in most markets they’re not all that great. What I mean by that is, for example, Opendoor — the cash offer price that’s going to be given on most customers’ homes is not going to be very aggressive. Same thing with Zillow or whomever. With any of the discount brokerages, it’s going to be a low-fee, full-service offering, which sounds great, but what many of those customers find out is that the service is typically not as ideal as working with a traditional real estate agent.
I think a lot of these companies will get these things right and there will be more challenges in the future, but right now those teams that have a high level of control and especially a really strong lead conversion arm, like a centralized call center, are able to have conversations with these customers before they choose where they’re going, and if you’re able to get a conversation with a customer who’s able to make a move at the right time, you’re typically able to get a face-to-face appointment and to still win the business because when it really comes down to it, most buyers and sellers are still choosing to work with the first or second company they talk to, so it’s all about timing. When you have strong control working the lead conversion arm, you’re losing out on very few opportunities compared to those clients who are marketing-based or referral-based. You’re waiting for people who might otherwise have called you to see an Opendoor or a Redfin and call that company instead of or before they reach out to you.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities to focus on in the real estate industry right now?
I think the biggest opportunity for teams right now is finding an offering that solves a pain point for the customer that they have before they get into a transaction, to create a unique value proposition and stand out from the crowd. There’s a couple of ways to do that. One way is to partner with some of these disruptive companies. A lot of our agents are utilizing Opendoor to bring those offers to their listing appointments, so they can walk in the door with a cash offer and partner with the disruption and be a distributor of it. When the market was really bad and it was very hard to sell a home, some teams came up with a guaranteed sale — if we can’t sell your house in 60 days we’ll buy it or we won’t charge you a commission. Those guarantees are really strong. In today’s market that’s not necessarily the message of the moment, but think about: What are the pain points for the customer and how do you create a unique solution that solves it. That requires a certain amount of creativity instead of just thinking about doing more transactions.
To stay competitive, agents, brokers and companies need to execute quickly. What do you feel are key areas where quick execution can vastly improve the customer experience?
I think it really comes down to the number of pain points that consumers have early on. And it’s not all around just finding a home — it’s around accessing a home. So one of those examples could be showings on demand. Our team created a showings on demand ability where our customers don’t have to rely on the specific agent they’re working with to get indoors; instead we have salaried staff members to open doors at any given time.
On the seller side, it isn’t very difficult to offer the exact same thing that Opendoor offers for your client specifically, a guaranteed sale through a cash offer. There are investment companies in every market and every city that are buying real estate every day, so partnering up with local firms that are willing to submit cash offers on demand so people can have a guaranteed floor and know what their house is going to be worth.
Another one is that real estate teams tend to focus on too many things, so one thing I learned over the course of a lot of failure and having to figure it out the hard way is that real estate teams that focus on generating listing business end up typically having a balanced business, 50 percent listings and 50 percent buyers, without much focus on generating buyers. You can be very efficient if all you’re focused on is generating listing business. When you start trying to generate buyer business as well, you start overspending, losing track of conversion, babysitting more agents than necessary, the number of transactions and income per agents goes down, instead of staying smaller and working the listing side and working the internet leads and phone calls from buyers that come in from the listings. So one way to be more efficient is to focus organically on one side of the business.
What are your hopes for the next 12 months, and what will you be working on?
My hopes for the next 12 months is that the economy stays strong — there’s a very large chance that it could start to weaken and the housing market could start to change, and we all have to adjust with that, but my hopes are that it stays strong. And I’m focused on creating unique value that sets us apart from the competition so that lead generation is not so difficult.
Discover the opportunities in a changing market at Inman Connect New York, January 29 – February 1. Jumpstart 2019 with tactical takeaways, unlimited networking and thought-provoking speakers. Learn more.
Thinking about bringing your team? You may qualify for special group perks! Contact us to learn more.