After 25 years, Inman Connect is coming to you. Get ready for the top industry leaders plotting the path forward, new business ideas and opportunities, networking like you’ve never imagined it and tons of exciting new magic, all straight to you. It’s all part of an epic new Inman experience, Inman Connect Now, June 2-4, 2020. Click here to save your seat.

In advance of Connect Now, we’ve asked many well-known members of the Inman community for their insights on how they are working and keeping their businesses moving forward in this time — in other words, How They Connect Now. Here are three responses.

Bess Freedman

Bess Freedman

CEO, Brown Harris Stevens

What’s the biggest change in the way you’re managing your business now? 

My dining room is now my office, and the way I communicate has shifted from in-person meetings to video conferences. I find that I am in closer contact with my managers and agents now than ever before. 

How do you find new business in a time like this? 

First, you have to take care of yourself; physical and mental health are paramount. 

A great brand will always pivot, and right now BHS is concentrating on shifting our model to virtual showings and closings because in many parts of the country, agents are unable to show due to COVID-19 concerns. I believe the move to virtual will  have lasting effects on the real estate industry in general, and thoughtfully developing and executing that process will bring more business to the table. It is equally important to be a strong resource for information in times like these because that’s what people care about most — guidance through chaos.

How do you keep morale up, for you personally, and for your team? 

For me, I carve out time to meditate, exercise, and check in with friends and loved ones. My brain needs exercise, so I read, listen to podcasts and play mahjong online. I step away from the news on TV and on social media and just allow myself time each day to reset. I encourage my team to take time for themselves also and really foster a work/life balance, which can be so hard to do when working from home. 

Communication is really at the heart of keeping morale up. A crisis is like being in the darkness; communication is the light. We hold companywide webinars to help keep everyone informed about a variety of topics from health and wellness to market insights and do company calls as well as tons of email communications.

Who in the community has impressed you or helped you most during this time? 

Within the real estate community, I am most inspired by the Brown Harris Stevens management team and all of our agents. They have gone above and beyond to help each other and their clients during this time. We have forged charitable partnerships, including one with Goodwill NYNJ, to help bring relief to people in need. It’s been amazing to watch, and I am so fortunate and grateful to be working together with the absolute best. BHS has a culture that embodies trust and respect, and our relationships have evolved naturally into something that has manifested into an incredibly pleasant environment. 

What’s your outlook for the rest of this year? 

People will always buy, sell and rent homes; real estate is a fundamental need. Right now, sales have slowed, but people stuck inside are reevaluating what home means. People are on their computers and phones searching the internet, looking to make their next move and asking: Do we need a bigger home office? Outdoor space? Should we move from a condo to a townhouse? There is going to be pent-up demand when we come out of this — and as a real estate company, we have to be ready.

Can you share a few words about how Inman has helped you grow your business, in bull or bear times? 

Inman provides in-depth insights about the real estate market and the brokerage landscape that I can’t find anywhere else. I also think the Inman name is synonymous with innovation. Brad loves to push the envelope and say and try new things.

Nick Bailey

Nick Bailey

Chief Customer Officer, RE/MAX

What’s the biggest change in the way you’re managing your business now? 

Lack of travel. Normally, I’m on the road about 50 percent of the time, connecting with our brokers, owners, agents and other leaders within our industry in person to provide guidance, support and direction. This is a relationship business, and the face-to-face time is unreplaceable, but knowing that isn’t an option right now doesn’t mean we disappear. Instead, I’m doing more calls, more video meetings and developing more touchpoints — like my live weekly morning show that helps me stay connected to our membership while delivering valuable information that can help them right now. Additionally, I’m providing additional support to our employees to help them adjust to this new operational reality. And whether with brokers/agents and/or employees, it’s really who can lead quickly to adjust and deliver the greatest items of value to each respective audience. 

How do you find new business in a time like this? 

Most importantly, be present and be relevant! At a time when business and competitors make necessary changes, now is the time to turn up the heat on our tools and resources to help engage and find new clients, even in these difficult times. A great example of this is the First app — a tool we purchased at the end of last year to make exclusive to RE/MAX agents. With First, you can identify homeowners in a database who are most likely to list their homes in the coming months. It’s a way to get in front of those potential listings before someone else does. It’s one of the best tools I’ve ever come across in my 20-plus years as an agent, and we’ve made it free to our agents for the first 90 days to give them a leg up. Whether it’s recruiting agents or getting buyers and sellers, focusing on the activities that build your pipeline and executing on what you can are key. Leveraging technology is also imperative right now. Technology isn’t going to put agents out of business, though agents that don’t use technology will likely put themselves out of business.  

How do you keep morale up, for you personally, and for your team? 

Personally, I get energized by engaging with my team and, more importantly, their teams. One of the greatest feelings is knowing that you’ve helped someone, and times like this allow you to help many people in many ways. I will join meetings that I’m not usually on to check in on everyone, get their take, hear what life is like for them right now and thank them for all their hard work. Having that interaction and remembering how hard everyone is working under stressful times helps give me perspective and gratitude, and I hope it does the same for them. We have an amazing culture at RE/MAX. It’s one of caring and kindness, and that’s rare in business. I also make dedicated time for my family, friends and for me. Daily home workouts, games with the kids, game nights with friends (virtual, of course) and date nights with my wife.

Who in the community has impressed you or helped you most during this time? 

While none of us has lived through anything like this before, there is one man who has personally survived seven recessions and seen his business through every time, and that’s Dave Liniger, the founder of RE/MAX. Having access to one of the greatest minds in this business is an honor, and I’m never not in awe of that man.

What’s your outlook for the rest of this year? 

My outlook is optimistic. People need homes; they always have, and they always will. That hasn’t changed and, if anything, has become even more apparent right now as we are all staying at home. Before this set in, we were experiencing a strong winter with plenty of demand and interest. Leading indicators are showing inventories remain low, and the demand from buyers continues to be strong.  Credit is available at historic lows, and this together likely indicates good things for our industry in the near future and throughout this year.    

Can you share a few words about how Inman has helped you grow your business, in bull or bear times? 

Inman News is one of the few emails I’ll get that will always get opened right away. If you aren’t reading Inman, you aren’t in the real estate industry. 

Jeff Turner

Jeff Turner

Entrepreneur In Residence, Second Century Ventures

What’s the biggest change in the way you’re managing your business now? 

I’ve been working from home for the last 20 years, and for most of that, the companies I’ve started, helped launch or consulted with have been predominantly virtual organizations. The biggest change for me is that I’m traveling less and getting more done. Since everyone is working from home, everyone is getting better, more comfortable at working this way. That shift has been a major win for me. I hope it continues long after the crisis is over.

How do you find new business in a time like this? 

I’m a relationship person, first and last. My approach to finding new business and keeping old business is the same as it has always been. Talk to people, listen, understand their problem, be empathetic, then make sure the solutions I’m presenting actually solve those problems. In times like these, the listening and empathy parts become hyper-critical. 

How do you keep morale up, for you personally, and for your team? 

I’m a big believer in the concept of creative constraints. It’s simply a fact that constraints increase creativity and lead to innovations, so I’ve had conversations with most of the companies I work with about how to embrace the constraints to think differently about their businesses. I’ve not found a leader yet who doesn’t willingly embrace that thinking and that challenge, so the motivation is actually quite easy. 

Who in the community has impressed you or helped you most during this time? 

I’ve really been impressed with Marc Davison from 1000Watt during this pandemic. Marc is generally quiet online, for the most part, so when he speaks, it’s usually to say something important. He has increased the level of his conversation online without diminishing the quality. I’ve really appreciated how he is managing communication with his clients and with the Realtor community at large. 

What’s your outlook for the rest of this year? 

I’m bullish on technology in real estate in general and specifically with the companies I consult with like immoviewer. I’m also excited about a new startup in the association management space I’m building with my former partners at RealSatisfied, and I can’t wait to announce the 2020 NAR REACH class that will be launching in the next few weeks. It’s lining up to be a stellar cohort!

Can you share a few words about how Inman has helped you grow your business, in bull or bear times? 

Inman Connect has always been about connection for me. Some of my best friends in my life are there because of Inman Connect conferences. And I don’t mean just “business friends.” I’m talking about true friendships that have endured over time that have also resulted in a considerable amount of joy and a considerable amount of business. I’m really interested to see how Connect Now carries on this value proposition in the virtual space.

Inman Connect Now connects virtually June 2-4, 2020. The digital event offers standout speakers, incredible networking opportunities, and the chance to forge business breakthroughs and build new relationships to last a lifetime. Don’t miss out — register today.

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