There’s always something to howl about

Real Estate Brokerage models, Jeff Brown’s Dad, and Dead cats.

If you have never read what Jeff Brown writes, STOP. Go read it. Seriously. Go to the right sidebar, scroll down to the Bawld Guy and click the archive link. Ok. 😉

Jeff’s recent post brought up some good conversations that I want to shed some light on from my perspective. I consult with REALTORS on bulding their online presence as well as strategies for building their brokerages and teams. So his post was of significance to me.

The change that I am seeing in models right now (with some folks going right back to the model Jeff’s dad has practiced – an older school, more hardnosed approach that is much more leader (whether team leader or broker) centric and follower (dudes that manage leads either for listings or buyers and agents that are TRAINED to specifically convert those leads.)

“He who controls the leads makes the rules.” – me -several years ago. Still true.

Jeff’s 100% right about the value of whoever creates the streams of leads coming into the team (or brokerage or whatever). I think that was one of the most powerful points of Jeff’s post. If you can generate leads, build a brand (or utilize someone else’s until you can), then there are PLENTY of brokers willing to kiss your fanny just to keep you are part of their organization.

And in all but a few of those cases, you do NOT want your brokers advice.

Let me give you a concrete example of this type of model in play. I got a call from a client in Boca Raton Florida the other day. I have been working with this team on their online strategies for several months. Good guys. They have grown their team from the two of them to almost 20 (cannot remember the last count). Solely done by generating online leads and feeding their buyers agents those leads and working with them.

Here’s the kicker. Their brokerage (large independent brokerage with #1) level market share actually came to them and asked them to TONE DOWN their online marketing because they were getting close to outranking the brokerage site on Google. Presumably (my presumption) is that other agents in the brokerage were upset.

First of all, asking an agent to tone down a marketing campaign to (ostensibly) keep the other agents from getting upset? WOW.

Just my opinion to that broker. If you have the resources to build a brand, then you have the resources to build it online as well. Having to ask you agent to NOT market or market less is an indictment of your marketing team. (again just my opinion.)

For a growing agent who has the resources to mount an online marketing campaign and make this happen, AND who is not in a brokerage where the broker is leading the charge. (That will be my next brokerage model example in a couple of days and it is even more potent than this one).

I can give you other examples of small brokerages who are folding right now and where several agents who would be great if someone provided leads to them (ala Jeff’s dad’s model) literally offer to come to the guy who is generating the traffic.

Someone mentioned in the comments that model works for Russ Shaw. I know Russ. He is a friend of mine. And you can do it too. Yes, maybe not using the same lead generation vehicles that he has established dominance in, but whether you are in Ohio, or Louisville, or Hoboken, there ARE lead generation models available to you. Online, offline, radio, TV, carrier pigeon, whatever. If you are the source of leads, much of the rest will follow.

By the way…lest people think that we are talking about JUST converting leads and saying sayonara, not the case. Part of this approach REQUIRES that you help create customers for life out of then.

Think we are alone in our industry with this model? Ask the lawyers. 😉 They are in the same boat. Those lawyer ads you see on TV are not paid for with money that grew on trees. #justsayin.

I would love your thoughts and further conversation on this.

Next week: A brokerage model and an example that even beats this. And you can watch it happen! 😉


13 Comments so far

  1. Jeff Brown January 23rd, 2012 10:18 am

    Thanks for the kinds words, Eric. It’s never changed, not since I was a wet behind the ears 18 year old know-nothing. Those who can’t get it done tell the world why it can’t be done. Those who can, just do.

    Can’t wait for your post.

  2. Joe January 23rd, 2012 10:45 am

    “…came to them and asked them to TONE DOWN their online marketing because they were getting close to outranking the brokerage site on Google…”

    Too funny Eric. We’ve had agents from ‘big’ offices say we must be cheating.

    I would love your thoughts and further conversation on this.

    We remain a two person shop. We generate more leads than we can handle, then cherry pick the ones we want to work with.

    Sure, we could hire buyers agents but we would rather place our efforts on family. There is only so much time in a day. [heads off to watch Jim Carrey’s ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ with my 6 year old] 🙂

  3. Teri Lussier January 24th, 2012 6:48 am

    >“He who controls the leads makes the rules.”

    I think you’ve got it right. Someone has to make it rain. If it’s not the broker, then it’s the prima donna assoluta who is really running the office.

    Jeff’s been telling me for years that I could/should hire a buyer’s agent but it was only recently that I realized how many agents would be extremely happy to pay a fee if someone handed them a warm lead a day. Not taking anything away from them as they are very good at what they do, they just don’t want to generate leads. Comes down to skill sets. And think about it- putting people in a position to do what they do best and let them really excel at it, is good for business, good for clients, good for everyone.

    Maybe, when homes sold themselves, brokerages could take on people and grow a brokerage without really growing a business but I don’t think that’s possible right now. I know they have mortgages to pay on those fancy offices they just built, but they’d better start thinking about how to create business instead of how to grow a brokerage, and that means putting people where they need to be. If big box brokers can’t do it, and they probably can’t, then rainmakers should.

    >By the way…lest people think that we are talking about JUST converting leads and saying sayonara, not the case. Part of this approach REQUIRES that you help create customers for life out of then.

    I would be curious to hear more about that, as I don’t understand that part of the equation and I agree that it’s key to making this work well.

  4. Jim Klein January 24th, 2012 7:28 am

    Most small businesses are built on the, “There are always more fish in the sea” theory, Teri. It’s an awfully big world, after all. But as we’ve seen, the number of fish are limited, and lots of ’em can fade away.

    But when you lock up a fish for life, and get all the other fishies he knows and interacts with, then the number never dwindles. It always grows.

    How many clients of a Bloodhound, are ever going to look for another agent? Rule No. 2—“Make ’em lazy.”

  5. Teri Lussier January 24th, 2012 7:42 am

    Howdy Jim!

    I understand what you are saying. My question is more about how to avoid any appearance of bait and switch. How do you let clients know that while they are not working with Prima Donna Assoluta herself, they will be in excellent hands. I’ve not understood how to present that to clients so they are delighted. Happens though, so there must be a way, I’m curious what it is.

  6. Jim Klein January 24th, 2012 1:49 pm

    By far the easiest way, Teri, is to make it true.

    I know that sounds trite, but you can’t make someone else think something. Hence the best approach is to rely on their awareness.

  7. Greg Swann January 24th, 2012 2:04 pm

    My take is just to sell it that way from the beginning: “This is Chuck, who will be handling the day-to-day details of your transaction. Chuck is an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, with five years’ experience representing buyers.” If you manage the expectations properly, the buyer will see Chuck as a feature, not a bug. For my own part, when I am able to work this way, I will show up about 80% of the way through Chuck’s showing appointments. I’ll tag along for the last few houses and then for the second visits — which is when buyers commit. I want to be there to close and to structure the contract, which Chuck — or a high-C back in the office — will then prepare with my oversight. The dentist does the drilling and the dental assistant does the cleaning. No one will have a problem with this if you sell it right.

  8. Jim Klein January 24th, 2012 5:06 pm

    “If you manage the expectations properly, the buyer will see Chuck as a feature, not a bug.”

    This place is about giving away secrets, and IMO that’s the whole of marketing in a single sentence. Any business in any industry that actually does that–properly manage expectations and then offer features–is guaranteed success. Thank you.

  9. Jonathan Karlen January 26th, 2012 12:42 pm

    Love the title, Eric. Spot on article as usual. The hardest part for most businesses is getting customers. If you can “make it rain” by generating leads, then that puts you in a distinct advantage over your competition. And if you can adapt to the ever changing market place by ensuring that you aren’t over extended expense-wise, then you can achieve success no matter the situation.

  10. Ryan Gianos January 26th, 2012 2:15 pm

    Great article Eric. “He who controls the leads makes the rules” – definitely applicable with regard to the Real Estate industry in the 21st century. If you can increase the amount of leads your business gets – real estate or otherwise – and can keep overall business expenses low, you will have an advantage over your competitors.

  11. Daniel Beer February 1st, 2012 6:59 am


    Nice to see you on here. For those of you that don’t know him, Eric is one of the best in the business and he knows what he is talking about. There is no doubt that if my broker asked me to “tone it down” I’d soon be out the door.

  12. Jeffrey Barber February 27th, 2012 7:26 pm

    I also really enjoyed the recent post you referred to, as well as many of Jeff’s posts. I agree with you and Jeff about the importance of creating a steady stream of leads. Branding and lead generation are both key to working with brokerages, agents, or anyone in the business. And I couldn’t agree with you more on the importance of generating leads into lifelong business partners. It’s essential to building up a consistent flow of business and a reputable name.

  13. Claire February 29th, 2012 6:15 am

    That’s kinda selfish and stupid for a company to reduce that particular team’s marketing campaign. What on earth are they thinking?

    Love reading your posts Eric 🙂