Success Story: RE/MAX Results
WhereToLive.com Web and Agent Productivity Solutions
Help RE/MAX Results Recruit Top Agents
When it comes to recruiting and retaining quality real estate agents, there’s nothing like being able to say “My company is No. 1.” But No. 1 at what? Does it really matter that your firm has the most agents or the largest number of offices? Or is agent productivity the most important measure of a brokerage’s success and a major reason why top agents choose one company over another?
Brokerage co-owner Marshall Saunders believes productivity is by far the best measure. In a market that includes Edina Realty, with 2,100 agents in 60 offices, and Coldwell Banker Burnet, with 1,700 agents in 25 offices, his firm – Twin Cities-based RE/MAX Results – ranks No. 3 in headcount with 685 agents in 24 offices. Yet when it comes to per-agent productivity, nobody beats RE/MAX Results – not in their market or nationwide.
In 2011, RE/MAX Results ranked No. 1 in the nation in average transactions per agent with 19.71, according to the 2012 REAL Trends 500 report. Edina Realty and Coldwell Banker Burnet – whose results are aggregated with other companies owned by HomeServices of America and NRT LLC, respectively – ranked No. 12 and No. 14 in per-agent productivity, even though both mega-companies finished far ahead of the field in total transactions. (RE/MAX Results, with 11,843 transactions, ranked No. 19 nationally.)
RE/MAX Results also out-performed all of its peers in sales production per agent. The average RE/MAX Results agent achieved annual sales totaling $3.6 million in 2011.
Saunders attributes the company’s amazing performance to its practice of hiring existing top-producers and providing them with technologies that help them become even more productive and provide an edge against the competition. To ensure his agents have access to the latest technology on an ongoing basis, Saunders relies on WhereToLive.com (www.WhereToLive.com), a leading real estate technology and marketing solutions provider and RE/MAX Results partner since 2001, to power the company’s consumer and agent websites and help transform the ensuing crush of visitor traffic into closed transactions.
“At a time when other brokerages are losing money and agents, we continue to increase our profitability and our agent count by constantly adding to and improving the technologies we make available,” says Saunders. “The WhereToLive.com Platform allows customization and is agent-centric, and those are the two things our agents want. The ability to give agents control over how they ultimately use these tools to become successful is precisely why WhereToLive.com’s biggest customers are very independent Coldwell Banker brokers, independent CENTURY 21® brokers and independent RE/MAX brokers who understand that if the agent makes more money, the broker makes more money.”
Founded in 1986, RE/MAX Results is Minnesota’s first and largest RE/MAX franchise, with almost 700 sales associates and 24 offices. Headquartered in Eden Prairie, RE/MAX Results has offices in the Crocus Hill and Highland Park areas of St. Paul, Anoka, Elk River, Edina (50th/Vernon), Edina (France Ave.), Eagan, Champlin, Cambridge, Apple Valley, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Minneapolis (Uptown), Minneapolis (St. Anthony Main), Northfield, Rogers, Plymouth, Shoreview, Wayzata, Woodbury, and Hudson and Ellsworth, Wisconsin.
Investing In Future Growth
Back in 2008, however, Saunders and RE/MAX Results founding co-owner John Collopy weren’t entirely convinced that investing in technology upgrades in the middle of a recession was a wise strategy. As if the economic downturn wasn’t enough, the company also was reeling from the death of co-founder (and Marshall’s father) Bill Saunders.
So as Marshall Saunders and Collopy debated the company’s future, they realized they needed to either make a significant commitment to technology or plan an exit strategy.
They analyzed what kind of company they wanted to be, their goals and what they wanted to accomplish over the long term. “The answers to those questions were: We want to be the best. We want to have more market share than anyone else. And, we want this company to be around for as long as possible,” Saunders explains. “When those are your goals, you can’t have second-rate technology and continue to be successful in this business. You have to at least be very close to the best and have a very good product to offer.”
To some degree, the decision was obvious, Saunders adds. “Real estate was not going to become less technological. We could have decided ‘Oh, we’re a traditional real estate firm; we don’t do all that technology,’ and that might have been popular with some agents and consumers. But if we went in that direction, our market share would slowly but surely dwindle and, maybe a decade to a decade-and-a-half in the future, we would quietly go out of business.”
Pursuing an Internet growth strategy meant taking on Edina Realty, an early adopter of Internet marketing. “We decided that we were going to try to have a stronger and better Internet presence than our competitors,” says Saunders. “We didn’t know how, and we didn’t know what it was going to cost.”
What Saunders did know was that he could count on WhereToLive.com to help RE/MAX Results achieve its long-term business objectives by rolling out major revisions to the company’s offering. RE/MAX Results first went live on the WhereToLive.com web Platform back in 2002 and, in the years that followed, successfully rolled out a number of enhancements.
In the spring of 2009, RE/MAX Results and WhereToLive.com launched an entirely new consumer website, www.Results.net, which employs state-of-the-art mapping technology to enable homebuyers to zoom in on individual properties or agents, receive detailed information and take action – all with only a few mouse-clicks. An enhanced version of the Results.net Platform was followed with the launch of other enhancements, including an increase in the level of control agents have over their Results.net-powered agent sites and improved analytics the company can use to determine what is working and then focus resources where they will provide the greatest return.
The results have been impressive. Since the re-launch of Results.net, the average number of visitors has tripled to more than 150,000 a month, up from a high of less than 50,000 visitors with its earlier version, according to Compete.com. Similarly, the number of visitors who subsequently act on the information they find at Results.net has more than tripled since 2010, according to Google Analytics.
The new consumer website was followed by the September 2010 re-launch of WhereToLive.com’s OnlineOffice, a real estate marketing and agent productivity suite that, among dozens of features, enables agents to build and maintain their own websites and blogs, integrate social media into their marketing efforts and enhance their listings to generate more traffic by adding photos, videos and extensive property descriptions.
OnlineOffice was further augmented in May 2012 with the addition of CustomerConnect, WhereToLive.com’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. ResultsConnect, Saunders’ private-labeled version, is a powerful prospecting and lead management system that automatically synchronizes with mobile devices, imports data from any source (including Facebook), manages calendar and task activities and coordinates with existing e-mail, web-based and offline marketing collateral systems. Users can quickly and easily import and manage contact data, merge duplicates and organize contacts into categories. Automatically updating contact groups facilitate automated action plans and powerful drip-marketing campaigns. Through its seamless integration with the consumer website,
CustomerConnect simplifies and automates lead incubation and follow-up, while promoting timely communication with clients – and more closed transactions.
These ongoing innovations have earned RE/MAX Results accolades as a technology leader. In June of 2012, the company was honored by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as a Minnesota Top Workplace for providing both consumers and agents with cutting-edge real estate technology tools.
Adoption Rates: Convincing Agents to Put the ‘Sizzle’ to Work
Everyone knows agents, not consumers, are the “No. 1” customer of RE/MAX franchisees. So what percentage of Minnesota-based RE/MAX Results’ independent-minded top producers are actually using the marketing and technology tools offered through the WhereToLive.com Platform?
Co-Owner Marshall Saunders estimates that roughly half the company’s approximately 685 agents are currently using the Platform.
If you get 50 percent adoption on anything, that is a grand slam home run!
“A lot of technology is sizzle, and we recruit a lot of people who like the idea that they are joining a company that is forward-thinking enough that they offer products like this,” Saunders explains.
Brokers, he adds, must recognize that technology adoption is a 40/60 proposition – no matter what technology or system you adopt. Saunders estimates that about 20 percent of his agents are enthusiastic early adopters, but that another 20 percent will never even attempt to use the technology a broker provides. “Your struggle is with that middle 60 percent,” Saunders advises. “How good your system is and how good your training is will be reflected in how many out of that 60 percent you get to use the system. “We have found that WhereToLive.com’s OnlineOffice and the CRM product, which we call ResultsConnect, are intuitive enough and add enough value that we’ve been able to convert around 50 percent of our agents. If you get 50 percent adoption on anything, that is a grand slam home run!”
Build It And They Will Come
With these most recent enhancements fully operational, RE/MAX Results and WhereToLive.com have turned their attention to fine-tuning the system to produce ever-increasing streams of web traffic and encouraging agents to maximize the system’s benefits. Not surprisingly, the more agents who use the Platform, the higher the ranking when consumers search the Internet for homes and agents. To encourage more consumers to visit and take action at Results.net, the WhereToLive.com team has focused on providing tools that enable agents to brand themselves and provide new and relevant content that boosts organic agent and company search results. More traffic = more leads = more clients.
“Being able to demonstrate to agents that we are committed to having the best technology and showing them exactly how they can apply this technology to make more money has done wonders for our recruiting and retention efforts.”
“Every single agent has his or her own domain they can brand as their own, and we encourage agents to get creative,” Saunders explains. “But the biggest thing we have that ultimately will help us attract more traffic than the competition is our ability to generate new and relevant content.” For example, agents can simultaneously upload a blog post to both the company and their own branded websites. “Our average is 221 blog posts a week, and I don’t know anybody else anywhere that can match that in terms of volume,” Saunders says.
To reach its 2015 growth goal, Saunders and RE/MAX Results are actively recruiting another 250-300 top producers. A percentage of that number may come as the company acquires smaller brokerages that aren’t able to match their technology. Since early 2011, for example, RE/MAX brokerages in Anoka, Austin, Rochester and St. Cloud, Minnesota, have joined the RE/MAX Results team and are reaping the benefits of the WhereToLive.com technology and marketing Platform.
“Being able to demonstrate to agents that we are committed to having the best technology and showing them exactly how they can apply this technology to make more money has done wonders for our recruiting and retention efforts,” says Saunders. “For a lot of potential recruits, our technology is the sizzle that helps them make a decision to join us.”