In the following interview, Don Mowery, broker/owner of RE/MAX New Horizons in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., discusses online lead generation and conversion.
Earlier this year, we spoke to you about doubling down on online leads. Was this a good decision?
Yes. I made the decision last year to purchase shared leads for an entire county. At first I was overwhelmed, and wondered if it was the right decision, but once we got our systems and processes in place—in addition to a great training program for new agent hires—we began to see our lead conversion increase, and return on investment soar. Now we’re adding expansion teams. The beautiful thing about realtor.com® leads is that you know how many leads you can expect for a position for the year. You can purchase more leads based upon how many agents you want to add.
Have any of the consumers you met online given you referral business?
We’ve been purchasing leads for over a year now. Our past client database has grown significantly during this time, and we’re now receiving referrals from our online lead generated business. Our ISA spends half of her day staying in touch with our past client database.
Besides acting quickly, which is now understood as a key factor in getting a return on online leads, what else do you coach your agents to do?
Speed to lead is always important. However, equally important is the number of times they follow up. Agents should be following up at least 7 to 10 times within the first week of receiving the lead. We also make sure they use multiple types of communication, including text, phone, email and video.
Do your agents get leads directly, or do you screen them?
Our leads are distributed to our buyer agents based on zip code and price. We don’t give newer agents million-dollar buyers.
How do you make the economic model work?
In today’s complex market, it’s increasingly difficult for individual agents to have the resources and funds to not only generate leads, but also convert them. The team model allows for specializing and scale of economy. A team that’s well run allows agents to focus on their clients’ needs, rather than the paperwork and other items that aren’t necessarily the highest and best use of their time. In addition, the team agent can go on vacation for a week and know that the client will still receive a high level of service in their absence.
Have you used your online lead program to recruit and/or retain good agents?
The failure rate for new agents in the first 18 months is very high. By having a systematic lead generation program, I can provide new agents a consistent source of business. This allows them the time to generate additional business through the more traditional sources, which take a longer to time to see a return on their efforts.
Now that you’ve had experience with taking on big lead volumes, what are the most common mistakes you would coach brokers to avoid?
The first mistake I made was not having a system in place. The system must have an automatic response, lead distribution and a solid follow up plan. The second mistake I made was that I purchased too many leads and didn’t have enough agents to properly follow up. Once we reduced the leads, the conversion rate increased.
Do you have any superstars on your team who are particularly adept at converting these leads, and, if so, what do they do differently?
Superstar agents have a daily routine and are constantly training. They’re resourceful and don’t blame the resources. I never hear them complaining about quantity or quality of the leads. Superstar agents are grateful people who put their clients’ needs first.
Would you recommend this system to new agents or teams?
I would recommend this system to a broker that’s more hands-on and involved in their office. If you’re going to purchase leads and hand them out believing that they’ll magically convert, this isn’t for you. My model is to have fewer agents that have a high production rate. If your model is to hire hundreds of agents that produce two to five transactions a year, this isn’t for you. It’s also great for a high-producing agent that’s willing to help others grow and is tired of having a high-paying job instead of a business.
Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.