In the following interview, Robert Slack, broker/owner of Robert Slack Fine Homes in Ocala, Fla., discusses his journey from broke used car salesman to booming real estate broker, with a boost from online leads.
Region Served: Florida
Number of Offices: 1
Number of Agents: 56
You've been in real estate now for five years at a point in your life when some may consider retiring. How did you know this would be the right move for you?
I was broke and selling used cars at 65, so I decided to get my real estate license. I was a single agent for a year, got some traction with online leads, and in 2014, I started a brokerage with four other newly licensed agents. Now, at 70, I'm doing well. I have 56 agents, all of whom are full-time. We all work remotely, we run a completely paperless operation (there's no file cabinet in our office), and we're even considering opening a satellite office in Ft. Lauderdale.
How many transactions does your brokerage do each year?
I did 500-600 transactions in 2016. For 2017, I project to be doing between 1,400 and 1,600 transactions.
How did you ramp up to this level of volume?
We handle a lot of leads. Once a lead comes in, it's distributed to our agents by zip code and/or price. We then have an auto text response that goes right back out to the potential buyer, with the specific agent's info included. Not only are we open 16 hours a day, but we also have a concierge service in the office that operates from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. And, we make sure to call every lead within a minute in order to set up an appointment for the agent.
What other traditional farming/prospecting methods are you using?
We work exclusively with online leads. Breaking this down even further, we work 95 percent with buyers, 5 percent with sellers, and realtor.com® is by far our largest lead source.
For a broker or team just starting out, what's your recommendation on re-investing and growth?
For me, online leads are the only way to go. Otherwise, it's very hard to get any traction. In terms of growth, it's harder to go from four to five agents than from 40 to 50. I run agent ads on Indeed.com and promise all new agents that they'll get 30-40 realtor.com leads per month. The agents who've been the best recruits for us are the ones who aren't yet successful. Not only are they starving for leads, but they work hard, and they really appreciate what we send them. We've gone from four agents in 2014 to 56 in 2016, and by the end of 2017, we plan to have about 100 agents. We have very little turnover; in fact, the only agents we lose are the ones we want to lose.
You recently made a change to realtor.com. Are the results similar for the investment you're making?
Until September 2015, I was growing rapidly with Zillow. When they merged with Trulia, we suddenly found that one-third of our spend was going to Trulia leads, which, for whatever reason, were extremely ineffective in Florida. Our ROI took a huge hit, so I began switching my spend to realtor.com and got immediate action. The benefit of realtor.com is huge. I'm closing twice as many transactions with the same amount of spend. It's a no-brainer.
Overall, what's it like to work with the team at realtor.com®?
It's been very good; they're very hard-working people. I speak to my rep anywhere from four to five times a week, even on Saturdays, which, for a company like that, is amazing. If I ever have an issue, they're very quick to respond to it.
For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.
Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia's senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.