In the following interview, Robert J. Bailey, broker/owner of Bailey Properties in Santa Cruz, Calif., discusses onboarding his agents to a new system, scoring a 90 percent adoption rate.
Region Served: Santa Cruz County, the Monterey Bay Region and Silicon Valley
Years in Real Estate: 42
Number of Offices: 4
Number of Agents: 132
What were some of the biggest problems/opportunities you were solving for when you recently took on a company-wide system implementation?
We found that irrespective of the background of our new licensees, most didn’t know how to organize their business database. Whether that database is housed in a smartphone, computer, Rolodex or spiral notebook, organization is key, as is creating a systematic method for engaging clients. Through our intensive in-house coaching program, we’ve worked with agents to help them establish a core database made up of 200 contacts, then given them the tools to stay engaged with those individuals in order to successfully build a relationship founded on trust. Incorporating Top Producer into the mix has given them a way to grow their business by creating a goal structure and daily engagement program. Even more important, it’s provided them a way to make their database scalable by setting up a multi-tiered engagement program. Our agents are more focused on their goals and learning how to achieve these goals by having a plan in place.
What did it take to get your staff, management and sales associates on board?
Implementing a new system is a process that takes time, and if you want full participation, you have to do your due diligence and choose a system that fits with your culture. We dug deep and conducted phone interviews and live webinars with 12 different CRMs before choosing Top Producer. From there, we put together a strategic plan that began with engaging a group of early adopters made up of individuals from each of our four offices. This process was tremendously beneficial, as the feedback from this group helped us craft the next stage of the rollout and gave us the opportunity to head off objections and identify successes very early on. Looking ahead, we intend to use the Top Producer CRM within our property management company, as well. We oversee approximately 600 properties, and the system will be a boon when it comes to staying in contact with our property owners/landlords and engaging tenants at the same time.
How did you know that you needed to focus on these specific issues?
Real estate is a relationship business, and people are going to do business with you because they like and trust you. If you don’t engage, you won’t be front of mind when it comes time for someone to make a buying or selling decision. It’s also important to note that statistics from both the National Association of REALTORS® and the California Association of REALTORS® show that 80 percent of people surveyed say they are happy with their REALTOR® and would use them again, but a large percentage of those people don’t. We have an intense relationship with clients as they go through the buying or selling process, but we typically fall off the radar when it comes to re-engaging. Utilizing a system like Top Producer gets people back to the basics of communication. While technology has been a tremendous tool in many areas, it’s also created a barrier. It’s simple for real estate professionals to think they engaged just because they pushed a button. The Top Producer system drives people back to that personal contact in a methodical fashion.
Is this part of your training, or is there a formal education plan in place?
Both. We built a foundation by bringing in two trainers from Vancouver to host six different two-hour sessions over two days before hosting a series of live webinars with the Top Producer team, all of which helped us achieve the broad-based involvement we were looking for. In fact, 90 percent of our agents are currently set up and using Top Producer, Follow-up Coach, Market Snapshot and FiveStreet. The company also provides graphics that allow us to see how far along the line each and every agent is in the implementation process. Our sales managers have been charged with touching base with those who haven’t reached a certain level to ensure no one is left in the shadows.
How will having a system like this assist with recruitment and retention?
We have no doubt that the system will work in our favor as a powerful recruitment and retention tool. In fact, we’re already in the process of incorporating it into our new agent orientation so the day an agent walks into our office, we’re starting the conversation about their database and contacts with them. As far as retention, one issue we’ve seen in the past centers around agents not wanting to expose their contacts to the company, and with the way the Top Producer platform is built, agents have full confidence to load their contacts (future business) into the system without having to worry about us taking over. A large percentage of our agents are engaged in making five phone calls each day, circling back and talking about their successes during our in-house coaching sessions, which is benefitting the entire company by creating a high level of energy and synergy.
What did you have to overcome to get this in place?
There have been a couple of natural things that have come up along the way, the first being skepticism among our agents as to why we were pushing this specific product and who was actually behind the curtain. Part of this skepticism boils down to the fact that as agents implement technology, they begin to step away from face-to-face communication and look for platforms that have less engagement, which has ultimately locked them into mediocrity. In fact, if you look at the top producers within the industry, they have used technology as a tool, harnessing the power of personal engagement to build their business. Irrespective of their level of success, agents also wanted to know what the product was going to cost them, whether it would lock them in or not, and what would ultimately happen with their data should they decide to leave the company at some point down the road. Pushing all of this aside, I can happily say that we’re working on getting the last 10 percent of our agents up and running with the system. Overall, we’ve been very pleased with the rate of adoption.
Please describe your experience in working with the team at Top Producer throughout the implementation process.
The team at Top Producer has been terrific. Any time a bump or hurdle has been identified, they’ve stepped up and found a way to solve the issue at hand. The head people from Vancouver who came to do the initial implementation are coming back at the end of the month to work with our agents and elevate them to the next level. In addition to the lines of communication always being open, we have a dedicated helpline and email address, which have been instrumental in creating a high level of engagement and dialogue with the team at Top Producer. We’ve been very pleased with the results thus far.
For more information, please visit www.topproducer.com.
Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.
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