In the following interview, Thomas and Danielle Devor, owners, Devor Real Estate Associates – A.Z. & Associates Real Estate in Glendale, Ariz., discuss cultivating referrals in a new market, generating online leads, and growing smart.
I understand you're an up-and-coming force in Arizona; however, you're originally from California. When and why did you move to the area?
We moved to Arizona about four-and-a-half years ago when Danielle took an executive assistant position with one of the largest real estate teams in the area. Prior to moving, I had worked as a loan officer, but had never been a licensed agent.
How did you get traction after moving to a new state without a sphere of influence and any referral business?
A lot of our success in gaining traction has to do with the fact that we started out on a team upon moving to the area. While Danielle spent her time as an executive assistant, I was busy doing phone sales before I was recruited by the team as an ISA. From there, I went on to earn my real estate license, and that ultimately led to where we are today.
What type of role have online leads played when it comes to your firm's growth?
As an ISA, I spent a lot of time converting leads that were generated through a variety of channels. When Danielle and I made the decision to strike out on our own about a year ago before forming our own team this past summer, we had to start all over again in terms of generating leads. That's when we decided to start using realtor.com®. In fact, I knew an agent that was having great success with realtor.com, and that's what turned me onto them. Our initial investment was a couple hundred dollars a month, but when we started to see a return, we dove in head first. As far as the numbers go, Danielle and I personally closed about 50 deals in 2016 (at press time) and collectively, as a team, we closed 57-58 deals. Realtor.com is a big source of our business, with 31-32 of those deals coming directly from them. We're absolutely seeing a return on our investment with the program.
Are the leads you receive from realtor.com more serious than those you've seen from other lead sources?
Yes, I would absolutely say they're more serious. More often than not, when you do pay-per-click and internet advertising, people generally sign up to look at properties, but they don't want to be contacted. With realtor.com, prospects know they're going to be contacted. They're reaching out and providing their information because they want to speak with someone. Since they're expecting a call, it gets rid of that awkwardness that comes with cold calling, knocking down that imaginary wall.
Was it difficult to set up a system to manage a high volume of leads?
When we first began working with realtor.com, we were taking advantage of FiveStreet, their lead consolidation and response software, to track each and every lead that came in. No matter what type of internet leads you're working with, the majority are looking six to nine months out, so staying top of mind is critical. Therefore, it's important to have a lead capture system in place so that you can track what your agents are doing as far as staying in touch.
Did you get help from the team at realtor.com after committing to an investment with them?
The team at realtor.com has been great to work with. While there's a waiting list for Maricopa County, we were contacted by a member of the team as soon as a zip code opened up, and we jumped. I have a great connection with my contact at realtor.com, and if I need something, I know they're on it. All in all, their customer service is awesome, they're always available when we need them and the service they provide is nothing short of top notch.
Looking ahead, what are your growth plans, and how does your lead program fit in with recruiting new members to your team?
Since we're coming off of a team mentality, we do things a little differently at Devor Real Estate Associates, most notably by showing our agents how to be successful with open houses, lead generation, etc. The leads they get from us are more like icing on the cake. We don't expect agents to join the team and rely on our leads, but rather, we focus on educating them about the importance of speed when it comes to leads. It's also important to make sure we're cultivating and nurturing the leads that aren't quite ready to buy at the moment. In terms of growth, we're open to expanding the team, but our main focus is to grow something that we can still service at a high level while continuing to expand. This is a big deal for us, as it's what we pride ourselves on, and it's allowed us to be successful in the service level we provide. Additionally, we ramped up with realtor.com about six or seven months ago, and as a team, our goal is to close over 140 deals this year.
For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.
Paige Tepping is RISMedia's managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.