Robert Lyszczarz, owner of nine-office RE/MAX Select, is expanding into Florida after rapid growth in Northern New Jersey. In the following interview, we asked him his viewpoint on knowing ahead of time how many leads he would have before starting a new office.
Robert, you took a position on using online consumer inquiries to expand your business—how are you tracking on growth since you focused on internet leads?
The leads are helping in my expansion to Florida. I'm looking forward to it—it's a very dynamic market. I’m hiring a GM, so things go smoothly when I'm there. We are opening from Pompano Beach to Parkland.
Have you already made the acquisition?
I am starting from scratch. I started with what territory was available for a RE/MAX franchise and did my homework on where the opportunity is best. I am going to start with an empty office and aggressively recruit. But I have a secret weapon—I have leads. To get a top team of experienced agents to join you need something tangible to offer, which are my realtor.com leads.
What are the pros and cons of a per-lead model vs. paying for impressions?
I started out with pay-per-click leads from Google and then tried Facebook, but they are much harder to work with and the agents tend give up on them. Five plus years back, I had 90 percent of my budget allocated to these and another large lead source and only 10 percent was realtor.com. Now I am spending over 90 percent of my budget on realtor.com leads.
How many leads did you ramp up to?
When I first got started with realtor.com in 2011, I had 80-125 leads a month. I started looking into which leads were converting at a higher rate and which leads my best agents were most willing to work on. Before we made the switch at least a third to a half were not serious buyers, which burned out my top agents and teams. With realtor.com, the frustration level came down, the conversion rate went up, attracting my more experienced agents to work them.
Now we have 3,500-4,000 leads coming in from realtor.com each month. I needed to get a positive ROI, which I can only get because realtor.com is based on leads—not impressions. When I make a purchase, and I know my conversion rate, I can calculate my anticipate profit upfront.
How do you manage good follow-up from your agents – what gives them confidence that this is not a waste of their time and that they can convert the opportunities?
We make them successful by providing them the ability to quickly react with the response tools that come with realtor.com leads. We get them to respond consistently with tracking and accountability. We have a culture of prospecting. We know from NAR that the average transaction takes eight contacts, so we time block and make sure this gets done.
Additionally, our best customers are our repeat customers. We also make sure we reach our past customers at least four times per year in a personal way such as phone or a personal visit and we schedule and track these activities with Top Producer.
Finally, we use the realtor.com-supplied market-insight reports to nurture our pipeline of seller leads by keeping them abreast of market conditions.
What specifically can realtor.com do to help a broker build a bigger business?
With my expansion to Florida I wanted to understand the market, so I bought realtor.com leads near Saint Petersburg and in Southern Florida and farmed them out to test the market. This is how I am selecting my office locations. I can get a lead flow going and experience ahead of time how a new area will perform
Realtor.com also has a resource of real people who can help you out. They can give you access to agents, teams and brokers who also use the systems, and they hold a summit where you can share information. It feels like I have a success partner, not just another vendor.
What would you say to an agent or team considering joining you?
While leads are a great way to get started here, you don’t just get names and phone numbers. I provide a roadmap for success, which includes technology, coaching and accountability, all of which are critical to optimize results.
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