During his journey from law enforcement professional to region vice president to CEO of RE/MAX, Adam Contos developed a unique perspective for leading and evolving an iconic global real estate firm. During RISMedia's recent Real Estate CEO Exchange at the New York Marriott Marquis, RISMedia President and CEO John Featherston sat down for a one-on-one conversation with Contos, "Redefining a Legacy Brand." Here are a few highlights from that discussion, including a look into current operations at RE/MAX, as well as some pearls of wisdom:
John Featherston: Let's talk about business models and competition. How is RE/MAX competing against venture capital money, technology-based models, iBuyers and other so-called disruptors?
Adam Contos: In 1973 we were that other company. But our mission is always to help our partners build businesses. How can we help our agents attract consumers? We focus on helping our businesses build business through consistency, reporting and endurance, and to avoid all those distractions that pull us away from that mission.
JF: How is your recent technology play with the launch of your booj platform impacting your agents and broker/owners?
AC: We're super excited about booj. We built an end-to-end technology piece in order to build a better customer experience. Our focus in launching this technology was to succeed in delivering on our new mantra: We're a business that builds businesses. We're a culture of growth; a culture of building business. This technology empowers us. What Dave Liniger did 46 years ago when he launched RE/MAX is not that different than what we're doing today—we just have a different way of talking about it. Today, we're using technology.
The goal of booj is to provide a centralized platform so you can manage leads and develop relationships. Ultimately, the idea is to not focus on the information you're putting into the platform, but what you should be doing with that information. When we're dealing with a lead, we think of it as just a name or a number, but that's wrong. The consumer doesn't want to be called a lead. They want to know you're managing their dreams and aspirations. So how you cultivate that lead into a relationship is what matters. The direction I've taken RE/MAX in is to create a culture driven by kindness and relationships.
JF: You made headlines by bringing Nick Bailey back into the fold. Tell us more about this move and the role Nick will play within the organization.
AC: I met Nick a decade ago when I started at RE/MAX. He really loves this business. You can really see the passion this guy has. We're super excited to see him come back. He spent some time in the technology space and then at CENTURY 21. He did great things everywhere he went, and now he'll serve as our chief customer officer. His goal is to continue to raise the bar and help our businesses build business.
JF: You've gone through some incredible growth overseas. Tell us about that.
AC: There's been an emergence of an Americanized way that real estate agency happens around the world. RE/MAX has gone through a global expansion for the past couple of decades and we've grown at a really good pace. In many cases, homeownership overseas is happening at a higher rate. When you take a step back and look at what drives the real estate business, people want guidance from a professional. This happens overseas as well.
JF: In your opinion, what should broker/owners and agents focus on to enhance their value to their home-selling and -buying consumers?
AC: It's the job of an inspired individual to seek leadership and it's the job of a leader to inspire others. We have to look at what we do in our organizations and in our businesses as an opportunity to raise the bar. That's the reason why people are in this room...they're leaders. It's the job of the leader to form a set of values that powers the organization. What kind of agents do I want in my office? Not ones that will do the minimum possible, but ones who will do the push-ups for themselves. That's how I look at everything I go after. How do you do it? Reverse-engineer it. Keep adding another system, another habit to your life. A lot of people want to push the easy button. But we can't just focus on watching and waiting because we're afraid of what's going on; we have to put that aside and do our push-ups.
JF: Finally, Adam, what are your predictions for the market in 2020?
AC: We have to connect with the consumer on a relationship basis by becoming part of the community they're in. Human nature hasn't changed very much; we've just thrown all these distractions in front of us. You have to care. Be kind instead of judging. You can function from a position of love or fear. Most of us choose fear because we're trying to survive—it's fight, flight or freeze. But what if we operated from a position of love? Unconditional giving gets unconditional reciprocity. We have to raise the bar and get rid of people dragging us down. But you can't give from a hidden place behind the curtain. You can't be prospecting while you're scrolling through Facebook. Prospecting is connecting with people. When they know you care, you'll start attracting people you never knew you were going to attract.
For more coverage of RISMedia's 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange, visit RISMedia.com.