Ryan O’Neill remains grounded, giving and remarkably calm, considering he leads the No. 1 RE/MAX team in the world. His approach might surprise you.
How exactly do you lead a team to become number one in the world’s number one real estate network?
Ryan O’Neill, with RE/MAX Advantage Plus in Minnesota, makes it sound so … easy.
Integrity? You bet.
Business and marketing savvy? They help.
But what about the cutthroat attitude? Long days and sleepless nights? Hitting it rich in a lucrative market?
Not at all.
For O’Neill — Team Leader of The Minnesota Real Estate Team in the Twin Cities — it’s more about providing value, having fun, taking care of yourself, and treating others with respect.
Of course, there’s a driven, determined side to O’Neill, too. The standout team leader worked hard for years to help his team reach No. 1, each year edging closer to his goal. In 2011 the team hit #3. In 2012 they rose to #2. Finally, in 2013, they reached the top. And that’s where The Minnesota Real Estate Team has been ever since.
Diligent work spanning a career of 15 years put this Team Leader in a prime position. His humility and down-to-earth attitude belie the tremendous success he’s created. His work ethic and dedication to the people he works with serve as the foundation for a thriving team.
O’Neill emphasizes a healthy work-life balance to stay fresh and energized. He makes time for friends and family, whether it’s relaxing with his wife or playing piano with his brother — something he did professionally before getting into real estate. And, above all else, O’Neill understands the importance of harvesting relationships and treating others well.
We visited him at home in Bloomington, Minnesota to glean some secrets to his success.
Ryan O’Neill offers advice on…
How did you get started in real estate and hone your abilities?
I was originally interested in purchasing investment property and representing myself as the agent when purchasing. But as I started working with clients I found that I really enjoyed working with other people, and enjoyed the process of helping people buy and sell real estate.
The real estate business is simply about people. It’s about building relationships, communicating effectively and doing our best to truly understand and empathize with others.
In college, I sold Cutco knives. And after college, my brother Tim and I toured the country playing our music. Both of these experiences developed my interpersonal skills and taught me how to build rapport.
My parents taught us to treat everyone with respect and kindness, to always give others the benefit of the doubt, and to truly believe in the better nature of humanity.
The biggest mistake I made the first five years was working too much.
I always encourage agents to strive and work toward their goals. However, it’s so important to take time off. It helps you recharge and to focus on the things I believe are most important in life: Family, friends and faith.
I actively sold and worked with buyers and sellers for the first five years of my career. As I started to get busier with clients and also recruiting agents to our team I realized I couldn’t do both jobs well at the same time. So I decided to work with our team members as my clients.
Now my role is not only helping our agents with planning and growing their individual businesses, but also focusing on our various advertising and lead generation sources to help our agents continue to grow and help more buyers and sellers in our market.
I am competitive and wanted to push myself, and our team, to be the best we can be.
Life is so short. I ask myself often:
What will be your legacy, Ryan?
How will others remember you?
What can I do today to improve the lives of others and those around me?
I am a firm believer that when you help others succeed, when you elevate the lives of those around you, that is true success.
I started our team after one year in the business.
As I started to generate various types of business — investment property, buyers, sellers — all over the Twin Cities, I realized we needed to have top agents all across the metro area to help with these different type of clients.
I learned early on this business has very little to do with who I am. It’s all about providing a certain level of service and client experience to each of our buyers and sellers.
The biggest advantage of having a team is acquiring new business. It’s a snowball effect: An agent can plug into additional leads, which leads to closings, more past clients, more referrals, and ultimately to growing your personal sphere and overall business even faster.
Today, we are a team of about 125 agents all across the Twin Cities area. We are diverse in every sense: New agents, seasoned pros, all ages, ethnicities, agents who used to own their own brokerage, agents who are brokers, you name it.
First, our lead flow. We generate 1,500 leads a month through all types of advertising. We run weekly radio shows, print advertising, seminars, Facebook ads, Google ads, referral relationships with other agents, and more. We drive a lot of leads through our broad advertising strategy.
Second, we provide a great learning environment with weekly, real-life training sessions.
Third, they know my focus is on each of them individually as agents. I care tremendously. It is never about just about selling more homes for me.
Focus on providing value to consumers in every way possible.
Buyers and sellers want to know how we are going to help them. In your marketing, in your advertising, with your agents, always focus on the consumer. Work with them at their pace and make the buying and selling process fun.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
There is way more to life than real estate. What will be your legacy? How will people remember that you treated them? This is the question I always come back to.
Focus on agent retention.
Agent retention must be such a high priority for the team leader. Ask yourself, why would an agent work and stay with you versus going with any other team? Take care of your agents. How can you bring them more value and elevate their business?
Focus on profitability.
Bigger is not always better. You have to know your numbers, the profitability of your business, and focus on the details. I like to use QuickBooks and keep it updated frequently. This helps you analyze if you are overspending, what is working or not working.
Sellers want a proven brand. Being with RE/MAX gives us an opportunity for that business. It provides a level of trust in our agent, our team, and our overall marketing plan.
I use Facebook and LinkedIn daily — taking time to focus on others is so very important. Remembering people’s birthdays, anniversaries, death of loved ones, pets, special events, you name it. It shows you care about someone more than just a real estate closing or your next sale.
Email. It allows for efficiency in communication, especially for questions that can be answered quickly or easily. With each of us having limited time each day, efficiency is critical.
I am a big believer in the concept of “Inbox Zero,” and keeping my inbox cleared as much as possible.
Same day response to emails, phone calls, and text messages. If someone calls, call them back the same day. Text message? Text them back the same day. It’s about courtesy and respect, and it shows you care.
Put people first.
Focus on building relationships with others. Provide an awesome service, build your reviews online, and over time those referrals will continue to grow and grow.
Make it fun.
When you make the buying and selling process fun and enjoyable for clients, when they realize you are not looking to make a quick sale and you are there to provide value and make the process fun and work at their pace, the referrals flow.
My parents helped me realize early on that life is about more than playing music or selling houses. It is about how we treat everyone in our day-to-day lives and the legacy we want to leave.
Take it easy.
Focus on your daily routine. Work on one item at a time, slowly but surely getting those items done. This allows you to stay organized but allows you to get things done over time.