Imagining the Best Brokerage: 5 Mission-Critical Elements
Education and accountability help a top RE/MAX brokerage grow to nearly 100 agents.
It’s taken Tim and Tammy Kress seven years to transform their Austin, Texas, brokerage from a fledgling, four-person unit to a thriving, growing powerhouse of nearly 100 productive agents. The journey had its share of challenges, and it certainly didn’t happen overnight. But that makes it even sweeter for the resilient husband-wife team who’ve built something special in the state capital known more as the home of a different real estate brand.
How did they do it? By always putting their agents’ success first. And by creating an environment filled with development, learning, collaboration, laughter, accountability and energized people helping each other improve their results and lives.
In other words, they built a textbook RE/MAX office.
RE/MAX 1, based in Cedar Park just north of Austin, has earned a reputation for being a great place for agents to raise their game. Part of that comes through its embrace of Momentum, the complete agent development system exclusive to RE/MAX. With its emphasis on specific steps to mastery, Momentum offers great promise to those who take it to heart.
“Whether they’re brand new or they’ve been in the business for 20 years, any agent can get plugged into our development programs and increase business very quickly,” says Tammy Kress, who joined RE/MAX in 2003 and is positioned as the brokerage’s primary manager. “It takes commitment, and it takes work. But anyone can do it.”
Everything and everyone at RE/MAX 1 is learning-based, she says. Agents can take daily classes on lead conversion, customer service, contracts and social media, among other topics. They can participate in “Tech Tuesdays,” a weekly workshop on technology best practices, to learn about SEO. They can join mastermind groups to share goals and strategies. They can even join accountability groups to stay motivated — and help their colleagues do the same.
“Agents who may have floundered in the past are doing consistent business now,” Tammy says. “They’re taking their careers to heights they didn’t think were possible.”
“Our office has a wide variety of agents in age – 20s to 70s and in between – as well as work styles,” Tami says. “In planning this new office, we looked carefully at the needs of all our agents.”
For instance, the office has a café-style kitchen with bistro tables, a large round table and an island that meets the collaborative needs of the younger generation of agents. For those who often work from home, but sometimes need space to catch up on paperwork, there is a room with two long tables with glass dividers. And, if calls are on the agenda, a bank of small phone booth-style rooms line one wall.
More seasoned agents who prefer an office find their spaces around the outer walls of the building so they receive natural daylight from large windows.
The Kress’ architect encouraged them to think about the experience they wanted to create for both agents and clients. The light-filled building with designer lighting and casual, homey furnishings creates a welcoming environment for clients and a collaborative space for working and learning agents.
Because they understand the value of finding the right people, the Kresses have had development and recruiting support since day one. Their director of development, Leslie VanBurkleo and Molly McKenna, director of opportunity at the brokerage, continually work the phones to find agents with the learning-based mindset RE/MAX 1 wants.
It’s an easy sell because of the comprehensive training and the positive company culture.
“Agents love being here, and they talk about it to other agents,” Tammy says. “That’s a big part of what grows our company.”
When Sales Associate Anthony Ferrando decided to switch from a local independent brokerage to RE/MAX, he set up an appointment with the biggest brokerage in town. He joined RE/MAX 1 on the spot.
“When I was given the numbers, I realized I paid my old broker more just off the splits than I would have by being with RE/MAX,” Ferrando says. “Now, I have the best brand, the recognizable RE/MAX sign and nearly 100 other agents to bounce ideas off of.”
RE/MAX 1 By the Numbers
The move suits Ferrando well.
Jona Ten Eyck joined RE/MAX 1 more than six years ago after outgrowing her old brokerage. She wanted to be with the best to take her business to the next level, she says.
As expected, her production increased.
“If you want to reach for the stars and the moon, you can,” Ten Eyck says. “You can be the best agent you want to be, and RE/MAX gives you all of the tools and resources to do it.”
RE/MAX 1 celebrates its agents’ success by hosting parties and other events for agents and their families. It’s another way to make each agent feel special.
And when an agent feels important and valued, and receives encouragement to lead, they feel motivated to work a little harder and a little smarter. They also tend to stay loyal to their broker.
Ferrando says regular contact with other RE/MAX 1 agents has helped as much as the classes and personal development provided by the brokerage.
“Everyone in our office shares pretty much everything they know,” he says.
If that’s not enough to propel an agent to breakthrough success, the Kresses offer personal coaching. VanBurkleo, further consults with agents on goal-setting and client relations.
“We follow the Momentum way and help agents create good habits: work your sphere, follow-up with expired listings or FSBOs — and be consistent about it,” says Tim Kress.
“We have the most state-of-the-art facility I’ve ever seen for real estate,” he says. “With our RE/MAX tools, such as the RE/MAX Design Center, we just type in our listing information, it makes flyers for us and we’re done. You have everything you could possibly need.”
Just as RE/MAX 1 invests in top-notch training, it supplies leads to help get the job done. The combination of a successful Google pay-per-click ad campaign, and funneling LeadStreet and remax.com inquiries to their agents, generates about 500 new leads a month, says Tim.
To get the most out of those leads, the Kresses encourage agents to be accountable.
“For any office leads that don’t have a closing within six months, we have the agent come in and make calls to those leads to get things moving,” Tim says. “Agents who never closed leads before started to get closings once we started enforcing this rule. They have to be held accountable, otherwise, those leads are wasted.”
Momentum, combined with a constant focus on recruiting, helped the Kresses grow their business exponentially over the past seven years.
Be a giver and be thankful, the Kresses say, and your business too will thrive.
“We really do live and breathe optimism and try to be accessible,” Tammy Kress says. “I feel that a big part of my role as broker is to encourage my team.”