When Judy Smith connects with a luxury client, she’s not making a sale. She is creating an experience and a lasting relationship.
“That’s what is important,” she said.
As an Associate with RE/MAX Real Estate Group in Omaha, Nebraska, Smith understands what sets her apart and what drives clients to her. There are a lot of real estate agents. But there is only one Judy Smith.
“It’s something I’ll take back with me,” Smith said in the middle of the The RE/MAX Collection 7th Annual Luxury Forum. “I need to continue to focus on a group and define my personal brand. For me that’s empty nesters, and people looking for that vacation feeling and lifestyle.”
The event brought together Affiliates like Smith for two days of networking and industry insights for excelling in the luxury space. It drove top producers and veterans in the luxury market – who averaged nearly 17 years experience in real estate – to Austin, Texas, on Oct. 6 and 7. At the Four Seasons Hotel, with the Colorado River as a backdrop, some of the top professionals in real estate, banking and even luxury car sales shared ideas.
I always leave with valuable, valuable information. And, really, each year it keeps getting better.” Judy Smith on attending the Luxury Forum
With sessions on “Old Money, New Money,” “Helping you Build a Referral Business of High Net Worth Individuals,” “Reinvent and Stay Relevant,” “Global Approach. Connecting and Building Your RE/MAX Global Network” and “Establishing Yourself in a Luxury Market,” Affiliates were treated to a day of further cementing their footprints in their luxury markets.
“Each year we study the luxury market trends and topics,” said Anne Miller, Vice President, Luxury and Commercial for RE/MAX, LLC, who has headed all seven of The RE/MAX Collection Luxury Forum events. “The purpose is to bring our membership the most relevant information, which will add value to their business.”
The big takeaways, especially when it comes to a luxury market were: Be authentic, develop and nurture relationships and create an unforgettable experience.
“We are not selling,” said David S. Friedman, the cofounder of WealthQuotient, who talked about building a referral business of high net worth individuals. “We are building relationships. If you’re selling, you’re done.”
All About the Experience
Admittedly, O’Gara Beverly Hills McLaren brand manager Chris Blank knew his presence on the stage may have raised some eyebrows. A car guy at a real estate conference?
However, Blank said when it comes to working with high wealth individuals and luxury products – whether it’s million-dollar homes or $500,000 high-end, British-made automobiles – there are lots of similarities.
Blank helped turn around the O’Gara Beverly Hills McLaren shop, now the largest global dealer, after an ownership change. In 2018, the shop saw a 191% increase in sales year over year in large part because Blank and the team saw the value in creating an experience out of the buying process. That, and giving incomparable customer service.
“People buy when the value exceeds the price,” he said. “High income buyers want one person they trust who will facilitate things for them. Every month I want a reason to call someone that’s not about buying a car. Get creative in getting your customers engaged because the product you sell is no longer enough. Put value on the experience.”
That’s exactly what RE/MAX Advantage Plus agent Carlos Alleyne does in Delray Beach, Florida. Alleyne, who turned a successful career on Wall Street and in banking into a prosperous real estate career, said no matter the luxury transaction he makes, he makes it about the experience.
Alleyne always tries and create an experience around his buyer. Whether it’s partnering with luxury car companies, hiring top end chefs or restaurants, or making sure the luxury property is showcased perfectly. On one recent transaction, with a foreign buyer, he worked with the gated neighborhood where the buyer was looking. He introduced the buyer to the community prior to showing the property. When the buyer came, the neighbors already knew them and greeted them.
That extra step created an experience and expectation of lifestyle.
“I always look at what extra can I do,” he said. “I never want it to feel like it’s just a transaction.”
Keep Improving No Matter What
Even with the amount of experience in the room, and the ability to close sales, Joe Jackman sent Affiliates out with a challenge. Jackman, the CEO of Jackman Reinvents, tasked those in attendance with reinventing themselves.
Change, he said, is scary. But it’s those who embrace change who are the most successful. Continuing on the theme of creating an experience and unmatched customer service, Jackman said its paramount for agents to know their customers, know what they want and develop their personal brand around that.
Align those, and success is near.
“Why leave it to others to disrupt you,” he said. “Heck with that. Disrupt yourself. The one participating in the future always wins. The ones who play in the status quo are the ones who get punished.”
Agents like Judy Smith are the ones set up for success. Smith has been to all seven The RE/MAX Collection Luxury Forums. From each one, she said, she has taken at least one thing she instantly implements.
This year she had an iPhone full of notes. There were takeaways from each speaker, the best ones with a star next to them.
Mostly Smith knows she has to keep reinventing, create awesome experiences and provide a customer experience that consumers have come to expect from RE/MAX Affiliates.
“This forum is invigorating,” she said. “It’s inspirational to me. I keep coming back year after year. I always leave with valuable, valuable information. And, really, each year it keeps getting better.”