System-savvy Kendra Bishop and her top-producing team are once again finding RE/MAX Gold in Northern California
By Nora Caley
The Bishop Real Estate Group has been one of the top-producing teams in California’s Sacramento Valley for more than a decade, the past seven years with rival firms. But even as the team prospered at Coldwell Banker and later Keller Williams, it continued to seek the best path to continued growth and market presence. So late last year the team returned to RE/MAX Gold, reuniting with the company it called home from 2007 through 2011.
“Beyond the RE/MAX brand, what really drew us back is the leadership at RE/MAX Gold,” says Kendra Bishop, who co-founded Bishop Real Estate Group in 2007 with her parents, Ken and Dana Svanum. “The brokerage has longstanding, superb leaders with similar beliefs to how we run our team – they understand this is a relationship business and the client comes first. That was critically important as we looked to grow what we were doing in the market.”
An emphasis on relationships is built into the Bishop Group and the roles of the 10 team members, who are based at the RE/MAX Gold office in Roseville, California.
“We know what works within our model, which is different than some of the other ‘mega-teams,’” Bishop says. “We market the team, not any single agent. Because of that, no one person is in the limelight.”
The approach works. The members of “The Bishop Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Gold” are flourishing. Bishop herself topped $28 million in sales on 41 transaction sides last year, and the goal is for each of the agents to generate sales of $10 million annually. “It’s easily attainable in our model, based on the infrastructure in place,” she says.
Something else that distinguishes the team’s strategy: The agents all represent both buyers and sellers. “We don’t have a dedicated buyer’s agent or a dedicated seller’s agent, because our business mix is about 78 percent by-referral,” Bishop says. “We’ve found that with our focus on relationships, our clients don’t want a hand-off, like ‘OK, we’re going to buy, so we’re going to work to Joe … or we’re going to sell, so we’re going to work to Sally.’ They want Joe to work with them all the way through with whatever they need – because their trust is with Joe.”
Fine-tuned systems enable Bishop Group agents to focus on the most critical activities.
“Our team is super systems-based. I come from an operational background, so it was really fascinating to come into an industry where there are not a lot of systems in place,” says Bishop, who managed 17 offices for a technology company before turning to real estate full-time in 2002. “Some companies have jumped into systems now, but there’s still a tendency to expect agents to be good at a whole bunch of stuff – contracts and marketing and negotiations and client relations and a hundred other things. When we started the team, we created a very systemized approach so the agents could concentrate on selling. All of the support functions are handled for them.”
Kendra Bishop on the Operations People Who Liberate Agents to Sell Homes:
1) “Operations Manager (Ashlyn Increta) is front-line with the clients. She answers the phone; she’s licensed; she works through everything operationally whether it’s database management, systems management, and she does all of our escrows.”
2) “Marketing Manager (Kaitlyn Avery) is wherever you see our logo. She coordinates photographers and videographers; she works with the web folks to keep our site updated, doing all of our print media, our video media, our social media strategies, flyers, marketing of homes, etc.”
3) “Luxury Portfolio Manager (Dana Svanum) works in our higher-end homes ($750,000-plus). Those listings need a higher level of touch, so she comes in and helps with the stagers and the design folks; she makes sure the homes are ready to go to market, and then she stays through the entire listing process; she’s there for all showings.”
The rest of the team is made up of skilled sales agents. Bishop oversees all operations, although she continues to work with clients as well.
“The clients I work with are busy professionals. They’re surgeons, physicians, executives,” Bishop says. “They don’t have a lot of time, and they don’t want to go out and look at 20 houses; they want to look at the top two and make a decision. We’re in a pretty small geographical area, and our team knows almost every neighborhood, almost every house. Our market knowledge makes us a force to be reckoned with.”
The sales approach begins with strategy. “As folks call in, we match them with the right agent,” Bishop says. “Part of our success is having a diverse group of agents with varied backgrounds, which enables us to personality-match with the clients. We interview clients and get a sense of what they’re looking for, what their price point is, what their background is. That helps the process a lot.
“The team is in its 11th year, and most of us have been together from the beginning. We’re adding members, but we’re also very, very selective about who we bring on. We don’t want to rock the apple cart, so to speak.”
Keith Ard, executive vice president of RE/MAX Gold, looks forward to many more years of The Bishop Real Estate Group excelling under the RE/MAX banner.
“They are top producers year after year in that market,” Ard says. “We were so pleased to welcome them back to the most successful real estate company in the world.”