Here we are at Part 5 of how we built a successful seniors real estate business and the final blog post on this particular subject. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we appreciate your feedback on our Facebook Fanpage and via email as you share the nuggets you find valuable.
3 Key Hires
As I mentioned in Part 4, our real estate business was hopping with about 10 to 12 sales per month. Given that at least five or six of those sales were usually older adult clients with complex situations, we found it necessary to call in additional support beyond the standard real estate resource team members.
Knowing that we wanted to venture outside the traditional real estate box and really do something worthwhile in the way of serving seniors, we decided to hire professional coaches to help us think it through.
It only took a couple of coaching sessions to realize that we had chosen the right coaches for the job. Art and Anna Kleimer seemed to ask the perfect questions and were able to guide us toward creating a team that would support both our short and long term personal and professionals goals. - See more at: Part 4
Looking back, I am pretty sure we already knew we needed to hire buyer focused sales associates to help us convert and contract buyer leads, but we just weren’t sure how to go about it. Art and Anna first helped us clarify our expectations about what buyer’s agents would do and how our team would support and train them. The next step was attracting the right people for the roles which meant a combination of skill, character, and drive.
Considering we had 15 to 20 listings at any given time, it was important to us that we had top quality people to field incoming leads and convert them into exclusive buyer agreements. One of our standards was that we didn’t work with home buyers who didn’t contract with us to do so. Too many times getting burned told us that it just wasn’t smart business. Training buyer agents how to effectively present this perspective was key in our team development and once we got that piece in place, our buyer agents were some of the most productive and profitable in the marketplace.
After only a few short months, our buyer agents were handling all the business that took place after 5pm and on weekends, freeing us up for some much needed R & R. With all the time saved not fielding buyer calls and showing property during the week, we were able to focus on growing the seniors division of the business.
Adding a Seniors Division
Growing a successful seniors niche requires a combination of roles. I break them down into 3 categories:
Development 101 : Without marketing, there aren’t any leads. Without leads, there aren’t any sales. And without sales, clearly you have no one to serve.
The funny thing about these roles is that not only am I good at all three of them, but I like doing all of them too - this is rare. Most people prefer one over the other and/or are more skilled at one or two making it easy to decide where the gaps are. Chris prefers the service side and so we often share these responsibilities.
Knowing which one or two to leverage was probably the hardest decision I had to make and coaching helped me to determine the course that would best serve both my short and long term goals. Ultimately, I decided to stick with the sales role and find help to support the marketing and services areas. By doing this, I could hire non-licensed people to take care of our senior community relationships, client care, and team supported downsizing services.
Two hires for our seniors division, later branded as Memories on the Move, catapulted us forward making us the premier seniors real estate resource in our market.
You never know where you will meet your next hire. I was visiting a senior living community one day when I met Kathy. She had a masters in gerontology and was working as a consultant overseeing the community’s renovation. Her contract was ending and she was looking for her next opportunity, so after a few cups of coffee and some reference checks, Kathy came to work as Memories on the Move’s Executive Director.
Kathy’s role included educating and building relationships within senior living communities and aging services organizations, teaching classes and doing community awareness seminars, marketing, and business development.
Our next seniors division hire began as an internship. Shaunda was graduating with a gerontology degree next semester and needed to fulfill her internship requirements by working directly with older adults. Equipped with excellent communication skills, a heart for seniors, and an eye for detail, she was a perfect fit for our team’s move manager position. Following the 6 month paid internship, Shaunda came on board full time with Memories on the Move as a senior move coordinator.
Shaunda’s job description included helping our senior adult clients sort, organize, pack, move, unpack, and re-organize. She also facilitated the transfer or cancellation of utilities, mail forwarding, and address changes on behalf of our clients.
It’s important to note here that after being in business for about a year, we decided to incorporate and make Memories on the Move a stand-alone entity. Our theory was that we could provide move management services outside our own client base and increase our profits accordingly.
Over time Memories on the Move continued to be a primary lead source for real estate sales, however as a move management company it was not as profitable as expected. We viewed the investment in the company as a marketing and personnel expense an continued to operate it as a loss leader due to it’s massive contribution to our real estate sales efforts. When we later sold our real estate sales business, we sold Memories on the Move as a separate company.
As I said, we eventually sold both our real estate and senior move management companies and transitioned into brokerage management and sales coaching. This was another one of those times that our coaches were invaluable. We had no idea how much our real estate business was worth or how to approach others about purchasing it. Actually, if it hand’t been for Art and Anna, we probably would have left thousands of dollars on the table.
After careful evaluation and consultation, we were able to determine the value of our current inventory, probability of repeat customers and clients, the estimated ongoing return of our seniors marketing program, and the projected impact of our brand. With that, we created an “offer to sell.” And it did - in a week.
Top 5 Lessons Learned in This Phase
1. Having the right people on board makes life easier;
2. Driven people are first attracted to passion and opportunities
3. It’s OK to operate “outside the box.”
4. Coaching is an investment.
5. There is equity in a properly managed real estate team.
With the overwhelming feedback about information we have been sharing on our blog and the growing number of agents graduating from our Success in Seniors Real Estate courses, it has become apparent that you are looking for added resources to help you grow and serve, so we are rising to the occasion!
Look for our Master Seniors Real Estate Series beginning soon!
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|Nikki Buckelew is the Founder and CEO of the Seniors Real Estate Institute and administrator for the Certified Senior Housing Professional® (CSHP) designation. A veteran REALTOR® of over two decades, she holds a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. As a professional speaker, coach, and trainer, Nikki is committed to empowering, equipping, and educating real estate sales and senior housing professionals seeking to better serve the mature market segment.