In the following interview, Don Mowery, Broker/Owner with RE/MAX New Horizons in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., offers insight on recruiting agents and reeling in quality internet leads.
Region served: The Inland Empire areas of Southern California
Years in real estate: Since 1995
The most recent NAR survey of homebuyers and sellers reported that more people than ever (44 percent) found their home online. The big fear when the Internet only accounted for 8 percent was that homeowners would be less inclined to use a licensed real estate professional, yet the opposite has happened. Why are more people finding a home on their own, and why are even more of them still wanting to work with an agent?
I truly believe that buyers are the future of this industry, and they’re turning to the Internet because they’re looking for more information about the properties they’re interested in. With all the information they have available at their fingertips, it’s our job as real estate professionals to talk to prospects and convert them into actual clients. We accomplish this through providing education regarding financing, market trends and the buying process itself. In the end, buyers can go online to purchase a home, but they still need us by their side to help them overcome the hurdles they may not even know about.
When prospective buyers inquire about a property, are they receptive to working with you at that time?
We spend a lot of money on lead generation, bringing in 1,100 leads a month. That being said, there’s no resistance among the leads coming in when it comes to working with us, but it’s important to remember that the process associated with buying a home typically averages 18 months. Therefore, it’s our job to set up any and all leads that come in on a drip campaign so that we’re staying in touch on a consistent basis.
How do you know if an Internet buyer is qualified, or simply wasting your time?
The Internet leads we get provide us with information regarding the prospect’s timeframe and price range. It’s then the agent’s job to determine that they’ve been qualified (by whom and for how much). It’s also critical for the agent to understand which factors are most important to the prospect as they go through the home-buying process.
Are all Internet lead sources the same? Have you compared them?
Over the years, we’ve found success with various lead generation sources; however, as we’ve continued to grow our agent base at RE/MAX New Horizons, we’ve noticed a greater conversion rate from the leads we’re receiving from realtor.com®. While we’ve only been using realtor.com® for the past year, I have to say that we’ve experienced our greatest success with them.
With online leads, are you getting a good return? For your investment, what are you getting back?
We spend close to $16,000 a month on lead generation, and in looking at the numbers from December, we’ve picked up eight deals already (at press time). In the end, it all boils down to the fact that if you’re going to buy leads, you need to have a good system in place to incubate those leads. If you don’t have an immediate lead generation system like FiveStreet that reaches out to clients immediately—as well as a campaign to follow up and convert—you’re burning money. If you’re just getting into the business, hire an assistant, purchase a product like FiveStreet, set up a drip campaign and then follow-up with phone calls.
You mentioned realtor.com®. Can you talk about your experience working with them?
Our rep Dana Nesen has been instrumental in getting us up and running with realtor.com® this past year. She also takes the time to follow up after the Tuesday/Thursday lead conversion classes that are offered on behalf of the company. The training and scripting from these classes has pushed us over the edge in terms of converting Internet leads. One great thing about working with realtor.com® is the fact that they guarantee that for every spot I get, I will get 40 leads per year. Being an analytical person, this provides great comfort, as I can easily determine my conversion rate by taking into consideration how much I pay and the amount of leads I get.
As a broker, do you use your lead programs to recruit or retain agents?
Lead generation is critical to my particular business model, as my whole model is built off of it. While 90 percent of agents fail within their first two years in business, I’m committed to setting agents up for success by bringing them in before they even get their license and putting them through a mentoring program where they’re simply scrubbing leads. New agents who join the company are also assigned to a seasoned agent who not only teaches them how to script, but brings them out on showings, as well. Once they become licensed, they’re already script-certified and ready to jump right in.
Is mobile part of your strategy?
Absolutely. Whenever I get a lead, I like to get that person over to my website, or my mobile app that I have through RE/MAX.
For more information, visit www.donmoweryrealestate.com.