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By Leslie Geary

RISMEDIA, Nov. 1, 2007-In today’s online-centric world, there seems to be many options for agents in order to flourish and thrive in the industry. For Ken Smith of Suburban House Hunters Team Conversion Specialists, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois, after spending seven years in the real estate industry, he says his Web site has been key to building his brand and business. Here, read how Smith and his team got their start, and how they intend to continue excelling-together as a team.

When and why was the team formed?
The team was formed three years ago when my wife joined me. I had hit a point where there was no way to grow the business any further. So I either needed to expand or be content with that level of income. We have kept adding agents on from there.

What do you tell people on listing appointments about the value of hiring your team versus hiring a solo agent?
Every home sale includes many steps that must happen for the sale to be a smooth one. I then show the seller a list of tasks that are done by our team and who does them. This shows how much really is involved in selling a home. Then I ask if they think an individual agent would have time to effectively do everything? That pretty much takes care of any competition that we might have had.

What’s your best tip for getting a listing at the right price?
You need to get to the sellers “why” or motivation for selling. Without this you can give them stats and show them pretty graphs, but they will not be listening to you. When you can get the real motivation out of them and present your price based on achieving their goals, then you will get the correct price more times than not. You also need to be willing to walk away from a listing if the seller just isn’t motivated and will not be realistic. There is power in the seller knowing that you don’t need that listing and that you will walk away if they aren’t going to be realistic about the price. Anyone can list homes, but without proper pricing you will not sell many of them in this market.

What advertising idea created the greatest return on investment?
For the best ROI it would have to be some of the free marketing we do. There are lots of places to market listings online for free and they take little effort. Postlets.com is a great resource for marketing your listings online for free and it takes less then five minutes per listing. There are other more advanced items out there and with some tracking you can find out what works in your market.

What works best in generating online leads?
Having a great Web site has been key in building our brand and business. In the past a plain Web site was enough to generate business, but now you need to move into Web 2.0. We changed our Web site to a FamousAgents.com “blogsite” a few months ago and have seen great results. The new design has allowed us to rank better in the search engines and in turn generate more leads. It takes time to get your Web site to rank well, but even with pay per click, an agent can take a brand new Web site and start getting leads the same day. The Web is an amazing tool and, used correctly, can generate a lot of business.

Do you rely on internal or external training and for what specific areas?
We do some one-on-one training based on the agents’ needs and it’s all done either by me or by other team members. With a team like ours there is a lot of training that occurs from one member to another that saves me from having to do it all.

How are you developing your team into a true business entity? Have you formed an LLC or incorporated?
We are incorporated. It is important for you to treat your business as a business. Being incorporated is just the beginning. We have a budget, business plan, and goals to direct the business and keep us on track.

Being only 29 I don’t see a time that I would be looking to sell the business. Instead we are focusing on becoming a business that can be run without much direct contact from me. There will be managers that will take care of each part of the business and they will report to me. If at some point I wanted to get 100% out of the business it would be a really easy business to sell as it isn’t my name that is branded all over town.

Philosophy on life in real estate:
It’s an easy business to be in, but a really hard business to excel at.

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