When real estate veteran Chris Lim founded Climb Real Estate in San Francisco six years ago, he wanted the firm to take a new approach to the traditional real estate model, which quickly started turning heads.
“Climb is a very different real estate company. We have established a culture among our teams that rewards collaboration across our entire Climb platform, driving our ability to better serve our clients,” says Lim. “Our 500-square-foot pop-up offices, mobile Airstream office, incubator Climb Labs and strong digital presence make Climb unlike any other real estate brand.”
Climb Labs is an independent think tank, which is where the firm houses its ideas around technology, real estate and design.
“Being a small boutique brokerage, we have the flexibility to test new ideas, agent productivity tools and partnerships,” Lim explains. “For instance, we have a very successful partnership with Epson, which allows us to test their state-of-the-art projectors and printers with our agents.”
Fueled by job creation in technology, biotech, finance and venture capital, in addition to being a safe haven for overseas investors, Lim notes the Bay Area is one of the most desirable places to live, work and play, and Climb’s focus and expertise in new-construction sales has largely contributed to its increased business of close to $1 billion in annual sales.
Constantly on the look-out for strategic ways to responsibly grow the company, Lim expects the brand to extend beyond San Francisco sometime soon.
“Our strong company culture, award-winning web- site, international exposure from being on reality television and innovative business model has afforded us new opportunities for growth,” he says. “It’s easy to create and maintain a distinctive culture when you’re a small team. It’s much harder as you start to scale over 150 agents in five different locations. Our biggest challenge is finding effective ways to communicate as the organization grows to preserve our strong corporate culture and brand values.”
Climb spends a great deal of time trying to understand its customers so it can better serve their needs and meet their expectations.
“In addition to extensive on-site training, our collaborative culture encourages an intimate understanding of the buyer and the various micro-markets in San Francisco and around the Bay Area,” Lim says. “Sharing information empowers us as individual agents and makes us stronger as a team.”
As the lead recruiter for the firm, Lim is always looking for talented, service-minded individuals with business backgrounds. Many new agents come from referrals, both internally and externally.
“We have had tremendous success in identifying talent and providing the training and mentoring programs needed to foster successful agents,” he says. “It has been great fun to see former flight attendants, teachers, cosmetics salespeople, and pharmaceutical representatives find success in real estate.”
And the collaborative culture has surely played a role in Climb’s success.
“We stay very focused on the operational support needed to be a top producer,” Lim explains, “and I am proud to say we have an exceptional transaction management and marketing team, along with an unmatched lead-generation platform.”
Vitals: Climb Real Estate
Years in business: 6
Size: 5 offices, 150 agents
2015 sales volume: approximately $900 million
2015 transactions: 800
Region served: San Francisco Bay Area