Rebecca Meredith, President, Solid Source
“Since the time required to review a contract is the same regardless of the sales price, why is the commission paid to the broker different?” asks Meredith, president of the Atlanta-based firm. “After all, 100 percent of client lunches, individual agent branding, gas, health insurance and other expenses are paid for by the agent. Isn’t it only fair the agent keeps 100 percent of their commission?”
Today, Solid Source is home to more than 1,700 real estate agents who sell over $1 billion annually in Metro Atlanta residential real estate. What’s the secret to accomplishing and sustaining this ongoing level of success for over 15 years?
“Our track record is solid,” says Meredith. “We’re constantly committed to the research and development of new technology, unique home marketing, and providing the foundation for platforms where the agents are encouraged and free to brand themselves.”
Solid Source Founder Michele Velcheck adds: “Even after interviewing thousands of agents joining our firm, it still surprises me when amazing agents have been convinced by a previous broker that the success the agent has worked so hard to earn was a result of the broker’s name. Really?”
Learn more about the culture and strategies that continue to mold the Solid Source success story in this exclusive interview.
Maria Patterson: Rebecca, wouldn’t all agents prefer to keep more commission from every sale? Why do you believe agents hesitate to keep more of the money they work so hard to earn?
Rebecca Meredith: We hear the same response consistently: “I’ve considered coming here for years, but fear of change, learning new systems and rebuilding my brand with a new broker kept me from the inevitable choice I knew I would make someday. I’m frustrated now thinking of the money I would have saved with more services and broker support than I have now.”
Finding out that changing brokerages can take place within a few business hours, and that signs, business cards, marketing materials, etc., can be ordered in advance to eliminate downtime, brings a huge sigh of relief. Then, it’s like a light comes on and the welcome party begins.
MP: I understand Solid Source designed and implemented one of the first paperless transaction management softwares in the country in 2006. Can you tell me more about what compels you to continue to design and implement new technology?
RM: Absolutely! When we see our agents burdened with redundant, time-consuming activity, it leads to a “what’s next” brainstorming meeting to research and evaluate how to give them back the precious gift of time.
For example, our newly released Vision software imports transaction data from FMLS to eliminate re-entering the same data into company software. SolidSourceEM.com provides secure online submission of earnest money to provide an alternative to rushing checks to the office. All attorneys can wire commission checks, and we pay agents via direct deposit, which allows the agent to start the closing celebration when it happens without the burden of driving a check to the office.
One of my favorite ways we use technology is by broadcasting training to various offices for agent convenience. In addition, our sales meetings are streamed live and recorded so the agent can participate real-time through any internet connection, or go to the online library archive to watch it later. By the time one project is being completed, we’re already evaluating new project ideas to make the lives of our Solid Source family easier.
MP: How did you manage to grow your agent base to such an impressive number?
RM: We focus on serving agents with our very best every day through accessible, non-competing broker support, investing time and resources to design intuitive technology and innovative processes to assist agents in every transaction. We genuinely care about each agent personally and professionally. More than 70 percent of our agents were referred directly or through professional interaction with our agents during a transaction. We’re committed to serving every agent with excellence, gratitude and respect. We’re thankful to our Solid Source family for sharing the good news.
MP: What do you look for when hiring staff members to support your agents?
RM: Honesty, high-capacity intelligence, courage, humility, knowledge-seekers with a servant heart and a consistent, trustworthy thought process. We’re thankful that each member of our corporate staff has a college degree, real estate license, or both. Everyone is cross-trained so there’s no weak link in the chain of agent support. Brokers are full-time, non-competing, available, transparent, encouraging and completely focused on serving our agents. Our agents appreciate the consistency of accurate, professional communication and assistance. The common denominator of our corporate staff is the gratefulness in each of our hearts for every agent. We realize every moment of the day that we have a job because Solid Source agents choose to work here. It’s an honor to serve, train, advocate, encourage, promote and love our remarkable Solid Source family. Hearing an agent exhale when they realize knowledgeable advice is being provided to handle a simple question or difficult situation is why we love doing what we do.
MP: Please describe your firm’s culture and leadership philosophy.
RM: The company culture at Solid Source can be summarized in five words which are easy to remember with the acronym FAITH: Fair, Appreciative, Innovative, Truthful, Helpful.
Actions speak louder than words and trust is earned by consistent actions over time. There are many examples to validate how we earn trust from our agents, but this one started in 2003. Our transaction fee has never increased, and our monthly office dues have only changed one time in 15 years. During the recession in 2008, we offered the option to include E&O insurance monthly instead of paying a lump sum annually. Agents were offered the opportunity to remain on the same plan or choose the new one, which was $40/year more. We still honor agent dues on the previous plan today. Solid Source has been debt-free since opening, and we love to research and develop technology, marketing platforms and time-reducing process solutions to help our agents increase business, promote personal branding and improve quality of lifeâ€¦at no additional charge.
MP: Solid Source has a history of being involved with service projects locally and internationally. Why is giving back so important?
RM: The excitement and honor we feel about the fact that God has given us a front row seat to help those in need locally and globally makes our heart beat. Rejoicing with communities as grandmothers realize that their children and grandchildren’s children will have access to clean water makes emotion surface that words cannot communicate. Education isn’t free in Africa, and it’s not affordable to widows and orphan children. We also provide Thanksgiving meals to Georgia families who have been nominated by agents, and we participate in many national disaster relief efforts. Providing land, disaster relief, mentorship through soccer programs, building schools and orphanages with sustainable approaches to exist without continuing need of support multiplies our success at least 100-fold when you look at what really matters. Current and past projects are online at SolidSourceMissions.com.
MP: Michele, what deciding factors resulted in Rebecca becoming the president of Solid Source?
Michele Velcheck: When I met Rebecca in 2011, it was immediately clear to me that our Solid Source world could be differentâ€”better, more progressive and relevant. As a graduate magna cum laude from Auburn University, Rebecca’s intelligence exuded, but perhaps even more importantly, she expressed genuine concern for our agents and humanity. Her time spent researching before making important decisions was overly impressive and made me realizeâ€¦she’s a nerd like me! She has great empathy for those in need locally and throughout the world, and her natural leadership allowed her to gain respect from the staff immediately. These attributes led me to appoint Rebecca as the Solid Source president within 12 months of our meeting. When I reminisce on our extreme progression since this decision, the only word that can possibly capture the feeling is peace.
MP: Rebecca, what is your top priority moving forward?
RM: Maintaining our commitment to never become complacent.
For more information, please visit www.solidsource.com.