For Joel Blumenfeld and The Blumenfeld Group, 2018 was a banner year.
The group was named No. 1 in their office for sales volume and units, and achieved Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ 5-Year Legend status, along with the brand’s Chairman’s Circle Diamond recognition—the latter for the third straight year. In addition, among their brokerage’s peers, The Blumenfeld Group came in at No. 4 in their county in homes sold.
The driving force for their success?
“No sleep, and a lot of work,” Blumenfeld says with the seriousness of a veteran, despite entering the field just eight years ago. Approaching the business as a newcomer, he was committed from the start—and today, he’s the dedicated leader of a six-person real estate team, affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in San Diego, answering the call whenever a client is in need.
“Our No. 1 skill is being able to rise early each day before most wake up, work while many are on vacations, and pride ourselves on being available to clients any time of any day,” he explains. “Our customer satisfaction is 100 percent.”
Here, Blumenfeld discusses his goals and leadership philosophy with RISMedia, and his advice for new teams.
Suzanne De Vita: The market in San Diego has slowed somewhat. How is it faring today?
Joel Blumenfeld: 2018 was very fast-moving—it was the tippy-top of the height of the market. Since then, it’s definitely slowed down. With that said, there’s still tons of activity, and open houses are still very busy. In San Diego, prices have hit a high point, and some buyers have gotten frustrated at how unaffordable and how high they’ve gone. It’s more of a healthy market now.
SD: Your approach to leading your team is unique. Can you describe that for us?
JB: My management style is being available 24/7. I take one vacation a year. I’m always working, always available Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, Christmastime, early morning…it keeps the standards high on our team to where we all want to have the same kind of work ethic, and shows buyers and sellers that we all have that same kind of standard.
Anyone on my team can work with a buyer or seller. They can market themselves, and they can get their own listings and their own for-sale signs. I’m not demanding they have to come in and check out at a certain time. I lead by example.
SD: That said, you’re in the process of a rebrand…
JB: I had some time to sit down with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices marketing division and some professionals in the marketing field, and they’re helping me become more of a real brand. I’m a company and incorporated, but one thing I need to do more of is having a consistent logo, color scheme, etc.—we have all of that today, but it’s not as dominant as the bigger teams. Going forward, we’re going to be a dominant brand.
SD: How are you factoring in social media?
JB: Thirty percent of my business comes from social media. It’s mostly organic. Being a native, when I was a new agent, I added everyone to my friends list. Having all these people on my Facebook page has paid off over the years. They’ve seen my consistent success in sales and listings and awards, and they’ve reached out to me. The paid advertising does not lead to a ton of business, but it leads to branding. We spend a ton of money on Facebook advertising, [but now] we’re restructuring where the money’s being allocated.
SD: What are your goals for your team this year, and how are you prepared to reach them?
JB: We want to hit a higher GCI and more transaction units, and to be more of a team where we’re cohesively working together, with team meetings, team appreciation parties and team events. Once we get the rebranding down, the goal is to have a lot more presence, get back to the community, client appreciation parties, etc. We’re competitive, but we’re not aggressively competitive. People tend to attach themselves to us because we come off friendly and not pushy or salesy. They see we have the experience and the success, and we’re also knowledgeable about the market. If you don’t know the market, people will see right through you.
SD: As the leader of a real estate team, what have you learned?
JB: It’s not for everyone. It’s very, very hard, time-consuming, and [you need] a lot of patience and a lot discipline. Don’t grow too fast. Choose your agents wisely. Get to know their overall goals. I’ve wasted a lot of time training and helping agents join the team for them to just call out of real estate three months later when they hit a wall. You want to really screen the agents and see what their true intentions are—[and] make sure they have some kind of financial cushion. It could take six months to a year to get started, and you want to make sure you have supplemental income. If you just let them jump in and join, it can disrupt your own business.
Another thing: Don’t hire anyone who’s part-time. You can’t do anything in this industry part-time!
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.