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This month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable discusses the innovation in their organizations, including succession strategies and technology.


John P. Horning, Executive Vice President, Shorewest REALTORS®, Milwaukee, Wis.; Liaison for Large Firms and Industry Relations, National Association of REALTORS®


Robin Sheakley
, President, Sibcy Cline REALTORS®, Cincinnati, Ohio


Chris Trapani, Co-Founder/CEO, Sereno Group, Los Gatos, Calif.


Gary Scott, President, Long & Foster Real Estate, Chantilly, Va.


John Horning: We typically start the New Year, as brokers and agents, with a business plan in our pocket, confidence in the state of the real estate market, and optimism that we’ll find the people and discover the strategies to take our business to the next level. So, I thought I’d start with a conversation about the kinds of tools and resources Power Brokers are putting into place: the tactics, technologies and new approaches that are proving to be especially beneficial. I’ll start off by mentioning a new intranet site my firm has recently rolled out—one site, easily navigated, where our team can access everything they need: market analysis and CRM platforms; MLS listings and document management; marketing materials; and all the online training we offer. It’s a step up for us, but I know it’s one of many measures brokers are finding to be effective, and I’m eager to hear what other inventive leaders have to share. Robin, what’s working in your world?

Robin Sheakley:
John, we’ve been putting our emphasis on anything that helps our agents nurture customer relationships, from upgraded agent websites to workflow platforms like MoxiWorks and MoxiEngage, the relationship management software we rolled out last November. Programs like these are encouraging our agents to interact with clients in ways that make sense and drive business, and that’s a great way to start out the new year.

Chris Trapani: For us, too, it’s all about building the agent-customer relationship, so one of the things we’re launching this year is a listings enhancement program designed to give customers more clarity and more financing options. We’ve partnered with a lender to facilitate programs like a “buy before you sell” opportunity, a form of bridge loan, but with a little more flexibility in qualifying. As a community-minded organization, we know that options that give the customer a little more leverage will not only boost business, but also help develop lasting relationships.

Gary Scott: Technology is great, and we’re also getting good results using Moxi as a CRM platform, as well as RealScout for lead generation. But here’s something non-technical that’s gaining traction in our company. For some time, we’ve realized we have an aging agent population and they need a viable succession strategy. So we’ve developed a way to pair a retiring agent who has a valuable book of business with a competent up-and-coming agent in a way that makes financial sense for both of them—and that also helps maintain all those great customer relationships developed over years in the business.

There are several theories about how to do that.

GS: In our model, there are basically three options, but also a lot of flexibility. The retiring agent can sell the business outright for a one-time fee, or opt to receive revenue in retirement; or the agent can ease out slowly, taking the time to introduce the newer agent to existing clients and opting to take referral fees; or the pair can customize a timeframe and a financial strategy that works best for them. What’s important is that we’re providing a way for the retiring agent to plan ahead—which, by the way, is also working well from a recruiting perspective.

JH: What kind of buy-in are you seeing?

GS: We introduced the program about 18 months ago, and currently have something like 50 pairings working or in the queue.

JH: Well, it’s that kind of innovation that helps both brokers and agents stay on top—creating the resources to solve old challenges, and finding the best tools for overcoming new ones. As brokers, how do we search out these resources, and how do we put them into play so we get the most agent buy-in?

RS: We have a dynamite tech team, led by a vice president of Innovation focused on finding what we need to help us meet our goals. When we introduce something, we do it at regional meetings first, then by managers in each of our offices, and then one-on-ones with the tech team as needed. And, like you, John, we present “one face” to our agents, so to speak—that is, everything available with a single intranet log-on. It’s habit for our agents. We call it “Coffee with Simon.” Come in in the morning, get your coffee, sit down, take a sip, log on.

CT: I like it. You know, the bottom line is that top producers optimize every opportunity to do the best job for their clients. Our job as brokers is to optimize every opportunity to help those agents make more deals happen.

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