Not the average goal of leaders of real estate teams, who generally look to recruit and retain talent for their team.
“Most team leaders don’t want their team members to leave,” Caflisch says. “My approach is to find people that are strong candidates—that have the right personality and level of trust—and bring them onto my team, help build them to be successful agents and encourage them to start their own teams and brokerages under the RE/MAX brand.”
As broker/owner of RE/MAX Grand in Baraboo, Wis., Caflisch balances many responsibilities, with 13 agents at the brokerage, three of which are on her team, the Wisconsin Home Team. Below, she chats with RISMedia about her business, community involvement, leadership, and more.
Suzanne De Vita: How did you get involved in real estate?
Nanci Caflisch: I had a different career path for many years, but I always knew I would enjoy real estate. Eventually, I decided to learn the craft remotely through classes on VCR tapes. From there, I studied for the exam and earned my real estate license, all while my then-newborn was sleeping. It was a challenging start, but I never regretted my decision.
I started with a local brokerage for 10 years, where I led a team. While teams were not very common at the time, I found it to be a great way to pool resources and an advantageous marketing tool. After that, I went out on my own. At the time, there were no national franchises that were locally-owned in my community. When an opportunity arose for us to purchase a RE/MAX franchise in our area, we were ready to take it on.
SD: How’s your market today?
NC: My markets reach out a 30-mile radius—we’re in a small town with a population of about 12,000, so we serve half a dozen or more other communities. The market here is extremely strong. Inventory is limited, and properties are selling rapidly. In the current health climate, I have observed a decline in new leads coming in, but I expect many of the effects to only be temporary. I believe the market will eventually bounce back and be busier than ever.
SD: You’re big on coaching, instead of retention. Why is that?
NC: I’m in a small community, so there isn’t a huge pool to recruit from. For most team leaders, retention is key. My approach is to find people that are strong candidates—that have the right personality and level of trust—and bring them onto my team, help build them to be successful agents and encourage them to start their own teams and brokerages under the RE/MAX brand. I recruit to grow my brokerage, rather than just my team. I have had several agents join my team who, after a year or two, I push to be independent.
SD: How do you manage your people, both in the brokerage and on your team?
NC: It’s challenging. Fortunately, we have a lot of systems in place to make it easier. When everybody knows their responsibilities, everything flows seamlessly. From the time a listing starts to when it’s under contract, we have a system to help manage the process. Additionally, I have great people working with me. My admin handles everything on the back-end so that I can focus on coaching and supporting my agents.
SD: Do you hold meetings as a team? If so, what do you focus on?
NC: We have bimonthly meetings, but we have very open communication and talk on a daily basis. I follow up weekly to review incoming leads, response times, current transactions, etc. We discuss the ROI of our lead generation system, talk through any obstacles agents are having and coordinate our next pop-bys.
SD: How do you distribute leads to your team?
NC: Generally, our strategy is to evenly distribute new leads among the team. When a lead comes in, we typically alternate between team members. For some of the lead generation sites, it will go to whoever answers first. Since I have some team members in different offices within Wisconsin (one in Baraboo and another in Sauk City), I also place leads geographically.
SD: What’s your approach to branding?
NC: I am focused on branding the brokerage, rather than my team specifically. I try to keep our brand in front of the public, from print and digital down to sponsoring high school sports and Little League teams.
SD: You’re active in your community, too…
NC: Being involved in your community is one of the best methods for building a network and filling your client pool. I can attribute a lot of my success to being involved in my community. I am past president and current secretary of our local Chamber of Commerce, and I sit on the city’s Economic Development Commission. I’m also a co-chair for a large tourism function that brings close to 30,000 visitors to our area every year. I’m overcommitted, but I enjoy it. I do it because I want to give back, and I’ve been able to establish rapport with a lot of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
I also encourage my agents to get involved in activities and organizations that they are passionate about in order to build stronger connections within the community. For example, to support our community during this current crisis, we’ve donated food to our local children’s museum that is offering free meals to kids, and assisted the local police department in putting together craft kits to hand out to families.
SD: Lastly, how are you building your business this year? What are your goals?
NC: For the brokerage, my goals are to improve business practices. At the start of the year, I designed a business plan called “Focus 2020.” I sat down with every agent and had them outline their goals and business management strategies, all of which was included in their “Focus 2020” action plan. As part of the program, I also share market ideas, coach them and help them develop systems to improve their business practices.
The purpose of the program is to improve accountability, but I’ve tried to include fun aspects, too, like a “power hour.” For this exercise, I provide each agent with a RE/MAX branded hourglass to use when they want to dedicate a significant amount of time (a “power hour”) to one focus area. The Focus 2020 program is an ongoing initiative—I want to complete one year of it and see where we end up.
Within our market, my goal is for the brokerage to continue our momentum and supersede our past accomplishments. We’ve held marketshare in our area for the past seven years, but I don’t want our agents to get complacent. I felt it was time to ramp up their energy after a strong 2019, and it seems to be going well.
I also have a goal to add a property management division, an insurance sales division, and also try to increase education programs offered to agents. In line with our education goals, in 2019 I implemented a Tuesday training. We’ve had almost 100 percent attendance weekly. Our training consists of RE/MAX specific content, best social media practices, the newest and greatest apps, best practices for staying productive, lead generation techniques, and much more. I have always practiced the “You learn, you earn” motto.
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.