President and CEO
Seven Gables Real Estate
Tustin, California | sevengables.com
Years in business: 45
Size: 7 offices, 465 agents
Region served: Orange County, California
2020 Sales Volume: $1.8 billion
2020 Transactions: 2,679.50
Michael Hickman began his career as an agent, became a manager who opened an office from scratch, then a general manager before achieving his current position.
“During that climb up from an agent, I created a mortgage company, an escrow company, an insurance company and a property management company,” he explains.
With a philosophy centered on helping people maximize their full potential, Hickman has helped Seven Gables Real Estate become synonymous with customer service, client satisfaction and a high level of production per sales professional.
What sort of impact did COVID-19 have on the firm?
Michael Hickman: The impact has been very interesting. One of the changes I have enjoyed the most is the closure or restriction of open houses. For the first time, our team is in charge of how properties are shown, rather than simply allowing anyone to walk through an open house. Opening the door to a seller’s home and letting anyone in for a look is archaic and unsafe. We have been more focused on change and the benefits of progress as our team has needed. Overall, a positive impact has resulted from COVID-19.
How are you strategizing in 2021?
MH: Our market in Orange County is diverse and active. I believe the extreme shortage of homes for sale will result in a larger percentage of “off-market” properties being sold. Ultimately, the pandemic will play a large role in interest rates and business development. We are strategizing in three-month increments throughout 2021, which is quite different than past years.
What are the keys to recruiting and retaining strong agents?
MH: It’s simply about building culture, developing people and selectively growing. These are the pillars of our company. Our focus is on attracting the right people to our firm. I truly believe the number of agents across the U.S. will decrease significantly this year as the less competent will be pushed out by consumers. The consumer is demanding better from our industry. We provide autonomy, a clear vision of certainty, and manage by and through our core values, but most of all with heart. That is a differentiator.
What’s the secret to keeping your agents happy and motivated?
MH: CARE: Communication. Attention. Review. Education. Lastly, there is no gap between what we say and what we do. That’s very important.
What’s the best piece of advice about business you’ve ever received?
MH: Competitive greatness by John Wooden: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” I love this because it is not about winning and defines success beautifully.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.