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6 Quotes From Inman Connect (SF) That Will Improve Our Brokerage

I just got back from Inman Connect San Francisco and can I say, “amazing?”

The ideas shared at Inman are nothing short of cutting edge, and when used properly can lead to huge growth as a brokerage. This same wealth of info, however, can also hurt you.

Real Estate Connect San Francisco

Bill Chee—one of the reasons I got into Real Estate—put it best, “You have to come to Inman with a business plan, and grasp on to only those ideas that can help you with that plan.” In case you don’t know Bill Chee, he is a former NAR and HAR president who gave one of the most famous real estate speeches of all time. So, when Mr. Chee speaks, I listen.

Now that I’m back from Inman overflowing with ideas (feeling like a ticking time bomb) what information will I actually grasp on to in order to drive our business plan? The following will definitely make Hawaii Life’s short list:

6 Quotes I’m Sure To Remember

  1. “SEO is so 6 years ago.” – Nicole Nicolay (Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer) Agent Evolution
    Note: Ouch. As an SEO, this one hurt. But Nicole speaks the truth.
    Takeaway: The future is the social graph and customer experience.
  2. “We should start a bank.” – Anonymous
    Note: OK, I don’t think anyone is actually going to start a bank. What this person was eluding to is that I need to be leveraging what I’ve built.
    Takeaway: Many people browsing our site are visiting Hawaii. Why do I not have a Hawaiian Airlines affiliate banner, or better yet, why am I not offering vacation rentals?
  3. “Are you profitable?” – Chris Smith (Chief Evangelist) Inman News, Founder of Tech Savvy Agent
    Note: This question came up during the panel, “Rethinking the Brokerage: New Models and Opportunities.” Chris had the audience text him questions, and I think this is what is on everyone’s mind.
    Takeaway: There are a lot of different brokerage models, but who is really making the money?
  4. “71% of senior executives believe customer experience is the new battleground.” – Krisstina Wise (Principal/Broker) The GoodLife Team
    Note: In 2008 Bill Chee’s team told me they realized their business was not about real estate, but about people. Mr. Chee is so ahead of his time I had no idea what he was talking about 3 years ago. Thank you Krisstina for finally helping me understand the concept.
    Takeaway: Concentrate on creating happy clients who may leave reviews about your brokerage on 3rd party sites.
  5. “Reology is gaming you.” – Several people (viral)
    Note: I had no idea what this meant, but it was spreading around Inman like wildfire. Then, on my flight back to Hawaii, I picked up a copy of Wired Magazine with an article titled, “Are You Being Gamed?” The premise of the article is that, “The giants of the web…use tricks to keep us coming to their sites…and buying their goods.” Which is what many brokerages/franchises are doing—selling their agents products in the name of making money for the brokerage.
    Takeaway:  If I’m going to charge a Hawaii Life agent for something, it has to be in the name of making money for the agent.
  6. “They’re more scared of you then you are of them.” – An old homeless lady in the streets of SF
    Note: On our way to one of the hotest nightspots in San Francisco we got lost on the wrong side of the Knob Hill. Being from Kauai, I don’t see many homeless people and I have to admit it crossed my mind to turn around when we encountered a large group of people hanging out in the shadows of a dark street.
    Takeaway: In business we’re constantly headed into the unknown, to places where our competitors are bigger, and more powerful—don’t be scared to compete against them. And now that Hawaii Life is on top, don’t rule out the little guy who is doing something different, or you might lose the place you’ve worked so hard to get to.

About Justin Britt

Justin Britt (justin@hawaiilife.com) is Head of Innovation and Co-Founder of a little Hawaii Real Estate company. Britt oversees user interface design, SEO, programming, public relations and social media for Hawaii's 6th largest and fastest growing real estate brokerage.

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  • Beth

    Justin, you lost me on number 5.  please explain a bit further.

    • Matt Beall, RB

      Beth, you’re right, #5 is a bit cryptic, but I think what Justin is getting at is just that Realogy (in the form of BHGRE, C-21, ERA, etc.) was so ubiquitous at Inman Connect that, at times, it felt a bit like it’s basically a Realogy conference, sprinkled with a bit of technology.

      Of course, we (Hawaii Life) are biased, since technology is such a big part of what’s helped us help our clients to actually define the value of our service, and our brand. In Hawaii, like a lot of markets around the country, the value propositions of different ‘big box’ real estate brands is extremely hard to discern. In our experience, buyers, sellers, and agents don’t know what C-21 or ERA or Coldwell Banker do differently from one another, or what they offer, or what their brands stand for, etc. So, we’ve had success by being able to show, very clearly and with the help of technology… who we are, what we stand for, and the value that we bring to the table.

      We’re not beholden to New Jersey. There’s no puppet master dictating the terms of our growth (or, worse, using our hard work and proprietary information to compete with us).

      I know… it’s a little edgy (but controversy sells in blogs, right?)

      All that aside, I do have to give credit to BHGRE… they really have done a brilliant job at hitting the nail on the head of what the industry SO needed, despite suffering from the Rin-Tin-Tin Syndrome (great dog, dopey name).

    • Matt Beall, RB

      Beth, you’re right, #5 is a bit cryptic, but I think what Justin is getting at is just that Realogy (in the form of BHGRE, C-21, ERA, etc.) was so ubiquitous at Inman Connect that, at times, it felt a bit like it’s basically a Realogy conference, sprinkled with a bit of technology.

      Of course, we (Hawaii Life) are biased, since technology is such a big part of what’s helped us help our clients to actually define the value of our service, and our brand. In Hawaii, like a lot of markets around the country, the value propositions of different ‘big box’ real estate brands is extremely hard to discern. In our experience, buyers, sellers, and agents don’t know what C-21 or ERA or Coldwell Banker do differently from one another, or what they offer, or what their brands stand for, etc. So, we’ve had success by being able to show, very clearly and with the help of technology… who we are, what we stand for, and the value that we bring to the table.

      We’re not beholden to New Jersey. There’s no puppet master dictating the terms of our growth (or, worse, using our hard work and proprietary information to compete with us).

      I know… it’s a little edgy (but controversy sells in blogs, right?)

      All that aside, I do have to give credit to BHGRE… they really have done a brilliant job at hitting the nail on the head of what the industry SO needed, despite suffering from the Rin-Tin-Tin Syndrome (great dog, dopey name).

      • “All that aside, I do have to give credit to BHGRE… they really have done a brilliant job at hitting the nail on the head of what the industry SO needed…”

        And exactly what is it that BHGRE has done so brilliantly?

        • Matt Beall, RB

          Ok, Jay, maybe not what the industry needed… but they have done a brilliant job at capturing the interest of brokers and agents who want to focus on technology (or at least look like they do).

    • Matt Beall, RB

      Beth, you’re right, #5 is a bit cryptic, but I think what Justin is getting at is just that Realogy (in the form of BHGRE, C-21, ERA, etc.) was so ubiquitous at Inman Connect that, at times, it felt a bit like it’s basically a Realogy conference, sprinkled with a bit of technology.

      Of course, we (Hawaii Life) are biased, since technology is such a big part of what’s helped us help our clients to actually define the value of our service, and our brand. In Hawaii, like a lot of markets around the country, the value propositions of different ‘big box’ real estate brands is extremely hard to discern. In our experience, buyers, sellers, and agents don’t know what C-21 or ERA or Coldwell Banker do differently from one another, or what they offer, or what their brands stand for, etc. So, we’ve had success by being able to show, very clearly and with the help of technology… who we are, what we stand for, and the value that we bring to the table.

      We’re not beholden to New Jersey. There’s no puppet master dictating the terms of our growth (or, worse, using our hard work and proprietary information to compete with us).

      I know… it’s a little edgy (but controversy sells in blogs, right?)

      All that aside, I do have to give credit to BHGRE… they really have done a brilliant job at hitting the nail on the head of what the industry SO needed, despite suffering from the Rin-Tin-Tin Syndrome (great dog, dopey name).

    • Aloha Beth, and everybody else out there reading my blogs…as a disclaimer, please understand that I am not a real estate agent or broker. I’m an entrepreneur specializing in online marketing, so my experience and perspective is different then most.

      I think Matt has answered the question from a broker’s perspective. From where I sit, I don’t want to charge agents for things they don’t need. Yet I have 120+ agents pulling at me from all angles requesting improvements and features to the website. Most of the time Realtors are requesting these “improvements” because their competing Reology brokerages have them. But I’m only interested in working on projects that actually solve a problem for the agent or brokerage instead of playing “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

      • This probably deserves a blog post by itself — doing things just because everyone else is doing them (especially related to websites) isn’t necessarily a good thing at all.

  • Kristinashugars

    This is why I am an HL agent-and why I am headed to to the Agent Reboot!  Thanks Justin!

  • Yes i agree with you on first point, now its time of social media and real time results, the results which people are liking should up there on the top and rest whom people are not liking and visiting are at the bottom.

  • Krisstina

    Like I said in my talk … it’s not about the technology .. ALL about the customer experience. 

    Great re-cap. Thank you!

    • Thank you for this great bit of advice, Krisstina. Your company is truly innovative and is helping brokerages like ours map out a game plan.

  • Tracy Stice, R

    Justin’s comments about brokerages gaming the agents is in fact true.  Large brokerages are very minimally profitable (3)  at best, so they use a combination of negotiating with Realogy in the case of Coldwell Banker, Sothebys , ERA, Better Homes, and C21 on the actual percentage of the brokerage fee that in theory is paid from every deal , 6 to 8% off the top, that is supposed to be the ” value” of the franchise that the agent receives for National advertising, proprietary tools, franchise national conferences, etc. The largest National franchises receive rebates back from Realogy, depending on their overall size and volume.  The bottom line is, the agents don’t see the benefit  of the rebate and the brokearages retain it.  Addtionally, in house escrow and title companies, lenders, builders, ususally held indirectly by  the same franchise owners via LLC’s add to the owners bottom line.  The actual brokerage may not make any money, but the affiliated businesses may make fortunes. However ,they can create RESPA nightmares , if not propertly disclosed.  

    Citing Justin’s admiration for Bill Chee, I would venture a guess that Mr. Chee has made a lot more money  with Wells Fargo Hawaii in the past ten years than he has with Prudential Locations.  If large brokerage ownership was truly profitable, Mr. Chee long ago would have built the largest brokerage in the state.  He has the tools, the knowledge, the connections and the respect, but he also has more common sense than most owners. Bigger is not always better. Right sizing the company for the market is critical and Bill Chee certainly has seen the ebb and flow of the market over the years. Watch what he is doing with his company and you can usually predict the next wave in the Hawaii real estate market.

  • Tracy Stice, R

    Justin’s comments about brokerages gaming the agents is in fact true.  Large brokerages are very minimally profitable (3)  at best, so they use a combination of negotiating with Realogy in the case of Coldwell Banker, Sothebys , ERA, Better Homes, and C21 on the actual percentage of the brokerage fee that in theory is paid from every deal , 6 to 8% off the top, that is supposed to be the ” value” of the franchise that the agent receives for National advertising, proprietary tools, franchise national conferences, etc. The largest National franchises receive rebates back from Realogy, depending on their overall size and volume.  The bottom line is, the agents don’t see the benefit  of the rebate and the brokearages retain it.  Addtionally, in house escrow and title companies, lenders, builders, ususally held indirectly by  the same franchise owners via LLC’s add to the owners bottom line.  The actual brokerage may not make any money, but the affiliated businesses may make fortunes. However ,they can create RESPA nightmares , if not propertly disclosed.  

    Citing Justin’s admiration for Bill Chee, I would venture a guess that Mr. Chee has made a lot more money  with Wells Fargo Hawaii in the past ten years than he has with Prudential Locations.  If large brokerage ownership was truly profitable, Mr. Chee long ago would have built the largest brokerage in the state.  He has the tools, the knowledge, the connections and the respect, but he also has more common sense than most owners. Bigger is not always better. Right sizing the company for the market is critical and Bill Chee certainly has seen the ebb and flow of the market over the years. Watch what he is doing with his company and you can usually predict the next wave in the Hawaii real estate market.

  • seema

     nice…..!

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