Leading independent brokerage using technology to increase agent success, satisfaction
Real estate agent JP Park arrived at the upscale Orange County, California, restaurant Charlie Palmer expecting a 30-minute interview. He was meeting Mike Hickman, president of independent luxury brokerage Seven Gables Real Estate, for a quick drink to talk about possibly returning to the firm.
Park had been with Seven Gables for seven years before moving to a global franchisor. He was now ready to step back into the boutique world, and Hickman’s firm was one of two brokerages he was considering.
That “quick drink” ultimately became an hours-long discussion that sold Park on Seven Gables. Hickman’s pitch – built around the brokerage’s agent-focused culture and bleeding-edge tech and marketing – was exactly what Park was looking for.
The timing was right, too. Seven Gables was in the midst of a full digital revamp that has since earned stellar results: a nationally recognized website; a backend tech and marketing platform that offers agents 24/7 access to virtually everything they need; and a suite of state-of-the-art technologies that help drive agent success.
This investment, in part, catapulted Seven Gables’ production to new heights, helping it significantly outperform its market in 2015.
Seven Gables continually searches out the best technology available, then customizes these solutions for its agents.
One key area of focus is technologies that enhance the agent-client relationship, a goal that led the brokerage to embrace RealScout, which modernizes the way agents help home buyers find their perfect home.
RealScout is an independent brokerage’s answer to popular consumer sites such as Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com and Redfin. “(RealScout) delivers more value, convincing buyers and sellers to stay loyal,” Hickman said.
The results from Seven Gables’ digital makeover speak for themselves: Unique visitors to sevengables.com nearly tripled, mobile visits more than quadrupled and visits from organic search jumped more than threefold between 2014 and 2015. Moreover, sevengables.com was named one of the best brokerage sites in the nation in a survey of 750 broker websites by real estate consulting firm Real Trends. The site also placed in the top 15 in five survey categories: Best Design, Best Mobile, Best Neighborhood Pages, Best Property Details and Best Map Search.
Seven Gables’ digital suite
Seven Gables provides its agents access to everything the firm offers through a comprehensive technology platform. The system is so polished that the firm began offering white-labeled versions to other independent brokerages.
The platform includes tech, training, marketing and support – the four pillars of a strong residential real estate brokerage. Through the Seven Gables platform, agents can order marketing materials, access training and tutorials and utilize each of its many custom branded solutions, including:
• RealScout, agent-branded home search with seamless agent-client collaboration
• NewPanda, automated email and social media marketing
• TouchCMA, interactive listing presentations
• DocuSign, e-signatures and digital transaction management
• TorchX, CRM integrated into Seven Gables website
• HomeSpotter, agent-branded consumer mobile app featuring GPS and augmented reality
• Yapmo, internal communication platform, replacing email
• Ninja Selling: Selling training course
Tech supported by culture
The firm’s emphasis on tech stems from Hickman’s deeper focus on culture.
“Helping our people maximize their full potential” is at the heart of the brokerage, according to the 61-year-old president, who joined Seven Gables at age 23 and assumed a leadership role in the early 1990s.
In keeping with this focus, the firm developed 10 core values that guide its every move:
1. Everyone Matters
2. Do What You Say
3. Be Kind, Respectful & Compassionate
4. Show Gratitude
5. Build a Positive Team & Family Spirit
6. Create & Innovate
7. Be Authentic
8. Be Proud & Active Members of the Community
9. Embrace Learning
10. Have Fun
This focus has paid impressive dividends: In 2015, Seven Gables was voted the best mid-sized company to work for in the Orange County Register’s Top Workplace survey. But the best evidence of its thriving culture comes from the agent level. Park, for example, is experiencing both a rise in production and an improved quality of life. In addition, working at Seven Gables has helped him be more thankful, he said, citing a book that Hickman presented to all of the brokerage’s agents, “Give and Take” by Adam Grant.
The RealScout Advantage
Approximately two-thirds of Seven Gables agents, including JP Park, now use RealScout. At last count, Park had sold one home and set up 16 buyers using the platform, giving him a window into their preferences and search activity.
Park’s RealScout-aided sale illustrates another of the platform’s key value propositions: offer generation. Park received a referral from a past client for a buyer from Pennsylvania. They first talked on Dec. 16, when he set up the couple on a RealScout search, providing daily email alerts that rivaled Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com and Redfin while keeping his brand front and center – minimizing the possibility that they’d meet another agent.
The buyers flew to California on New Year’s Day. Primed with RealScout-aided knowledge, they were confident they could make a quick decision. They did: Within two days Park wrote an offer that was soon accepted.
Seven Gables agent Ethan Lanagan also uses RealScout. Three-quarters of his business comes from online leads. In mid-January, he had set up 125 contacts, 31 of whom were active in RealScout within the week.
“I am always looking for ways to separate myself from the dozens of other agents my clients might know,” he said. “RealScout gives me that separation as a user-friendly professional tool with great design. Most importantly, it keeps my clients coming back to me, not the agents that other sites promote.”
Why are top brokers like Seven Gables providing RealScout to their agents?
RealScout is the most direct way a broker can ensure their agents are providing the best possible consumer experience to their clients. A top-notch client experience results in higher agent commission productivity, better lead-generation ROI, and elevated brokerage branding – all of which can lead to improved recruiting and retention of agents.
How does RealScout deliver “the best possible consumer experience?”
RealScout’s platform is built upon two truths: First, agents are, and always will be, at the core of the real estate transaction; and second, consumers will conduct a majority of their home search online. These two realities have traditionally been at odds, leading to disjointed, unsatisfying home buying experiences for consumers.
RealScout solves this problem by providing an online consumer home search platform with all of the advantages of having a dedicated agent involved at all times. Through the agent, the buyer gains access to timely, accurate MLS listing data that is beautifully presented to the buyer via RealScout. Unlike national portals, RealScout is designed specifically to help clients and agents make informed decisions about listings, and therefore does not advertise competing brokerages or agents to the buyers.
Most critically for brokers and agents, RealScout provides transparency and insights about the buyer’s preferences and search behaviors. This enables better follow-up and collaboration between the real estate professional and consumer, which ensures higher lead conversion and client retention.
Key RealScout Facts
• Powered over $2B in transactions
• Listing Alerts with 3x real estate industry email open rates, and 8x click-thru rates
• Doubled lead conversion rate for leading brokerages in San Francisco
• Recognized in Forbes “30 Under 30,” Inman “100 Most Influential”
Learn more about RealScout today.