2 February 2016

16 Lessons from ICNY 2016: How to Build a Long-lasting Real Estate Business


I was excited to be invited by Sherry Chris to attend the 2016 Inman Connect conference and to speak on a panel discussion on strategies for gaining market share in new construction. With the second highest snowfall accumulation in NYC history two days before the conference, making the trip from Boise, Idaho to New York City was an adventure, but it was well worth it.

This was my first Inman Connect experience. I knew it would be impressive, but I had no idea how impressive. The first day began with the Broker Connect session and the information came pouring in. Pages and pages of notes with ideas, initiatives and things to avoid in my business and my agents’ business. What I liked best was that the information and presentations were tailored to the audience. There were group sessions with everyone at the beginning of the day, and then more focused sessions for agents or brokers/managers in the second part of the day—giving the ability to scuba dive deep in the information rather than just snorkeling at a high level.

The opportunity to speak on a panel was amazing. Meeting such high-caliber practitioners and learning such vastly different approaches to running a business is invigorating. There was such an incredible culture of sharing, mentorship, guidance, and insight at the conference. The best, brightest, and most insightful industry experts all came together to share everything they know about their business, knowledge, and focus with everyone there—it’s a bit overwhelming really how powerful that all is.

Some key takeaways gleaned from the panels and presentations are:

  1. Hire for the future. I really like this concept. Hire people for what they can become, not what they are.
  2. Package your training. Record it, write it up, re-purpose it and re-use it—stop reinventing it every time you train an agent.
  3. Teach agents to tell their story. Don’t allow them to say “I’m number one,” but rather have them tell their story of success. Focus on the number of people helped rather than the money made!
  4. Teach your agents about wealth preservation. Show them where the money from each check should go. If they learn to invest, they learn to be successful.
  5. Turn your meetings into an event. This creates buy-in, loyalty, engagement, and it’s fun!
  6. Understand disruptive technology. Also, understand why it’s created so you can use it to assess your own business and weaknesses rather than just fearing it.
  7. Those with systems will succeed and those who are authentic will thrive. Put the two together and you have the formula. This was a key theme that came up multiple times.
  8. “Why aren’t you dating your prospects?” Seth Godin gave an incredible keynote talk. I can’t begin to cover all the insights from his talk, but one thing that resonated was this question he asked. Also his insight into being remarkable resonated: “When someone makes a remark about you then you have created trust and a connection…and that is remarkable.” I love that!
  9. Document your success, and make a commitment to doing more than just the next deal. Create and write your story.
  10. Spend time with clients. This one statistic blew me away: Agents only spend 11% of their time with clients and they spend 89% of their time preparing for the meeting. This needs to change!
  11. Use your network. Write down 10 of the closest people in your life, call all 10 and ask them to coffee. When you meet, ask them if they heard of anyone thinking of buying or selling over the holidays.
  12. Make sure your company training strategy can train to the individual— one size does not always fit all.
  13. Provide better services rather than better splits.
  14. With your website, pick one direction: Discovery, Search, Brand. Don’t try to be all three; it won’t work!
  15. Worry less about the next big change coming to the real estate industry. Spend your time focusing on the little ways you can get better.
  16. See your brokerage as a platform rather than a business. It’s a platform that your clients (the agents) use to build their own businesses.

There was a lot more, of course. The best part is all the new ideas for my business. I now have 23 initiatives (they are top secret… no, I’m not saying what they are!) I have come up with to improve my business. None of those 23 concepts were even talked about in any of the sessions, but the process of digging into these subjects at ICNY allowed me to look at my business in a different way and see opportunities I was missing before.

Coming here and immersing myself in the Inman Connect experience allowed a clarity of vision toward my own business that I haven’t had in a long time. Change is a good thing, and sometimes the best way to figure out what to change is to step away for a moment and work on your business, not in your business… The fantastic Inman conference and experience has allowed me to do just that, and I couldn’t be more excited to move forward now.

Jeff Martel is the broker and owner of BHGRE 43 Degrees North.

For more coverage of Inman Connect, be sure to check out BHGRE Director of Talent Attraction Bret Calltharp’s takeaways from Seth Godin’s speech.

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