Strength in numbers

CEO and founder of the Real Estate Results Network, Michael Sheargold, speaks to Real Estate Business about the success of his network and how it benefits its independent agency membership

 

HOW MANY MEMBERS DOES THE REAL ESTATE RESULTS NETWORK CURRENTLY HAVE, AND WHAT ARE YOUR GROWTH PLANS?
Right now the network has 38 members and that represents about 900 individuals in those 38 agencies. The smallest member in the network is around a million dollars in terms of sales revenue. The largest member is over 45 million in terms of revenue, so it’s a big spectrum along those lines.

In terms of growth, we’re looking at doubling the size of the network this year. We are already the largest network of independent agencies across Australia and New Zealand but doubling it will give members far more power and sophistication in what they do.

WHAT’S A CORE BENEFIT OF BEING IN THE GROUP?
Each agency must supply four innovations per year into the network. It’s easy for an agency to do, although sometimes we have to help them to understand what an innovation is – it might be a little marketing initiative, a great piece of dialogue, a negotiation technique that’s working very well, something they’re doing around their auctions, or something that’s helping their open homes stand out. By one agency supplying four innovations, it means they get a shopping list and right now the shopping list is around 160 innovations per year that I have as a principal that I can pick and choose from. The great thing about that is it’s a well developed idea; it’s working in another marketplace. Now I probably need to tweak it five or 10 per cent for my agency and my market, but compared to starting at a base of zero and attempting to build it, it’s a massively different way of operating and it’s a massively different competitive advantage. All of this is supported by our knowledge base online – effectively a Google for real estate. Members have password access to the system and they can do a search to get ideas from every single member in the network.

[Furthermore], there are no competing agencies. When we get together the quality of networking is just impressive and our members will come back and say, ‘Wow, I went to a public event and the level of sharing was massively different to when we’re actually sitting in the network’. I think most of the time an agent or a principal shares their 21st best idea. They keep their top 20 to themselves. With the network, they’re sharing all of those ideas.
 
WHAT IS THE STEEPEST LEARNING CURVE FOR BUSINESSES THAT JOIN RERN?
When someone joins the Real Estate Results Network, the whole of the agency comes on board. So often one agent goes and does this learning and another agent goes and does that, and there’s this pull and push within the agency. This is a platform to actually grow the business, so one of the things we do in the initial stages is a strategy session with our clients, and we talk about ‘the four Ss’ that need to be in place for the business to excel. So, what’s the structure that we need to have in place within the business to achieve a strategy? And, once you’ve got the strategy, the structure, the standards, then what are the systems we need to put into place in order to make it happen?

HOW IMPORTANT IS LEADERSHIP IN THE GROUP?
I think within RERN we’ve got a very savvy leadership development program. We’re very clear that a big part of our responsibility is how we enhance the performance of the leaders. I’m not saying that the business goes along with the ride, but our leadership development program is quite well developed. I would say it’s probably the best in the industry in terms of developing the leadership style. We also have the agent performance, so agents are getting turned on to learning and the reason they’re getting turned on to learning is because they’re getting better results.

WHAT’S ONE THING AGENCIES NEED TO FOCUS ON IN THEIR BUSINESS?
I think the whole feedback aspect is so important, and obviously when an agent wins a piece of business they should be asking ‘What was it that tipped it in my favour?’ because it’s critical to know what stood out from the client’s point of view. If it stands out for this client, there is a very good chance it will stand out for the next client and the client after that, so that’s a big tick.

The other one that I think is a hole in most agents’ business is they don’t do a good job of following up if they lose a piece of business, and that can be as revealing as anything in terms of strategy. If you have the principal of the agency or a customer service person within the agency call up and say, “Congratulations on appointing X, Y, Z agency. We’re disappointed we didn’t win it. Is there something that we missed? Is there something we could improve on because we’re committed to growing, learning, improving?”, the information that comes out of that particular process is huge. Unfortunately most agencies don’t do it.

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