Greg Garrett Realty of Hampton Roads, Virginia, has weathered many ups and downs during 30-plus years in operation. CEO Greg Garrett says the housing crisis that began in 2007 hit the area hard and seemed to linger longer. When the rest of the country was recovering from the recession, area home prices remained below the peaks of 2006. “We’d been losing agents, losing revenue, losing money every month,” he says.
“That really put us at a competitive disadvantage,” says Garrett, explaining why he decided to be proactive to grow his business. In 2014, he began purchasing online leads using Realtor.com. The move helped kickstart the brokerage’s growth cycle.
Existing agents were able to grow their sales to the levels they had seen before the recession. And it enabled Garrett to begin hiring once again—adding more experienced real estate professionals from competing agencies.
Word has gotten out, says Garrett, who adds that he doesn’t overtly market the use of online leads in his recruitment efforts. One agent in particular has been very successful converting the leads into sales. He had trained at a competing independent brokerage, “an excellent company,” with a solid training program, says Garrett. In his first eight months at the previous brokerage, he had four sales. After coming to Greg Garrett Realty, he sold 21 houses in the same amount of time. “Eleven of those were online leads,” says Garrett, and two of those leads generated additional leads.
“He had all the talent, personality, and work ethic,” says Garrett. “But he did not have the people to get in front of.”
His experience serves as a testimonial of sorts, says Garrett. “He's saying, ‘This was the difference. This is why I came over here to Greg Garrett Realty, and it's why I'm staying. It's why I love it here.’"
The brokerage now has about 65 agents and purchases 1,000 leads per month, so accountability is important. They have structured the program to be efficient with the leads, says Garrett. If an agent doesn’t respond quickly or complete the customer’s information in the CRM, the lead is recycled so that another agent can have a shot.
They have also created a tier system that rewards agents for performance. The top-tier agents receive the highest-price leads—the customers who qualify for the highest-price homes. Tier two agents are effective, although not the strongest, and they get customers in the medium-price range. Someone who’s new or still proving themselves gets the lowest tier, and it’s up to them to “claw your way to the top tier by performance,” says Garrett. “But while you're proving yourself, you're getting the lower-priced leads.”
Garrett selected Follow Up Boss for the team’s CRM, which enables him to measure the performance of agents and lead providers.
The brokerage uses three inside sales agents to ensure that leads are responded to quickly; the target is within 15 seconds!
Lastly, Garrett stresses the need for follow-up. “There are no bad leads,” he says. “There are no bad people. And everybody, even if they cannot qualify, even if they're not ready to buy, they have a sister or a mother or a cousin or a nephew or a friend that is ready to buy. And if you build a rapport and build a relationship and take care of them, they're going to send people to you.”