"My wife, Leigh, and I started Plum Tree Realty from scratch about seven-and-a-half years ago. We created the brand which is a little bit tougher than buying a franchise that already has brand recognition,” laughs Chris Russell, broker-owner of Plum Tree Realty in Cincinnati. “We’re a cloud-based brokerage, so we have agents all over Ohio and Kentucky. We recently got licensed in Florida, as well.”
The first year Chris and Leigh spent their time getting systems in place that would allow them to offer value to the agents they wanted to add. “After we had our systems in place, we started adding agents, about a dozen the first year,” he says.
“Our unique selling proposition at the time was that we’re cheap. We cost $275 a month, and our agents kept 100 percent of their commissions,” he says. After six years, they grew to 60 agents.
“We didn’t want to be known by agents as cheap. We wanted to be known as the best.”
Chris Russell then took some time to define what “being the best” meant for his firm. “As we put some thought into it, in thinking about what agents are looking for, we came to the conclusion that there are four categories where we really had to be the best—lead generation, technology, training, and pricing.” Russell said he had an “epiphany with technology” when he came across the Kunversion platform from Inside Real Estate. “Using Kunversion would cover at least two of the four categories,” he says. Because of that, Russell decided to make the investment. “When you charge $275 a month, and the agents keep 100 percent of their commissions, you don’t have a lot of extra money for technology, so we found a lender partner who helped us defray the cost of Kunversion.”
Since then, Russell has grown from 60 to 150 agents in only a year-and-a-half.
“The brokerage really took off, and it was directly attributable to us offering the best technology and lead generation.”
With so many lead generation programs out there, Russell didn’t come to his choice quickly. “I’m a research guy, and I order my life by a spreadsheet,” he says. “I looked at every main system that’s out there that supports brokerages, and Kunversion rose to the top with pricing and features. The lead generation was critical. The ability to text clients was essential. Also vital was being able to scale it to the size of brokerage that we are now; those were all features that we looked at.”
“As I mentioned, we have agents scattered around Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida, so we hooked them up with a Kunversion account,” he says. While he doesn’t have 100 percent adoption, Russell is OK with that.
“For the agents that would like our technology, we set them up and then generate tons of leads as a brokerage. Any leads that individual agents can generate on their own, they get to keep 100 percent of the commission.”
Russell hires a virtual assistant to create “about 600 squeeze pages per month, and we put those out all over the place. We generate tons of leads through that,” he says. “The leads that we generate, we hand off to agents for a 70/30 split. That allows us another revenue stream, which definitely pays for Kunversion.”
Russell also likes the drip email campaigns offered through Kunversion. “We probably don’t tap into all of the power the platform offers but we do have some agents who do. For our brokerage, we lean heavily on the squeeze pages and landing pages to generate leads. We also use the automated follow-up component.”
Russell contracts with an inside sales agent company that calls all of the leads and then hands them off to agents as warm leads. His company also integrates Kunversion with Facebook extensively. “My virtual assistant creates regional homes for sale Facebook pages, such as Mason Ohio Homes for Sale. We have 10 of these representing different regions of our area. Every day, the assistant creates two squeeze pages per Facebook page,” he says. “She’ll do one that’s a single property listing squeeze page and then another that’s a list of properties squeeze page. She’s posting 20 squeeze pages per day on those 10 Facebook sites.”
Overall, he says, “it’s been a great recruiting tool. Just having the tools available for agents means so much to them. We tell people that we’ll provide the best technology available, Kunversion, and explain how to generate 30 to 50 leads per month. Then, we explain our training,” he says.
Russell says they typically do webinars training, along with live training events at the office. “Plus, the Kunversion trainers have done training events with us, which has been terrific.” Kunversion also offers online training with hundreds of videos to get sales professional up and running. There is an advanced component as well, for real estate professionals who want to get deeper into the capabilities of the program. “The Kunversion Facebook page is amazing. People can get a lot of help there. We teach people how to use the little tech support bubble at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. It unlocks one of the best training tools the platform offers,”
“Since using the platform, the number of leads that we had coming into our system at least doubled immediately. Within the first month that we jumped from about 200 leads a month to 400. Now, we get about 800 leads per month.”
As for quality, Russell says it’s all about the agent. “I have one agent who needs 100 leads to close a deal, and I have other agents who only need 10 leads. I train them all on the platform, and some respond better than others.”
In fact, he says, “we’ve got a young couple who started with us several months ago. I told them exactly what they needed to do, and they immediately implemented the plan. Within the first month, he had four people under contract and so many leads in his pipeline that he had to stop doing squeeze pages because he wasn’t able to keep up with it.”
From lead generation to recruiting, Russell has built his brokerage around the value proposition of getting leads to his agents. “We’re just getting started,” says Russell.
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