<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=515036989147335&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

REAL Trending Special Edition: Leading Through A Challenging Market

Jul 3, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Casey McLoed, Managing Broker of California, Side Real Estate

Because of its extensive use of technology, McLoed says that Side agents were able to navigate the Pandemic with little impact on their businesses. Find out how McLoed and his leadership team implemented new protocols and programs to serve agents in a new normal market. 

Tracey Velt:

In this special edition of REAL Trending Podcast, we're speaking to real estate leaders about how their businesses are adapting to the new normal in the market, their keys to success and more.

This is Tracey Velt, Editor in Chief of Content for REAL Trends. Today we're speaking with Casey McLoed, Managing Broker of California for Side Real Estate. Welcome, Casey.

Casey McLoed:

Hi, good morning, Tracey. And thank you for having me.

Tracey:

Yeah.

Casey:

And thank you to REAL Trends for putting together this podcast series.

Tracey:

No problem. Thanks for joining me. So why don't you tell me a little bit about your brokerage business model and your geographic footprint?

Casey:

Well, Tracey, Side is the only real estate brokerage out there that truly transforms agents into their own businesses. We exclusively partner with top producing agents to create, grow and power their own business without the cost, time or risk of running their own independent brokerage firm.

So with that said, it's surprising how all too often those within this industry, miss an opportunity that was right here in front of us that we just didn't see. But from the outside, looking in, an obvious glaring need is identified.

Casey:

So Side started in late 2016, when our co-founder and our CEO, Guy Gal, who was a real estate outsider and was from the tech industry, and previously founded two successful startup companies.

After he visited with an old friend who was very entrepreneurial growing up, and now this friend of his was in real estate and a top producer in his own market. Guy was truly shocked by the lack of entrepreneurial freedom afforded to agents at all these big box firms.

Casey:

So it was that mindset that we set out to build a brokerage platform that was specifically designed for top agents and teams, who are not well-served under the current real estate brokerage model in this industry.

And so what makes Side unique is our ability to support these agents, these top teams and former indie brokers, who have partnered with us, and by letting them take the consumer-facing and brand lead. And while we're there supporting their technology backend operations and the brokerage services.

Casey:

We are not at all a front-facing brand, unlike the traditional brokerages that are building their brands. We're more of a silent partner or white label brokerage platform, so to speak, helping the agents build their own brand and identity. And we currently, we operate in California, Texas, and most recently we opened up in Florida as well.

Tracey:

Okay, great. So obviously the country is reopening and several of the places I know, I'm in Florida, Florida's open for business and I believe Texas is as well. I'm not really sure where California stands right now. But tell me a little bit about how your business was impacted and how you're doing today.

Casey:

Yeah, so California, that really depends county by county. The more rural seem to be open for business where the higher impacted areas like the Bay area and LA seem to be moving at a little bit slower. So we've always been a digital-first company.

So we really didn't miss a beat when the COVID crisis started. In fact, we've actually closed a record number of transactions in June, and are poised is to exceed those numbers in July.

Casey:

We are already facilitating and processing transactions at a record pace and providing the support to all of our partners to our platform and application. So the shelter-in-place was more of a speed bump from us than full disruption to our business. We built a-

Tracey:

Okay. And you have a virtual model? I wasn't sure.

Casey:

So we do have physical office spaces, we have some partners that choose to work remotely from their own personal homes. But we do have a number of offices, brokerage offices throughout the state.

Tracey:

Okay.

Casey:

But from the support standpoint, we're more virtual. We do have a physical location in San Francisco where we do have a majority of our staff, but we do have staff members across the country. And so we truly, we built a model that thought about the future and knew that all these brick and mortar offices were going to be a thing of the past, certainly for delivery of service.

The office is not where you get the support for transactions or marketing, and this can all be done by our team virtually. This allows us to hire the best of the best throughout the country and not have those who are specifically within a geographic region close to our headquarters, which is San Francisco.

Casey:

So we're able to have an amazing team with members from across the country, from Boston, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, California, and others. Throughout the country we saw a majority of organizations in this industry see a significant decline in new listings and pending transactions, but our agent partners outperformed those average agents by two to three fold, depending on the marketplace. Which shows how top producing teams are more resilient when properly equipped and prepared.

Casey:

And just real quick, I do have one quote I'd like to read to you real fast.

Tracey:

Sure.

Casey:

So Clelia Peters is the president of Warburg Realty in New York, and she's a Side board member as well. Recently explained that COVID-19 is pushing us to look at what sort of infrastructure and digital systems we have in place in Side, of the meaningfully outperforming the market overall in terms of transactions that are being closed during this time. And that's because Side is the best digital end-to-end platform for transaction management in the business.

Casey:

And Side has always been really focused on ensuring that technology was there. Side agents are going to emerge from this crisis in a better position than virtually any other agents in the country. And then honestly, Tracey, I couldn't agree more with her.

I have conversations with our partners every day and they're all telling me the same thing, that they're the busiest they've ever been in their careers. And these are already the top-producing agents in their city or counties, who are now positioned to take their business to even another level.

Tracey:

Okay, great. And now have you had to put in any new protocols into place and does it vary by state? Tell me a little bit about anything new that you're doing since COVID came along.

Casey:

Yes, and it does vary greatly from state to state. And we've been strictly adhering to all the state and local guidelines, which again in Texas and Florida are much different than they are in California, and even more so at the local levels.

So these local orders have varied greatly from county to county, which may you have rules where what is allowed in one county, may not be allowed in the county next door. So this caused a lot of confusion in the industry, trying to keep track of what was allowed in one town, but would violate the order in the next town 10 minutes down the road.

Casey:

So in the California market that I primarily focus on, yes, our agents are wearing and carrying personal protection equipment, including spare masks, using hand sanitizers, disinfecting touch surfaces, social distancing, and only doing properties with up to two clients at a time.

These are all protocols that are constantly being changed and updated by the California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA, which we are constantly monitoring as a company to ensure our agents are following the best safety practices for the industry.

Tracey :

Okay, great. Obviously there were a lot of lessons learned, maybe not as many for you adapting to a virtual market, but you likely learned some lessons along the way while building your brokerage. So tell me a couple of those top lessons learned through it all that other brokers might find helpful.

Casey:

Yeah. So, Side actually had a relatively easy time adapting to COVID. As you mentioned, we're already able to service our agent community virtually through our platform and our software. So many brokerages out there do this, do their brick and mortar space, they do it live, person-to. -person. So they had to adopt greatly.

Casey:

So being able to now do things virtually, I think is the biggest lesson learned for a lot of folks out there. I mean, now these nonstop virtual meetings and calls, it feels like I'm in more meetings now than I've ever been in because we're doing everything virtually, and not having to wait and do everything in-person.

Casey:

But Side as the company, we were set up for this, and have them for the last three and a half years. Our team internally has always had great flexibility with their schedules. So when shelter-in-place started, our team was already accustomed to being able to work from home periodically, and having the ability to conduct meetings virtually. We've been doing that since day one with our team members being spread out like they are.

Casey:

So being able to adapt and pivot has really been key throughout crisis. And luckily, Side has been very nimble since day one. A majority of our leadership team is from the tech industry, where constant change and needs to adjust are probably more of the norm.

Whereas the brokerage industry has historically been slow to adapt, whether that's to technology, market conditions, you name it. So the ability to really pivot more quickly, adapt to these changes, better use technology and use it to your advantage. I mean, that's definitely a lesson we think we've all learned.

Casey:

So another lesson I think we learned too, is once we were able to start growing the company, we came across as growing very quickly and keeping up with that demand, at some points with the growth, was hard to do. So honestly, scaling back a little bit, making sure that you're able to fulfill and meet the needs of your agents and your partners, that's important.

And the growth will then happen. You don't have to worry about growing so fast that you can't keep up with the demand. Build something that works and that the agents are very successful with. And then from there you can grow.

New call-to-action

Tracey:

Okay. That's great. Great information. So what was your aha moment as it pertains to growing the brokerage?

Casey:

So for our brokerage, really it's once we realized that top producing agents and teams weren't able to have that entrepreneurial spirit, but they wanted it to be able to really brand themselves and have their identities known. We wanted to make a brokerage that met that specific needs.

Casey:

So it became obvious to us that if we did that and created that value and that we could fulfill that special niche, that so many top producers and successful teams out there needed. And then we'd be able to take our business and their business to the next level.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, great. And obviously most brokers, they build their business with a strategic mix of organic growth and then mergers and acquisitions. Tell me a little bit about your growth strategy and how it's evolved through the years.

Casey:

We believe in delivering programs, tools, and resources to our partners, so we can continue to grow in a scalable and predictable manner. Before we wanted to grow as a company, we wanted to ensure that our program could match the lofty goals that we set for ourselves as a company, and markets across the state. And so not only do we meet those goals, we are able to shatter them with significant increases to business of top producing agents.

Casey:

It was after seeing these kinds of results that we knew we truly had a special platform for our partners. From there, we expanded to the rest of California, now into Texas and the Florida markets as well.

And where we continue to see our partners grow at incredible rates, and while us as a company continue to focus on the back-end technology, continue to innovate so we can help our partners grow their business.

Tracey:

Okay, great. And what do you find to be the greatest challenge in business today?

Casey:

So honestly, I don't think the challenge in the business is the real estate business itself. I feel that real estate provides such an amazing opportunity where you can grow both professionally and financially, continuously throughout your entire career. The greatest challenge is always yourself. I feel it's your mindset and the goals that you create and the desires you have to achieve them.

Casey:

Now I'm a very competitive person, so I always set high expectations and challenges for myself, with the goal to exceed those lofty expectations. And that's one of the things I love about the company I'm with.

We all have that same vision, never satisfied, no matter the accomplishments we're able to achieve. And we constantly are striving to improve, expanding and helping our agents grow.

Tracey:

Okay. Yeah. That's a great challenge, taking it on personally because that makes a lot of sense. So let's talk a little bit about recruiting strategy. Obviously finding good agents and keeping them, is key. So what is your philosophy and telling me what you're doing to recruit and retain these great agents and teams.

Casey:

So we strive to partner with the best agents in every market that we enter. And not only are they top producing professionals, but we're only interested in those of high character and entrepreneurial spirit. And we're not interested in partnering with somebody that doesn't meet this high level of professionalism and entrepreneurialism in the business.

And so the collaborative nature of all of our partners, so it's created this unbelievable culture here, much like the high level mastermind group, where we're all able to share successes and help one another continually grow. So I've always felt that culture is the best retention tool, and the culture we have here is truly something special with our agent partners.

Casey:

As for recruiting, a lot of it comes from referrals from our existing partners. I know everybody loves to say that, but we have had a lot of success with our existing partners referring us to their colleagues, wherever they may be throughout the state that we're in.

But from those, we also get those that see our videos, our marketing pieces out there, they have the curiosity to see if the company truly has the solution they're looking for, and that if the information they're hearing from our agent partners in these testimonial videos is real.

Casey:

So, our numbers don't lie. Our agents have been extremely successful. And having the freedom to run their businesses have made them all true ambassadors to the company.

Tracey:

Okay. And my last question is just, where do you see the most opportunity in real estate brokerage in the coming year?

Casey:

Honestly, and I know we've probably been saying this for a while now, but innovation. The brokerage industry has been stagnant for years. And appears that brokerage leaders had really grown complacent. You always hear about disruption, but I don't really see any disrupters out there, I finally see innovators in the industry.

I think that's why we've seen such a changing of the guard so to speak in leadership at so many brokers throughout the country. There's finally that realization out there that we need to change, that we need to adapt more quickly, and that we need to be better innovators.

Casey:

So today I think it's the brokerages that are the commodity service, not the agents. And it's the agents that provide that highly-nuanced service, that machines and software could never replicate or replace. It's what the brokerages do that can be replicated and replaced and done more efficiently with technology.

I mean, it's the agent that's the killer app, it's not what the brokerage offers, but the killer app. What we need to do as a brokerage industry, is innovate and find a way to make what we do more of a streamlined process to better help the agents so they can facilitate transactions and better serve their clients.

Tracey:

Okay. Well, Casey, thank you so much for speaking with REAL Trends today. We really appreciate your insight and you taking the time to talk with us.

Casey:

Thank you, Tracey. Really appreciate it.

New call-to-action

Categories

REAL Trends content, subscribe now!
New call-to-action

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think