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REAL Trending Special Edition: RE/MAX's Nick Bailey Recruiting

Jul 10, 2020 6:00:00 AM

REAL Trends editor in chief Tracey Velt talks to Nick Bailey about recruiting trends and Bailey tells us the biggest mistakes brokers make when it comes to finding and recruiting good agents.

Tracey Velt:

This is Tracey Velt, editor in chief of content for REAL Trends. In this special edition of The REAL Trending Podcast, we're speaking to real estate leaders about how they lead. Today's episode focuses on recruiting. Since joining RE/MAX last September, chief customer officer Nick Bailey revamped the company's recruiting strategy, culminating in a new campaign that recently launched. So welcome to The REAL Trending Podcast, Nick.

Nick Bailey:

Thanks, Tracey. Awesome to be with you.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah. So tell me a little bit about what it means to be a chief customer officer.

Nick Bailey:

Well, the CCO title, I think the last couple of months people have called me the chief crisis officer is probably a little more appropriate. But no, really what it's really focused on is leading the RE/MAX brand around the globe. We span 110 countries and 130,000 agents with the customer in mind because that's one of our core values is being customer obsessed. And in this business with brokers and agents, making sure that the organization is hyper focused on the experience that our customers have and the customers that ... Or the experience they provide them for their customers.

Nick Bailey:

And so, it all comes from that point of being customer obsessed.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. Great. So obviously you've been in leadership, especially real estate leadership, for a long time. Obviously as well, you've never seen a market quite like this and despite the pandemic and civil unrest, real estate continues on. So tell me a little about how RE/MAX has been impacted, particularly during the stay at home orders.

Nick Bailey:

It's a great question. And you're right, I don't think any of us in our lifetime have seen exactly this market. But especially for us, we've never seen one single event impact every single one of our real estate markets around the globe in which we have a presence. However, I do know this, I mean, you mentioned I'd done in leadership a long time. Tracey, you're making me sound old, but the RE/MAX organization's been around for over 47 years and gone through six recessions, be the seventh. We've gone through up markets, down markets, changes.

Nick Bailey:

And so even though this is different in what caused the change, it also is similar in the fact that things can move up, things can move down and it's how quickly they do. And that gives us the opportunity just to leverage our past experience and past experience myself from a leadership position to adjust quickly and make changes. If you've never gone through any sort of adjustment, you're in unchartered territory. And we were an uncharted territory with this being a global pandemic, but what we weren't in unchartered territory was the fact that we knew that we had to move very, very fast in a very quick changing market to make sure that agents and brokers were well-equipped to service their buyers and sellers, even if it meant just to reach out to check in with people.

Nick Bailey:

A couple of months ago, that was the most important thing that an agent can do and it's evolving, but we were able to leverage that past experience to change quickly and realize that we had to lead the way.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. And I'm going to switch things up and talk about the, switch the questions up. So I know we talked about you recently revamped RE/MAX's recruiting strategy. So tell me a little bit about that new strategy and how it was developed.

Nick Bailey:

Yeah. In rejoining RE/MAX last year, I had been with RE/MAX for 11 and a half years and then experienced a number of opportunities since then. And in coming back to this role, there really is what I think is important for every business to understand that you should have a startup mentality. And what I mean by that is when you are a startup business, you are hyper focused on maybe doing two or three things really, really well. And as your business matures, all of a sudden you are good at 20 or 30 things, but you start watering down the things that drive your business originally.

Nick Bailey:

And so when I came back to the organization, having an opportunity to look at recruiting as a contact sport in our business, it's really about inviting people to be part of your company and knowing deep down that you have a genuine commitment to helping make the life of an agent better. And when I say, life of an agent better, that can mean different things in different ways to agents. Maybe they need more tech, maybe they just need more time management, maybe they have goals to increase their closings and commissions, maybe they're in a stage where they want to step back a little bit and have a person to transfer their business.

Nick Bailey:

So every agent's in a different stage of their career, but yet it still is an opportunity to get with agents, talk to them, have a relationship and make sure that you're supporting what their needs are. And so we really went back to that startup mentality and said, let's take the footprint that we have, over 3,500 offices in just the United States alone, and create a re-engagement with each and every one of our owners and focus on those activities that really drive growth in their business and help agents with their goals. And in doing so, we have revamped and adjusted and have launched new initiatives every quarter.

Nick Bailey:

Obviously last quarter in Q2, we made some very different adjustments because of the timeframe. But it's being hyper focused on whatever the mechanisms are that are crucial to the business at its foundation.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. So give me an example of one of those initiatives.

Nick Bailey:

Well, right out of the gate. So let's take, for example, since it is top of mind with stay at home, and we know that everyone's in somewhat of a different timeframe. Whether it be by state, we watched all that very closely, whether it be local municipality or county, but we knew that within the first week of seeing where we were going stay at home around the globe, we immediately made zoom available for every company, 8,000 companies, offices around the globe and 130,000 agents because we knew communication and being able to visually interact, even if it was electronically, was going to be key for everyone.

Nick Bailey:

And so that was an example of right out of the gate and then we immediately enhanced our education because people were looking for answers and directions. And let's keep in mind in the US, we're at about 1.4 million realtors. A decade ago, going through the great recession before we started it, we were about at the same member and we lost around 450,000 realtors. And so there are over 50% of agents within the United States that had never seen a downturn or maybe a buyer's market, or especially a change this quickly.

Nick Bailey:

And so we immediately came out with enhanced education focused specifically on what agents needed to be doing now. Keeping in contact, the agent has never been more important to a buyer or seller than right now in my lifetime in this business. They're looking for answers and home was deemed essential in most areas, but not in others. And so it created a lot of questions and so agents needed to know what was happening in the market, how to leverage technology to contact their clients, and then by the way, how do we then take buyers and sellers still interested through a more virtual E experience, if you will, to be successful in closings.

Nick Bailey:

And so we adjusted on all of those very quickly, which has helped agents make sure that they didn't furlough themselves, that they stayed active in their business. And when I say active, that can look different in different ways. But the idea being that you don't throw your hands up and say, I'm on hold until things "get back to normal." Maybe the only thing you can do is work on your database, reach out to your clients, enhance your website, take a tech training. Whatever it is that you are able to do at the timeframe in which you were impacted, you still could work on yourself and make yourself better for your business because we believe those agents are the ones that are going to come out of this the strongest.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah. And this is a rare opportunity to allow them the time to be doing all of these things. So I don't know that they'll have that opportunity again. So it definitely had a lot of positives to it as well. We're going to talk a little bit ...

Nick Bailey:

You mentioned that, Tracey, just one additional thing, something that we lit up very, very quickly is a weekly show, our morning show, it's called Good Morning RE/MAX, and I have the honor of hosting that it's public. You can go to the We Are RE/MAX Facebook page and we've had some incredible interviews. We had Dr. Ben Carson on within the first month, we had Marie Osmond on. She's one of the co-founders of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. And then just last week we had Joe Theismann, NFL legend quarterback, motivational speaker, and he has a new book called How to be a Champion Every Day.

Nick Bailey:

And it was interesting when Joe talked about change and he said, actually, people don't mind change. They don't like people to force them to change. But in a time in which maybe you can't get the same results that you were accustomed to, to look and say, what results can I get? And this is an opportunity to self reflect. And if you're not learning, you're not living. And so if you take that opportunity and still right now, currently with many people, take the opportunity to self reflect and figure out how you can get better, personally and professionally.

Nick Bailey:

Because we don't in our adult lives get a pause button once in a while to say, maybe I can invest in myself a little bit. And so those that are having that kind of attitude, which I know it's tough, it's easier said than done, but those are the ones that we're seeing positive and the signs of recovery and people's businesses many have said they're busier now and have had record months in the last two months more so than ever. And so it's proving true for those that are taking that advice.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah. And I've heard that from agents in Florida as well, so very positive. So I want to talk about the recruiting process and you see a lot of brokers, you talked to a lot of brokers. What do you see them doing right and what do you feel like they need to do differently?

Nick Bailey:

Loaded question. I love this one. Recruiting is not rocket science. However, I will say this, let's talk about the stumbles that I see brokers make first and then we'll talk about how that translates into how they can sharpen their skills a bit. First, I think we're guilty in real estate and I've been a real estate broker for 24 years, and so have been on the front lines of this for a long time. Many times, real estate owners, broker owners try to be all things to all people and we are guilty as an industry, as agents, of chasing a shiny object.

Nick Bailey:

What's new and what's shiny or saying, wait, maybe is this the right way to go? And so you see people own their company and not really knowing their value. And so maybe their economic model, they're trying to be the cheapest in their market. Or maybe they're trying to imitate someone else's technology platform and not stepping back and reflecting and saying, what do I want to represent in the market? Because there are all different models and all different companies in every market, but it doesn't mean all agents are right for those individual companies.

Nick Bailey:

So for example, for us at RE/MAX, we know that out of 1.4 million realtors, the vast majority are not right for our brand. The way we are structured with our economic model, full time real estate agents, we out produce two to one, generally, the competition. I'm not saying that the competition is bad. I'm just saying that's what our value is and that's what we're proud of. And so when brokers, broker owners really know what they stand for, what their value is, they can convey that and attract that type of agent. And so many times people just jump out and they'll start taking any agent that maybe wants to join, when they forget that they don't realize that they are creating their reputation in the market based on their recruiting activities.

Nick Bailey:

So for example, if your company is known for bringing on only new licensees, and then they try to go after a 15 year top producer and they can't figure out why they won't join them, because through the lens of the outsiders looking at their company, they've established a reputation of being a new licensee organization. Now, does that make them bad as a company? No, not at all. But sometimes when you're so close to your business, you don't realize that that's the reputation you're developing. And so that's where I see people stumbling because they're trying to be all things to all people.

Nick Bailey:

Now, what I do see people doing right is knowing their value and targeting the people that they believe are right for their company. And so if you believe that you are the company that's going to be home of the top producers in your market, that you're just going to outproduce number one in market share and you know that, then those are the type of people you're going to attract. If you are in a high end luxury market and you are looking for the very top high end luxury agents, and that's all you specialize in, then stick in that space.

Nick Bailey:

And so it's not overly complex, but to me, those are the big pieces of what make them successful in running a company.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. And then we're going to talk a little bit about some more trends as a whole in the industry as it relates to recruiting. So what are you seeing in the industry today that may have an impact on how brokers and managers recruit agents?

Nick Bailey:

I think one trend that I've seen ever since I got started is many owners when they open their companies, or even if they're established companies, they put so much emphasis on, say, the economic model or the split. And that should be the sole value proposition that they provide in the market. And here's what we always tell people is you've got to remember that if you recruit on price, you lose on price. And so the way in which you invite someone or recruit someone to be part of your company, you are teaching them that that's the most important decision that they can make.

Nick Bailey:

And at the end of the day, in the absence of production, the way you chop the dollars doesn't matter. You can slice and dice splits and fixed fees or variable in so many different ways, but my personal philosophy is if you don't have closings, you don't have anything to slice and dice. And so really I think the focus should be around how we make agents better. Because this is a really tough thing to say, but it's the reality is we work in a mediocre industry because the barriers of entry and getting a license are so low. And I truly believed that there are a lot of licensees out there that maybe shouldn't be.

Nick Bailey:

And I think generally most in the industry agree with that, but yet, as long as the barriers of entry remain low, it's going to allow for a potential mediocre experience for a buyer and seller. And I think that when you're doing with the largest investment that most people make in their lives, that they should be rewarded a real full time expert.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah. That's a good plan and very interesting insights. So finally, my last question revolves around opportunities. I know you have a handle on both the technology and business sides of real estate. So where do you see opportunity overall for real estate brokers in the coming year?

Nick Bailey:

Yeah. In technology specifically, what an interesting conversation this has been over a decade. One, our industry, if we admit it, is slow to adopt technology. I have said for the last three months in visiting with people that I had one question come up within about three weeks of the stay at home order from an agent. And she asked me, I thought it was a great question. She said, is some of this technology going to make us less relevant when we come out of this? And I said, absolutely, 100% no. The value in which a consumer compensates an agent is not the medium in which they're working.

Nick Bailey:

Being on Zoom or using technology to communicate is not the value. The value for a consumer using an agent is being their trusted advisor. And the data shows us consumers are using agents more today than they ever have been, but yet we have more technology in our industry than we ever have been. And so I believe that fear, fear of data, where does my data go and fear of tech adoption has hindered innovation in our industry. And so my response to this question to this agent was if we were honest with ourselves, this tech that we're using or have been in the last few months, isn't new, but it is a forcing function to utilize it and to engage in it.

Nick Bailey:

And consumers have got an upgrade in the tech lesson as well through this. And you look at video and being present, that is such a great example of the trepidation of agents to not use video. I don't like how I look and sound. But yet at the same time, it's become the most valuable piece of how we communicate with our customers, with our friends, with our family over the past few months and it's forcing people to be more comfortable. And so here's ultimately what it boils down to, technology is not going to replace the agent, but an agent that doesn't adopt technology will replace themselves.

Nick Bailey:

So it's a matter of how do we leverage tech to enhance a better experience for buyers and sellers. And I think that's what it has been for a number of years, but because fear drives so much of our industry and blocks innovation that it has hindered people's ability to adopt it. And so what I'm hoping as we look at opportunity moving forward is some of the pieces of technology outside of our industry that have moved at an incredible pace, that we will see a willingness or an openness to bring some of that speed to market and some of that ability to share within our industry instead of being driven by fear and blocking.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. Yeah. Interesting. And that technology piece is so confusing to so many people, so many brokers, so it'll be interesting how it all does become an opportunity for them. Because I feel like once everyone gets to that point where they've all got the same technology, the differentiation becomes something different, so yeah.

Nick Bailey:

It does. And we're seeing that now, when you look at we still have various pockets and various brokerages and brands. You can see the variations in their willingness to adopt technology, not be fearful of competition and they're generally the most progressive companies. And here's what it comes down to at the end of the day. We have such a fragmented that when you talk to buyers and sellers about their experience, they still say going through the under contract to close is not a fun experience.

Nick Bailey:

And so that's where the opportunity in my mind ultimately lies and how we bring these pieces together is we've got to start listening to consumers more, buyers and sellers, and where the pieces of their process of buying and selling get uncomfortable is we can solve for it. And tech is going to be part of that as long as we are open to adopting it and making sure that the thought of buying and selling real estate is not daunting like it is for so many.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah. Good point. Well, Nick, thank you so much for joining The REAL Trending Podcast. We really appreciate your time and insight into the industry. Is there anything that you want to add that I didn't ask that you think is important specifically surrounding the recruiting process for agents or for brokers?

Nick Bailey:

Yeah. I think at the end of the day, what it really comes down to is recruiting is a contact sport, you've got to be building relationships with agents in your market, and you've got to be inviting them to join your company if they are the right people for your organization. And if you focus on those three things, I think any broker with any business model can find the right people and be successful in growing their company.

Tracey Velt:

All right. Well, thank you, Nick, so much for your time. We appreciate it.

Nick Bailey:

Thank you, Tracey. Great to be with you.

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