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REAL Trending Special Edition: Leading Through a Challenging Market

Aug 7, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ryan Carter, president of 8z Real Estate in Denver

Relying on organic growth, Carter and the leadership team at 8z Real Estate didn't have an organized recruiting program. The pandemic changed all that. Find out how they built a recruiting and retention plan and implemented it despite a challenging market.

 

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're leading. Today's episode focuses on recruiting, so please welcome Ryan Carter, president of 8z Real Estate in Denver to the REAL Trending podcast. Founded in 2009, the leaders at 8z Real Estate had one big idea, fix what has been broken in the real estate experience for both consumers and real estate agents. Based in Colorado, the brokerage has 170 agents and is continually building new tools to enrich their lives. Welcome, Ryan.

Ryan Carter:

Hey Tracey. Great to be here. Thanks for that introduction.

Tracey Velt:

Oh, no problem. Why don't you tell me a little bit about 8z Real Estate and the current state of the Denver market right now?

Ryan Carter:

Yeah, you bet. As you mentioned, 8z Real Estate was born in end of 2008, 2009 during let's call it a bit of a crisis in the housing and financial markets. Founded by our incredible leader, founder Lane Hornung and although that was a challenging time to build a brokerage, frankly I think those challenges had a real positive impact on who we are today and I would describe that as an advanced thinking, tech forward, nimble brokerage and steadfast in our vision of putting clients first, raising the bar in real estate, and building a robust, tech forward platform along with broad support, training, and mentoring that really enables our agents to be high performing real estate agents.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, great. Tell me a little bit about the current state of the Denver market. I think you're open and real estate was deemed essential there regardless, so how are you and your company handling the pandemic?

Ryan Carter:

Yeah, real estate is happening. I would call it sort of a pause that occurred and back in March when things really began to escalate, I'd say we got together as a leadership team and made some decisions with real intent and focus, and what I mean by that is we made a commitment as leaders to really double down and connect with our agents to provide them with minute-by-minute updates on regulations as they were evolving pretty rapidly, provide them with realtime data and new virtual tools so they could continue to engage with clients and conduct business, even when things were operating a bit differently. We had weekly town halls to connect. I was on the phone with our agents one-on-one so they could feel supported and ultimately serve the communities they work in.

Ryan Carter:

Then they could really transfer that connection and that information to their clients. People were hungry for information. People wanted to know what was going on in the housing market, and I think it was a real opportunity for agents to step back and connect with clients more authentically, which is really what we did as a brokerage to our agents and then they transferred that down to their clients.

Ryan Carter:

Then regarding the market, I'll share with you a little bit about what's going on in the market now. As I mentioned, I would describe what occurred as a pause. We were shut down for a couple of weeks, but it was deemed essential for really daring throughout the crisis of the pandemic with some iterations on how we operated. In April, with a lot of unknowns, I sat down and redid our business planning for the year, and if you would've told me at that time that in June we would have grown year over year, I would have thought that you were crazy but that is what's happening. The Denver market is really active, and frankly, it's really simple. It's being driven by high demand and extremely low supply, layered with really attractive interest rates. The market is really active right now.

Tracey Velt:

Alright, so let's get more specific and discuss recruiting. Obviously things are opening back up. You're doing well, but a lot of people maybe aren't so comfortable making big changes right now or having in-person meetings. Have you changed your recruiting methods with the changing market?

Ryan Carter:

We have. We have reinvested in and really evolved our digital recruiting efforts. We rebuilt our recruiting website. We actually engaged with 1000watt pre-COVID on engagement to fine tune what our message is, who we are, and really how to tell our story to potential agents and with that, we implemented a pretty robust digital email campaign to agents across our markets. We also produce a biweekly webinar series to engage with the agent community. We actually realize that there are a lot of agents out there that weren't getting the kind of support that we give to our agents at 8z, so we decided to share that love, really engage with agents in the broader community with information and training and learning, and that's been a really good recruiting channel for us as well. We also obviously had to pivot from the one-on-one coffees or in-person meetings, so we're doing a lot of virtual meetings that are supported by all of our new digital collateral, new website, new email campaign, and a webinar series.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. Do you have one person devoted to recruiting or do the managers handle it? What is your strategy?

Ryan Carter:

Good question, and frankly a question that I've been focused on a lot right now. Overall I'll first say that we have definitely had a mindset shift in our overall recruiting strategy, and I would describe that mindset shift as twofold. First, we've been pretty low key about recruiting historically. Pretty quiet, and I think we realized that it was time to change that. We previously have only grown organically with really minimal to no real recruiting efforts. I realized that we had a pretty special thing going on 8z, and that we're different and it's time that we begin to share that with agents more proactively, to outreach to agents to share our story, and really to make a huge impact on real estate agents' career who want to put in the work and be successful, so it's time that we bring those agents into our family to ultimately achieve that goal.

Ryan Carter:

Previously we have not had a recruiter handling that. It has lived with our team leaders or managing brokers, and second I realized that our team leaders are kind of unicorns. They do a lot. They mentor, they deal doctor, they're culture nurturers for our agents, and they produce. So I am developing a strategy that would bring on a full time recruiter that can really focus on the mission of recruiting and take it out of the team leaders' or managing brokers' hands.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. Makes a lot of sense. Do you find that it's easier to recruit right now, or do you find that people aren't really comfortable making big changes?

Ryan Carter:

You know, it's interesting. I really think it's across the spectrum right now. I do feel that there was this window. I think we are past that window. That was a real opportunity to connect with agents to make a change. People were probably more open to making a change as things were quiet in their business and perhaps as they realized that they needed more support. I think some of that is lingering. Our market is really in the V rebound, so there are agents that are just focused on their business right now and the idea of a switch is a bit daunting, so we're actually building systems around making that transition for agents easier to attempt to overcome that, and then also gearing up for a real double down on recruiting efforts in fall.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah. It sounds like this whole, I'd say time off. It wasn't really time off, but it's allowed you to really put a lot of thought into a new strategy and that is such an opportunity, so congratulations on that.

Ryan Carter:

It really is. It really has been.

Tracey Velt:

So let's look at the industry as a whole. What trends do you see right now that may have an impact on how brokers and managers recruit agents?

Ryan Carter:

Well, I think the recruiting landscape is and will become more competitive, so you really need to frankly have a strategy. Develop a strategy that is all encompassing and with some components that I spoke about. I also think that as the industry evolves extremely rapidly and there are new shiny objects and new platforms for agents to plug into, all that will become a given for an agent to expect from a brokerage. So I think brokerages need to ensure that they have a model that supports agents from technology to training to lead gen, however I think more and more agents will want a sense of connection and culture from their brokerage, a sense of belonging. So I think that's important for brokerages to pay attention to.

Ryan Carter:

Then, frankly, I think as brokerages and as we think about recruiting, you have to also think about retention. Recruiting and retention go hand in hand, and if you're not focused on retention from the beginning, from when you onboard an agent to an agent's retirement, then you're not really going to win in the recruiting game.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah, good point. Definitely. My final question is really about opportunities. I think that real estate agents and brokers are resilient, and where there are challenges there are always opportunities. So where do you see opportunity in the coming year or so?

Ryan Carter:

I think on the brokerage side, the industry as a whole is moving fast and as you said, brokerages and agents are resilient and I think the pandemic has really been an opportunity for innovation, and what perhaps was going to take three to five years for some innovation has happened three to five months. So I think brokerages have an opportunity to capitalize on that and to really excel and level up their brokerage support with new technology, new tools that are available for brokerages and for agents, and I think the opportunity lies in partnerships. I think it's a really great environment right now that a brokerage doesn't have to invent big new systems or new programs. All of that is happening outside of the brokerage, and all the brokerage has to do is sort of vet and develop strategic partnerships so they can bring those systems into their brokerage and serve clients and agents better.

Tracey Velt:

Oh, great. Well, Ryan, thank you so much for joining the REAL Trends podcast. We really appreciate all of your insight and we wish you much success in the coming year, so thank you.

Ryan Carter:

Thanks, Tracey. Great to be with you today.

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