Join Propy’s CEO, Natalia Karayaneva, and William Dickey, Account Executive, along with special guests Michael Fanning, Bill Lublin, Piper Moretti, Nikki Beauchamp, Stacie Staub, Pete Zizzi, and Lucy Edwards as they discuss lessons learned in 2020,  and looking forward to 2021.

Lessons learned in 2020

Stacie Staub said she threw her business playbook out the window on March 13 because there was so much to navigate. For Stacie, being flexible was key. For example, she had planned on bringing on 10 new agents in 2020, and ended up with 50 new agents. 

Bill Lublin said he had a really great start in first quarter of 2020, and was looking forward to a wonderful year. All that came to a screeching halt in March when non-essential business, including real estate, was shut down for ten weeks.

“I pride myself after years of being in the business on reacting quickly, decisively and appropriately to any business challenge,”

Bill explains, but in his efforts to pivot quickly, he overreacted and became overly stressed because the landscape was shifting so rapidly. His lesson learned was to make sure that any change coming up lasted long enough to be worth reacting to. 

Bill said they finished the year strong, doing about as much business as he had in 2019, but accomplished in 80% of the time. His pending business is giving him a great head-start into 2021. 

Natalia’s first reaction with the shut-down was also on how to quickly adapt, and all the initiatives she needed to implement immediately, and that was exhausting. She learned that staying flexible and not over-reacting was key for her. 

Piper Moretti shares that focusing on what she could control and not getting upset about the things she couldn’t control are what helped her through this year the most.  As she heads into 2021, Piper wants to continue to look at the things she can control and is good at and focus on those strengths. 

Nikki Beauchamp’s big take-away from 2020 was that her relationships become much deeper.  She saw people coming together, getting to know each other, and offering assistance.  Nikki was also impressed with how well she was able to connect with clients using Zoom. 

Lucy Edwards agrees that Zoom is a great resource for relationship building. She feels that the atmosphere on her Zoom calls is warmer and more friendly now, and that she is spending more time talking with her clients about their family and personal circumstances. 

Michael Fanning works for the Windermere Services Company, supporting about 300 offices and 7,500 agents, and at the start of the pandemic, they decided to become a better connector for their offices. They wanted to address the challenges their agents were facing on a day-to-day basis, and provide value to help agents weather the storm. Agents reported back that they felt more connected, and that these communication efforts provided answers for their uncertainty. 

Now that they are at the end of the year, Michael notes that while their transaction sides were down, dollar volumes were up. Many of their agents are reporting they had their best year ever in 2020, and are excited about opportunities in 2021. 

Pete Zizzi said it was a great year to reach out his clients and find out what help they needed.  He saw more collaboration with other realtors on the Association Facebook group, and feels like everyone helped each other to get through the challenges of the pandemic.

“When business opened up again,” Pete says,

“it was like the spring and summer market hit at the same time.”

Like Bill, he ended the year with the same sales volume as in 2019, but accomplished in less time. 

Goal-setting and KPI’s

As the largest Century 21 franchise in Pennsylvania, Lublin explains that they have business planning software to help agents set individual goals, and then he meets with the managers to set the office goals. From there, the company goals are set, and it’s important that these three sets of goals are in alignment. Each manager sends weekly production on a spreadsheet, so they know what they’ve written, what they’ve cancelled, and what new listings they’ve gotten. 

Bill explains that as a business owner, mindset is always on growing the business. Every opportunity gives you a chance to execute on that or not.  

Stacie is hesitant to put any numbers on paper for 2021 yet. On April 1, 2020, she didn’t know if they were going to shut down all of their offices and never sell a house again. She was more concerned with how to keep her agents fed, than how many houses they could sell. Going into 2021, she is inclined to tell her agents to keep selling houses, make people happy, take care of your people, and keep the community safe and healthy; the money will follow if you do that. 

“I have all these new agents with amazing backgrounds and skill sets,”

Stacie explains, agreeing with Bill about embracing opportunities. She hadn’t planned on bringing on so many, but all of this talent showed up because of the people getting furloughed from their jobs. She couldn’t say no to this opportunity.

Pete explains that since his brokerage is new, that he and his partners based their numbers for 2021 on a three-year rolling average of their production, and set all of their budgeting based on that. That way, he explains, if they don’t add any other agents, they will remain solvent. Long-term goals are to stay small, and be very selective about the agents they bring on. He held individual business plan meetings with his agents to find out what their goals and specific motivating factors were, and they use Buffini’s Referral Maker CRM, which has business planning and tracking tools built-in. 

Agreeing with Bill and Stacie regarding opportunities, Pete says,

“NAR says the biggest threat to our business is the number of unprofessional, unethical realtors out there, so we’re never going to say no to somebody who is ethical, honest, skillful, and they want to keep elevating their business.” 

“At Windemere we take a more holistic approach.” Michael explains, “in 2010, we adopted the Ninja selling concept.” With this approach, they want to know if agents intend to be full service, and what does their work-life balance look like a year from now. Looking at that agent’s goals, and what they want to do with their life, they work to reverse engineer that agent’s business.  This gives agents a feeling of significance, and it is phenomenal to witness what they end up doing. 

“We focus on the activities that they’re doing on a daily basis, that are enhancing relationships and providing value. And what’s amazing is business transpires from that,” Michael continues, “so when we do business planning, it’s not looking at numbers or production, it’s simply looking at what do you want your life to look like? Let’s help you build that.”  Michael shares that since Windemere started to do this, their average transaction count went up, average agent GCI went up, and the overall health and happiness of agents improved, with less burnout.  

Nikki agrees with Michael that the Ninja selling concept is powerful. 

“It changes the dynamics of how you run your business and how you live your life. I am a happy person, because I am working with people that I like and enjoy.” 

Natalia just read the book No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Erin Meyer and Reed Hastings, and highly recommends it. This book shows how you can lead a company through this approach where you put happiness, transparency, and honesty on the top of the priorities for the culture. 

Propy tracks their meetings and where leads come from to develop their KPI’s, Willie explains. They want to know what is effective, so they constantly evaluate their efforts across all their departments.  If we do implement an activity, it’s because we’ve learned it is effective.

Innovation is what drives Propy, according to Natalia. After establishing their objectives for the year, they track their activities each week.  She explains that it’s important to experiment a lot, which is what resonated for her in the book No Rules Rules. The authors talk about why some companies are more innovative and able to adapt. She concludes by saying, “This year, we saw those who thrived were able to be adaptive and flexible.” 

Lucy feels that 2021 is going to produce a new kind of realtor, one who is more technologically inclined.  She feels that agents who don’t embrace technology are going to fall behind and leave the industry. 

“There’s opportunity to pair those agents who don’t have the agility with technology with agents who are tech savvy,” Nikki explains. “There will always be attrition in the industry,” she continues, but partnerships like this will allow agents who want to retire to refer business to their new technologically advanced partner and provide them with referral income.

Natalia sees partnerships forming between the experienced professionals and the newcomers in the industry happening in all kinds of businesses, even in our personal life, stating that we frequently turn to our teenagers to learn how to use a new platform.  Her dream for Propy is to create a technology that is as easy to use as an iPhone, so that if someone isn’t tech savvy, they can still use the tool. 

A market of scarcity

“We’re selling in a market of scarcity,” according to Bill. In Philadelphia, they have less than two months inventory in the suburbs, and about two months in the city, which means that for every home for sale in Philadelphia, there are three buyers, and for every home for sale in the suburbs, there are five buyers.  Bill stresses that agents need to understand that they’re not necessarily great agents, because it’s not hard to market property when you have three to five times the number of buyers you would have in a balanced market.   

“We need to look at market indicators, at the people coming out of forbearance right now, that’s where I’ve got my head at as far as agent training.”

Stacie explains. Most of her agents have never worked in a market where people are going underwater, so her goals are how to train her agents to advise people in those situations. 

Pete Zizzi agrees.

“Many agents who came on in the past six years are doing great right now, but they’ve never really seen a down market.”

He feels that training is important to help these agents so they can handle a downturn if it happens. 

Bitcoin

Now that Bitcoin has reached $30,000, Piper states that she is getting a lot of leads from her Crypto Realty Group website. She is grateful that she laid the groundwork for handling crypto currency in 2017, because even though the next three years were fairly dormant, she developed a presence in this arena. 

Piper recently joined ExP Realty, and she is working to build out tech teams around the globe, something she couldn’t do at her previous brokerage as they lacked the infrastructure to accomplish this.  The markets that ExP is expanding into are crypto friendly, so Piper is looking forward to seeing how everything shakes out.

Natalia feels that investing in real estate and Bitcoin will dominate in 2021. 

Clubhouse  

Nikki has only been on Clubhouse for a couple of weeks, and is interested to see if it lasts. She says that it’s a nice break from being on a video call, and she can just chat with people.  As an agent, Nikki enjoys talking to people who want to buy properties, but she also enjoys talking with other agents and building a community, so she can refer business. She feels that having this platform be audio only is allowing for more connection, and it’s creating a nice community feel.  

Natalia is also seeing more intimate conversations, along with more motivational and personal growth, happening on Clubhouse in the evenings.

Our wish for 2021 to our community  

Lucy shares that being from Russia, New Year’s Eve is a big holiday. Her wish is that everyone can just be themselves, enjoy the day, and enjoy being in the moment. Her advice for the coming year is that you stay focused, love what you do, and create a new path in business that you will enjoy.

“My word for the year is ‘cultivate,’ Stacie says, and to her that means she’s going to focus her energy on organic growth, and helping her agents grow and nurture their spheres organically. Stacie’s wish for the New Year is that everyone is able to spend a lot of time outdoors, and be able to see and hug people in real life again. 

Nikki has not decided what her word for 2021 will be. She likes the idea of intentionally cultivating relationships, and said that one of the gifts for her in 2020 was discovering how much she really likes her family, as she was able to go deeper into those relationships due to the pandemic.

Natalia came up with a phrase to guide her in 2021: Keep calm and win. While she wants to have achievements as an entrepreneur, staying calm is key for her.

As a parent, Michael shares, he used to tell his kids when they were young to

be awesome and help someone.”

His kids told him that they could achieve both things if they just do one. They understood that helping someone automatically made them awesome. Heading into 2021, he feels that everyone should look around each day and be grateful for what we have, but to also see who can we help. His hope for 2021 is that everyone finds ways to be awesome and help somebody.

Bill is looking forward to connecting with everyone from this webinar a year from now, preferably at some café in Europe, enjoying a wonderful meal together. He hopes that everyone is even happier than they are right now, and that they are all healthy. Personally, Bill’s approach for the New Year is the same as it is every year: He is prepared to improvise, overcome, and adapt. 

Pete is looking forward to growing as a business-owner and a team leader in the coming year, but stresses the importance of his family and being well-balanced in life.  He’s hoping to re-connect with everyone on the webinar in person at NAR or another conference. 

Like many of the others have stated, Willie is hoping that life gets back to normal in 2021, He feels that in the past, people have taken many things for granted, like being able to go out for dinner, and he’s looking forward to doing those things again.

In 2020, Willie shares that he learned it’s not always easy to make quick decisions and pivot when the situation is so fluid. He wants to work on being better at evaluating how things are changing, and be able to adjust his approach accordingly. 

Michael is looking forward to travelling, being with people face-to-face, and seeing live music again.  

Piper wants to acknowledge that while some markets have been exploding, and those agents are doing well, there are also a lot of people who are really hurting right now, and their businesses are suffering. To those people, she wants to encourage them to think outside the box and not get stuck on one thing. If you love doing open houses, and can’t do them right now, what else can you do? Be open to other possibilities that will make you money. 

She continues by saying,

“stay open, take off your sales hat, and be compassionate in service. Make those human connections, and let your clients know you’re there for them.”