In our ever-evolving digital world, it’s no secret that technology is reshaping the real estate industry. To keep up, agents must be innovative, creative, and nimble to offer clients services and experiences they can’t get elsewhere.
“The starting point of all innovation is being a lifetime student,” says Amy Youngren of the North Group, whose business won Inman’s Most Innovative Team this year after three years of nominations. Youngren’s marketing and video strategies have helped her team capture market share in multiple cities across Canada.
A culture of learning
Youngren, who’s based in Toronto, has built her team into a top Keller Williams entity, and one of the fastest-growing in Canada. She’s constantly learning and evolving, fostering the same spirit among her team.
“I find inspiration from several industries: fashion, design, startups. I’m also watching entrepreneurs and companies that are launching new products closely to see how they’re creating engagement,” she says.
She also points to the team’s ability to fail forward as a pillar of their success.
“We aren’t afraid to try new things. You can only be innovative if you’re learning and improving. Training and education are deeply instilled in KW’s culture, and therefore in ours.”
Youngren’s team also embraces the company’s innovations in technology – developments that are making both the agent and consumer experience seamless, she says. “It’s evident that Keller Williams understands the agent and the role technology needs to play in almost every aspect of the business.”
Surround yourself with talent
In Portland, Oregon, Chris Suarez with Xperience Real Estate and team were Inman’s First Runner-up for Most Innovative Team of 2018. He’s crafted a unique team strategy to elevate an agent’s strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
The team begins by creating goals, or an organizational 1-3-5. With a clear picture of what the organization needs to accomplish, each team member creates a plan specific to their role – independently. From there, Suarez holds weekly coaching sessions and follows the company’s Four Conversations model to track activities across the organization. The team is now selling real estate in more than 30 cities, closing over $200 million in volume this year alone.
Suarez is also focused on getting the right people on his talent bench through KW’s Career Visioning process.
“We can leverage their past experience, their connections, their creativity, and their expertise,” he says.
When something breaks, the team celebrates. That’s because they see it as an opportunity for innovative problem solving that ultimately leads to a higher level of service. Finally, observing how Gary Keller and his leadership team have pivoted as the industry evolves is a huge source of inspiration, Suarez says.
Plugging into technology
Lance Loken of The Loken Group in Houston, Texas, was an Inman innovator for TV Radio Marketing this year. He’s used radio and television to capture clients since 2011, and today, radio accounts for 26 percent of the team’s sales with a five-to-one return on investment.
DJ endorsements have been a key source of their success, says Sara St. Marceaux, VP of luxury and marketing.
“Rather than creating a traditional radio spot, we leverage popular, local DJs to deliver our core message along with a recent success story. Because it’s delivered live, the message sounds more natural, like they’re having a conversation with the audience, and it allows us the flexibility to freshen up our success stories monthly.”
Loken hires primarily outside of the real estate industry, so many team members have corporate backgrounds and approach the business in a different way, he says. “Our team has a ‘what if’ approach that allows them to generate creative solutions to challenges they encounter.” Team members are constantly enveloped in business books, training, and weekly coaching sessions.
To get ahead of the curve, each department within his team has weekly mastermind “lab” sessions, plus monthly cross-departmental sessions where opportunities for growth and possible solutions to issues are discussed. “Every idea is written down, and then the team agrees on which will be mapped out and tested,” he says. Results are analyzed, and the team decides if the idea is worth pursuing, needs revising, or if it’s back to the drawing board.
The innovations coming out of Keller Williams are a huge source of inspiration, Loken adds. The Loken Group has been a core contributor to KW’s advancements in technology, making multiple trips to the company’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, and ideating with technologists on-site.
Kelle, for one, has simplified the Loken team’s referral process, he says. Buyer and listing agents are using Market Snaps to become more hyperlocal and win more business. And soon, KWCommand – the operating system of the future – will run every aspect of Loken’s business.
“We love the products coming out of Keller Williams,” Loken says. “It’s a company of growth, with a culture that fosters learning and failing forward. It’s this approach that helps drive innovation.”
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