Marketing Expert Dean Jackson introduced me to a formula I use to analyze every business I come into contact with – including my own. The idea is that every business has 3 parts: a Before Unit, a During Unit, and an After Unit.
The Before Unit is the unit of your business in charge of finding, identifying, educating and motivating people to come into your business for the first time. That is the Before Unit in a nutshell.
The During Unit is the unit of your business that delivers the experience that people have while they are doing business with you. The During Unit starts from – if you have a retail store – the moment they walk into your store, until the moment they walk out of your store. The During Unit could also be the time a customer spends on an e-commerce website like Amazon.com.
As a real estate agent, the During Unit could be the moment you start looking at houses with somebody, until they close on the house and have spent the first 30, 60 or 90 days in that house.
The After Unit is all about creating new relationships and nurturing lifetime relationships with the people who already know, like, and trust you. Your goal in the After Unit is to ensure you have the opportunity to do business with this person again in the future, and, earn their referrals to family, friends and co-workers.
Now let’s take a look at my all-time favorite business. What do the Before, During, and After Units look like for www.Amazon.com? The Amazon.com Before Unit includes targeted Google and Facebook ads, traditional television commercials, as well as print advertising.
Once Amazon gets you in their ‘eco-system’ with their Echo Speakers, Kindle e-readers, and Fire branded phones and tablets, they use their Alexa artificial intelligence technology to keep you informed about products and services that are likely to appeal to you. Amazon.com are the masters of using both old and new media in the before unit of their business. In fact, nobody does it better.
The Amazon.com During Unit appeals to me, and I dare say all of us, because there no checkout lines, no pushy sales people, an almost infinite selection, my credit card is on file, and it is a completely friction-free experience. The photos, videos, and customer reviews make making sense of the vast selection quick and easy. With Amazon Prime I can go online or on my phone, make a couple of mouse clicks or touchscreen gestures, and have anything I want at my door the next day.
The Amazon.com After Unit is just as amazing to me. Who can resist personalized emails about things you care about based on your purchases and search history? I can’t. Amazon ‘Buttons’ make it way too easy to restock household basics and Alexa will even keep a shopping list for you.
Amazon’s customer service, though I seldom need it, is outstanding, and if I have to return something it is actually a pleasure. Prime, Prime Music, and Prime Video all keep me coming back for more. Amazon.com has it going on in all three units!
Other great companies that come to mind are Apple and Disney. Two more masters of all three units.
Now let’s look at a franchise situation. What do the Before, During and After Units look like for McDonald’s? The McDonald’s Before Unit includes saturation TV, radio, billboard, highway, newspaper, and magazine advertising. It includes coupons and special offers both online and off. Their overall brand recognition is literally off the charts with the Golden Arches being one of the most recognized logos in the world. All of this contributes to their ability to grow shareholder value year over year.
From the customer’s perspective, the During Unit at McDonald’s includes the overall design and décor of the restaurant, including the menu boards, furniture, bathrooms, and the drive through. The during unit also includes the order, pay, and pick-up procedures, and the wait time both inside, and at the drive-through. The during unit also includes the Big Mac and all of the other McDonald’s greatest hits.
From the franchisee’s perspective, the during unit includes real estate and architectural services, standardized recipes, the McDonald’s ‘system’, Hamburger University, approved suppliers and vendors, standardized ingredients, and use of the ‘marks’. All of these services are designed to ensure a superior customer experience and a profitably enterprise for both the franchisee and the franchisor.
The After Unit at McDonald’s is a little tougher for me to articulate. As far as I know there is no loyalty program or value added benefit available for purchase. From the independent franchisee’s perspective, the periodic addition of new menu items, marketing initiatives like the Dollar Menu, and continuously updated services and procedures, keep them profitably happy within the system.
This is just my opinion of course but the core value of a McDonald’s franchise is in the before unit. I will leave you to be the judge of the during unit – but it’s hard for me to say McDonalds is ‘fast’ food anymore.
The ‘Legacy’ or ‘Big Box’ Real Estate Franchises
Now let’s look at a business that hits a bit closer to home. What do the Before, During, and After Units look like for one of the giant franchises? These companies include Home Services of America (Berkshire) and Realogy (Coldwell Banker, Century 21, and many more), KW, Exit etc. I am going to speak directly about RE/MAX based on my past experience as a franchisee in Ohio.
The RE/MAX Before Unit includes brand recognition, the RE/MAX balloon, multi-channel advertising, world-wide market share, Lead Street, and agent branded websites. Like all of the legacy real estate franchises, RE/MAX is a master of the before unit. Like McDonald’s, I will go so far as to say the value of a RE/MAX franchise or agent affiliation is in the before unit.
The During Unit from a customer’s perspective is at best ‘ill-defined’. The client experience is 100% dependent on the quality and experience of the agent involved. The agent’s performance is also dependent on the quality of the leadership in their independently owned franchise office. In most cases the agents are true professionals. In other cases, the agent was brought into the fold in an effort by the franchisee to meet their recruiting quota.
The During Unit from an agent, or franchisee’s perspective is a first class experience, but only for those agents who choose to take advantage of the benefit. Sadly, the majority do not. RE/MAX University and the RE/MAX International Conventions are two of the finest programs in the industry designed to help agents and brokers gain and expand their capabilities and continue to excel. Agent and brokers also enjoy consistent recognition at the regional and national level for sales performance.
The RE/MAX After Unit from a customer perspective is again agent dependent. The After Unit from an agent or franchisee perspective is limited. However, I consider the recruiting bonuses and down-line profit sharing plans available at Exit and Keller Williams to be agent and broker centric after unit enticements if not real benefits. The reality is these companies are transaction based entities as opposed to relationship based entities. Consequently, the After Unit is generally an afterthought.
The Traditional Mom and Pop Brokerage
What does the typical Mom and Pop brokerage look like in terms of the Before, During, and After Units? Sadly, outside of a few well established ‘boutique’ firms serving niche markets, the Mom and Pops are generally being eclipsed, if not absorbed, by the giant firms. Yes, there are still some strong regional players but the overall trend is clear. Traditionally the value of these firms rested in the Before Unit. Local reputation, market share, and local name recognition are their traditional strengths.
There is not a lot of differentiation in the During Unit of the Mom and Pop’s. For the broker owners however, this is not a disadvantage. Most of the players in these firms are true professionals that have been in the business for decades. Their customer service skills, though likely ‘old school’, are second to none.
From an agent perspective on the other hand, it is hard to find a lot of value in in associating with these firms. Most of these broker owners came up through the years as professional salespeople and never had the desire to be leaders in the industry. Generally, they opened their own shops in order to avoid splitting their commissions with an established firm.
The After Unit advantages of a Mom and Pop brokerage are also elusive. Like with the ‘legacy / big-box’ franchises, the after unit client experience is dependent on the agent. The relationship-focused professionals will find a way to stay in touch on their own. The transaction focused agents will never see the value in an after unit investment. Every ambitious professional associated with a legacy Mom and Pop eventually asks the question, ‘what exactly am I paying my broker for?’
My Vision For The ‘Better Brokerage’
Now let’s consider ROOST Real Estate Co™ and Lucky Town Real Estate Co™.
I consider bringing this brokerage concept to the world to be my life’s work. For over 5 years now I have dedicated every spare moment and dollar to building these brands. My goal is to offer our agents and franchisees Before, During, and After units that are second to none.
Based on my experiences with both a Mom and Pop and a Legacy / Big-Box brand, I knew that I would have to ‘bootstrap’ an effective Before Unit strategy in order to grow and thrive. As established above, our competition has the Before Unit nailed down.
I also knew that I wanted to influence the During Unit as much as reasonable to bring some consistency to the ROOST / Lucky Town brand experience. We only bring on agents and brokers who are clearly aligned with our values, so our During Unit service standard is built into our DNA. It’s cultural.
Our success from the start was due to offering our agents and their clients a complete After Unit experience. My personal success was dependent on creating and nurturing long term, referral-based relationships. I started with Top-Producer and graduated later to using the tools and training created by Buffini and Company. Early on I wondered what it would look like for an entire brokerage to run this way. I set it up and it worked.
The ‘Better Brokerage’ Before Unit:
Thanks to the microchip, the internet, social media, and smart phones it is possible for any broker to create a vision, message and concept, and introduce it to the world for a tiny fraction of what it would have cost just a few years ago. My brands may not have world-wide recognition (yet) but technology has leveled the playing and given us a more than fighting chance against the establishment.
Today, our Before Unit includes:
- Daily social media presence boosting name recognition and ultimately market share.
- Buy With ROOST and List With ROOST content in takeaway brochure form and pdf downloads.
- Brokerage supported personal Facebook business pages for each agent.
- Personalized ‘just listed’ and ‘sold’ mail arounds and social media posts.
- Investor sales driven by the Property Management Division.
- The Quick Start Game Plan™*
- A comprehensive direct response marketing effort across all lines of business.
- A 52 Week ad calendar laying our every marketing piece in place.
- State of the art website with personalized branded agent landing pages.
- Consumer facing blogs for buying, selling and real estate investing.
- Long form educational sales letters for buyers and sellers differentiating ROOST agents from everyone else.
- Innovative marketing scorecards for Home Selling Geniuses and Home Buying Jedi Masters.
- Free e-Books emailed to all scorecard participants.
- Cause Marketing Opportunities.
- ROOST™ Hero Spotlight on Success Video Series
The Better Brokerage During Unit
The ROOST During Unit is designed to support our independent contractor professionals with materials that promote a consistent, proven, brand experience from one client to the next. Support for our Realtors include:
- The Buyer Consultation Experience
- The Listing Meeting Experience
- The Home Enhancement Checklist
- Peak Producers and Buffini Blitz Programs
- Every broker or manager is a Buffini Certified mentor
- A complete productivity and technology package that simply works – including office phone, workspace, and equipment.
- The Agent Service Manager
- The Training and Development Commitment
- Your Pay Your Way
- The Rhythm of Our Business
The Better Brokerage After Unit
As I said earlier, I credit virtually all of our success to date to the ROOST Real Estate Co. After Unit. From the moment we activated our license, our focus has been on creating new relationships, and nurturing lifetime relationships with the people who already know, like, and trust us. This of course is the essence of working by referral. This is what has set us apart from the start. Agent support for the After Unit includes:
- Personalized monthly items of value executed and mailed on the agent’s behalf and paid for by the brokerage.
- Branded Pop-By gifts – shirts, koozies, water bottles, pens, and more.
- Client Appreciation Events.
- Company paid Buffini Referral Maker CRM.
- $50 a month credit towards Buffini and Company personal coaching.
- Your Brokerage For Life – We pledge to grow with you.
We want to be the only brokerage our agents will ever need. We will continue to support and improve all three units of our business. We will not be left behind and we will not let our agents be left behind.
I hope this information helps you to make informed decisions about your future. The choices and opportunities available in our industry have never been greater. The downside is multiple choices and opportunities also create confusion that can lead to inaction and inertia. I want to see you moving forward.
Care To Learn More About Our Company?
- Try the new Market Maker Advantage Scorecard. Score yourself on the eight mindsets that are either growing or slowing your business right now. www.MarketMakerScorecard.com.
- Fill out the form below for a FREE download of my book A Realtor’s Guide to Mad Market Making Skills – The Eight Mindsets That Make The Difference Between Simply Surviving And Creating A Real Estate Business That Works For You
- If you’re ready make the leap and live the good life, email me directly at Chris@ROOSTRealEstateCo.com with ‘Let’s Start’ in the subject line.
*By some estimates agents lose an average of 20% of their income during a transition to a new firm. At ROOST Real Estate Co., we attack this concern head-on with our Quick Start Game Plan™. Our brokers and Agent Service Managers begin working with new agents prior to transferring their license to ensure they hit the ground running. In our experience, agents can expect an increase in business activity within days of joining our company.