Every once in a while you meet someone who just lights you up and gets you thinking! Meet Nelson Goulart, VP Network Services for Better Homes and Gardens Canada and Broker/Owner of BH&G Signature Service Missisauga!
Nelson is a visionary; a family man and one of the strongest most grounded leaders I’ve had the pleasure of meeting! We absolutely share a passion for the Real Estate industry as a whole and dig into what we love about this industry and where we think things may be going! This truly is a Conversation That Matters!
How Can We Improve the Customer Experience?
Nelson shared a story he had of a Millennial worker from the Genius Bar at the Apple Store: She relayed her experience working with her Realtor and how it could have been improved for her in a very simple way.
Where is BH&G Canada Going?
The big vision for BH&G Canada obviously is looking to expand across the country but they have a long term growth strategy as they respect current contracts.
Associations and Canadian Landscape
Nelson sings the praises of the Canadian industry and the DDF (our singular Data Feed) and our ability maintaining control directing listing views. He holds a great deal of pride for the Canadian Real Estate Association and the value they provide as a strong national voice for the industry.
How Does Nelson Position His Agents For Success?
We examine the licensing system and whether new licensees are prepared to tackle their career and how Nelson moves his new agents past their fears and into action as the AWESOME coach that he is!
The leadership component is critical in helping agents become successful!
“The industry needs more new leaders coming in who are prepared to roll up their sleeves!”
Nelson sees tremendous opportunity for new, young, dynamic leaders so the future is bright! 🙂
Thanks so much to Nelson who IS that LEADER! (Hang on to the end where he nearly makes me cry !!)
Announcer: You’re listening to Conversations that Matter with your host, Teri Conrad.
Teri: Hi everybody, this is Teri Conrad with Conversations that Matter, hearty topics for hungry minds. I have brought to you one of my most favorite people on the planet, Nelson Goulart who for those of you who’ve been living under a rock, he’s a big deal here in Canada. He’s the VP of – what’s your title, exactly?
Nelson: VP of Network Services.
Teri: VP of Network Services, Better Homes and Gardens Canada. Welcome to Conversations that Matter Nelson, I’m so glad that you’re here.
Nelson: Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Teri: We go back a ways. We actually met on my birthday a few years ago. Richard Silver brought me out to dinner, and there you were with Amy Cherow and Rob, your partner. I just hang with the big guys because that’s fun to do. I met you, and I was just like this is the coolest, most grounded, awesome person I have met in a good, long time. We absolutely clicked. I love your vision, your – there are so many things I want to dig into with you. We’re going to talk about leadership, we’re going to talk about industry, we’re going to talk about broker brands, all those things that you and I love to dig into. Let’s get started.
Teri: We had a conversation not long ago where you shared your Apple story with me. I was wondering if maybe we could have – you would share that story again with our audience.
Nelson: Absolutely, I think it relates well for the consumer – what the consumer expectation is and what we’ll just have to look forward to going forward in the industry on the service levels that they’re expected by these millennials, these consumers that are out there, these elusive consumers that everybody refers to. To those of you who don’t know, I’m also the broker, owner of an office in Mississauga which gives me a lot of pleasure in working still one-on-one with some of the agents in the industry. What happened is I went over to have a meeting with the joint venture program with Apple in our marketplace and I – they pitched a couple of services to us.
One of the things, I got to talking about with the manager who was a young, female millennial type. I talked to her about her home buying experience, and it was funny because she said to me that number one, the agent that she had selected was referred by a family member and work in the family which fits in line with a lot of the numbers that we talk about. It also – she also said that he had just purchased – he was an older real estate agent in his mid to late 50’s, which fits the demographic of typical Canadian realtor depending on which study you believe. She said that when she – when he found out that she was with Apple, that when he went and bought this Apple, this iPad thing and he handed it to her.
He said, “Can you set this up for me?” Being the manager in the store she set that up very easily and very quickly for him to pull listings, to pull all that kind of information, which typically or traditionally that’s what consumers look to us for. They come and look at homes, we give them a stack of listings, they sit quietly beside us making comments, making notes. I said to her, I said, “How did you find that experience?” She goes, “Well, he gave me the listings. Before, he would give them to me on a paper format, which was typical. Then once we had the iPad he just gave it to me in a digital format of the same paper listings.” I could see.
Teri: Most people – that to them is the digital move. That – we’ve moved from paper to digital so they think that’s it.
Nelson: Okay, I’ve converted over to digital experience. What I noticed is that there was a hesitation in her voice. What I said to her, I said, “You really didn’t like that did you?” She goes, “Not really.” I said, “What would you expect that experience to be like?” Then her eyes lit up and she goes, “Well, what I’d like to see is the high res pictures of the properties as we’re driving to the next property. I’d like to be able to see virtual tours of it because I’m a millennial and time is precious to us. We’re busy, we’ve got all these things on the go, and –” she didn’t use the term millennial, but she said, “I’m a young person, I’m busy, I’ve got a lot of things on the go.”
She goes, “I want to maximize my time in between listings, so I would have liked to have seen virtual tours, as I mentioned the high res pictures; everything that allows me then when I walk into that home that I could make a quick decision on whether or not I will consider it to make it my home.” I thought that was enlightening because I’d never seen it so eloquently put before.
Teri: Right, well and the thing is, is what always happens is we’re so stuck in our business, or forest in the trees kind of thing, that you can’t see what you can’t see. We forget what it’s like to just be a consumer. We’re so busy doing the same job that we’ve always done. We’re trying to I think – I think most people are really trying to implement digital and paperless and social. They’re trying to be tech savvy, but it’s challenging. There’s so many things. I think we overcomplicate it. To hear it from a consumer point of view, especially someone who’s digitally savvy, how we can make that experience richer for her, I think that’s really valuable information.
Nelson: I think there’s a lot of peripheral noise in our industry. Some of it’s driven by special interest groups who try and sell their product and make it sound like, “Hey, you really need this cool new thing.” QR codes was a wonderful example of the industry being side tracked onto something that really didn’t lead to much. I think – so from that perspective we’re always being inundated with a lot of that peripheral noise and we need that direction, that alignment on where we need to do and what we need to provide to enhance that consumer experience.
Teri: I completely agree. Interesting note on the QR code. I think the reason that that one really failed was that the technology didn’t match. The apps on our phones never worked in a way, and for the person who was going to use the QR code, let’s say on the rider on the sign on the drive by, as you’re driving by you can’t keep it focused long enough, and the technology on your phone wasn’t good enough to make that a useful technology. I think that the concept about – take the person directly to the website to see and view the pictures and learn more about that actual listing, I think that in and of itself is probably quite valuable. We’re just not quite there yet.
Nelson: I think what it became was a transition to – the predictions have been that we’re going to augmented reality. We’re seeing it come through on these apps. We’re seeing it come through now very commonly in a lot of new services. I was looking at the new Venlo 00:07:05 Software app that they’re going to be using here in our marketplace. It already starts to utilize some of that. I think what the QR codes were, were a transition to help the industry move towards that. I think ultimately that’s the direction we’re going to be where you can point a phone at a building, a condo building, and it will pull up all the data that’s on that building whether it’s neighborhood information, whether it’s new listings, whatever the information the consumers need from that location.
Teri: Completely agree, and that’s so interesting. Back to the Apple story, you also mentioned to me the experience of what it’s like to be in the Genius Bar. You had some conclusions around how the brokerage might be able to model some of that.
Nelson: You see some of that now start to translate down to offices as democratization of technology has forced offices to downscale without losing the effectiveness of that it’s still an office. I’m one of those traditionalists only in the sense that I still believe that agents need to come into the office. Not necessarily experienced agents that have a working model, but certainly a large percentage of those newer agents who need the help, the guidance.
Teri: Can we bookmark it right there for one second? I think that’s an actually very important point. Why – I just want you to explain a little bit more about why do you think that’s so valuable to come into the office?
Nelson: There’s a gentleman that I have a lot of respect for out of the U.S., out of the Atlanta offices. His name was Joe Dabbs 00:08:35. He’s unfortunately long since passed away, but he was a brilliant man and an older, wise gentleman. He said to me one day, I said, “What do you think about virtual technology and agents not coming into the office?” He turned to me in his very stoic face and he said to me, “I have yet to see a real estate agent become very good in this business sitting at home watching Dr. Phil and reruns of Oprah.”
Teri: Yeah, okay fair enough.
Nelson: There’s a dynamic that occurs when agents come into the office. If it’s a forward thinking, dynamic, energetic office that has other like-minded individuals that makes them ask questions and pushes them.
Teri: There’s – I can’t remember what the term is, but there is this scientific term that talks about just who you spend time with and the thinking that you absorb. It’s like osmosis that you pick up on some of the same thinking. When you are in a group environment and sharing ideas and talking business all the time, there is a certain amount of increased growth or opportunity that’s just incrementally faster and more absorbing than when you’re in the same space. You’re in – and when you come to a place of work that you are in a mindset of being at work versus when you are at home.
Nelson: The term synergy, I wish I had thought about it because I would have had the definition for you, but synergy basically means that once you’ve got two separate components, that together they provide far more than either one individually. That could be energy, that could be excitement, that could be any of those things. There’s just so much to our business. The learning curve is so steep for agents coming into it. The chance of failure is so high. The last stats I’ve heard from companies like AlignMark, they’re showing 80% of agents will fail within two years of joining the business. There’s something wrong when we have that kind of failure rate.
Teri: I completely agree and I think we’ll get into this a little bit more, later. Let’s go back to where you were. Sorry, I took you off track here. You were going to talk more about the brokerage experience, the Genius Bar lifestyle inside the brokerage experience.
Nelson: That’s one of the things I came back with is you could see that these people liked to sit in that type of environment, the community environment where they’re sharing. We’re seeing it, the community tables at the Starbucks and you see it at Apple, people sitting around, testing the products. I think that will be – as offices get reduced in bricks and mortar expense to compete, then you’re going to see these types of Genius Bars in real estate offices. I think they’re effective, I think that they force agents to collaborate.
It’s the only way they’re going to share if they’re sitting across from each other and they’re engaging as opposed to sitting in the traditional bullpens with their backs to each other cowering over a phone or over their computer. There’s something to be said about – especially with the newer agents who are coming into the industry, the millennial types who are looking to – that’s how they grow, that’s how they learn. We have to nurture and cultivate that type of environment for them.
Teri: Agreed; I read the same thing recently just about how that particular – the millennial generation in particular are really looking for a collaborative community experience. That’s really important for their – that in fact ranked higher than income I believe.
Nelson: Absolutely, and it’s hilarious. I have a great time with them because – I don’t know it it’s because I can relate because although my age is not of a [00:12:13], I love the energy that they bring to the table. They – there’s – we hired several in here in this office last month in the last month and a half. The energy and enthusiasm and passion is exciting. Their – they want to make things happen. They want to change things. They want to get involved. They’re ready to roll up their sleeves. Their attention is sometimes a little bit short, so you have to be able to present to them and get them to focus on things. Once they do and they see the results, it’s amazing.
Teri: That’s so cool. Now, since we’re here let’s just go right into why Better Homes and Gardens for you? You weren’t – obviously this is new in Canada. Maybe you could tell us that story about A, how you got involved with Better Homes in Canada. Where did you come from and how did this all happen?
Nelson: I’ve been a realtor since 1989, so I’ve seen markets go up and markets go down. You’ve seen brands come and go. One thing you do – I do believe still even though there’s a lot of discussion on it is that there is some significance to having a brand in the process. Not necessarily because the agent needs it because they may be strong and have all the tools that they need.
For newer agents, they need that guidance and support of some of the tools that the brand brings. The brand brings what we need most which is for consumers, the trust, the confidence, and that you’re not dealing with a fly-by-night company. You’ve been – it’s a name that’s trusted and well-regarded. With Better Homes and Gardens, that we have. It’s a brand that’s been around since 1924, and consumers relate. Whether it’s the magazine or now the real estate side of it, they relate in a positive way.
Teri: I agree. You know I’ve been attracted to the BH&G brand for quite a while now. I’ve known Sherry Chris for many years, and I actually – we did an interview with Leighton Dees here a couple weeks ago.
Nelson: [00:14:08], that’s a lot of fun.
Teri: Alissa Hellman just went and joined Zak over down at Go, so lots going on at the BH&G brand. It is really different. It caught my eye immediately. I’m a design girl, I’m a brand girl. When I first heard Sherry Chris talk about it and talk about the lifestyle brand, I was like this is brilliant. I love the direction of the company. Clearly you did as well because you guys now own Better Homes and Gardens Canada. You have the licensing for the entire country, yes?
Nelson: Yes, we have licensing for all of Canada, and we’re very proud to representing the brand especially when you have a team like Sherry and all of the people that we have at our office who get the lifestyle brand. We – Sherry and all of the BHG team started talking about lifestyle before it was popular [00:14:58]. They were going back to 2008 when the brand was launched. We talked about hyper-loco, we talked about communities. Sherry has been amazing at pitching and telling that story in a very authentic way that I believe a lot of brokers can relate to. We’re seeing it being picked up by other people and other brands.
Teri: I agree, I think she’s absolutely led the troops on that one. When you got the licensing for all of Canada, what was – what’s the big vision for the brand across the country?
Nelson: Initially, when you’re bringing a new brand into the Canadian marketplace, you’re looking at spreading your wings a little bit, getting representation across the provinces and the Canadian culture and the Canadian landscape. That’s no small challenge. One of the things that we don’t relate to as Canadians or don’t fully understand is that although we’re one and a half times the size of the U.S., we’re only 10% of their population. That poses some challenges for growth of brands; that poses challenges for technology.
Sometimes even when we’re comparing what’s going on in Canada to what’s going on in the U.S., it’s not really a fair comparison. Once you remove a couple cities like Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, what you’re left with is a country with many small communities with their story to tell and it’s sparsely populated. They’re an hour, hour and a half apart from each other.
Teri: What’s your strategy? How do you tackle that?
Nelson: You reach out to those who are interested. It’s a larger challenge in the Canadian marketplace because for some reason Canadians are more heavily franchised in pretty much all the sectors compared to the U.S. The U.S. still has a lot of independent companies, and in Canada there’s a lot more offices that have franchised with various different brands, and you can – we’re hearing of different mergers and changes in banners. That will continue across Canada, but it will take – it’s a longer process. You have to stay the course because people are under contract. You don’t want to interfere with other people’s contracts. You have to wait. You have to time the process, and you have to allow time for the growth of the brand.
Teri: That’s something that we don’t think about. Of course you’re under contract and of course you’re respecting that. The question then is, is if a broker was interested in shifting gears, why would they come to BH&G?
Nelson: I think there are several reasons. I think their vision for one has shown – has proven now that others are adopting our talk about lifestyle brands even with conducted studies and just recently on the generation Z group of individuals, those kids that are coming in behind the millennials. When it comes to generational studies, we’ve led the way with that and continue to do so in that first of its kind generation Z study for the industry.
I think you want to pair yourself with people who understand where the industry is going, where technology is taking us, but still holding on to a lot of the grass roots of the basic skill of real estate. You still need to buy and sell a house. Sometimes people are so busy out there trying to move forward with new technology that at the end of the day you still have to be a good salesperson and know all of your sales skills and know them well to still be able to do transact – or to transact real estate.
Teri: Totally agree; now, having said that though, you are always very current. I know I see you at all the conferences. You’re staying ahead of the curve. You’re making sure that you’re heading down to other brokerages and finding out what they’re doing that’s working or not working. I know that you are really, truly ahead of the curve. That’s why I look to you for your guidance and your vision. Why don’t we talk a little bit about the industries a little bit more? You did touch on the fact that we’re Canada, we are not the United States.
We are a much smaller market in a very broad landscape. What do you think are the primary differences? In my opinion, I’ve always felt that we’re – feels like about 10 years behind. It feels like – I’ve often used this analogy, when social happened, the PR world did a collective – they felt this whoosh pass them. Then they did this collective look up and went, “What the hell just happened?” I feel like real estate in Canada is somewhat similar where they haven’t had to make any crazy moves just yet, but it’s coming to a point where you’re either innovating and follow – and getting ahead of the trends, or you’re going to be left a little bit behind. What is your position on that?
Nelson: I don’t agree with that necessarily, that we are left behind. I think sometimes too often, and historically that may have been the case where we looked to the U.S. for everything that’s new and that’s trending and that’s happening. What we’re seeing is – for example in technology right now. We have, we’re fortunate to have the [00:20:05] Real Estate Association that’s combined their efforts to put together what we call the DDF feed, a single database feed to the industry both for franchises, for the agents, for their websites.
The U.S. would kill for something like that, that they would have one standard feed coming from a respected body like [00:20:25] is. It tends – if you don’t have that it tends to fragment, and I think we’ve done a great job of that. Could we do better in improving the consumer experience on MLS.ca, absolutely. Have we done a good job with it in maintaining control and integrity of our data in Canada? There’s no doubt we’re proving that it’s been the right decision and they’ve sought the right course.
Teri: I agree, that’s an interesting point especially on the heels of the NAR announcement. I don’t know if you noticed, but Clayster 00:20:55 will be partnering with NAR in providing those $5 IDX websites. I think the argument is now – is there any value in even having an IDX feed because where is the consumer actually doing their shopping? Down in the states of course it’s pretty much [00:21:11], or realtor.com where they’re sourcing those listings. Does an agent or brokerage even need that IDX feed anymore? It’s an interesting question. I don’t have an answer. I’m wondering what you think.
Nelson: That’s a really great question because I was involved at an Inman event, and even one of our in brand broker conferences where we interviewed consumers, buyer-consumers who were millennials and they shared their first point of contact with the industry. In the U.S. it was Zillow and Trulia by far, there’s no doubt about it. Realtor.com came in a close third – a distant third at that time. I even conducted a consumer panel of buyers and sellers in Canada last year at the Rebar – Rebar Connect – I’m sorry, Rebar [00:22:02] in Mississauga, and it was surprising to see that consumers in Canada don’t find any alternative sites to be as good for information, or that provided to their satisfaction. The site they came up with all the time as their number one starting point for information online was realtor.ca or mls.ca, which is a marked difference from what’s happened in the U.S. where realtor.com used to hold that spot and has since lost it.
Teri: Agreed, and it’s so interesting. I mean the whole Zoocasa conversation is an interesting one as well. I don’t know how much you want to get into that, but I find that since they’ve become a brokerage, it’s such a completely different proposition. I think where they were going as a Zillow made sense, but maybe it doesn’t make sense. I have no idea what’s going on in the back end, but in terms of profitability, where could they make their money when they have such a small market I’m not sure.
Nelson: It’s a challenge, right? They took a different approach in taking a brokerage model. They have the right to do so. That’s their vision for the direction to go. I don’t believe that that is a viable model in the Canadian landscape simply from a feasibility. The data information – hey, I’m all for consumers creating an amazing and exceptional consumer experience, but once you cross over to the brokerage model it just changes what you can provide and how you can provide it.
Again, you’re always stuck with the demographics in the Canadian marketplace of – we’re 10% of the U.S. population, we’re spread across the [00:23:48] on the southern side of the country, is it financially viable for some of those to come in? I’m not going to say it is or that it isn’t. For all we know, some person in Saskatchewan could be working on some software in his garage right now that could revolutionize things in Canada. That would be wonderful if it’s to everybody’s benefit. Technology is going through a lot of changes, and a realtor’s use of it is one of them.
Teri: I agree, so let’s – this is a perfect transition into the whole NAR versus Korea. We’ve just come off the heels of a really, pretty competition [00:24:28] fight, and I know that you’re really proud of what Korea has done for the industry. I think a lot of people, especially down working nose to the grind doing their deals, really struggle to understand what the value is in their association. Not to say that there’s no value, but I think everyone’s going to agree that how that value is communicated there’s been a bit of a disconnect there. What do you think are the challenges for how the associations need to maintain relevance moving forward?
Nelson: That’s a pretty loaded question. I’ll give my personal opinion with it. I think Canada needs a strong, unified, national voice more than ever. The changing landscape of technology and how we convey our transactions is changing by the minute. You need a strong voice to protect Canadian interests in real estate – in the real estate industry. I’ve always voiced that I would have liked to have seen Korea take more of a role front and center for the industry as NAR has in the U.S.
It’s nice to see that in the last few years, and maybe it was fueled by the competition, [00:25:39] requirements because there’s been so many issues that have come forward on a national level that we’ve needed to see Korea step in, and they have. For a volunteer organization, I think the people who have done there, who’ve been there, have done an exceptional job of stepping in and bringing them – elevating their position to the industry.
There’s those who feel that they may not have a place, but I’m not one of them. I think we need them again because of our demographics for Canada that whether you’re in a small community in Alberta or Quebec or Vancouver – or a major city like Vancouver or Toronto, we need to have a national voice. How that’s going to be framed out to make everybody happy, that’s a different challenge in itself, but do we need them, yes.
Teri: That’s so interesting, and I of course agree with you. It’s just like any government organization. I mean municipal is great, and you see the hands on the ground doing the work, but that big overriding vision. Again, I think this is like any business too. What’s the overall vision? Where are we taking it? What are the trends moving forward? We need somebody driving that train. Hopefully they’re connected enough with their people that they – we went through that whole rethink – was it rethink?
The – where they were – right where – and I sat in on a session at [00:27:06] Connect one year and it was really interesting to me where they were talking to industry leaders and canvassing and trying to figure out where is the industry going, how do we want to shape the future of real estate? I’m not sure we came up with any great conclusions, but I thought it was an interesting exercise at least to be asking the questions.
Nelson: I think it’s great, and I think one place we will see a lot of changes, and have begun to see it already is at a provincial level. I think technology is now caught up to the point that – do we need necessarily all the boards at that level and in different regions of the provinces? Is there – are we at the stage that you may start to see provincial boards in associations take care of – start to now provide MLS services as – and we’re already seeing at a local level, whether you call it data sharing, whether you call it mergers or consolidations, for you to justify your existence you have to be able to quantify value to realtors who are your members and those – the boards that cannot provide that unfortunately will I think be left behind. Either they have to consolidate or data share as we’re talking about, or they have to – or they may find that they’re extinct. They’re no longer providing education in Ontario.
Teri: They’re not providing education at all in Ontario?
Nelson: They have the facilities, but the CEU credits have been dropped. Now RICO is going to be providing that. A lot of those local board functions that were provided before will now be gone. If a board didn’t – can’t pro – isn’t making any financial revenue from providing training for CEU credits, and does not have an MLS system, what are we – what’s doing anymore?
Teri: Right, exactly right which brings me back to you as a broker owner. You and I have talked a lot about what a brokerage should be providing to their agents, what a broker should be expecting from his agents. You do a lot of coaching yourself internally, which I think is so awesome. I don’t think enough brokerages do that. What would be the definition between – what do you think the association should be providing and what should you be providing for your agents?
Nelson: I think there are two separate ones. I think what the boards have to do, and they’re starting to do, and we’re seeing it all across Canada is they’re providing support. They’re bringing in relevant technology. You’re seeing MLS systems that are dramatically superior to what we saw even just two, three years ago. Seeing apps as we move now transition to mobile devices. They provide a bigger, a higher level of vision to support the local broker. The local broker in turn has to be able to turn those – that information into a functional part of his business in getting those agents up and running, or either one of two things is improving their current performance or helping them to get up and running faster. In our marketplace it’s a huge challenge. The Toronto Real Estate Board has 40,000 real estate agents last I checked. If you think that’s scary, think of it this way – 12,000 of those agents didn’t sell a single property in the last year.
Teri: I don’t understand that, yeah.
Nelson: Fifty-eight percent sold four homes or less.
Teri: Which – and I’m going to touch on another sticky subject, the whole licensing problem that I see. I mean, I know dollars and sense have to make sense but at the same time do you believe that the way that we bring, we onboard career people, get them in through the licensing system and get them becoming realtors. Have we done a good job of attracting the right people and setting them up for success out of the gate?
Nelson: I don’t think so, and the numbers prove we haven’t. I may not have the solution to that, but I know one of the things that we’ve done locally here in our office is whereas before we felt we’ll give them instruction, we’ll give them information, and they will eventually adopt and start to implement them. What we found is new agents who began with us, they always meant to get to things, “I’m working on it. I’m getting ready.”
Six months, eight months down the line they were still getting ready. It’s not a coincidence that the longer it takes for them locally to write their first transaction, the higher the chances of failure. Agents don’t realize that the day they start, that they get their real estate license in Ontario alone, they’re already three deals behind. When you factor in the time and money that they spent in getting their license, they’re already three deals behind.
What we’ve done here is locally is a very different approach, and we’ve only implemented it in the last couple months, but we’re already seeing there’s some huge results is that the agents now when they’re starting, they’re being brought in for a couple hours of orientation, but not just orientation, internet systems are being set up. Website pages are being set up. A lot of things are being implemented within that first week to get them out there.
We’re the type of business that part of what we’re going to learn you can learn in a classroom. That’s the reality. Then there’s that other part that you learn by doing. There’s not a single real estate agent that can be an effective real estate agent if he never writes a deal, never knocks on a door, never calls an agent, never creates a website, doesn’t return a lead call, [00:32:54].
Teri: I feel like when you go through that graduating process, if you come out with anything it’s this complete fear of making a move. That’s the one thing that’s hammered home is for God’s sake don’t get into realtor jail, right?
Nelson: Yep, exactly. That’s a huge fear for them. It almost paralyzes some of them, but I think it’s one of those things is that there again is that situation where they have to be in that office. One of the things we do with them is they come in and for those two hours or three hours they’re set up on the intranet, their touches are already laid out for them. Within the first week, they could already have a program set up for the next five, six, seven, eight months with touches. Many agents will sit there looking at systems and tools that any of the main brands provide, and they’re afraid to click on this, or send that. I’d rather have them sending out things and making mistakes by accident on postcards and touches, and having to correct it, because that’s where they learn.
Teri: Agreed, I completely agree. That’s a beautiful thought. A lot of people are so paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake, and that’s where all the growth happens of course. I completely agree with that. Before I let you go, I would love for you to stay. I have an idea, but I’m wondering do you hire just anybody? Can anybody come and work at your office?
Nelson: I wouldn’t say anybody, but I would say that one thing I’ve learned through these years of hiring agents is there is not a study, there is nothing out there that allows us to clearly understand what is a successful agent, and what’s not. I’ve had people come through, I thought, “Wow, this person’s going to be fantastic.” They flopped. I’ve had people who haven’t demonstrated any great – hey this person’s going to be great, and they’ve achieved great things. I think what you have to do is you use common sense and a lot of the things can be guarded in the initial conversations.
Very quickly you start to see who’s doing what they’re supposed to be and what not. Our industry is not rocket science. It’s a very simple business. Go out, find a buyer, find a seller, list them, [00:35:12] or sell them a property. Stay in touch with them. We still know – even though that’s simple, 80-something percent of agents don’t stay in touch with their clients.
Teri: It’s so – it’s such a ridiculous number it’s not even funny. I do think that like you said, keep it simple. We’ve overcomplicated everything. It’s a simple matter of just having that list and knowing who your people are and just maintaining that connection is so vital.
Nelson: Absolutely, and technology’s done a great part in generating more business, but all I hear lately is about leads, and leads, and leads. All I’m seeing is people not returning calls and not following up on those leads. What good are leads if you’re not going to follow up on them?
Teri: That’s a whole other conversation.
Nelson: That’s a huge one in itself.
Teri: That is a huge conversation because I feel like there’s – there’s the whole – because we’re an internet age and everyone’s sourcing, they’re looking for those new internet leads. Then there’s entire website platforms built around and SEO’d out the wazzoo so that they can make sure that they’re sending you leads. Measuring whether or not a lead is good or not to me seems like this magical place that I don’t understand at all.
Nelson: I don’t think the industry understands at all, and it’s being waved like a – again, where it’s a magic pill here that if you’re generating leads, well how good are the quality? I’d rather have less leads but have higher quality than to have a lot and have to screen them through. What you define as a lead may not be what I define as a lead.
Teri: Right, interesting, well this is – one last thing quickly. This is something that I know you and I really touch on a lot. I think I’ve always looked to you as a very strong leader in our industry. How important is leadership do you feel at all levels?
Nelson: I think leadership is more critical now than it ever has been before. I’d like to say that it’s an age thing, but in reality it’s not. I think it’s a mind-set thing. I think leadership is critical that the leaders of tomorrow, and brokerages – I still believe that brokerages are a great natural progression of a successful agent in owning their own brokerage. I think if they do it just with the intention of herding people into an office, they’re doing themselves a disservice, and those agents in there a disservice.
I think the leadership component is that from a broker perspective that our job is to drive, get those agents motivated, inspired, whatever we need to do to assist them in becoming great realtors. We have a growing problem on the horizon, and that’s that in Canada the average age of realtors is anywhere from 55 to 60, again depending which study you believe, a different one comes out every day. What’s going to happen when they’re no longer in the picture?
Teri: I agree, so what would be your advice to a young broker. Where should they – especially if they’re selling. Don’t you find any agent who’s busy with their heads down and working all this stuff out here becomes so much more work and it’s hard to vet and filter and know what to focus on? A broker is going to struggle with the same thing, especially if they’re selling. I’m trying to run a brokerage, I’m trying to be this amazing leader, but I also have a business. Probably my selling business is creating much more of a revenue and an income stream for me than my brokerage is, so how do you do that?
Nelson: I think that the planning component is critical. One of the words of advice, one piece of advice that I received when I got into becoming a broker was it’s a very different perspective when you’re sitting one side of the table as a broker than you are on the other side as a realtor. I said, “No.” I laughed it off. I said, “No, it can’t be that difficult.” I can assure you it is. It’s a whole different world. There’s so much more involved to it. I think that’s why you need to as a young leader I said, “We need them. We need you.”
We need more new leaders coming into the industry, but don’t come into the industry thinking that there’s going to be a simple solution, but it won’t take a lot of work and that it’s not going to take effort. I think they have to come in, be prepared to roll up their sleeves. They may have to sell homes for a little while as they start to grow their following.
I think there’s still tremendous opportunity out there as some of the older segment of our industry starts to phase itself out for some new, young, dynamic but not naive people coming into the business who understand that this is a great business. We help people every day with their largest investment. If you just stay in touch with them, they will call you back.
Teri: Yes, and you as a broker and as a company owner are also making that huge contribution. You are helping agents develop careers every day, which I think is awesome. Thank God they have you.
Nelson: Personally, there’s nothing more fulfilling for me than what I do, whether it’s with the national perspective or with the local office level than seeing – empowering other people to succeed. There’s opening an office somewhere and seeing them take off, or an agent who walks in and one day is dreaming of making a hundred thousand gross income, and then four years later they’re making half a million dollars in gross income.
It’s amazing, and to know that you were a little part in that because you’re not the one who’s out there late at night, they are. You’re not the one who’s putting family events on hold. You’ve done that, you’ve had your stage. You as a broker had the ability to empower in just a little way the success of those agents. That alone makes it reward.
Teri: I love that. I usually ask this question at the tail end of all of my conversations that matter. It’s a legacy question, and so my question to you is what do you want your legacy to be? What’s the most – I think we’ve just touched on it, the most meaningful to you?
Nelson: I think what we just touched on. I like people to – I look back on one of my first brokers, and I still think he was probably one of the best brokers I came across. I did not know it at the time, but looking back years later, a lot of his advice came true. I hope that the people who cross our paths here, that we’re blessed to come across in their real estate career, that they look back 10, 20 years from now and go, “Wow, he pushed us in a gentle, good way, but he believed in me when no one else would believe in me, when people said, ‘Hey, you’re not going to cut it, that’s a tough business.'” I hope they recognize and say, “Hey, he had a little part in that and it was good.” Without that little push I may not have – I may not be where I am today. I’m happy to take a little part of that.
Teri: You have been that influence for me as well. I am super grateful to know you and to call you my friend. Thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation. I do think it’s a conversation that matters. I think we touched on some really important things, and I’m sure we will dig in even more as we go forward. Thank you so much for taking this time, and I look forward to seeing you very soon.
Nelson: It’s been my pleasure Teri, and you’ve just done an amazing job. I’ve watched you blossom even further with your passion and your enjoyment and your desire to improve this business. We’ve had a lot of deep discussions over the years, and we need people like you out there looking in on us and saying, hey guys, why don’t you look at it this way, why don’t you think about it a little bit different. You’re a vital role to what we do, and don’t ever stop doing what you do.
Teri: Thank you, that’s so sweet, I love you. We’ll talk soon.
Nelson: Take care.
Nelson: Bye bye.