I recently met the very friendly, open and unassuming Daniel Brimblecombe, Business Development Executive at Easy Agent, in a funky café on Brisbane’s northside. Over coffee – which I managed to spill everywhere – we talked about the challenges and changes facing real estate agents, and a different way of doing business.
Here’s what he shared with me:
I’ve been involved with Easy Agent since the end of last year (2016)
Since I’ve been on board with Easy Agent, I’ve grown the company 450 per cent in six months.
Monty (That’s Monty Van Dyk, Easy Agent Founder) had the concept already. He actually put his concept into play long before any other digital agencies were around.
Once Monty and I met up, I just filled in the missing pieces of his existing plan.
But it all started with Monty.
I’ll let him tell you that story sometime.
I put a culture into the business
All the agents are now #easyagentproud!
All our agents are extremely happy.
The hashtag is all over a lot of our stuff. We use it in our internal groups and a lot of our agents have adopted it.
By building that culture up, we know that our agents will – and do – actually recruit other agents. It keeps our business growing organically.
My constant thought is what happens when there’s no offices anymore?
The biggest thing in the way real estate’s going will be: how do you get into real estate when there are no more offices?
When you go to join Easy Agent through our website, and you opt into some of our marketing, you go through a lead funnel. I’ve been building funnels for our agents, for our larger recruiting activities, and to get listings.
I used to build lead funnels back when you actually needed someone to be an expert in web development, web design and graphic design.
It’s a point of difference in itself for Easy Agent.
One of our mottos is lower overheads, more sales.
Monty and I don’t have a physical shopfront office. We work from remotely and so does our admin team.
At the moment, we’re trying to keep the overheads down and keep investing into the business.
Monty and I go out and sell a couple of properties as well so we can test our processes and then we put the learning and that money back into the business.
The road less travelled is the best one.
The dollars are the reward at the end but, if you focus on the results and on learning to be the best that you can, and doing what you can to help people, then at the end it all pays out
I’m a workaholic. I’ll put 100 hours most weeks. At the end of the day, I know it will all come back around if I do the best I can do.
I read a great book from the people who built Basecamp, the project management software. They talk about it being better for your employees to work from home because they’re getting less distracted and they’re delivering more work output.
If you condition it properly, and you’re creating that culture of hardworking, self-driven employees, it will work.
And because in our business, nobody makes any more money unless the business makes more money, you actually have to be performing.
That’s really the way of the future.
Overall, the days of the corporate brand are gone
We’ve got about 160 agents on the transition into our brand.
At the moment, we are only a small agency with under 100 agents that are current and active, but we’re really just getting warmed up.
Getting started has been a big rollercoaster and we’re pushing forward now.
I used to be an agent for a franchise brand, but the franchise brand never gave me listings.
When an agent signs up with Easy Agent, they become their own entity within the Easy Agent brand.
They can actually have a sub-brand. We’ve got a few little sub-brands around the place.
We’ve got a guy down in Victoria, who wanted to do his own thing but his idea was basically something like ours. He looked at our CRM, he looked at everything we had going, and said “I’ll just join you guys.”
When Monty went out to get a CRM, he got the very best one, and it gets tweaked especially for us. It’s one a lot of winning agents use.
We’re adapting our whole system to do content marketing where a lot of other agencies don’t have that capacity.
We’re just about to build text messaging systems into it and we’re signing up for an open home software as well.
A lot of people get into real estate because they think they’re great negotiators, but they’re not really when it comes to getting the best deal on the systems they need.
That’s where we come in because we’ve done all those negotiations on their behalf.
If you sell no property at all with us in a year, you’ve got a full real estate system for $3000 a year.
Then if you sell something, it only costs you $1000 extra from that sale.
Now the average commission in Queensland is $10,000 – $15,000 at least. Most agents that are worth anything, if they’re in the higher end of the market, should be getting an average commission of at least $20,000.
Overall, they give us our $1000 out of that.
When I worked for a franchise office, the agents that are there all the time are paying $3000 per month in desk fees and also have a 90 per cent commission split.
They’re not getting a lot for $3000 per month.
You might as well rent your own office.
We’ve gone to flat fees. We’ve abolished commission splits. If you’re an agent and you’re selling a volume of real estate, you’re actually better off working with us.
It doesn’t take us any more effort to process a commission of $100,000 than it does a commission of $5000.
But for the agent to get a deal with a commission of $100,000 over the line, that’s going to take them months and months of work, so they can take their $100,000 and they can keep selling more properties.
Most agencies say: “Okay, I’m going to hire three agents and I want them all to sell two properties per month so we can make at least $5000 every sale.”
But if we’ve got 100 agents, and we’re doing $1000 each…
There are other agencies popping up who are trying to copy what we’re doing but they’re not going the full hog.
We’re the agency built by agents for agents.
Our competitors haven’t gone all the way. They’re still charging commission splits, and it’s crazy.
We talk about these other models as ‘retainer prison’.
How much do you think an agent who gets $60,000 in commission in a quarter, ends up with in the hand when they work with most other franchises?
The answer is, less than $10,000 by the time they pay back their retainer and whatnot.
Whereas, if an agent is consistently earning $60,000 in commissions every quarter, that’s $240,000 per year minus around $15,000 when you’re working with us. It puts you on a salary over $200,000.
We’re looking for superstar agents and we’re looking to help agents grow.
We’ve got training and webinars, and we’re just starting to do morning wake-up calls 6-days per week.
As an agent, you can dial in at 9am and talk for between 20 and 30 minutes for just a bit of a pump up
And soon we’ll be doing at least a once a month training webinar.
We’re also in the process of developing a mentor program to train agents that want to go to the next level.
Our mentors will get paid based on the performance of the agents they’re mentoring. We’re currently trialing this in NSW.
At the same time, we’re running an affiliate program which is very exclusive and only certain agents can get in.
We’ve done that intentionally.
If you’re going to become an affiliate with us, I’ll build you a whole funnel which is personalised with your name at the bottom of every email.
When we start doing something, we test and trial it, and then we roll it out consistently.
The marketing and the technology
When it comes to content marketing, you have to have really good content.
There’s a lot of reproducers out there and there’s a few people who produce a few paragraphs with a good title and think it’s groundbreaking but it’s really just click bait stuff.
The biggest problem with a lot of content is that it’s not exciting. You have to be real and you have to have a purpose.
I build most of the marketing our agents use to template their businesses.
There is this thinking that everyone in the real estate industry has deep pockets. But everyone’s always putting their hand out for money left-right-and-centre.
I run Facebook campaigns for our agents. Basically, every property I’ve ever advertised for an Easy Agent agent through Facebook has resulted in a buyer from Facebook.
It’s better than the portals.
There are good resources available to agents that are actually going to produce results.
When you go on a major portal, it costs over $1500 or something to go as a highlight listing.
If you spent a grand and half on Facebook, you’d be laughing.
I’ve got a lot of softwareYou probably see us put our memes out there. Memes are getting more and more popular.
What I always say is that if you spend $100 on Facebook, I can get the same distance for $1 because of the software I’ve got.
I’m using proper content that I know has already gone viral for other people.
Facebook advertising is a service we offer all our agents. Our agents can book it on our store.
We’re also doing training on it at the moment for our agents.
I’ve just done a four-video series that’s going to be out very soon. It’s on how to use your personal Facebook profile to generate leads, how to build a Facebook business page, and how to build groups successfully without pressuring people.
After that, I’m going to show our agents how to do some Facebook ads. At the same time, it’s still a service they buy from us.
I’m always looking for ways to cut the cost down for the whole social media marketing process.
The thing about the internet, is that you can spend a lot of money and do really well. But, if you don’t spend much money, and you look at ways to make your dollar stretch, you can do a hell of a lot better than people who have just dropped a bunch of money on it.
Some franchises are just doing the same thing with Facebook advertising that they’ve done with letterbox drops which has caused ‘no junk mail’ signs for years.
If you look at any of our flyers that go into letterboxes, they’re very different to anything you’ll see from any other agent.
I did a flyer for one of our agents on the Sunshine Coast. It was like a postcard which opened up saying “Hi resident, thank you for taking me out of your letterbox.”
Then on the back, it’s got G-rated jokes.
There was one joke, for example: Which can jump higher? A house or a dinosaur? A house can’t jump.
I also have a full marketing campaign about to launch into the general public with a few bits of ammunition designed to help our full-service agents go up against Purple Bricks.
On Purple Bricks…
Have you seen the video where BBC Watchdog in the UK does an investigation into Purple Bricks?
Like it or not, Purple Bricks is a bit of a shake up for the industry.
But it’s like when Go Gecko came out. All the agents were complaining. Now you don’t hear about Go Gecko that much anymore.
Right now, our business is like a castle, and I’m laying the foundations of our business.
And our agents right now are our foundation agents. It means that their fees will be locked in for life – their $250 plus GST per month will never go up and the $1000 plus GST per sale will never increase.
There is a $2000 plus GST fee to get on board initially. It’s a one-off. But our agents get:
- a website which is like a mobile business card set-up
- 1000 business cards
- their first five signs and 2 sold stickers
- 2x Open home directional
- a sandwich board that goes out the front of their property for open homes
- all the initial set-up admin, with online business tools and CRM
Fees just might go up for new agents next year. Now’s the right time to get on board.