Greg Harrelson has been selling Real Estate full time for over 20 years in South Carolina is in the top 1% of all Realtors nationwide. In 1999, he opened his first Century 21 franchise in Myrtle Beach, SC and is now the proud owner of 4 different locations with a team of agents that average roughly 30 deals per agent and closing over 2000 transactions. Greg’s team has consistently been ranked the #1 Sales Team in Myrtle Beach since their inception.
In this episode, Greg and Brian discuss how to run an effective brokerage with a team of real estate agents along with the metrics of spending on marketing, generating, and converting leads.
In this episode we talk about…
- 4:40 – How did Greg Harrelson transition his team to his brokerage?
- 7:15 – The cost of generating leads.
- 13:32 – Creating a culture with multiple agents and offices.
- 17:09 – How does Greg recruit and coach his agents effectively?
- 27:37 – Acquiring a brokerage.
- 36:31 – How to address the agent when they are not converting leads.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:00:13] Hi, everyone. Happy New Year. And welcome back to the Sisu podcast. The GRIT podcast where today we are with Greg Harrelson. And I met Greg a couple of years ago at Jeff Cohn’s, Omaha Elite Summit. And I remember all these team owners just surrounding you, Greg, trying to figure out how you do this, because you have five brokerages, as my understanding, and you know. Is that right? OK. And you actually run those like a team. And so people are going to say, well, what does that mean? He runs it like a team. So I want to dig into that today, because what you are doing is what I think every brokerage should do. And it’s also what I think every team owner should do. And that I think they should go develop a brokerage and run it like they do their teams. So anyway, I know it’s been a long road for you. You’ve been in this business for a long time, but I’m really excited about spending more time with you today. Before we get started. Give us a little more background on yourself and your your business. And you know, any you do thousands of transactions or maybe you can share some of that with us.
Greg Harrelson: [00:01:52] Yeah, sure. Well, you know, my hometown and where I am. You know, I spend just about every day is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. So that’s my my my my market, my home. I do have operations in Columbia, South Carolina, as well as Charleston, South Carolina. And both of those locations are or markets are about anywhere from two hours to two and a half hours away from my main market. But I’ve been in the real estate business maybe about twenty five years. You know, I was very fortunate early on to be prospected by a Mike Ferry salesperson probably twenty three years ago, ended up in a Mike Ferry event. I signed up for coaching and was involved with, you know, Mike Ferry for many, many years, coaching with him for over 20 years and still attend his events. You know, today. So, you know, I kind of started off as a young agent trying to figure out how to, you know, build production. I ended up, you know, through the coaching, ended up expanding that and scaling that, creating a team eventually. You know, I had a team doing around 500 transactions. I then disbanded that team. And I decided I wanted to build a a company, not just build a team. So I took my current team at that time, which would be like a buyer’s agent, a listing agent, maybe two buyers, agents, a listing agent, a few assistants. And I actually disbanded that and opened up a center twenty one brokerage in ninety nine. But my buyer’s agent just became an agent. My listing agent became a agent at the company. My main assistant became the broker in charge. My closing coordinator slash list and coordinator became a closing coordinator slash listen. Coordinator for the brokerage. Right. And so what ended up happening as I I kind of took my team and I just instead of saying, this is my team, I said, this is my company. But the same exact operations system strategies that I was using to build my team, I actually hired people in it to join the company and just plug them in as if they were part of my team. I just didn’t take credit for their transactions. I let them have their, you know, be able to put the transactions under their name. But when it comes to CRM as lead flow, prospecting, marketing, transaction management, everything was done by my staff. And, you know, of course, now we’re here. Years and years later, we closed. I think it was thirty seven hundred transactions, give or take a couple right at thirty seven hundred transactions in 2019 and it should surpass 4000 transactions and in 2020.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:04:31] That’s not even comprehensible to most favorable to do or thousands of transactions in a year. So as you look at that, Greg and I, I really want to know, how did you go from this team transition? You make it sound so easy. But let’s let’s dig into that a little bit. OK. If I’m running a team and I’m switching over to running a brokerage, you said, hey, I’m not going to call my brokerage. I’m in a call at my company. I’m going to put my people just you know, they were. Agents on my team. Now they’re listing agents for my company. What what changes happen? I mean, how do they pay? Most team owners take a percentage rate was just, say, 90 percent on average. How does that change when you change it to your business model? Are you only taking the percentage when you create the lead or how does that work? How do you pay the agents and how does that differ?
Greg Harrelson: [00:05:29] Yeah. So there’s so many variations. Right. So I would say, based on what you just said, I could share like two different variations. You know, there are there are lead sources that cost the company a lot of money. Let’s use Zillow as one of them as a hypothetical. OK, so there are certain costs that comes with come with that versus the costs that may come from my real geeks web sites that I built 10 years ago. They’re optimized. I don’t have to do pay per click and we’re generating hundreds of leads every week. OK. That one came at a cost that I can remember paying that cost years ago to build it. But there’s not a hard cost per lead. Today it’s not. Again, no paid advertising to get those. So as you can see, there’s two different types right here. If I want Zillow leads and maybe they come at a price to me. So they expenses are higher. And then if it’s a real geeks. lead, that comes out kind of a zero cost, at least when it comes to lead costs. So then when I distribute those particular leads out, then that could have some influence on the financial arrangement. So maybe there’s no variation and their agents split for a real geeks. lead or a no cost lead. Still a quality lead. Quality lead. But I just don’t have any ongoing costs. And then it could be a variable split or it could be there split with a a referral fee on say a Zillow type lead. And that’s how I do it. If it’s a high price lead that I send it to them and then they pay a referral fee on that lead type. But on these other leads, I’ll send it to them. And that’s just value add. Just like if I was a team, one of the responsibilities of a team is to provide some sort of lead flow. I’m doing that from a company level.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:07:09] Yeah. So most brokerages, Greg. And that’s a that’s a big differentiator. Right. Most brokerages don’t generate leads. That’s correct. For their agents. That’s right. So you’re you’re generating leads for your agents. Is it more expensive to be on your in your brokerage compared to going to another Century 21 brokerage? Do you charge people more because you generate leads for them because there is a cost to generate leads? Right.
Greg Harrelson: [00:07:37] Yes. So the answer would be. You could go to a competing corporate company, brokerage, and and probably negotiate a slightly better split than what I’m gonna give you. Yes, but let’s just make sure that we understand no one gives a damn about split except to people that are agents that don’t know how to calculate net and real estate and real estate companies that don’t know how to actually add value to an agent.
Greg Harrelson: [00:08:11] So if you don’t know how to add value to an agent, you give them a high split. If you’re an agent, you don’t know how to calculate net like net profits to you. Then you actually attract it to a high split. So people either people that are going to be attracted to me are coming to me because they actually want to net the most money and build wealth for themselves. Right now, the people that are looking for a high commission split or let’s say a 90 10 commission split, they may say, well, Greg Hurdle’s is never going to give me that. Yes, you’re right. I’m not. But what I will give you is more take home money. Tell them for momma. So model. I don’t give a damn about what your commission split is. Mama wants to see the net commission check. I will make mama happy while other companies are making that agent happy. And we know who the bosses at the family. Yeah. So that’s what it comes down to that. I want to say one more thing, if I can. I know I just interrupted you, and I think this is really critical for the message I think you’re trying to share with your audience. So that is I identified for I looked at something years ago and I’m just making a note here because I don’t want to forget my train of thought here. I looked at. The things that agents spend their money on. OK. And we look at if we take that, I’ve looked at the four main areas, people spend their money, they spend their money on leads. They spend their money on marketing. They spend their money on coaching. They hire coaches and then they spend their money on transaction management, which can come in the form of either software labor like having a an assistant, you know, negotiators, home inspection, people who can negotiate home inspections, etc. That’s where all the money goes.
Greg Harrelson: [00:10:07] The money goes into four areas. They go to coaching companies like Tom Ferry, Mike Ferry, MAPS. They go to lead companies like Realtor.com, like Zillow. They go to marketing companies, whether it be these Facebook companies that sell market all manager your social media and then they go to transaction management stuff like either dot loop and hire in virtual assistants and or assistants themselves. Those are the four areas where agents spend money. I realized that for me to have value. I have to make sure that I provide those four areas at no cost. So if my team, my company actually is nothing more than a conglomerate of a lead company, a marketing company, a transaction, a transaction management company and a coaching company, then now they don’t have to spend their money with all those outside resources. I can actually provide it because I’m providing at that scale I can provide it at such a low cost to them that they get the benefits of all of those things. I get the benefits of high transaction, high volume. So my agents are gonna beat it over the average. Much more deals. Either per person production is gonna be higher, the profits gonna be higher because I’m actually managing all these things in my operations. So they don’t have to. They don’t have to hire Zillow. They don’t have to hire a coach. They don’t have to have a marketing person because I’ve got graphic design and marketing in-house. They don’t have to have a social media person manager because I’ve got it all in-house for them and they still get their face everywhere. It’s not my face anywhere.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:11:46] So if I am a new Agent Greg, I just want to come to South Carolina, live in Myrtle Beach and work for you today, right?
Greg Harrelson: [00:11:53] If you’re a new agent that’s serious about building a career and developing top, top, top level income. I’m your guy.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:12:01] Yeah. OK. So how many transactions does your average agents do? As you know, we all know most average agents probably do less than five transactions a year. Yes. So what are your average agents do for a year?
Greg Harrelson: [00:12:15] So in Myrtle Beach, it’s right around twenty six. I just like I just acquired a company in Colombia. And so when you acquire a company, then the average goes down. So if I took like my flagship company. That’s right. Around twenty six, if I take all operations across the state, it’s going to be around 17.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:12:35] Ok. Which are very impressive numbers. Anybody listening to this, it runs a business, whether they’re a team or a brokerage, knows that those are incredible numbers. So I think it starts from your background. You had a mike. Very good. Was Mike Faery actually your coach or did you have a Mike Ferry coach.
Greg Harrelson: [00:12:52] Well, both. So I’ve had Mike very coaches through the years and Mike Ferry has coached me numerous times where he was my personal coach.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:13:01] Okay, great. So when I got into the business to help spring grow her team, my wife, friends and real estate team, as you know, she actually said, we’re going to get you, Mike, very coach so that you can learn this business quickly and how to be successful. Right. So so I jumped in and got to my very coach immediately, which is how Caesar was born, because I realized how important it was to track all this stuff and to know my business. So that being said, you’ve created that culture with thousands of agents. How do you do that? Right. How do you have that many ages and create that culture where people are actually smiling and dialing within a brokerage because I travel around the country and I don’t see that. So, yes, that’s how you did that.
Greg Harrelson: [00:13:51] Well, you do it by hiring, right? Right. You do it by hiring correctly. So if you hire in to the team and you hiring if you’re right, hiring the right positions for the team, then it’s much easier than actually just trying to take people that have certain habits and trying to break those habits. So a couple of a couple of things. Number one, when I’m hiring and I’m actually going to later on today, I’ll be talking to somebody about joining our or our company. And and this person is with another company locally. And one of the first things within the first two minutes, I will I’m going to make this statement and I make it all the time. I’m going to say, you know, John Doe, I’ll I’ll call him John. You know, John, hey, look, I appreciate you taking the time, sitting down and talking with me. I want you to know this conversation is probably going to go a little different than any other companies that you might be interviewing. I actually did not request the meeting with you where I could where I could interview you and ask you a bunch of questions. I was hoping that we could get together and you could interview me. Ask me a bunch of questions and at the end of the conversation, decide if I’m the right coach to help develop your business and build your career.
Greg Harrelson: [00:15:13] So the key is, is at the end of our meeting or at the end of our dialog, whether it’s one meeting or two meetings or three conversations. When we decide to work together, this agent will be deciding to bring me on as their coach to help them develop their career versus I will be asking them to come to my company. Now, the difference here is this and some people may listen to say, well, what’s the difference? Well, the difference is when somebody is requesting that I be their coach to help them build their business. That gives me some some authority. That gives me permission. To coach them, that gives me permission to guide them. That gives me permission to tell them, hey, the way that you’re approaching this. May not be working as well as this way. It gives me permission to hold them accountable. See, when I flip the script and they hire me, then that’s when they give me the permission to hold them accountable versus if I’m begging for them to come to my company, they’ve got the leverage over me. Now, I’m not trying to leverage over them, but if I truly have confidence in my ability to develop talent, develop top producers, then I need that coach player mentality within the organization or else I don’t really have much of a value.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:16:41] Yeah, absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit more about the recruiting because you’ve talked about this interview. But as we all know, anybody building a team or a brokerage, one of the most important things they can do is recruit. Most people think recruiting is the most important thing. Yes, I know. I know that you are also a believer of coaching them to choose who they’re right to be successful. And agent productivity is also a very important thing. Let’s talk instead of agent productivity. Let’s talk about recruiting for a minute. What are you doing to attract agents? I know you’re not the guy out making calls. I know you’re not standing up meeting. Someone is doing that for you. What is that process?
Greg Harrelson: [00:17:22] Yeah. And this will be a little bit probably a little different than what most people are going to anticipate. I’ll say, you know, I’m really not myself, nor anybody in the Harrelson Group is actually making outbound recruiting calls. OK, where my where I’m a truck, I’m more attracting the talent. But it took time to do that. Like for those of you that have ever seen me on the Internet or social media, you’ll notice one thing that if you go back and check anything, YouTube, you know, podcast, social media, email, drips, videos, you’ll you’ll see. I’m always coaching. You don’t see really much content out there. That’s outside of coaching and serving the real estate agent. So if you look, there’s hundreds of thousands of videos out there. I say thousands. I’m sure there’s over a thousand videos out there of me coaching on some topics. Doing that freely without any hooks. And so what’s end up happening is when agents are frustrated with their business, just like a seller who’s frustrated with their property not selling before it expires, what do they do? They start Googling, they get on the Internet and say, well, why is my home not selling? Reasons why properties don’t sell. Top agents in Myrtle Beach because they’re looking for another agent. Right. Well, the same thing goes with agents. If they’re frustrated that their organization. They start Googling things and going on YouTube and start looking for answers. Well, I’m constantly providing the answers for how you can become successful in the real estate business. So four people are constantly seeing me in that light. And when are say and when they come to a point in their career, that’s why I need to make a move, then it’s a logical decision to give me a call and have a conversation.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:19:21] So most people are coming to you because they are seeing your stuff. They know the value you’re providing. Yes. They’re already receiving value from you online. And so they’re reaching out to your organization. And you guys are determining do you bring anybody in or do you determine what is somebody you have to do to be a part of your organization? It sounds like you probably don’t bring in a lot of new agents. You probably bring in mostly new agents, mostly new agents, new ones at 80 years. And you probably do that because you like shape their habits.
Greg Harrelson: [00:19:52] Yes. That’s exactly right. I I like a nice clean box of just clay. And then I have I have a beautiful a clay spinning wheel pottery wheel in my office. And I just throw that on there, slap some water on there, and I shape them up depending on what they tell me. They say I want my my my my base to have like an extra wide opening and then I’ll shape them for that. Or somebody says well I want it to be wide on the end and skinny on the top and I’ll shape them like that. I don’t really care what shape they want. I just want them to come to me as raw clay. When they put them on my will, let me splash some water on it. We’ll agree what the shape will be. And and let me start spending that damn thing and put it in and get it to where we want it.So those are the easiest ones. This is that part. That’s gonna be the top producer right there.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:20:36] Yeah. So you want somebody you can shape. What kind of screening process did people go through to become a part of your organization?
Greg Harrelson: [00:20:42] Well, so step number one would be before they call me. They already like there’s gonna be some people are going to look at this podcasting like this guy’s a little too intense for me. OK. I’m going to say that about my video. So there’s gonna be somebody that’s going to say, this guy’s too intense for me. I’m not that serious. So they’re not I’m not getting that call. Right. So when they call me after seeing the video, they’ve already accepted who I am. So that screening number one. OK. They wouldn’t have called if they didn’t like me or like something that they heard. Right. Screening number two is gonna be when we sit down and I’m gonna flip the script and tell them they’re interviewing me. I’m not interviewing them. And they need to decide upon the right person to help grow their business. Then within that, while I list while I’m in this meeting with them, I’m listening for three things. I’m listening. Do they have a desire to win? Because I’m thinking coach player. So forget about real estate coach player. Do they have a desire to win the championship? OK.
Greg Harrelson: [00:21:42] Now, the second thing is, is, are they will they follow structure? Do I believe they’ll follow structure systems? Because I’m very systematic, process oriented. So I’m listening for. Do I feel like they’re just going to constantly want to wing it or will they actually, you know, get into a system and they’ll stick with it and see it through even when it’s a little bit boring? Yes. And then the third thing that I’m I’m looking for is, ah, do I believe they’re coachable? So I’ll ask people sometimes it depends on the personality, but I’ve asked this many times, I’ll ask somebody. I’m just kind of curious if you were to play Monopoly with your friends. 3 or 4, your best friends who would win? The right answer, by the way, is nobody. Nobody would win because if you played a monopoly with me, I’ll never lose. OK. I may win, but I’ll never lose, and the reason well, I’ll never lose is because at some point trading is involved in Monopoly. Yeah. The trade. Right. Because it gets to that point. I’ll just refuse to trade.
Greg Harrelson: [00:22:54] And that the game will never end. And that’s the difference. And a closer and a cleaner, a cleaner. Has doesn’t can’t stand losing the closer. Loves to win, but Michael Jordan, he hated losing more than he loved to win. That’s what made Michael Jordan Michael Jordan. So I’m looking for people like that really have a desire to win. They’ll follow structure and they’ll be coachable. I don’t really I’m not really concerned about their background, what they’ve done or what they’ve not done. If they bring that to the table and we mix in what I’m gonna bring to the table. I can get them for this 100 deals, 50 deals, a hundred deals, no problem.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:23:42] Yeah, that’s awesome. I had a I used to coach my kids in competitive basketball. I well, Vince Lombardi is quote of winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. It’s also my kids still go around saying that to me. So, yeah, I completely agree with your philosophy there, Greg. So let’s talk about coaching. When you have any agents, how do you coach them effectively?
Greg Harrelson: [00:24:07] Yeah. So you’ve got to figure out how to do things on scale, right? So I’m running the kind of like the hub and spoke model. So Myrtle Beach is my you know, my my hub. That’s where I am all the time. That’s where all the centralized services are, like the bookkeeping, the marketing, any kind of lead generation and management, social media, management, all that stuff is really house out of Myrtle Beach.
Greg Harrelson: [00:24:29] So a couple of things that I’ve done is like today’s is is Tuesday. I don’t know what day this will come out, but they have this recording that happens to be a Tuesday. And at ten forty five, I have a coaching call and I do a coaching call over a conference line. So all the agents within all the markets that I that I’m serving, they actually log in. And then I bring a topic every week on Tuesday and I coach that topic. And this is not a A. OK, let me tell you about the things that’s going on at the company. No, this is a coaching call and retirement.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:25:03] Is it a requirement that your agents are on there?
Greg Harrelson: [00:25:06] It’s not a requirement. It’s not a requirement. I have high attendance. But It’s not a requirement. There’s plenty of times where agents cannot make that call, but that that goes to the second thing. Then what I’ve done is I built out a membership site that’s exclusive to agents that are within my organization. So it’s a learning portal.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:25:30] And if they miss that call, all they’re going to log in and they’re gonna listen to a leader.
Greg Harrelson: [00:25:35] It’s archived. Yeah. So you could you could log in to my learning portal right now and there would be hundreds of. Of training calls and training videos that I’ve done. And it’s all categorized cataloged properly. So you could do price reductions and then all of a sudden see a menu of different trainings that I’ve done on price reductions. So I’m constantly doing that. And then on on on Mondays at eleven o’clock, we always have a bootcamp going on every single month. So or two boot camps, there’s always a boot camp on on some sort of buyer topic that’s usually for Mondays. And then that completes that course and then there’ll be a boot camp on listings which would be for four weeks, you know, in a row to complete that course and then every single month for the twelve months. We have different courses and boot camps going on and that’s all done by webinar. So what’s happening is I do that. I bring it live to them versus say a Zoom call. And then I archive that as a course inside of the training portal.
Greg Harrelson: [00:26:37] So I’m creating new content every single week, multiple types of new content every single week. And then it’s being housed and just the library of content that we have as an organization. So when I’m onboarding a new agent, we’ve got multiple courses. They have to take the new agent course, then they have to take the buyer course. So they have to take the new agent course, get script certified before they’re allowed to make any calls. They have to take the buyer course and get script certified and attend certain requirements in order to actually get a lead. So I have requirements that they have to go through these courses before they can actually start doing business.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:27:14] So the only people I have access to this portal are your agents?
Greg Harrelson: [00:27:18] That’s correct. Yeah, it’s not. This is not none of this stuff. Do I put on the the web? I put a lot of stuff out on the Internet, but not just stuff. This stuff is very sacred to us.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:27:30] Yeah. Great. OK. So G, is there so much so much to learn from you, Greg. So one of the things you talked about is that you acquired a company this year. Sure. So, I mean, did you just start with one brokerage and how did you get five? Talk about that kind of growth. How does that happen?
Greg Harrelson: [00:27:52] Yeah. So I started out my dad and I actually started or bought a brokerage. We started fresh in nineteen ninety nine with Century 21 and he retired maybe 12 years ago, 10 years ago. And then I started looking to you know, my belief is as I I feel very confident that I can develop talent and I can help people grow their real estate businesses. So, you know, I started looking for other brokerages that maybe I could acquire, that maybe there wanted to, you know, exit out of the, you know, out of the business. And but we’re also strategically located at corners of my current market that I didn’t really serve. So if you take Myrtle Beach, I’m in South Carolina on the on the ocean, on the East Coast. And so you can’t go east or you’re going into the ocean. Right. So you either go north, south and west. And so what I did is I was already kind of south of my county. What I did is then I focused. I said, I need to acquire a company that’s the northern part of the county. So I ended up like targeting, you know, companies, seeing if I could find people that I could have a value for their agents. And maybe we’re thinking about, you know, edging. And then I acquired one north. So now I controlled or at least I’m located on the south end of my market. I’m now located on the north end of the market.
Greg Harrelson: [00:29:14] And then the next one I acquired was on the western corner. Our market is more of a triangle than a square. So then I acquired one on the western corner, which would be the top of the triangle. And now I focus in the Myrtle Beach market. Now of expand in each one of those offices. And then I just pretty much do infill for the entire county. So, you know, but I was looking for people that might have had companies that were like most companies, they’re not making profit. So it’s not too hard to find companies that are unprofitable.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:29:45] So how do you structure a deal with somebody like that, I mean, you say they want to get out of the business. If they’re not profitable, their business isn’t worth much. So how do you structure a win win with somebody like that?
Greg Harrelson: [00:29:56] Well, usually they’re trying to figure out how do they give away their company without hurting their agents. Because I mean, a lot there are plenty of owners out there that realize that, gosh, if I could just go back to production, I could make more money, but then they have an attachment to whatever they built it. Let’s assume it’s not profitable or to break even. They still have an attachment to their people. So they sometimes they hold on too long to their companies because they’re really trying to hold on and and do their best for their their agents.
Greg Harrelson: [00:30:26] So when I can if I can find a scenario like that, then I can go to that person and I can structure some sort of a commission split for them to get back into the business and start making some real money. Maybe I can give them some performance, you know, bonus on the company if they stick around and they help me. Then there could be some performance on that. And by the time that I look at the company draw production or projections over three or four years, I bet you a small little piece of a company like performance bonuses will be worth more than half of them having 100 percent of the profit doing what they’re doing. Right. So I can look at that type of scenario. I have to analyze every, you know, every every case and and I’ll present that to them. And most of the time, if they feel like I’m going to come in and I’m going to protect their agents and I’m going to help their agents, that provides the majority of the relief for them.
Greg Harrelson: [00:31:23] If they just don’t want that, they don’t want the company to go under because where by age it’s going to go. And they don’t want to just have anybody, you know, come in and change commission splits and tell them they’re wrong and then everyone leave. So it’s a real art to be able to come in and especially with somebody that runs a model like mine. I have to come in. I don’t just come in and say, all right, everything’s change and do it. Do it like, you know, like we’ve been doing it over here. If I did that, everyone would leave. I got to go in there and say they’re expecting Greg Hurlstone is going to come in and he’s going to change everything. And then what they end up find out? No. Greg Harrelson comes in and I just observe everything. And then I look at these agents who are doing maybe they do their business by direct mail instead of tell them they need to go prospect.
Greg Harrelson: [00:32:07] I actually get into their world and say, well, tell me, like, how many pieces do you send per month? Let me see your pieces. And then I’d send them over to my graphic designer and said, hey, let Daniel look at this to see if he can improve on this. And did you know about every door, direct mail, how you can drive your costs down? And did you know this? And next thing you know, I’m helping them optimize their direct mail strategy.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:32:29] Now you get their buy in.
Greg Harrelson: [00:32:31] Yeah. And I got their buy in. So I got to get into their tried before I invite them into my tribe. Mm hmm.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:32:37] Exciting. OK. One thing I want to go back to Greg, you talked about. Providing leads and there’s different concepts, different leads, and I think anybody can go out and anyone can get Zillow leads and anyone can go through to Realtor.com and pay for OP City. You know, those are things that anybody can do, right? The real geek strategy, though, that you talked about that is not costing you money anymore. What exactly are you doing there? Help some of these brokers understand what you’re doing? Because I think that’s probably even though generating leads is something that is really easy today to do in today’s world. I think that’s really a struggle for most brokerages. They don’t even know where to start with that. Right. And that that’s something that they don’t even really comprehend. Generating leads for my agents. So you can you give some tips on how how someone will get started and go that direction?
Greg Harrelson: [00:33:34] Yeah. So let’s I’m going to go with Zillow and then I’m going to go backwards to say like a rock strategy. In my opinion, and I have strong opinions, as everyone knows, that when it comes to the industry, in my opinion, the challenge with brokerages teams providing leads is not the fact that it’s hard to buy the leads. It’s hard to actually get a return off of leads. And the reason why it’s hard to get a return off of bought leads is because teams and companies don’t have the right accountability in place. OK, that’s very important. See, like, I have a very large budget to spend on leads, but which most people couldn’t afford. The budget that we have. But the key is, is I have a layer of accountability in accounting on those leads. I know who’s on that lead team and I know every single one of them what their performance is. How many leads do they get? What is their return? How much money did they make? How much money did the company make? How does that relate to her expenses? What’s my overall, you know, return on all the leads? So whether it be return per agent, return for zip code, return for per dollar, I would know all those numbers and you have to have that type of tracking and run it like a real business in order to be able to spend in earn on leads. So anyone can buy the leads. The disconnect is people don’t have the guts to hold their agents accountable because brokerages and teams are more focused on keeping their agents than leading their agents. They don’t want their agents to leave them. And when you’re so afraid of. You’re so attached to the agent from leaving you, then you tend to zip your lip and not hold them severely accountable. Which in turn hurts both of you. That’s the real challenge with the paid leads.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:35:38] On the paid leads, Greg. And at Sisu we have a lot of teams now that use us to know their leads or ZARWAY right now. What I’ve what I’m starting to see is people are making decisions differently. For instance, if if I have a Zillow lead that’s costing me thirty eight hundred dollars per closing rate. And I have somebody that’s converting very high on those. And so for that particular agent, it’s only costing me $600 per closing. Yes. Versus some other agent that I’m giving them all kinds of Zillow leads. They’re not converting any of them. Yes. And so it’s costing me tens of thousands of dollars and no closings. Right. And so I’m starting to observe and see this kind of stuff and make decisions on who they give their leads to. So how do you make 100 percent? How do you make those decisions and how do you how do you address it with your agents? Right. Like, hey, you know what? You’re not converting on these leads. How do you do that without offending your agent? Because I think more and more people and we’re n a mission to help people understand their source costs and know that stuff. But still, being a leader like you are is is difficult. Right, for some people. So tell us how you present that to your agents. How do you how do you handle it?
Greg Harrelson: [00:36:57] It’s all about setting expectations on the front end. Remember I said when we bring a new agent on, if they’re gonna be get buyer leads, they have to go through this training and they have to finish that training in order to actually be qualified to get a lead. Well, guess what’s part of that training? It’s training them on the systems, training them that put their hold up to to log their numbers into CSU, training them on what your ratios should be, training them on the scripts and whatnot. So we’re we’re we’re doing our job on the front end to equip them, to give them the abilities to meet our standards. Once you know, the challenges, as some companies are trying to hold people to standards that they never told them that they had. That’s one problem. Or they told the agents why I’m going to meet you. I’m going to I’m going to hold you accountable to the standard. But they never trained them and gave them the tools and the knowledge and the scripts to actually meet the standard. I see this all the time. So we believe we’ve got to equip them. We’ve got to educate them on what the standards are. Show them exactly how to meet those standards. And then we can hold them accountable. So our agents are not thinking that we’re we’re policing them to try to reprimand them. They know that this is the standards and we’re trying to educate them to get them to meet or exceed those standards. So it’s how we approach it.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:38:18] Completely different approach. I love it. OK. So that’s the paid leave. So let’s leave. Let’s go to the let’s go the other direction. And how do you how do you build?
Greg Harrelson: [00:38:27] Yeah. So, you know, it’s a lot harder than it used to be. You know, 10, 15 years ago, you know, I would say 15 years ago, I guess, you know, I was building Web sites or I personally did not build them. I was building Web sites. But I had somebody that’s exclusive to me to help me build my Web sites and optimize them for Google rankings. And so basically, we built them years and years ago based on all these long tail terms, instead of just going after Myrtle Beach real estate, which is and which is a very highly competitive, low quality term, we would be going for longer tail terms like Grand Dunes Homes for sale. So we would go homes for sale knowing that if anyone was type in and grand doing homes for sale, that they already knew Myrtle Beach, they already knew Grand Dunes and they were specifically looking in that neighborhood. So the quality of the lead would be much greater. The quantity would be less, but the quality would be much higher. So what we did is we built out literally thousands of pages. I probably got eight hundred residential communities fully built out on my Web site. I’ve got. And then equal to that would be condo community or condo buildings. So we could say a couple thousand community pages themselves.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:39:43] How long did it take you to do that? How much did it cost?
Greg Harrelson: [00:39:46] I mean, how long? Gosh, I still build pages today. You know, it’s a never ending thing because I want Google to see that we’re constantly keeping things current, you know, two hundred thousand two hundred fifty thousand.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:40:01] It’s an ongoing project. Right. That never ends.
Greg Harrelson: [00:40:04] I just want people to understand it is an ongoing project that never ends. Now, the cost associated to it today, I might have been spending, you know, eight thousand dollars a month in expense to be able to do it. Maybe 10 years ago. You know, now it’s a much smaller because we’re just keeping it fresh and and whatnot. We’ve kind of built out everything. But we’ll update pictures and things like that. So the cost is a lot lower. But the reason why I’ve got so many low cost leads is because I was an early adopter of search engine optimization years ago and I got positioned. It’s a little bit harder now because I didn’t have Zillow and real turned truly and homes.com and Movado and Redfin and everyone else. We weren’t I wasn’t competing against them. It wasn’t even on their radar. You know, for years I enjoyed usually one Web site. Myrtle Beach real estate dot com would be the number one position for every term. And then see twenty one, the Harrelson group would be number two and then Myrtle Beach condos would be number six. North Myrtle Beach real estate, dot com or dot net would be number number six or number five. You know, and I was just pouring and opportunities. Now, you know, if I have one on the on the on the first page for a major term, that’s pretty good against the low end truly. And all these guys got my long tail is still providing you know, it’s probably maybe 400 leads a week.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:41:25] Ok. So if I’m a if I’m a brand new brokerage owner, just saying, hey, I’m going to duplicate what Greg did. Yeah. What kind of budget do I need to spend on Lead Gen getting started? I mean, let’s say I have 20 agents in my brokerage, 12. What kind of what kind of budget do I need to spend? What would you recommend I do as far as starting this whole legion process?
Greg Harrelson: [00:41:50] Yeah. And let’s just assume that their company has cash flow. Right. So we’re not we’re not we’re not, you know, borrowing this money on a home equity line. Because, quite frankly, my answer would be zero. If you don’t have the money, don’t do it. Go actually prospect your way to get finances to then reinvest. So that would be the first thing. Is run a profitable business. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yeah. So if I wasn’t running a profitable business, I would go and find very low cost ways to generate leads. And then I would store up some of those acorns. And then I do invest some of that money. The profits. I’d go invest and try to make money off my money. But I would not get into, you know, doing this until you have a profitable business because it’s going to make you more unprofitable when you’re doing that.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:42:37] Greg, what’s more important is that no athletes again, we’re just starting off here as a number of leads or quality of leads. What’s more important?
Greg Harrelson: [00:42:44] The number of leads. And here’s why I say that. I don’t think anybody has. I think we’re all hallucinating when we’re actually trying to judge what’s which lead sources more quality. I really do. Like like like people so will social media leads or just poor quality? Well, I mean, the same lead you got on social media I got through Zillow. You like how do we know?
Brian Charlesworth: [00:43:11] Do you think that’s a mindset? I watch I watch people on my wife’s team and some of them like love these particular leads and hate these others where someone else is converting five out of eight of those others. Right.
Greg Harrelson: [00:43:22] It’s all crap. It’s a mindset. People are saying what they need to say to let them off the hook from accept a responsibility of low conversion. All these leads stink, that’s the perfect thing to say, because then that means I’m blaming spring. I’m blaming Greg. And like me, if they give me that these leaves stink. They are not going to say that to me. They like that. I think one time.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:43:52] They make that mistake one time you’re not getting any more leads.
Greg Harrelson: [00:43:55] Right. That is that’s not flying because we don’t because the key is, is what stinks is an agent’s approach to leads. Yeah. And what’s happening? What’s confused everybody is. We wheat agents don’t understand that. What they I think they understand that the length of time from capture to conversion has expanded. I think most agents know that that because we capture things on the Internet, that it takes longer to convert because we’re. Were were kept capturing them sometimes in and in different stages. But I think it’s important that people know what stages that people are in. So if somebody is in the dreaming phase, which is a lot of people, social media, you’re going to get more people in the dreaming phase. All that means is they’ll convert just as high as the people that are in the buying phase. It’s just that the duration of time before they convert changes, it’s not. They do, they convert. Because when we do back testing of five years ago on ten thousand leads, we’ll see that they all converted at a certain percent.
Greg Harrelson: [00:45:01] It’s just some took two years to convert. Some took two months to convert. So our perception and our labeling of a quality lead and somebody that’s low quality is is distorted. We’re wrong. They’re all good quality. What we’re trying to determine is, are they in the dreamin’ phase, the exploratory phase, the search phase or the buying phase?
Brian Charlesworth: [00:45:24] So first thing and I listened to Tom very podcast this morning with his with his brother, who is an age I listened to the same one today. Did you really? I sure did. Yes. He talks about, OK, so here is the stage, right? What stage is this buyer in? But just doing some of those little things and understanding some of those little secrets of how to ask things differently. Also, an agent, you can take your conversion ratio from 1 percent to 8 percent from actually talking to somebody to setting an appointment. Right. So those are really important things to know as well, which is why it’s so important that you track things like you do. So you can understand a what? What’s my weakness here if I’m if my conversion ratios are so low? I need to focus on improving my skills. And I think so many people. So many people think I just need to work harder. I need to work longer hours. It’s really you need to improve your skills. Know your conversion ratios. Know how to be effective. Right. And then you can drive more business.
Greg Harrelson: [00:46:26] Yeah, I agree. And one thing I’d say and I think people will find relief in this is I think a mistake is made when when when people hear you need to improve your skills. I think what they hear is why I need to be a I need to be a better salesperson. I need to learn how to close on people. It’s not the skill of closing on people that we need to develop. It’s the skill of asking questions and listening to people.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:46:51] And having them feel like you’re the expert that brings added value, right?
Greg Harrelson: [00:46:57] Well, yeah. And to piggyback on that one more time, I think people start to feel you’re an expert when they notice you’re a listener. It’s like a doctor. A doctor comes in. They got they’ve got it. There’s there’s a process of information gathering and then there’s a process of information giving. Most agents want to give information right off the bat. But if you look at a doctor, a doctor gathers information, they go in and say, OK. So it sounds like your arm starting. Does it hurt here? Does it hurt here? They start asking all these questions and doing these tests and then they finally get to a point where they have confidence in their assessment of what’s going on. Then they start giving information. Yeah. Well, if we would take the same approach, it would be an information gatherer before we were an information giver. They would actually respect us at a higher level and stop questioning us.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:47:50] Great. Greg, I know we’re short on time. We could spend hours. I know you just want to ask you. Is there anything out there today that’s like a new thing that as a business owner, I should be focused on, I should be aware of. I mean, there’s so many different things out there with the world changing technology and different things. Is there anything that’s like fresh on your mind? That’s something that everyone should be paying attention to in today’s world?
Greg Harrelson: [00:48:20] Yeah, I. This is what’s fresh on my mind and that I’m paying attention to. OK. So I just share that that with you. And hopefully that answers. I’m really going back in. And I believe deeply connecting with other human beings is something. When is the new thing? It’s a stop thing, and I’m not saying we’ll stop looking at everyone as a transaction and let’s look at them as a relationship. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about developing the skill to be able to communicate in a way to dig deeper into clients motivations so you can better serve them. That is the differentiator, because we are so much in a hurry. We’re so impatient. We’re trying to like log numbers real quick, like I need to convert this at this level and I need to do it this fast. We’ve lost sense of connection. We don’t we’re not we’re not great communicators anymore. And I think with all the new things and shiny objects that are out there, the good shiny objects, they’re not so good shot shiny objects that are out there. There’s a lot of noise and everyone’s trying to figure out what’s the next best thing. I believe the next best thing is to ignore all the noise and go back to old school connecting. And you do that through asking proper questions, listening. Showing them you really care and really digging deep to the core of their motivations and then help them or help provide solutions to what they’re looking to accomplish. Let’s go and do that. That’s going to be the agent that wins at a higher game. And when agents as an industry, when we’re sitting here to figure out what’s our value in my mind, that’s our value. That’s going to be the hardest way. Hardest. Value for a machine to actually duplicate.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:50:18] Right. Right on. I love it. I love spending time with you. Greg, it’s so much fun. If anybody wants to reach you, wants to come work for you, wants to ask you questions. Wants to pick your brain was the best way to get a hold of you.
Greg Harrelson: [00:50:33] Best way is to find me on Facebook. Greg Harrelson and then shoot me a private message. It’s the simplest way for me to be to communicate to people from in this capacity.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:50:44] Ok, great. Well, Greg, I’m gonna let you go. I know you have a hard stop. Thank you so much for your time today. Absolutely. Pleasure. And look forward to catching up with you and your team here. Even more gets here.
Greg Harrelson: [00:50:55] Yeah. So I’m looking forward to what we’ll build in the future with Sisu because it’s been a great thing.
Brian Charlesworth: [00:50:59] Awesome. Thank you, Greg.