How do top brokerages recruit and retain new agents? For Tomlinson Sotheby's in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, it starts with an iPad. From listing presentations to showing off virtual reality capabilities in casual conversations, new agents are trained from the start on the technology and marketing strategy that differentiates Tomlinson Sotheby's agents from their local competition.
In a recent webinar, three new agents from Tomlinson share why they switched to a career in real estate, the challenges they faced, and how Tomlinson Sotheby's innovative use of technology helped them earn their first commission checks far sooner than the industry norm. Read on for standout highlights from the webinar.
Going all-in on a defining technology
When you think about the broader Sotheby's brand, what comes to mind? Luxury, most likely, and the higher level of service and professionalism that luxury requires.
Tomlinson Sotheby's has chosen a unique way to bolster the perception of the brand by going all-in on a technology that not only impresses real estate consumers, but also changes the game for its brand-new agents. That technology? The virtual property tour and client experience.
The company uses Matterport's 3D reality capture technology to set its brand apart from the competition. In managing their new agents, Charles Nitschke, Tomlinson's Chief Integration Officer, says that Matterport helps get those agents up and running more quickly.
During the onboarding process, Nitschke downloads the Matterport gallery app to a new agent's iPad and populates it with multiple Matterport 3D home tours. Agents can show off these tours in listing presentations or even in casual, everyday conversations when the topic of real estate comes up.
Nitschke trains agents on how to use these tours to not only impress consumers, but also to capture their contact information. The Matterport app's share function is key here. When prospects ask for a copy of the tour, agents ask for their contact information. The prospect gets a link to the tour that impressed them, and the agent gets new lead information. Win-win.
Also part of Nitschke’s process is teaching new agents to leverage Matterport to underline Sotheby's reputation for exclusivity. Thanks to a partnership between Matterport and Realtor.com, all Matterport tours can be automatically syndicated to Realtor.com, where filters let consumers search only for properties with 3D tours.
"It's another part of our training as I'm showing agents how to use that Realtor.com app to say, 'Well, there's 1000 homes for sale in [Local] County, and 40 have Matterport, and of the 40, 30 of those are ours. Do you want to list your property with a company that's going to put you in this very exclusive club that allows out of state buyers or out of country buyers to experience your home before they decide whether or not they're going to hop on a commercial flight?' It's a game changer. It changes everything and the ability to then put that into new agents' [hands] and get them up and running—I've never had that toolset before."
Onboarding agents with Matterport is simple, too, says Nitschke. "Most agents have mastered it within five minutes." In his 20 years in the real estate industry, Nitschke says he's never seen a better tool for helping new agents get more business quickly. Tomlinson Sotheby's is so confident in the technology that they financially support their agents' listings by carrying the cost of Matterport tours and supporting media.
New agents share their experience
But what do new agents have to say about why they join a brokerage? What do they look for when determining where they’ll be best positioned for success? During the aforementioned webinar, we also heard from three rookie Realtors on why they ultimately signed with Tomlinson Sotheby's.
Professionalism from day one
New Realtor Fabiola Ferris was one year removed from relocating to Idaho from Alaska.. Her background was in international heavy civil construction, and she felt that real estate overlapped with her existing skills, like customer service, contract negotiation, process management, client counseling, and more.
Her old company frequently used video in their marketing, so part of what attracted her to Tomlinson Sotheby's was their use of Matterport. The successful, tech-forward approach will also helped Tomlinson retain her as an agent: "Matterport did launch my first listing. In 24 hours, I had three offers," she said. "I was astonished at how quickly we had a closing."
Ferris also credits Tomlinson's tools and training for her quick success including, "being able to go out there and farm and teaching you how to utilize all these different technologies to be a stronger agent and look like a professional. People coming to my first listing had no idea that that was literally my first listing."
Comprehensive training changed the game
Will Nicholson had spent the past two years in Idaho after a move from Pennsylvania.. Before moving, he spent six months with a real estate brand in his home state. "There were some challenges there," he said. "Getting a grip on a large market is hard when you don't have mentors or good training or good technology."
Mentorship, good training, and good technology is exactly what Tomlinson Sotheby's did have, and that made all the difference in recruitment or Nicholson. "Charles took a lot of time with us, and we were able to really utilize that. Because in a new market, what else do you have other than trying to utilize all of your tools to stand out?"
Part of The Tomlinson Group’s approach also involves providing a listing presentation for the firm's new agents that explains to sellers all the different technology at their agent’s disposal when marketing a listing. When it comes to Matterport, the presentation naturally becomes hands-on, demonstrating the technology by letting them walk themselves through a 3D tour on the agent's iPad.
It's a differentiator in their local market, and the degree to which they find this a competitive advantage still comes as somewhat of a surprise. "I still notice that I'm pretty much the only one showing technology at listing presentations," says Nicholson.
People and processes
Guy Parkin is originally from Sydney, Australia and first came to the U.S. as an exchange student. For decades, he worked in the auto industry, and what drew him to real estate is his love of people and creating opportunities.
In real estate, he said, "we deal with three things: people, a product, and a process. If you can master those three Ps, I think you're well and truly on your way."
Establishing and understanding industry processes is what helped Parkin’s business truly get off the ground. "If you know how to do those processes not just well, but do them with excellence, that's going to be half the battle," he says.
When he first started, Parkin was excited to think that he would be selling million-dollar properties soon. "That wasn't reality," he said. "Reality was the first property I sold was closer to $250,000. But I then got a listing based on using Matterport because, like Fabiola and Will said, I was the only one that had offered up the Matterport presentation virtual reality. And then once that sold, in a short period of time, I also had a pipeline of people that wanted me to list their homes because they saw how quickly it sold."
Watch the full webinar here to learn more about how Tomlinson Sotheby's uses technology to grow their business and recruit new agents.