Ryan O'Neill shares how he built a team that will do over $439M in real estate in 2018. Ryan knows his success is a result of building a great brand, a solid reputation, and a ton of goodwill with all of his agents and client base.
The youngest of five O’Neill siblings, Ryan grew up in New Prague, Minnesota and went on to graduate from the University of Notre Dame in 1997. As the founder and leader of The Minnesota Real Estate Team, Ryan began his real estate career in 2003 with an emphasis on investment property. Over the years, Ryan is honored to have worked with so many outstanding clients from around the entire Twin Cities area in all types of real estate transactions. And currently, as the Broker and Sales Manager for the team, Ryan enjoys working with team members to ensure each and every client has a positive and successful experience when working with The Minnesota Real Estate Team. Ryan is also half of the piano playing duo, “The O’Neill Brothers.” Ryan, his wife Kathy, and dog Pokey live in the Bloomington area.
- Success is following your heart and what motivates you
- Success in real estate is less about selling and more about adding value
- Great leaders are open to hear other voices
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode
Umar Hameed 0:34
Today, I have the privilege of having Ryan O'Neill. He is the leader of the Minnesota Real Estate Team. Ryan, welcome to the program.
Ryan O'Neill 0:43
Thank you so much, Umar. Happy to be here. Excited to be here.
Umar Hameed 0:46
Me too. So why don't you tell us who you are and what you do in 90 seconds?
Ryan O'Neill 0:50
Yeah, just a brief background, Umar. I live in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. And I am the owner and manager of a team called the Minnesota Real Estate Team, which is a group of about 150 agents all around the Twin Cities area. And just a really good group of folks has been a busy number of years for us, you know, this year, again, I think what we'll do, you know, over 1700, close to 1800, real estate transactions, just a wonderful group of folks that I have the privilege of being able to work with, I grew up here in the Twin Cities, and I'm the youngest of five, and just have a very loving family, wonderful family. And yeah, I'm passionate about the real estate business and helping other agents, other team leaders, whoever I can.
Umar Hameed 1:48
That is brilliant. And before we get into real estate, I want to say to take a look at your earlier company, who aren't the O'Neill brothers?
Ryan O Neil 1:56
Yeah, you know, my brother Tim and I are lifelong musicians. We both play the piano in we both attended Notre Dame when Tim was a senior at Notre Dame, I was a freshman. And we were growing up, we had played piano, of course, a lot together, but even through college, and right after college, we started recording some of our own solo piano music that we marketed through a variety of different avenues through JC Penney stores through QVC. And my brother, Tim was a wonderfully gifted musician, and a very creative person now runs that company. It's called the O'Neill brothers. And he's just he's done a excellent, excellent job with it. And now of course, a lot of the the listening is down done on Spotify and the like.
Umar Hameed 2:49
And I saw that you guys had over 10 million copies sold, which is a pretty big number. So congratulations.
Ryan O Neil 2:55
No, thank you. Thank you. Yeah, Tim has really done a wonderful job. He's just a very obviously hard worker, but but a lot of great creativity. And it's the music business is definitely fun.
Umar Hameed 3:08
Tell me about now let's switch over to real estate because you know, that's, I'm really fascinated about that. The first question I have for you is most teams are the Umar Hameed team, but you chose to go the Minnesota real estate team, why more of a branding rather than a personal brand?
Ryan O Neil 3:24
Yeah, for me, early on, you know, I started in 2003, as an agent, and worked with buyers, sellers, investors, all types of clients. And as as you know, for a lot of agents can probably relate to that may be listening, you know, you start to get busier. And you realize that you can only do one thing at a time, with with the real estate job, of course, and for me, as I started generating more business getting a little bit busier, I was I would pass clients or referrals on to maybe a couple agents that had started working with me that had joined the team. And one thing I found out very early on, is that the business was not based on me, the business was really based upon providing a certain level of service, a certain kind of taking care of the client, and a really a focus on the consumer. And so a lot of times what I found is that early on the the agents with me would do a better job than I ever could in providing that outstanding service to the client. And so for me, what I wanted to focus on is is is finding these folks who could help but but more importantly treating them well and retaining them and so I found that by not having my name in the team, and having more of a general team name it allowed agents to still market themselves have their own brand and not have everything be about me where they they feel like they're maybe not, you know, not on the front of the of the sign, if you will, that they're kind of, you know, their sub agent or that type of thing, I never wanted anyone to feel that way,
Umar Hameed 5:18
Walk me through, you're a single agent doing what you're doing what gave you the [garbled] to start a team and when did you actually switch over to the Minnesota Real Estate Team.
Ryan O Neil 5:29
You know, I've always been, you know, thanks to my parents, you know, I would say all of my siblings, and I were all very motivated, very hardworking. And so when I got into this business, I was really enjoying it spending a lot of time and you know, things again, but like, any type of company, you know, as, as you're working hard, putting in a good effort doing your best, oftentimes, you get busier and in in for me, it was trying to find, again, other folks who could help me, even geographically, you know, my wife and I were living in the southern part of the Twin Cities at the time, and as we would generate some leads in the north end, or east or west, certainly, I could drive and, you know, in and I always did for a long time, but I found that it was also an effective way to find some people to help out who could also provide the same level of service. And so for me, you know, we were, we always have had a strong focus on finding business, through any and all advertising channels, you know, we do a couple local radio shows, we do print ads, we do a lot of Facebook ads, pay per click, anything and everything you can imagine we are doing to try to generate business. And so I found over time, that's, that's one of the hard things for a lot of agents, of course, is to find consistent business. And so as you know, with our team, that's one of the things that we're always doing, we're providing to our agents is ongoing business, ongoing leads and referrals. And I guess for me, eventually, in 2011, I was busy, still selling, busy working with agents on the team with me trying to help them with their business, acting as kind of the broker helping with questions on files, problems, etc. And I found that I couldn't do both really well. And so for me, I went all in and said, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go 100% with Mike, you know, the agents that work with me, as my clients, and you know, Umar, it wasn't a financial decision, it wasn't a hey, I can make more if I do this, or that, or it really was, you know, kind of following my heart and saying, What do I enjoy doing? What is motivating for me in and I just sensed, you know, and kind of learned that that, you know, that's what I enjoyed is working with others, helping other agents helping them grow, build their business. And so really, that was an 11 through today, that's what I've been doing.
Umar Hameed 8:02
That's brilliant. As you grew, your team in the cornerstone was that customer experience that you created. But as you get more agents coming in, how do you make sure you have a consistently high experience for customers? How do you make sure that happens? And did you have any missteps along the way?
Ryan O Neil 8:18
Yeah, I mean, that's a really good question. And it's something that that is a daily ongoing process, where, you know, we, as a team, we do a lot of a lot of training on a variety of topics. And, and that's something oftentimes that I'm leading, as well, as, you know, bringing in outside guests, or even different agents within our team, who are having a lot of success sharing some ideas and strategies. Because, again, I think, you know, Umar, certainly I don't have the, you know, claim to have the answers, but being open to hearing from other voices as well, on Hey, what are you doing what's effective? What's working for you? And so I think that ongoing training is really it is important, it is an industry where people need, you know, we always need to be learning and growing. And I think, you know, we are only as good as our weakest link. And certainly, you know, certainly there's times where, you know, it doesn't go well from a customer standpoint. And I think, you know, in those limited cases over the years, it's me taking responsibility, you know, personally reaching out to the customer, you know, offering you know, some type of goodwill to them, and in trying to learn what what went wrong. You know, what did what did we do that was in incorrectly done, how can we learn from it, how can I help, you know, work with our agents so they can learn, and I think in any type of service business tomorrow, you're going to have that. But it's just a kind of an ongoing commitment to excellence. You know, again, I went to Notre Dame, and you know, a lot of people have seen when the players the football players are walking down onto the field, there's a big banner that says play like a champion today. And the broker of our company, a guy named Eric Malmberg, wonderful guy. He's like an older brother to me, Eric gave that to me one year on my birthday, and I have it in my office. And I think it's something that we as a team really strive for, to to focus each day, you know, playing like a champion.
Umar Hameed 10:38
That is brilliant. So you've got a lot of agents, what does a leadership team look like in your company?
Ryan O Neil 10:44
Yeah, and so I'm, I am, I am like, my dear 83 year old mother, who is a, she was a lifelong school teacher. And Mom, if you give mom a list of 15 things to get done, she gets them done. She is just she gets she's organized gets them done. And so from my standpoint, Umar, almost to a fault, maybe I am very involved in the training aspect, the the lead generation aspect, the about everything in a mat, you can imagine, I'm kind of an all in type of person. And so, from a structure standpoint, I have a couple other broker associates with me, Charlie Leimer, Brian Van Hoff, Dan, Frank, whenever I'm busy, if I'm tied up, and there's a question from an agent on the team, by email, phone, text, they're around to help. And so they're, you know, they're paid, you know, by me for, you know, for the amount of time they're investing, I have a full time lead coordinator, who helps keep track of what's going on lead wise, where the leads are going. Certainly, we've got some great CRM systems to manage those leads, I think that's really crucial. For any agents, brokers listening, you have to be have to track you have to be systematized. And if you're not, that's okay. But you have to have someone who is in your organization. And, you know, again, thankfully, that that is, you know, something that I've just I'm kind of wired that way to be able to really track where his business coming from, and kind of analyzing things. And so we've got it's a small staff, very small staff, Umar, but you know, small but, but powerful.
Umar Hameed 12:40
Ryan, what are the three top sources for business for you?
Umar Hameed 12:43
Yeah, I would say now, top three areas are referrals. So over the years of having the good fortune of working with so many different folks here in the Twin Cities, this is a small market, where name brand reputation in goodwill, are paramount. I think more than anything, you know, I always tell our agents and team members, we're in the business of goodwill, in when you lose that goodwill, with a consumer, with an agent with anyone, it affects your business in a variety of ways, you know, I'm kind of wired Umar, I'm just, uh, you know, for me, it's all about building goodwill with people just not even from business setting. It's just because of who I am as a person. And, you know, how I was brought up, and, you know, how, you know, just how I go about my day. But the reason I mentioned that is, again, I think from a really mature real estate business standpoint, people will find referrals from existing clients, past clients, agents on the team, huge source of business and will be, you know, for obviously, you know, agents that that are have been doing this for a while. But with that being said, we also have are always focusing on new business. So, you know, we do a lot of, again, a lot of Facebook ads, or radio shows are great, you know, because that gives us an opportunity to, you know, provide information to people in the Twin Cities and it's less about, hey, we're wonderful. We're great Realtors call me, right, it's more about providing information, filling a need for the consumer. And then, you know, just as a quick example, this past weekend, I got a call on an it was a Sunday afternoon, actually, it was a text into our radio show that said, Hey, can you give us a call? I reached out to him and he said, You know what, I'm a longtime listener of your radio show. It's been four years, my wife and I never thought we'd move but we found this this house that we're really interested in and we want to work with you guys and in this case, So it was I mean, it was a $900,000 property, our average sale price in the Twin Cities is like 240. You know, we do all price points, by the way. But so this was very unusual. So I think sometimes as agents listening, it's less about selling. And it's more about providing value, and filling a need for the consumer. When that is done, the phone rings or you get the text. And I think that's just again, when I started in the business, Umar, that's was one of my goals is I want to provide information and fill a need, I don't just want to throw myself on a bus bench and say, Hi, I'm a realtor call me, you know, I would always say why should I call, you know, that type of thing?
Umar Hameed 15:43
So let me backtrack, guys in two parts. The first part is give me your definition of goodwill? And how was your system built your processes built to make that happen?
Umar Hameed 15:53
Yeah, goodwill, to me, I think is keeping a very positive, favorable and friendly relationship with people. Now, you know, I think I think that from a business standpoint, helps tremendously, you know, I'm in the, you know, from an agent or broker, Team Leader standpoint, who may be working with another broker, today, may very well be interested in making a move tomorrow. And so, though, I respect the competition and the fierce drive that you know, a lot of team leaders brokers have, my approach always has been to respect, you know, the reasoning people have for why they're at a certain company, or why they're doing what they're doing, in really just trying to understand that to listen, you know, I think it's really important to listen, oftentimes, we can talk too much and never really listens, whether it's the consumer or the our agent. But I think I think when you do that, and you genuinely care and try to help, goodwill is created. And I don't know, Umar, I just think over time, you know, I've seen it with my brother, Tim, with his music business, you know, I've seen it with our team over the years, I've seen it with a lot of friends, other family members, my brother's sister, you know, when you when you try to do the right thing and build goodwill, over time, things happen. And I think, you know, from our agent standpoint, you know, I certainly try to encourage our agent to do their best to, you know, have that with customers. And, of course, it's, you know, it's not a perfect world. And there's a lot of problems and a lot of negative and, but but I just I don't know, I just try to focus on what I can control every day, my attitude, my energy level, how I treat others, and how I respond to things. And at the end of the day, you know, I just say onward and upward. If it's, you know, if something negative happens, it's, you know, you just have to try to learn from it, get some feedback, but continue moving forward in a positive way.
Umar Hameed 18:08
The industry is changing, what are you forcing in the future? And what are you doing to prepare your company to be relevant? I'm not sure when the brave new world happens in real estate, but it could be three years out. So what do you think in and what are you doing about it?
Umar Hameed 18:24
Yeah, you know, a great question, Umar, I'm hearing a lot of people talk about, you know, the different big real estate portals, the different artificial intelligence, all these things out there that may impact the livelihoods of brokers and real estate agents. What I see on a daily basis very intimately, is the importance of a very good real estate agent and a very good real estate broker, that human connection in the real estate transaction. In though there's a lot of efficiencies, there's a lot of wonderful technologies out there, I love technology, myself, I'm all about efficiency. I think the importance of that human relationship, as an agent and a broker is not going anywhere, in my opinion. And I think even more so what I've seen the last couple years is with with a lot of agents getting into the industry, you know, with with improved market the last year or two, it's now even driven home the importance moreso of really good, you know, full time agents who know what they're doing, are helping consumers and so, you know, I think similar to 2005 and six when it was a good market, you know, really rising market, there were a lot of real estate agents that got into the industry, then, you know, with with things slowing a little bit, maybe interest rates rising. You know, this year was another crazy busy year, here in Minnesota and a lot of places around the country. That can't continue you You know that that just doesn't always continue. And, and, you know, I think having agents that understand that this is a business that it takes time to build your business, you know, those full time agents survive, so to speak. And a lot of times people get into it, and they just find, hey, it's not my cup of tea.
Umar Hameed 20:18
Ryan O'Neill 20:19
So I'm probably going to, you know, seeing maybe some agents get out of the industry. But But I think overall for housing, you know, very solid and stable. The last quick thing I'll mention, Humar is, you know, the appraisal process is different now. So when we had the big crash in 2005, and six, appraisers and mortgage professionals were, like buddies in one room together, you know, if they needed it to appraise for a certain number that happened? Well, now they're no longer together hanging out in the same room, it's a totally separate process. So for consumers, they're protected for homebuyers. They're protected in what it does is that it keeps the market honest. And so whether we see a 1% uptick in appreciation 2%. You know, I think it's going to be a slow and steady appreciating market with good things to come for full time real estate professionals.
Umar Hameed 21:17
Brilliant. Ryan, what's a book that you reading now or you read that really had a big impact in helping you become a better leader?
Umar Hameed 21:24
You know, what, it's interesting, Umar, my wife has always given me a bad time because I just am not a reader. And I should be I should be a reader. I think I'm a I'm a big, you know, I would encourage people that it's not that I don't like reading, I just find that I like to meet other successful business owners and connect with those folks that you know, and take some time to be a student of the game and to try to learn and so I think sometimes I am you know, I love my daily Starbucks. And I like to reach out to, to folks to, you know, whether it's a fellow business leaders, someone in the community could be totally unrelated to real estate, to just learn about them. What are you doing? What challenges are you finding, how can you know, how have you built your company because I think that from a leader standpoint, I think being honest, being humble and being always open to learn from other folks can help lead you to continued success.
Umar Hameed 22:30
Ryan, thank you so much for sitting down with me. Enjoy the interview learned a lot. Thank you so much.
Ryan O Neil 22:35
Umar real quick. The last thing I'm going to say is a big thank you to you. I encourage people also to listen to Umar's podcast, really powerful stuff. I couldn't agree more with so many of your concepts. And I just think for sales leaders, managers, it is a valuable tool. And I just I really appreciate you even reaching out and thanking me for this opportunity.
Umar Hameed 23:01
Thank you so much.
Ryan O'Neill 23:02
Absolutely. Have a great day.
Umar Hameed 23:09
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.