James Weiskerger is the CEO at Next Step Realty (@NextStepMD) a Baltimore based company that is improving the real estate experience for buyers and sellers. Our agents are passionate about delivering exceptional service from beginning to end. Our firm provides a myriad of services to ensure our clients obtain their dreams. From sales and investments, mortgage rates, new developments and title insurance, we have experts in every field to guide you skillfully from beginning to the end of your real estate journey.
- A leaders job is to help his or her team grow
- Nothing beats hard work
- Select your team wisely, one bad apple can kill the culture
[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 limit 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'm privileged to have James Weiss kircher here with me, James, welcome to the program. Thank you, James, tell me in 90 seconds, who you are and what you do,
James Weiskerger 0:42
I'm a real estate broker I own next step Realty, we've created a W home group, which is kind of a subdivision of next step Realty, which really is compromised of top talent, top realtors in the area. And the game plan with that was to form a team that is just only filled with just really smart savvy agents who just kind of understand and have the same passion that I do, as you know, we grow the business. And so it's been probably about six years since I started next step Realty. And our team has been in business for about almost eight months now. And we'll probably end the year somewhere in the top 10 in Maryland, which is pretty impressive for you. Yep.
Umar Hameed 1:26
Appreciate. How do you know you're picking the right person for the team,
James Weiskerger 1:30
it's important for me to identify traits and people that I can't train, right. And so like work ethic is like, unbelievably important to me is probably like the foundation of my success, I think, just agents who kind of get it. And I can generally tell pretty quickly with talking to realtors, or even through a transaction with another realtor, just exactly kind of who the good ones are based on their interaction, their customer service. And so most of my team were realtors who either were in the business, but most of them actually were people who had no prior real estate experience. I brought from other sales backgrounds and actually balton into the real estate business.
Umar Hameed 2:13
Nice. There's this interview I heard with Will Smith, he was saying, you know, there's people out there with way more talent than me. But nobody's out there that can work harder than me.
James Weiskerger 2:21
That's correct. So it's a definitely a similar motto that I probably follow.
Umar Hameed 2:26
We started this interview, you were mentioning the number of realtors in the state of Maryland 42,000 42,000. And if we were going to categorize them into four food groups, eight players, the superstars here, the B players, the C players, the D players, what percentage of that 42,000? Plus do you think would be a player's probably a half percent? A half a percent would be the the elite? Yeah. The B players?
James Weiskerger 2:53
That probably, I would say is maybe 30%? Probably, and C's and DS. Everybody else? Probably, I'd say another 20% or so of the rest Polly funnels to the D group. Yeah, the problem with real estate is there's really low barriers to entry. Right? So I mean, I think you need like a GED. You need I think, a 70% or better on the state exam, right? It's pretty easy to get in the business. And I think everyone watches like the shows and thinks I could do that. Yeah, but like, you know, takes a ton of effort. And I don't really believe in selling real estate part time. I think it's an absolute full time gig. And I want to do it part time, I think really struggle because it's really hard to find the time to like, really dive into it and be successful.
Umar Hameed 3:39
You've been doing this business for a while, you've probably come across some beat players that you can clearly see this person could be a rock star, but for whatever reason, they don't make the jump over. Have you ever come across a situation like that?
James Weiskerger 3:53
Yeah, but I think some people were like, are okay with being the players?
Umar Hameed 3:57
So there's a complacency or I'm okay with this.
James Weiskerger 3:59
Yeah, I think it's like, I'm okay with my income level. Right, right. And I'm okay with selling what I sell. And like, I don't really want to work 80 hours a week or 100 hours a week to get to the next level, right? And that's completely fine. That's not what I want on my team. But that's completely fine. And so they're still really quality realtors, they're just not as hungry and have like, all the components that I think makes like someone exceptional
Umar Hameed 4:21
somebody was coming into this business will give me the best advice you could give them here are the three things you need to keep in mind to to be successful. I think
James Weiskerger 4:29
you have to treat like a job like any other job. I mean, I tell all new agents like come to the office every day. Get to the office, like at 8am as you would any other job and I don't care if you have nothing to do, there's always things to be done. I mean, I could work continuously for 24 hours straight for a long, long time before I ended like the actual workload because it never ends right it ends when you say it ends. And so I think for new agents, it's important for them to just shadow and be around other agents who produce I think he learned a lot and when I first started in the business, I came to the office every morning and Do just sit there and listen and learn and pick up things. And when occasion you know, the bigger agents in my office when I first started would give me kind of smaller leads of things they didn't want to handle, you know, still opportunity for me which I took advantage of
Umar Hameed 5:11
nice, you've put a team together, you could get talented people coming into a team, but forming it into a team is something else you can get a bunch of individuals coming shark being get people coming together as a team, which makes it stronger. What was the thought process before you started recruiting? And then what would the methodologies you use to ensure that this team would gel
James Weiskerger 5:31
that's important, though, because I think having one bad apple can really make a team dynamic, not as enjoyable. And the good part is now I mean, our team is, is a really close knit group. And so as we grow, I want to be mindful of who we allow kind of in that group, because it's important to make sure everyone has enough, has enough help has enough supervision so they can continue to grow. And I think if you grow too fast, it can become a problem where you're not able to offer them all the resources as you promised them. And so I'm pretty mindful of like a timeframe of taking on new people on the team to make sure that whoever comes on board, whatever I promise them, I'm going to give them I'm able to actually deliver.
Umar Hameed 6:12
Nice. So tell me, did you have any Growing Pains as you put the team together?
James Weiskerger 6:16
Yeah, no, I mean, for sure. It's,
James Weiskerger 6:19
at times I thought about just selling on my own, because it's easier. I mean, it is I mean, think, before I started the team, my last year, as an individual, I think I sold $45 million in real estate, which is a pretty high amount for an individuals, I think our team of 10 will do about probably about 100 and 20 million To put that in perspective. And so to do 45 million on your own is a lot but at the same time, like you give up a lot in order to, to sell that much. So so the idea the team was that we all can kind of sharing this together the growth of myself and the company. And so the hardest part, I think, was just trying to identify people who would be a good fit for what we were building, they had to believe in, like the vision because I think in in Maryland, there's a really good opportunity to, to grow at a fast rate and be the top team in the area. We're not there yet. But I have no doubt in the next few years we can get there.
Umar Hameed 7:10
There's a brilliant lady more in the Northern Virginia Washington area, her name's Carrie schull. And so she's doing about 250 a year talk. When she was doing a presentation, what was really fascinating was, for her, it was very much marketing driven math driven, it was more the analytical side of the business. Sure. And the the joy in the candy was doing the transaction. So how does that fit into your math?
James Weiskerger 7:39
So I have partners and you know, as we grow, who has like taken on that role, who breakdown like exactly what we spend in certain areas of marketing and our ROI per area. And to me it's a numbers game, right? If I know that 100 calls equals five leads of equal one sale that I know in order to get, let's just say five sales, I need to make 500 phone calls, right? And so we can kind of figure out exactly where we need to increase market, you know, budget and exactly where we need to, you know, areas that we can grow in order to like achieve results that we want.
Umar Hameed 8:10
Brilliant, how long is the team's been around for eight months? Yeah. Now, back at it, what would you have done differently in growing this team? Like Were there any things that you know, hindsight, you go, I wish I would have done that sooner,
James Weiskerger 8:21
I probably could have done a better job of, even though we're a team, I still want the agents that have their own individual like, touch and feel in their own like past clients and their own sphere of influence. And I think when I originally started the team, I had like all the marketing be more specific to the team, not really to them. And the reason they get all the referrals for all their past clients is really based on that not the team. So it's understanding that the value of the team or them with the team is really done themselves when you market to their past clients. And then to be more focused on the actual individual agent, not too much myself.
Umar Hameed 8:53
That's brilliant, and sometimes people but take years to figure that out? Sure. Yeah, I can imagine. Tell me about one of the areas where one of your team members came over with a problem of you know, how do we make the team better? This isn't working for me? How do you handle that?
James Weiskerger 9:08
Well, having a small group of you know, people who I consider friends makes it easy, because we have bi weekly meetings and the meetings are more like an open forum where it's like what's not working, like what is working, because I'm not always right. And neither is my office manager. And she's the best. And we have another partner Kelly, who does a lot of our media stuff. But it's listening to what the problems are, and then finding solutions for the problems too. Because I just think that if you take a collaborative effort of everyone's opinion, everyone feels more vested in the process. And as you grow, it's helpful because then when things actually worked with they suggested they feel more part of the team.
Umar Hameed 9:44
Do you as an individual and as a company? Do you have strategic partners out there yet help you grow and what are those relationships and how do you make sure both parties win?
James Weiskerger 9:56
So we have, you know, mortgage vendors Right title companies and I focus a lot on past client, I focus a lot on like my sphere of influence and people who I probably have, let's say 10 to 15 people who like consistently refer me business. And so I want to make sure those 10 to 15. People always like, just know how much I appreciate what they do for us. And I try to one thing we created when we started the team, we have a 32 point touch system, which is 32, emails, letters, cards, flyers, whatever it may be to all of our past clients and our sphere of influence, and a lot of work to do that. But it's like, unbelievably effective in terms of getting referrals. And so I always want to be in front of the, you know, my past clients in my sphere of influence as often as possible. And our lenders and our title companies allow us the ability to do that, because they help, you know, pay for some of the advertising and marketing as we jointly do it together, which is great.
Umar Hameed 10:54
So how do you make it personalized to you? Because I know there's lots of systems out there, Buffini and others? Is there a special kind of look, feel connection that you're trying to get with your touches?
James Weiskerger 11:07
Yeah, so I mean, all of ours are organically created, which requires a lot more work. Obviously, I don't really believe in newsletters, I don't really believe in soup recipes, or like gardening tips. I just don't think those things really speak to people, right. And so that's why we decided to actually organically create them. And they're all custom about just needed time a year or different things that may be coming up. But I just think by making them more custom, they actually speak to the client more, which is important, I think otherwise, I don't know how many, you know, newsletters you can get that are so redundant, that looked like the exact same, I don't know how effective those things are long term,
Umar Hameed 11:45
do you have a feedback loop with your customers to know that you're relevant still on track and serving them in the way they want?
James Weiskerger 11:53
You as a part of our system required two calls a year, which we do and you know, it's, it's not the easiest calls to make. But they're really, really important to make, because it's unbelievable that people even after they get 32 things in the mail, or emails sometimes don't realize, like what we do is so geared off referrals, right? Where I've spoken to clients and help them with small ancillary favors. And maybe at the end of the conversation, I say, hey, by the way, if you know anyone looking to buy or sell, let me know. And they'll say, Oh, my good friends looking for a house minute. They just got 32 mailers from us and different touches. And like that wasn't enough as a trigger point, like make them refer me a deal actually had like actually asked. And so it's one of those things that, you know, I never mind asking for referrals. I think a lot of people don't do that. And I just, obviously they were satisfied with our service. And so I asked them, if they have friends who are already buying a house, but they use us doesn't seem like a big request, the
Umar Hameed 12:54
landscape seems to be changing. Good example Ubers of the world, if you want any pharmaceuticals that can be delivered to you from Canada beyond. What's the shift in real estate in that transaction between agents and brokers and consumers? Like what are you envisioning, and how you allowing for that.
James Weiskerger 13:15
So it gives the consumer a lot more power now, because they have the same search tools that we have. Our search tools allow us to look up non MLS listed homes, which is kind of smart for us to have a back channel of data that actually consumers can get. So a lot of times I leverage that information with buyers to make sure they obviously use R Us for their services, because it's data they can't get on their app. So as the online platform like continues to grow, it does give the buyer a greater chance to do a lot of the research on their own prior to actually, like contacting a realtor when you know 1520 years ago, they actually were almost forced to call it realtor because that's the only way they would be able to get the data. And so it's you know, as the market continues to grow, I think most of our attention for marketing is spent online because I know that's where that's where the buyers are shopping.
Umar Hameed 14:10
Brilliant, because I'm hearing from some folks that connection you have with your customer is going to be all the more important now, if you've got that strong relationship that's there because consumers will have the power. And there's a lot more realtors out there looking to make it happen. Sure. And the people that are going to win are the ones that have added value and maintain those relationships.
James Weiskerger 14:34
The message that we always try to convey is that we do a better job than most right. And so all of our marketing is pretty consistent with matters like who you choose as a realtor, like a buyer and a seller have the option to interview multiple agents which I recommend anyone doing because it gives them an idea like what that individual agent will do for them. And it's in our business. It's frustrating because I see a lot of mistakes that that agents make It cost their clients so much money these would have interviewed a better agent, they wouldn't be in a situation and so it's frustrating but at the same time, I think making sure they're educated about
James Weiskerger 15:10
their option to choose is important.
Umar Hameed 15:12
There's a lot of realtors out there that are doing Thanksgivings. Going to have come get a pumpkin pie ongoing touch. Yep. As well as like, we're renting out a movie theater comm sure. But how do you maintain your uniqueness? And you're in, I'm gonna say integrity, because there's a look and feel for what you guys do Sure, you want to maintain that through all the events,
James Weiskerger 15:33
but it's consistency, right? Like those guys will do one event. Right? I see it all the time. I mean, I could give them my marketing plan. And I know for a fact they wouldn't follow through. So that's why it never really concerns me. Because back to like your categorization of realtors, I think there's so few in the a category, who actually like take advantage of that information, like I see, obviously, through social media, other agents doing those events, but they do them like once every two years.
Umar Hameed 15:58
That's not effective. Talking about giving people the playbook. I was reading this book, it was about the USS benfold. It's a guided missile destroyer. Okay. And one of the things they ended up doing was to make they knew that the happiness of the sailor one of the determining factors is that family back home. And so they would send out a birthday card to family members as well, just to say, Hey, we're connected with you. Sure. So one of the other ships. So that's a brilliant idea. They put a sailor on it, and he sends out all the birthday cards at once. So there's like months ahead of when they need to be. So it's fun. Just having the plan and having the spirit of it is two different things.
James Weiskerger 16:34
Yeah, I mean, it's like any kind of marketing piece, I think you have to give it a certain time. But it has to be consistent. I think if you're gonna do like a mailer, for example, you just can't do one mailer can't do probably to manager has to be a concerted effort to do you know, for a certain period of time. And if you don't get results, that's fine. But at me, a lot of the things I've learned over my years have been kind of trial and error. And so you have to give it a fair amount of time. But to make it actually a true, like, just to actually evaluate it correctly, you have to give it an amount of time. That's fair,
Umar Hameed 17:05
companies can measure anything, Agent performance, all kinds of metrics, is there one particular metric that you keep your finger on the pulse just to make sure the entire company is going in the right direction,
James Weiskerger 17:17
I pay attention most to revenue created by our agents. Because that number reflects well how well they're doing, but also how well the company itself is doing right? And so I don't really care what I sell. And like what I sell is great in theory, but it's really like kind of icing on the cake, I want them to be successful. And that also makes the brokerage and the brand successful as well.
Umar Hameed 17:39
Brilliant, and also focuses the company if that's what we're looking to do that how do we help them do that? Sure. Really well, I'm a firm believer of picking one metric.
James Weiskerger 17:47
Yeah, I mean, for me, it's like, this only works if they're all successful, right. And so there's tons of times where I get calls from buyers or sellers that I just give away to people on my team, because I know that empowers them to be able to sell more and have more of a reach. And so I could take it myself, of course, but I choose not to because I'd much rather give to them and watch them succeed.
Umar Hameed 18:07
I was talking to a VP a couple of days gone interview like this. And the question was, because more traditional sales, what do you do when you have a talented salesperson that falls into a slump, but sometimes that can last a while? Sure. He says I tell them to give stuff away. This is our deal. If you discount it as much as you want, just get that next sale done. And get some movement started. And it gets them back on track really, really quickly. And I thought that's for a VP to say that because normally it's all about margin. It was like, hey, they're more valuable unstuck than they are?
James Weiskerger 18:38
Yeah, it doesn't make sense. I just think that it is I think motion helps. And I think it just gets them busy, which I think then leads to more transactions, which leads to the company's success. And it's like a win win for everyone. How would you describe the culture of this company? passionate, hard working, pretty determined. I mean, everyone has the same vision, and we know who the leaders are, like we know they do. And I honestly feel we do a better job than them. And so again, the people at the top, I've been doing this for remarkably longer than we have. And I think we have just a really good opportunity because we actually have people who actually care about the client that to me, like really what it comes down to offering unparalleled service and making sure you always put the client first.
Umar Hameed 19:24
If you got a new staff person coming on board, so not a realtor. Yep, you've got this is what our culture is, this is what we do. How do you instill it in the hearts and minds of somebody coming on board like that? So it's not just words, it's actually imprinted? So what's that process? Like?
James Weiskerger 19:42
Yeah, so we do a lot of team building events, a lot of happy hours. A lot of just social things that I think that are important is to make the person feel welcome to then Aside from that, though, other people like take that person out to lunch to just get to know them on a more personal level. And I think that the more people that are connected to that new person makes him feel more at home.
Umar Hameed 20:01
Nice, concerted effort to make sure that happens.
James Weiskerger 20:04
Yeah, cuz we're I mean, we all have the same goals. And so it's easy when we all have the same goals we have, you know, we have a texturing that we're all on. And it's at times it can be exhausting, but it's great it, you know, we all keep each other in the loop of different stuff. And it's nice for new people to hop on there because they see this the communication to all of us, as we all kind of talk about various topics of real estate and just how we communicate and interact. And so the good part is like, we really is a team effort where if one person needs a favor on a Friday night, it's amazing how many times that happens where like multiple people like step up, and it will be more than willing to help.
Umar Hameed 20:39
Brilliant. Before we parted company, is there a particular book you'd recommend people pick up and read?
James Weiskerger 20:45
I've read a book of thinkers last year, I think it was called from good to great.
Umar Hameed 20:50
That's brilliant book, Jim Collins. Yeah.
James Weiskerger 20:52
Prior to the real estate company, I had a really successful short sale negotiation company. And it taught me a lot after reading that book of how much better we could have been. And so I take this company now and I evaluated a lot closer to try to never allow like status quo to be acceptable.
Umar Hameed 21:11
Nice. And that question I asked you about what's the one thing you measure comes directly out of that book?
James Weiskerger 21:16
Yeah, for sure. It does.
Umar Hameed 21:18
It's a good book. Thanks so much for sitting down with me. I really enjoyed the conversation. It was a pleasure. Thank you. 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 no limit selling calm. 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.