Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine. In addition to writing print and online articles, Erica oversees the magazine's Broker to Broker content, co-manages the 30 Under 30 program, and manages the YPN Lounge. Connect with her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Thrive After Rebranding
Learn how the top ERA team in the country did more business after getting a new name and adding new faces.
August 4, 2016
Becky Babcock knows what it’s like to survive a rebranding.
After joining ERA Sunrise Realty just north of Atlanta in 2003, Babcock built a high-producing, successful real estate team. In fact, the Becky Babcock Team grew to become the number one ERA team in the country. But soon, even with the added help of the team structure, Babcock had more business than she could handle.
In 2013, she decided to partner with agent Brad Nix, who took on the role of team managing director, and she launched a significant rebranding when she was at the top of her game. “I was working 70 to 80 hours per week and needed someone to help manage prospects and procedures,” she says.
Babcock sat down in front of a whiteboard and wrote out hundreds of words and phrases that describe her team and embody its spirit. And after a series of eliminations, she narrowed the list down to three that Babcock says are the foundation of her business: respect, unity, and the Golden Rule. The process helped the team spell out its core values as the rebranding process took place.
“We’re trying to bring back the value of respect. Even if you don’t agree with someone, you need to respect them,” Babcock says. “Unity is everyone on our team working toward the goal for the client. And the Golden Rule is our desire to do unto others and our pay-it-forward attitude. It fits how everyone on our team works.”
Next, Babcock focused on her team’s name change. “I didn’t want it to be all about me, because we have a strong team of people who contribute to our results,” she says. Because Babcock sees herself and her team members as guides for their clients who are traveling the path toward buying or selling a home, she decided on the name Path & Post.
When real estate companies and teams take on a significant rebranding, there are always concerns that business will suffer or they’ll lose their identity and name recognition. But for Babcock, she couldn’t have imagined it going any better.
In 2015, she and Nix saw a 35 percent year-over-year increase in properties sold, going from 208 to 280, with an average sales price of about $235,000. Today, her six buyer’s agents and three listing agents consistently close on about 30 to 35 homes per year. Babcock credits the growth to staying true to their core values while focusing on cultivating the team’s customer-centric business model. They strive to enrich their clients’ lives, she says.
After the rebranding, Babcock started blogging about the experiences they’ve had with clients and their core values. Telling those stories, she says, has helped the team attract more clients.
They also started to focus on understanding the underlying life transition each one of their clients is facing. “Everyone buying or selling is going through a major life event. We take a deeper dive into the reason why they’re moving so that we can customize their experience,” Babcock says.
For example, a family with six home-schooled children will have very different needs and motivations than a woman who recently lost her spouse. Collaboration and communication within the team has to be top-notch, Babcock says, in order to customize services and meet the needs of every client.
Path & Post’s customer-centric culture landed them ERA’s Top All-Around Sales Team and National Excellence in Service awards this spring. “We do focus on customer service, but we also give team members work-life balance, and our team is a great model for that,” Babcock says.
When it comes to bringing on new agents, Babcock and Nix are selective; they don’t want just anyone, and they’re not out to grow simply for the sake of growing. “We prefer people with experience, who can appreciate the value and marketing we bring to agents on the team,” she says.
Babcock and Nix lead monthly meetings with team-building experiences and off-site lunches. They also spend a lot of time affirming good work, giving shout-outs to all team members to show their appreciation. Babcock has a Google Drive folder where she’s continually adding motivational and team-building materials, which she references at their monthly meetings. She also makes a point to check in with every team member one-on-one each week.
Good daily habits have also contributed to Babcock’s success. She reviews numbers for the whole team and individual members every day and tracks their web analytics to identify what content is drawing page views and engagement. The team uses Boomtown for its CRM, and she often has the app open on her phone. She uses Geckoboard to track transactions, which she can also view through an app. Babcock can be found reading her Flipboard and Twitter feeds or perusing the Harvard Business Review. She calls herself a voracious reader, and she’s often taking classes to stay up-to-date on the latest real estate trends.
Babcock says they’ve also hired the right help. One of their admins is a transaction coordinator who oversees contract-to-close, and the other is in charge of marketing.
“I want to focus on our team and growing, as long as we can deliver the same kind of client experience that we do now,” she says.