The power of having impeccable client relations is something that can’t be underestimated in a business as fast and cutthroat as real estate. Those clients can turn on you in a heartbeat, but they can also be your biggest cheerleaders if you treat them right. Laura Hyatt is Partner and Director of Operations for Team Callahan, a Keller Williams Realty Broker. Together with Jared Orton, Laura discusses why keeping in touch with your client base, your tribe, can only bring you good results. Let Laura show you the power of having a tribe and letting it work for you.
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Building A Tribe Of Fans With Laura Hyatt
We are bringing on a cool guest for this episode. It’s going to be Laura Hyatt of Team Callahan. They’re a Keller Williams Group here in Savannah. She runs the entire operation there at Team Callahan. She is an avid learner. She is hungry. She wants to grow. They’re always reading, always trying new things. I was excited about having this conversation because they dominate this marketplace. Everyone knows Keller Williams as a global brand and does some cool things, but what Team Callahan is doing in this marketplace is remarkable. They have a small and efficient team, but they’re producing at a remarkable level.
It all comes down to they’re serving their people in a way that I believe no other real estate group is serving people. That’s why they stand out. We’ve developed a professional relationship with them over time. I had admired what they do for their people and how they create a remarkable experience for people from the time that they even think about buying a home until years after. She’s going to talk about how they’re trying to map two years after that home buying experience from day one until two years after, which I find fascinating.
There are a lot of things that can be taken away from this. You don’t have to be a real estate agent to learn something from this. Every single business needs to start mapping the journey for their customers. If you’re a real estate company and you only sell something to a customer every 5 to 7 years or even more, you can stay in a relationship with them. Continue to give them a positive experience and continue to give instead of sell. You’re going to learn that you can take things away from what real estate companies are doing and apply them to your business.
I am pumped to have you here, Laura Hyatt. She is with the Callahan Real Estate empire. The most fascinating thing you told me one time was you guys are with Keller Williams. Keller Williams is massive and always number one. In our market, the number of people that you all have on your team and the production that you guys are doing versus some of the teams that are below that and the people that they have on staff is insane. Something you guys are doing is correct and that’s what we’re going to talk about. Why do you think that you guys can succeed well with this tight and knit group team where other teams have to have all these extra people involved and can’t produce to that level?
First off, that’s who Don and I are at the core. The second thing is we are clear on who we are as an organization. We identified our mission, our vision and who the ideal team player looks like. When you do that, it’s a narrow lane. When that person comes along, they fit in well. We focused on everything we can from training, coaching, and mentoring perspective to have a team of rock stars. That’s abundance for both sides. That’s abundance for us as an organization. It’s also abundant for them to say, “I sell 60 houses a year. What do you do?”
At some point, we’re personally Bananas. We’re not experts on culture and we’re getting there. We want to go on this journey where we can feel we are creating this amazing culture. We’ll talk again in the future and we’ll say, “We’re figuring out culture. What are you guys doing on culture?” This conversation is the customer experience. We bought a house with you a couple of years ago and you have done Banana stuff and we’re neighbors. We have this thing together, but I started realizing that if you go online and search Real Estate in Savannah or whatever might come up, you’ll get a list forever and ever. The question becomes, how does one choose to go with a real estate brokerage over the next guy? It’s not on price and it’s not on because you guys have access to a different product. Everyone’s selling the same thing. Everyone’s in the same market. You are winning on experience. Give the context of where that came from, where you made that decision to say, “We’re going to win on experience.”
It’s a conscious decision to move from transactional to human. We have revamped our systems and our processes over the last couple of years to focus on humans. Everyone knows how to sell a house. If you’re in real estate, you know how to sell a house. You know how to work with a buyer to help them find their house. The minute that we start communicating house transactions, we have lost the human factor. In reality, we’re in the people business. Choosing your real estate agent or why people work with us is all because we develop relationships with them. If I develop a relationship with you, I understand you, I hear what you’re looking for in a house or to sell yours or to buy one, it doesn’t matter. I know what your goals are. Then I can show up as that consultant and say, “Here’s this field real estate that I have professional knowledge in, but I also care about you as a human and what’s going to be the best fit for you and let’s go find that.” I want to be your guide essentially.In creating relationships with clients, there's been a conscious decision to move from transactional to human. Click To Tweet
Do you feel that can sometimes take longer and is it a more slow cooker approach? The transaction is likely to come by, be done. I feel that if you take that slow cooker approach, are you feeling that’s going to pay off from for you guys on the back end over time? Is it a slower approach for you than another traditional real estate brokerage?
The timeline is the same. If I’m focused on transactions, you bought your house, I’m done, a smile later. If I focus on developing that human connection, I’m working with you and you’re like, “Sally needs to buy a house too. She’s my friend.” “You’ve got to go work with Team Callahan because they’re awesome.” Referral, we find your home, you’re happy there. Life happens. Maybe that starter home that you bought, you’re busting at the seams. A couple of years later, let’s sell that one and let’s find a home. We’re still in communication. We’re still in a relationship. On average, people move every 5 to 7 years. The idea that someone’s going to buy a house and 30 years later “paid off.” That’s not our generation anymore. People are moving that often for a variety of reasons. We want to be in communication with them for the long haul because we want to help you and we want to help people like you.
More about you guys and you’re talking about the human connection. Your customers have been the theme of what we’ve been trying to preach for a while as customers are doing the marketing. You guys don’t advertise. You don’t drive down the highway and see Team Callaghan billboard. You’re not in a newspaper. Is that something that you haven’t focused on? Has that been intentional or is that like, “We don’t need that crap anymore?”
We don’t need it. Over 60% of our business is repeat referral. I’d rather take any money that was going to be spent on advertising a billboard and reinvest that in half and we love on our people. We’re meeting with you on buyer consoles, but I’m listening to what you’re saying. I’m hearing you say that it’s important to have certain things in your home. I’m hearing you say that you love those weekend trips to the mountains. I hear you love your dog. The dog is the best thing since sliced bread. Dog’s name is Daisy.
That’s the, “Listen carefully, respond creatively.” You make a good point about reinvesting because we’ve always struggled when people ask us about the experience and that has it pay off? Sometimes it specifically pays off and we don’t advertise. We don’t spend money and waste money on traditional advertising. We take that money and invest it into the customer experience. Sometimes it’s touchy-feely, sometimes that’s not going to pay off, when we can invest in experiences for our customers and our fans. At some point, you all made the transition from doing transactional customers to people almost feeling that they’re a part of something inside this business that they’re buying a home from. The customers start doing the marketing for you. When you’re getting the referrals, what are people saying about your brand? What are they saying about Team Callahan? What was the customer saying about your experience?
In general, they’re saying that we listen, first and foremost, that we truly cared about whatever was important to them. They understand and it’s taken a bit of time, but they finally understand the team concept. Because you’re working with one specific agent on your property, we’ve got a whole team of people that are there. If we’re a family, guess who got adopted into the family? The moment that you raise your hand that you want to buy or sell. You become part of the Team Callahan family. We’re going to invite you to different events that we do throughout the year to come to take part in fun things that we’re doing. It’s to give you the opportunity to come volunteer with us. We love this town. We want to make a difference in it. If you work with us, I already got your contact info and you know who we are and you know we’re about. “You want to come with us?” It’s that personal invitation and people like that we’re truly authentic.
When you’re thinking about customer experience, have you spent more time thinking about dearing experience? I know for us we struggle post-experience. We haven’t figured that out yet. You come to our game or you buy something online from us and we’re going to give you a Thank You call. We’re going to shoot you a fun video. We’ve got that nailed down, but we’d struggle on post-experience. Where do you see that you are killing it at? Where are most of your focus going on for that journey of the customer experience?
The easiest first place is during the experience.
That would be when they’re in the buying or selling process?
Whenever we’ve gone from, “I’m thinking about it,” all the way through to its closing day. That process in real estate can be shorter as long as a human needs it to be. We’ve honed in on that first, then we started looking at the wings.
We call them transition moments.
During the process, then the next step for us was post-closing. How do we stay in a relationship with you? What do we do? How do we communicate with you? How do we stay involved? How do we send you content that you care about? What can we send you that you’re not going to hit unsubscribe? That’s the goal. How can we get you to not unsubscribe and yet, stay in the relationship? From there, we’ve looked at the frontend, those first impressions. A giant piece of poster board, we had sticky notes. We were looking at the seller process and our free orange sticky note was a step in the process or an opportunity from first impressions. There was a yellow sticky note beside it. What are we doing? What could we do? What could we do differently? There were three of us that were masterminding around that topic because an hour we only got through one column.
There are so many processes. That’s where people can get overwhelmed. Where do I even start? What we’ve tried to tell people is like, “We’ve been doing this only for five years and we take one at a time.”
It’s gradually built.
You have to gradually build because you will be overwhelmed. You’re like, “I don’t even know where to start. I got many customers to come in many ways.” I love that you mentioned that. It’s like, “Let’s just focus on the seller experience.” Where does it go from here? You’re focusing on seller experience. Where’s that next experience that you guys want to say like, “We’ve got to hone in on that?”
We’ve worked on the buyer experience. Now, we’re on the seller experience and there are all sheets come from there. What are we doing post-closing for our investor clients? What about our referral agents across the country? Who’s in business or we send business to them? All these little avenues happen. What about our clients that sell our house in Savannah move out of town? That’s a different relationship. It splinters off from that.
If someone could take something away from this, it’s narrowed down on one journey. Where does the customer come or referral agent or someone who’s in your ecosystem of business focused on that journey? Find those offshoots and say, “We can insert ourselves here.” You’re not reinventing real estate. You are still having a buyer, having a seller, showing houses, going to a lawyer, closing it. It’s still the process. There’s the traditional process. Where do you feel like you stand out the most? Let’s take the traditional real estate, ABC Real Estate Company. Where do you feel like, “We opened the doors here and let it flow on our people?”
That’s our tribe. Those are our core people that if they hear anybody is thinking of buying or selling, they’re going to knock down three people to get them to say, “You have to use Team Callahan.” These are our biggest cheerleaders. We have gone all-in with them. We read the book, Tribes, by Seth Godin. I highly recommend it. That started this whole wave of change for us. We love those people. It’s 50 people. Our goal is to get it to 100. We are intentional with our relationships and our communication with them.
If people aren’t familiar with Tribes, it’s not the business talking to the customers. It’s the people within that ecosystem who are talking sideways, vertical, up, down, back and forth. They are sharing that information. Let’s go into that a little bit more. What does the tribe look like? What makes it important? Who are those people in it? Where do they come from and how are you fostering more of that tribal mentality?
It started with, who’s our core advocates? Which is the initial list of maybe 25 or 30 people. You know your people. We sent out this big fanfare, “You’re invited. You’re a part of it,” deal. We were intentional with having breakfast. We did it every couple of months or once a quarter. “We want to reinforce this idea, this new concept that we have to go on,” also that sideways conversation. “Here’s my AC guy,” who’s in there, who knows us, who loves us, “Here’s so and so. Let’s connect them.” The number of conversations that started happening, we had to do, “Let’s go around the room and do introductions,” which feels a little awkward in the beginning. The last time we did introductions at breakfast, I got three of them were like, “Really? We all know each other.” It’s like, “We made it.” We started there. We’re intentional with who shout her name? We’re always looking to top-grade the people that are in it and we’re always looking to add people in. If you’re sending us a business or you’re the one who’s saying “Team Callahan” or you’re a great connector, there’s a good chance you’re going to get in the tribe. We are strategic with how we love you.eople don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Click To Tweet
That’s like you’re fostering it?
We do a quarterly gift that gets dropped off at their home. We used to mail them. We realize it’s cheaper to have our runner. They’re door-to-door. You have to be local. That’s one reason to be in the tribe. If you moved to Boise, sorry. We do a VIP holiday party at Don’s house. We created a couple exclusive tribe only events. You’re going to get invited to all the other stuff that we do, but there’s some stuff that’s exclusive. Membership has its privileges. You get a quarterly gift. We do two breakfasts and two Happy Hours every year and the big VIP holiday party. We’re creating opportunities for FaceTime on the people that we love. FaceTime to be able to introduce because that’s one of the best things. It’s like, “Jared, have you met so-and-so?” That’s where it all exists. It’s about us a little bit, but it’s not about us.
That’s where I felt that going. I wanted to make sure people understand that because as someone who’s experienced some of these, it is not, “Let us show you the $10 million listings that are on the market.”
It is, “I’m going to make you breakfast. Do you want to come to hang?”
We’re hanging out. We’re fun. We are casual. You’re going to like the people that we’re involved with and you mentioned whether we’re going to give back, do a community thing, clean up trash, do a beach day or we’re going to do holiday night. I have always felt like I’m going to something that I enjoy going to. Whereas in the business many times it’s like, “We got to get our customers together. We’ve got to sell them something and we’ve got to make sure that they know that we exist.” We struggle with this sometimes as well. Let’s host something that we say, “It’s for you.” How do you find that balance where you’re like, “I want to talk about us, but we’re still focusing on you?” How do you make that commitment?
It’s a little at the beginning like, “Thanks for coming.” That’s it. We’ll have maybe five minutes and over the course, if it’s a holiday party, it’s a three-hour event, you get five minutes of us. That’s it. We’re there to hang out and get to know you and have fun. “What’s going on in your life? How’s so and so? What’s up with the dog? How’re the kids?” It’s a relationship business. Honestly, I’m curious like, “What’s up?”
It’s not a forced, awkward, small talk. It is a real human connection. There’s a theme that we’ve seen in the past couple of years of this new generation of people who are the power buyers in the economy. I don’t think they buy from brands. We’re talking about buying Apple or whatever it might be, but they buy from people.
There’s a whole premise. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much he cares. What we’ve done on the backend is we’ve looked at all of our processes and systems and said, “How can we streamline those to be as efficient and productive as possible to give us more time to be human and to be more flexible with that?” When Sally’s calling in, I’m not like, “I’m busy. I can’t talk to you.” It’s like, “Sally, how is it going? What’s up?”
The day-to-day operation of buying and selling and transacting, you’ve said we’ve got to perfect the automation on that because that leaves us more time to be of good service. How far can that go?
It’s exponential. The technology is fantastic. We’re leveraging all the new technology that’s coming out to streamline or automate. We’re also careful with even automated stuff. I’m going to write it in a human tone. I’m going to write it from a human perspective. I’m also going to write it from the eye perspective. Not the ‘we’ because I want you to have a one-on-one relationship. I might write a lot of our automated emails that go out, but they may come from this team member or that team member or this one. It feels personal. I want it to feel like it’s a one-on-one conversation, not like on a newsletter.
Often, we can get caught up in automation where it’s like, “We’re going to automatically send all these reminders and we’re going to automatically send to give.” We remove the listen carefully respond creatively, “I know they have a dog or I know they did this. I know you love going to the mountains.” What percentage for you guys is everyone gets this versus like, “I got a creative idea for that one person, I’m going to go do that.” Where do you guys find that balance of automated servicing? I know it is a heartfelt purpose behind all of it. It’s not like, “We’re going to automatically send everything.” What portion is, “We plan all this out,” then how much do you leave to an agent or yourself or to anyone in the team to say, “We’ve got a special idea for them?”
Everybody who works with us gets the same amazing experience, which includes personal touches throughout and then there’s the beyond. Whenever someone feels like, “They’re all right. I did get a house or I did sell my house.” They have a great experience. We’re talking down to things like, “How do we answer the phone? Can we greet them by name?” You had to remember little things about them. “Are you excited?” We have check-ins and say, “Call this person.” You remember buying a house, there are ups and downs and whatnot, “How is it going? I want to check-in.” The whole point of the call is to be human with it because we get it. It’s an emotional process whether you’re attached to your house and you’re selling it or you’re like, “That was my first house. I’m excited and overwhelming.” Everyone gets that level and then we say, “How can we plus it?”
We look for opportunities and it’s not necessarily a strategic thing, but when your RAS, Reticular Activator System, is turned on to, “These are my people.” You start noticing what’s happening. When we’ve created this culture that says, “Little moments matter.” We pair that with RAS and we say, “Screenshot, they had a baby.” That’s when the human factor meets a system that says, “Let’s activate this system,” which we have a pretty standardized what we do for different things deal. It’s the human that says, “Can you order that?” I want to write a note. It’s that mix of humans and systems.
For you guys, how do you teach that to everyone in the operation? I’m sure not everyone has grown up in the Callahan Real Estate team. Not everyone started as an intern and work their way up. How do you teach people? We call it to listen carefully and respond creatively. It’s a cliché. We’re talking to Tersh and Julie, who own IceBound HVAC. They taught their technicians to not creep around people’s house but you’re in someone’s house, “They have two kids. They have a dog. They like the University of Georgia.” Take a few notes and send it back to us.
I’m not going to lie, stalking on Facebook is easy.
How do you teach them? You guys are leaders of the organization. You have that ownership into this team. How does everyone buy into that experiencing culture?
We’ve been able to refine our team. We’re at a place where you can make it clear that this is who we are. If you don’t have that heart of the giver and you’re not that person who’s like, “I genuinely care about people,” you’re not even going to make it in the door. That’s where we’ve gotten to. It took us a couple of years to refine that, get clear on it and be okay with saying, “This isn’t going to work anymore.”
It’s not even like, “We’re going to hire you because you’re good. By the way, we do these things.” It’s like, “We do these things and if you have the skills, that’s great but you’re looking for that. We are committed to these values.”
What we look at is for culture and skill. If you’re 100% culture with no skill, it’s not going to work. If you’re 100% skill within a culture, it’s not going to work either. It has to be a cultural fit and a skill fit.
Heart of a giver.
You can’t teach that.
No, you can’t. You can look for it. We’ve created our Fans First. We’re always caring. I always start with caring because I thought I was this touchy-feely like, “I care for you.” No, your care means something. You matter. The transaction I had with you. The car ride we took over to the house that we were looking at, my car was clean. I had a couple of water bottles in there because I care. I thought about you and I saw many posts on Facebook. I mentioned it because I care.
“I drove by your house. I sent you a text. How’s it going?”
I had to reframe that as it is not just like, “Kumbaya, everyone gets together and we care for each other.” No, you care. That’s important. I want to talk about the post buying experience. We’ve struggled with that. I know when you guys went through the workshop stuff, you guys talked about, was it the first 100 days or first year? You guys were trying to map out five years. Where is it? Where has it gotten to?
We’re about a couple of years out from closing. We’ve got it mapped out.
Take us through some of the basics of those things that happen 100 days out, 365 days out.
Some of the simple things, let’s say you bought a home. I’m going to come to check in with you a couple of days later to see how did you get moved in. How’s that going? We’re also going to have Jesse, our closing coordinator. She’s going to check in with you maybe 1 or 2 weeks later. “We’ve enjoyed working with you. I wanted to say thanks.” We’ve already teed up to ask for the review and the referral way at the beginning. We do motivation Monday. Every Monday as a team, we watch a fun motivational video. We do gratitude cards. We start our weeks with thankfulness. Maybe I want to write you a card. “I was thinking about you. It’s such a great pleasure to work with. I’m excited for you and your family and your new home,” and the name of the neighborhood deal.
We’re looking at that. It’s 1 or 3 months out, “You thought about investing? Because we care, we want you to build wealth for you and your family.” You’re settled in this idea of buying a home is over and done at any point in time. They were always available if homeownership. “I need a handyman.” We’re still there for that. Six months, we’re going to do an automated email. “Can you believe it’s been six months?” Time flies. You’d be amazed at how many people respond to that. “It was great working with you,” or, “I can’t believe it’s been six months.” There’s all of that. We’re inviting them to all the events that we are already doing.
It’s almost you’ve got different layers. The minute you work with us, you get a little tag in our CRM and you’re invited to all of these events. Depending on our relationship with you. You might get invited to these events as well, but then we have the post-closing layer that we’re checking in with you on the different things. One year later you’re going to get a cake that shows up at your house. Have it in the car like “Happy homeversary.” Some botched names. There are these chocolate lava cakes that we brand. The amount of texts we get with pictures from that is fantastic. We’re going to keep loving you. Two years, you’re going to get a card from the team “Happy second home anniversary.” Who does that? No one does that. It’s all these little layers that we’re looking at. It’s how can we automated touches versus, “It’s been about six months. Call and check-in with them.” Run them a card. We’re also looking for your birthday. We’re looking for an anniversary. We’re starting to stock you a little bit online and be like, “Happy Teacher of the year. That’s awesome.”
It means something to those people.
We love celebrating our people.
Where do you get inspiration from? It’s not from real estate professionals. Everyone has asked us where we get inspiration from. It is not from baseball teams. It might be from a cruise ship or it might be from Walt Disney World. It’s the experiences that you can create for people.
The foundation layer for us is books and podcasts. We have developed this culture on our team that we are readers. We read a book together as a team every week. We’re talking about whatever section of that book and brainstorming off of that. In addition, our closing coordinator and I read a separate book together. That is more focused on culture and client experience, where the book we read together as a team is more about habits and how we can show up the best possible way for our people. Everyone’s listening podcasts, we’re always sharing ideas and we flat out tell people, “If you see another organization or the real estate team, an ad that you like anywhere, take note and bring it back.” Seven sets of eyes are better than one. Everyone’s always looking for how can we do it better? The operations department is always having little pow-wows. Our little instant messenger is back and forth like “Idea.” We’ve created this culture that nothing’s off-limits. It might be like, “Great idea. Not now,” but nothing is off-limits.
Sometimes I feel like we get lots of ideas and no implementation.
I’m not a good implementer.
Is that you? Are you an implementer or are you idea and implementation? I feel many different people in different businesses are like, “I love the idea but don’t know how to do it, or you’re telling me what to do and I’ll go out and do it.” How do you manage that like, “We’ve got this parameter of the customer, client experience,” but then like, “Who puts it into play? How does it get into play? Where does it happen?”
I spearhead all that. I am the ‘get it done’ girl. I also have that creative brain. It’s a weird mix of stuff. When it’s the right thing, I’ll make it happen in a heartbeat. Game on, let’s go. The grass is not growing. If it’s like, “I like it, it needs some more thought.” I’ll sit over here on the side burner. We’ll revisit it until we can formulate that out or, “Great idea, but we’re in the middle of the event season. Let’s hold that.” We have a lot of things going, but if it’s like, “That’s simple,” or we’d be fools not to do that. Game on, let’s go and let’s make it happen. I might drag some of the people from the team in to help execute that. At the end of the day, it’s my job to make it happen.The goal is to always stay in front of the wave. Click To Tweet
Moving forward, how do you take the next step? The struggle we’ve had is we’ve been in business for several years. You are one of those people, you have been to our games five years in a row and you’ve had the same experience. You’ve had a game, you’ve had a hospitality area and you’ve come, you’ve had food. How do you plus it? I hope it never happens, but at some point, if the experience does this, it probably in people’s mind goes lower. Our thinking is when people come out, especially those people that are in year four, year five, we want them to leave and say, “You wouldn’t believe it. It got better.” I don’t know how it happened, but it got there. They did this or they changed this. For you, are you afraid that you could get in this cycle of, “We have parties and nobody gives.” What are those things that you’re like, “One more step forward?” Are you guys there yet?
After every event that we do, we have debriefed. “What do we want to do next time?” What was a flop and what was the, “We should never do that again?” We threw out our first-holiday party for our VIPs a couple of years ago and wondered why there was much food left? We forgot to put out serving spoons. How are you going to get a dip out of the bowl without a spoon? After everything, you revisit that and you say, “What works? What didn’t work?” We document it. Write it down somewhere so that we’re not at a year later being like, “How did we do that? We did something.” We’re intentional. We’re also intentional with, “That whole event was a flop, let’s maybe not do that ever again.” I don’t want to force it. If it’s like, “It’s fantastic.” We did a happy hour in the spring. It’s amazing and fantastic.
Bar tab crazy. How do we open the bar? How do we create this similar experience with a way lower price? “I got my $14 drink.” We’ve said “Happy hour. Great idea.” Some people can’t come to our tribe breakfast. Happy hour for us is that nice medium between the tribe and generally met. These our tribe plus. Let’s do a happy hour, but let’s do it at Don’s house and let’s do tacos because tacos are fun. Who doesn’t want tacos? We have taco night at Don’s courtyard, which is super simple. We’re going to bring in some catered tacos and call it a day, pick up some drinks. It’s not about the event, it’s an excuse to talk to somebody.
It’s always about how can you plus it or I know that we write these cards, but what if we changed this word? Do you know how we show up and do this? What if we got a little bit more proactive and we’ve made that phone call over here? What if we checked in with them midway through the process and see how it’s going? If there are any bumps, we have the opportunity to smooth and overcome them rather than waiting until the end of the process and be like, “Except for that thing.” You can’t fix the past, it’s done. We’re doing those midway check-ins, “How are you feeling? Are you overwhelmed? Are you stressed? What’s going on?” “The roofer. Got it. Let me see what I can do about that.” It’s being okay with always evaluating. It’s being okay we drop in what doesn’t work. It’s being okay with how can we make it better? For our tribe holiday party, which is our ultimate experience, every detail matters.
Have you ever tried something that you were like, “This is the best idea ever,” and then realize getting into it, you were like, “This is off-brand and the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish, we should never do it?” It made sense. It was a good business idea. It might have made some money.
Friends and family day. We’re going to invite all of our clients to come out to the park. We’re going to rent a park in Savannah and we have to get the police officer to come out. That’s the level we’re at. There’s going to be booze and there are going to be bounce houses, activities and the face painter, all these things. It’s going to be awesome. It was hauling this janky 10×10 tents, running this, running that. The 27 people that came were broken, little karaoke ideal. It was miserable.
It’s because you got outside our lane.
That’s why we love doing stuff here because our lane is saying, “You’ve got a good event going on. How can I plug and play?” We’ve simplified our events.
That hits me hard because we got the same. We did the thing where we were like, “We are an event planner.” In baseball, we’re an event planner. We can do anything here. We can do everything. Let’s do food trucks. Let’s do concerts, let’s do pumpkin pageants. Let’s do everything and we kill ourselves. It wasn’t nobody showed up. People came and they asked us, “When’s baseball season? We’re excited about baseball season.” We were like, “Why are we doing this?” People don’t love us for this. People don’t love us because we are running food truck festivals and running haunted houses. They love us because we put on a great experience for Bananas. You can have these crazy ideas and they can sound good and then you get in them and you’re like, “We are far outside of the line.” People don’t love us for running these festivals. They love us because we can create fun, unique experiences. For you, it seems like you guys can create experiences within that journey of the fan that says, “This is natural for us.”
The easiest way we did this is we made our mission statement, “Have fun, give back.”
Was there any reason that one thing hit first, second or third?
Houses hit first because it wasn’t real estate. Have fun because we’re a team and a family. We want to have fun together and to give back because that’s who we are in our core. We decided that everything that we do has to fit in one of those three buckets. If it doesn’t, it’s not worth doing. If we can’t bend it into one of these buckets, it’s not worth it. We did a team retreat that we had a big brainstorm session. We spent an hour and we had a big white tab with words up on the wall. It was like, “Sell houses, have fun, give back.” What are your ideas? Let’s go brainstorm.
We have our Idea Paloozas and there are no bad ideas, but they have to fit into these things. It can’t be like, “We’re going to tear down the stadium and build a Bananas.” It got to fit into, is it Fans First? I don’t think people have enough ideas. You’ve got to be constantly coming up with ideas because at some point in 3 to 5 years, you’re going to look back and you’re going to be doing the same thing over and over again.
We talked about the wave. Our goal is always to stay in front of the wave, which means we have to be constantly evolving, constantly redoing what we’re doing. If it’s advertising, what worked six months ago doesn’t work anymore. If it’s the ultimate client experience, we started doing something and here comes this wave of competitors. We want to stay above the crest and we stay ahead of the crest. You always have to be moving forward. You can’t get complacent. The minute you get complacent is the minute that someone says, “Thanks, somebody works with this person.”
How often do you feel like you’re going to have to reinvent? Is it three years? Is it every six months? Is it every day?
We do it on a daily basis. It’s part of our culture of who we are that if a system or a process does it work, if how we’re communicating doesn’t work or if a big event, let’s figure how to fix it.
Which is the beauty of a small business who can make speedboat decisions. You’re not a cruise ship. You’re not making why to turn to this like, “It doesn’t work. Fix it. Break it off, go the next direction.”
We realize, one of our systems was not working for lead capture and we’re like, “That’s not going to work. How do I fix it?” Thirty minutes later, some Google searches and some play around stuff and I was like, “Idea, bounce it off. People, what do you think? Yes, that sounds good.” We tested it out. It works. We did the whole mock-up and send it to be printed out.
Last question, if you had a magic wand and you could create one off-the-wall, unbelievable, ridiculous, mind-bending experience for one of your customers, what would you do?
It would have to be something extremely personal. That’s the first thing. It would have to be something that says, “I hear you. I see you and what you’re doing is amazing. We want to support you in that.” However that shows up, shows up.
I love personal. I love that it’s celebrating. In my opinion, you guys don’t celebrate yourselves much. You tell your story. Your first thought goes to make it personal and make it about them. Celebrate something they’re already doing and then bring it to life.
We love being a platform and using our voice, whether that was 1 or 2 years ago. When the Coast guard had their whole thing with the government shutdown, former teammate, the husband is a Coast guard. She sends a text and said, “Here’s what’s going on,” on a real-life basis. When she’s like, “It might be a great opportunity for you to use your platform.” We’re like, “Okay.” In 30 minutes, we had this whole idea mapped out, executed, gone. It’s basically, “This sucks, what’s going on?” We invite you as the community. Every dollar you raise will match it. It went viral and it was not about us. It was about, we see this thing. We have someone who said, “Here’s a way that you can help.” We said, “We’ll speak that way. You can help louder.” The Girl Scouts came to us and they were like, “Could we use your What’s Up Wednesday Facebook Live for our community pantry?” We’re like, “Sure, let’s go.” However we can be a voice to make the community know about different things or allow and invite neighbors to help neighbors, that’s what we’re about.
You guys are standing out. You guys are doing great things for Savannah. You guys are creating great experiences for your customers, and then they’re becoming lifelong fans. They are talking about you. They are sharing the message. More people are coming in. It’s becoming Fans First.
We love that. That’s our goal. We put our clients first.
Thanks for hanging out with me. I appreciate it. Go, Bananas.
I hope you were able to get a sense of the theme, similar to what I got out of that conversation, which was human experience moving from transactional to human. The notion that we do business with people we trust and that’s humans. As good as processes, systems, technology and all that can be. There still has to be a human element of that experience. While technology can trigger those things to happen for people along the customer journey, it takes the human element of that empathy and that notion that you want to surprise someone. You want to wow someone. It takes that human element to make it pop. I was fascinated throughout the whole conversation. She kept saying “human.” It reminds me that we’re in business to do business with other humans.
The second thing was that she and their team look for people that have the heart of a giver. Not 100% skills, but also not 100% culture. It’s someone who has the customers’ experience in mind. That’s not if you’re buying or selling homes, that’s their operations team, their listing team, their finance team, and their admin team. They are building a culture of people who are focused on the customer experience. What we’re realizing as we go through these conversations and learn about more companies and self-reflect on ourselves, is that even though you might not have a customer-facing job or role, your duty is to delight the customer. You have to wow the customer.
You’ve got to rethink yourself and your role. Maybe you’re not dealing with customers every single day, but how can you impact the customer in a positive way that wows them, that enhances their experience, that gives them one of those you wouldn’t believe moments or you wouldn’t believe ideas. That’s powerful. To think about a real estate company and a real estate brokerage where there are real estate offices on every single corner of the neighborhood, town in America. Whether it’s your town or my town, real estate is a dime a dozen industry. These people, this team, the Callahan Team, Laura and their people are winning on experience. They’re selling the same houses as everyone else. They’re dealing with the same listings. They’re dealing with the same market conditions. They’re dealing with the same prices, but they are winning on experience. That’s a powerful thing. Continue to remember that you don’t have to be a crazy baseball team. You can be a real estate office, you can be in HVAC. You can be an eCommerce and you can be in any business and do amazing things for the customer.
Thanks again for reading. You can always visit us at FansFirstU.com. We’ve got a lot of cool things coming up. Our workshops are being launched. Three workshops, immersive Fans First Experience workshops led by myself, Jesse, Emily and Marie. We’re going to be ramping up those. One of them is already sold out. There are two of those still available for people to join in. Check those out on the website and continue to read the blog. We will talk to you soon.
About Laura Hyatt
Laura Hyatt is Partner and Director of Operations for Team Callahan, a Keller Williams Realty Broker. She has been licensed in Real Estate since 2007 and plays a key role in the growth and direction of Team Callahan. Laura is a member of the highly-esteemed Keller Williams MAPS Mastery group. Team Callahan is consistently a top performer in their market and it is obviously due in part to their pride in the client experience.
What sets Laura and Team Callahan a part is their focus on building a Tribe of clients where relationships can be built not to just benefit the business, but to benefit the client well beyond the purchase of a home.