This is part of an ongoing series on the power of the outside perspective for mortgage leaders. Today’s post features real estate agent Kenny Klaus, who spoke at our recent Masters' Coach event in Santa Barbara.
Before Kenny Klaus was a real estate agent, he worked for 13 years delivering packages for FedEx. And during his tenure, he discovered that the better you know your route, the better you know your clients — and the better you can serve them.
So when Klaus was building his real estate career, he designed what he calls his “realtor route.” He made friends with everybody and every business in the area; he learned about the houses, the schools, the principals, even the football coaches. Equipped with this firsthand knowledge of his community, he launched a monthly newsletter to help keep the folks in his “realtor route” in the know (and thus stay top-of-mind for when it came time for one of them to buy or sell a home).
Today, Klaus is a certified residential specialist, a certified distressed property specialist, an accredited buyer rep and a certified local market expert in Phoenix. His career began with one subdivision of 1,700 homes and has now grown to approximately 35,000 homes with dedicated agent routes.
He’s known for being a guy who can recognize shifts, who has a knack for getting ahead of industry disruptors and who’s “always looking where the puck is going next.”
We invited Klaus to share his insights at our recent Masters’ Coach event in Santa Barbara. Here are some key takeaways from his question-and-answer session with Executive Coach Todd Bookspan.
Don’t Let Tech Come Between You and Your Clients
“Right now our industry is pivoting hard right with technology,” Klaus says. Too many in the industry are allowing technology to get in the way of serving their clients.
Instead, we should look at technology as an opportunity to deliver great experiences and relationships. If we aren’t creating an experience that our clients can’t help but tell their friends about — or worse, if we’re delivering a service that a robot could do — we’re going to be in big trouble.
It’s up to every individual; tech is either going to control you or you’re going to use tech as a tool to stay in better relationship. A good rule of thumb is: use tech to automate the reminder for the touch, but not the client touch itself.
Guide Your Clients Through the Journey
It’s easy to forget that for some clients it’s been two, seven, maybe even ten years since they’ve bought a new house. Avoid the pitfalls of letting automation make your job easier. Anybody can email a loan application link, but what counts is how you guide your clients through the process.
Klaus says every client conversation should end with, “And here’s what’s next.” We should always be leading our clients through the process.
Learn from Disruptors
Zillow’s iBuyer Program is a hot industry disruptor right now. Zillow found a pain point in the real estate transaction: clients didn’t like having to get their house ready to go to market. These clients said, “If I can have a buyer who will just buy it in the condition it’s in for a reasonable price, I’m going to sell.”
At first, Klaus says, it seemed like this model would never work — how could it scale? One year later, it’s in about 20 cities across the country.
Rather than getting intimidated by this grab in the market, Klaus says we have to look honestly at what’s disrupting the status quo. What’s Zillow’s iBuyer Program teaching us? That the consumer wants this; that what the consumer ultimately wants is ease.
So, how will you respond when something starts challenging your status quo?
Get There First
Don’t let a good market lull you into thinking it’s time to get comfortable. When you do that, you let other people influence your clients, Klaus says. That’s your job!
Instead, get to the clients first to tell them the value of their home and what’s happening in the market. Rather than reacting, aim to lead the conversation.
Focus on Client “After-Care”
We can’t let price be the only differentiator between us and the competition. Klaus isn’t too concerned about Zillow or Quicken because he has “foot soldiers” — real people on the ground meeting with other people, developing relationships.
Right now, Klaus says he’s focusing on “after-care” — serving clients long after they’ve bought a home. If a client buys a house that needs repairs, his team offers to keep that home maintained and serviced. He has a program in the works for annual inspections as well. This way, when the homeowner decides it’s time to sell, they’ll have a house version of Carfax where it’s shown the history of the property, when the air conditioning has been serviced, etc. That’s how Klaus is innovating and taking his client service to the next level.
He says when people know you care about them at a deeper level, they’ll stay in relationship with you and will be more apt to send referrals. After all, if Klaus’s team can take care of 500 people at that level, that’s a built-in sales team.
What’s Your Takeaway?
After reading these ideas, do you feel inspired to find ways to disrupt the mortgage industry? How are you using tech in 2019 to connect and build relationships?
What do you think we could do differently in the mortgage industry to take clients out of circulation and turn them into raving fans?