For many years, Liz envisioned the perfect real estate company….a brokerage where all the greatest agents want to work, and where the business is solidly and predictably built on word of mouth referrals from loyal past clients and personal acquaintances. In 2001, she decided to make that vision a reality. Realizing that it would be near impossible to totally transform her existing traditional real estate office into her ideal model, Liz set to work writing a business plan that started totally from scratch. She traveled extensively for several years, researching what were heralded as the best and the brightest brokerages across the country.
She was disappointed. She was disappointed that from the West Coast to the North East, most real estate companies looked alike. Wherever she went, she found business as usual…very little vision…hardly any passion for customer service or innovative ideas. Marketing was at best ho-hum…in fact, there was so little distinction between companies that one could easily erase one firm’s logo in an ad and substitute another and no one would notice.
Convinced that there was a better way to practice real estate, and that timing was right for an enlightened boutique brokerage, Liz enlisted the guidance of Dyan Dobbyn, one of the nation’s leading business development consultants. Under her guidance, 10,000 local families were surveyed about their real estate experiences over the past five years. One message was loud and clear: too many families had one unfortunate experience in common…frustrating and costly last minute surprises and expenses which made the overall real estate experience highly stressful.
The mission became clear: to develop a real estate company that truly reinvented the process, empowering consumers and agents alike with up front information and more control. So, with the help of long time friend and colleague, local attorney Brian D. Lytle, Liz set to work to create a business plan for the perfect real estate company.
The firm would partner with an on-site appraiser, to provide a full mortgage appraisal to sellers at time of listing, as well as an NAHI-certified home inspector and a bonded exterminator, to conduct thorough property inspections before the home is put on the market. These services would be provided free to the consumer. With peace of mind for clients as the goal, these up front services would enable sellers to rest easy that once they negotiate price and terms with a potential buyer, they no longer need to fear the unknown: low appraisals, or costly unexpected repairs. Fewer surprises, less stress.
Interestingly, by launching a plan to deliver to the customer what they wanted, the ideal marketing platform was born…Real Estate. Reinvented. Unique competitive advantage in the market would be established by offering a level of customer service that had never before been seen in real estate. Looking for a distinct and highly boutique image for the new firm, Liz exhausted literally dozens of ad agencies before she found one who “got it.” She hired Dixon Partners out ofTampa,Florida, who works closely with agents and staff alike to create high impact and meaningful ad concepts and marketing materials for the firm.
Next, it was time to build the internal strategy ~ to design the perfect brokerage from the inside out, setting in motion the systems and resources that would allow agents to deliver exceptional customer service. Liz and Brian hired an architect and interior designer who were charged with creating a state of the art office environment that would “wow” customers and optimize efficiencies for agents. Custom software was developed to give agents more control of the process, as well as administrative systems to track production and provide an infrastructure of contact management resources for the agents.
Freed from the issues associated with transforming an existing brokerage, Liz was able to focus solely on designing the perfect real estate company. Onerous tasks such as direct mail and creation of marketing brochures would be taken over by the company, freeing up the agent’s time to focus on dealing directly with customers. A system was designed to insure that past clients are contacted frequently, a critical step in synchronizing consistent referral business.
Recognizing that the right relationships are everything, Liz and Brian decided to partner with Liz’s former employer, William E. Wood and Associates. This enabled them to transition many of the top agents and staff from her existing office into the new company smoothly, rather than the inevitable chaos that would result from the exit of a top manager.
William E. Wood and Associates’ President Dick Thurmond was delighted to lend the larger company’s name and venture capital to the new brokerage. Recognizing the opportunity to explore emerging industry trends and incubate new business ideas in an environment which lends itself to innovation, and wanting to preserve an ongoing relationship with Liz and her agents, it made sense for William E. Wood to partner with and support the new venture.
A key component to the new model is the ability to deliver a seamless real estate experience to the consumer, a feat which can only be accomplished within the framework of a great team of affiliates. The best partners for mortgage, settlement services, home inspection, and appraisal were identified, courted, and easily sold on the vision for a true one stop shop.
Liz chose 5 of the area’s leading mortgage companies as partners, based on competitive pricing, a wide variety of mortgage products, and track records of excellent client service. All five mortgage companies agreed to waive junk fees and offer free credit reports to Liz Moore & Associates’ clients. In addition to those savings, working with a select group of lenders will allow a streamlined process, and solving problems and improving service becomes far easier than in a typical real estate environment.
Unlike the industry norm, agents are commissioned employees, as opposed to independent contractors. This enables the brokerage to offer a wider range of benefits, such as 401K’s and company participation in health insurance, than what is available to most real estate agents through their existing firms. A major incentive is the opportunity for the agents to participate in the profits of the brokerage…in Liz’s mind, a key component of a truly win-win company.
Finally, it was time to execute. Liz began a series of interviews to select the inaugural sales and administrative team. Recognizing that change is difficult for even the most confident salespeople, Liz was uncompromising in her vision. Agents were selected based on their willingness to put self interests secondary to those of the consumer, to commit to lofty goals for learning and professional development, and to set new standards in the industry for professionalism and customer service.
Determined to move in to the new building before Christmas, 32 agents and 5 administrative staff set up shop at11801 Canon Boulevardon December 19th, 2003. They lacked final city inspections (and running water!), but team spirit was high, and the group was anxious to begin “reinventing real estate.”
By the end of their second full year, in one of the most competitive markets ever experienced on the Peninsula, Liz Moore & Associates was ranked as the #1 office in overall sold volume.In the Fall of 2005, the company opened its first branch office, in the New Town section of Williamsburg. Two years later, a new 12,000 square foot building was completed to house the rapidly growingWilliamsburgoffice.
Recognizing that clients were hungry for the Liz Moore commitment to client service in other real estate pursuits, Liz also launched Property Management and Commercial Services in 2005, and 2006 respectively. In 2006, Liz was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
What does the future hold for the real estate industry? Who knows? One thing is clear, however; Liz Moore & Associates will be leading the market to the next level. Visit Liz at www.lizmoore.com.
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