One Call Led to a Great Path for Debra Schmidt

Ms. Debra Schmidt

Debra Schmidt, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate of Steele County was working in marketing for a glass manufacturer when she realized a desire that’s pretty common to parents of younger children: she wanted a job that offered more flexibility so she could better tend to the needs of her school aged daughters. As luck would have it, a family friend owned a real estate office and  invited Debra to work for him.

Debra quickly decided to become a licensed real estate agent. Two years later the Broker decided to sell his business and Debra went for her Broker’s license herself. After researching several options, she opted to buy a Help-U-Sell franchise. “It was an easy decision,” Debra explained, “I love houses and I love looking at them. With real estate, you have the flexibility to create your own schedule and earn as much you want. The sky is the limit.”

Having worked for a traditional real estate company previously, Debra better appreciates the differences in having a Help-U-Sell Real Estate franchise. “The coaching groups are a boon. I’m in the Master Minds group (for the top producing brokers). The brokers are friends who want to see other people succeed. The support team at corporate is on point when it comes to problem solving. It’s an organization with integrity and I am proud to be a part of it,” Debra shared.

Over the last 18 years, Debra has seen a lot of positive changes come to Help-U-Sell regarding upgrades to the marketing materials and tools offered. “The websites were just upgraded within the last year to be adaptive to all viewing devices. The Arounds postcard program has been around for a long time, but the technology they’ve implemented more recently definitely makes it easier to use and more precise to target your audience. They just introduced a new FSBO program. There is always something in the works – a constant evolution towards making things better, which I appreciate,” Debra added.

Of all the tools available at the ready to make marketing easier, Debra and her team (consisting of an office manager and a full time agent) agree that nothing beats providing excellent customer service. “When we list or sell a house, we treat those clients as customers for life. We send them an item of value every month in the mail. It could be tax advice during the month of April, spring cleaning tips, or a great marinade for grilling in July. We aim to make it relevant and timely,” she said. Her team also taps into the database another way by implementing “pop bys”. This could mean bringing by a pie, or a box of chocolates – something small but meaningful that helps keep Debra and her team top of mind.

This strategy is working well for them, as not only is Debra’s team is on track to complete about 107 transactions this year, they are getting more business than their local competition in Owatonna, Minnesota. “60 to 70% of our business comes from referrals, so we’re going to keep doing what works,” Debra explained. “We’re also about giving back to our community, too. We’re getting involved with the Diabetes Association as I have a grandchild with juvenile diabetes, so we plan to participate in the walk at the Mall of America. But anyone who walks into our office and asks for our support in person, I will support them, too. Little league, Relay for Life, soccer teams – so long as they come in!”

Having spent a few decades in the real estate business, Debra offered this advice to anyone contemplating breaking into real estate:

  • Keep in touch with your clients throughout the year
  • Do a good job
  • Be timely in all things – responses, appointments, paperwork
  • Make your clients feel appreciated

“There are a lot of good agents out there, so you have to go above and beyond to making a lasting impression,” Debra offered, “Hard work and Help-U-Sell make that more achievable.”

Disruption as a Path to Success for David Bartels

David Bartels, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty
Broker/Owner David Bartels of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty

43 years ago, Help-U-Sell Real Estate began as an industry disruptor by offering home sellers a way to save thousands of dollars with a set-free commission structure. David Bartels, the Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty, has such an impressive history with being a disruptor himself, you could say he disrupts as a way of life, and it has served him well.

Initially, David worked in the automotive industry, and was recruited to California where he conducted training that taught car salespeople how to provide a better experience for car buyers. This completely overhauled how cars were sold, and created a new industry standard. David’s career in disruption was born. In 2004, David had an ”ah-ha!” moment when he was trying to refinance a mortgage. He thought, “This is worse than buying a car.” So he created his own software solution, started conducting training and proving that his model was closing more leads into loans. He caught the attention of the largest provider of mortgage documents in the industry and sold the company.

When the market crashed, David transitioned into helping people facing foreclosures in 2009. David Bartel’s loan modification assistance company was charging no upfront fees, and no charges levied unless the loan was approved. Over 18 months, the company lost a million dollars. Rather than turn people away, he sent a letter to clients stating they were still committed to helping folks avoid foreclosure. “Morally, I didn’t want to quit,” David shared. That moment led to David ushering in his first short sale transaction, and the founding of Home Loan Advocates. He was conducting so many seminars on short sales transactions, he caught the attention of the folks at Help-U-Sell Real Estate and David was invited to present at the annual sales meeting being held that year in Irvine, California.

That talk in 2012 led to David’s company becoming a resource for Help-U-Sell Real Estate, working with several of the offices with clients that needed short sale transaction help. “At this point, I didn’t have my real estate license yet, let alone a franchise. But when the market shifted away from foreclosures to people who had marginal equity in their homes, it became clear to me that more people would have a need for this type service. So I got my real estate license and broker’s license and became a franchisee,” David said. “Help-U-Sell’s history of market disruption and business model was a great fit for me.”

The relationship between David Bartels and Help-U-Sell Real Estate was a mutually beneficial one for certain. During his first year in 2013, he closed 10 transactions. In 2014, that number jumped to 39, then 53. In 2017 David’s office and his team of 11 people closed 70 transactions. “We place a lot of emphasis on marketing with a message centered on disruption. Our favorite new slogans are:  ‘Progressive. Different. Better. ’ and ‘Where we pay for your move when you buy with us!’ People are responding to it, but the secret to our success is, we run the same processes every single day. The repetition of our marketing in its various forms works incrementally.”

In addition to providing great service and savings to home sellers, David worked hard to create a strong differentiation in the marketplace by developing a panoply of value-added services available to both buyers and sellers. David went on to explain, “We provide 4 hours of free handy man services to both buyers and sellers, we offer free use of our moving truck, and free use of our legal services before, during and after the home buying/selling process. Additionally, if you bought a house through us, we offer you a satisfaction guarantee that’s hard to beat. If you decide you don’t like the house you bought within 12 months, we will sell that house for free and help you buy another house. We are committed to offering a better than full service experience.”

In spite of being quite busy, David still makes time to participate in the Help-U-Sell coaching groups. “I find the coaching groups enormously helpful. The chance to bounce around ideas and reason things out with other franchisees creates a team of supporters that feels more like family than competitors. When I started, I had no idea how to list or market a house. The coaching groups gave me the space to ask any question early on, and some of the things we develop in those groups ends up having a positive impact company wide.”

Yet there are still new things on the horizon for David Bartels and his team. “Our new website just got put up, a new FSBO program was just introduced by the corporate Help-U-Sell Real Estate office, and I am looking forward to seeing how our sales are going to be positively impacted by both. We’re growing sales and revenue every year. I’m very clear on what we’re doing and why it is working. My goal is dominate this market.”

Spoken like a true disruptor.

Soaring with the Eagles – Richard Cricchio Clinches Q1 2018

Richard Cricchio
Richard Cricchio, Owner & Broker of Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties.

A few months ago, we published a Broker Spotlight on Richard Cricchio, who had a great 2017 with his office, Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties. Little did we know that he would also be topping out the first quarter of 2018!

At Help-U-Sell, we use a specific word to describe the Broker/Owners who are achieving top numbers at the end of every month, quarter, and year: Eagles.

Richard Cricchio has been soaring in our midst for quite some time now, and recently bringing in sales numbers for 2017 that were 51% higher than the previous year. His office is also the strongest performing brokerage for the first quarter of 2018; needless to say we’re impressed. While the coaches at Help-U-Sell encourage goal setting, growth plans, change-ups and evaluations in marketing strategies and continually evolving business plans, even we have to admit such a substantial increase has our full attention. We chatted with Richard recently to find out more about what was he was doing that was translating into success.

Can you tell us about your impressive recent growth?

“I spent some time working for other real estate companies before making the leap to Help-U-Sell in 2000. I was initially operating on a shoe string budget and credit cards until all the pieces fell into place. Once the marketing efforts were in full force and my presence was made known on the island, business started picking up. Honolulu is a niche market, so that helps.

Last year was tough because I was out for a bit, but my team made it happen and put in a ton of work – far more than I could do on my own. I give them credit, they were out there hustling for the business. I wouldn’t be where I am if it was just me and one agent. Having a mix of different personalities enables us to always have someone who will work well with any client who comes through our door. By no means could I do it alone, but whatever the situation or obstacle, I am always determined to make it work.”

How has Help-U-Sell Real Estate been beneficial to your profit and revenue growth?

“First and foremost is the national brand recognition of Help-U-Sell Real Estate. I’ve been here for 18 years. There are many, many people who move here from other states – military folks, retirees, people who have fallen in love with the area from a vacation or a convention – they are bringing some of that brand awareness with them. So in combination with my consistent output in marketing in the various forms: the Arounds postcards program, radio/TV and billboard advertising, local magazines, ad walls, the Ala Moana shopping center – I end up employing a little bit of everything. Constant exposure in small doses ensures people remember me when they need me.”

Do you have a Competitive advantage and how so?

“Certainly. The number of years I have been here helps. The market here can be fickle to change and it is important to people that you’re not a fly-by-night outfit or one of these Help-U-Sell “copy catters”. Because we’re a part of a national franchise with some significant longevity as a company, people ultimately feel more comfortable with us and trust us because they know we’re going to be here for them through the entire process. Success doesn’t happen overnight. For example, when you hear of a new band making it big, they’re often asked about attaining instant success, which is ridiculous. Usually they’ve been toiling for years getting their name out there until they catch a break. Building your business is similar. Nothing is instant, but if you’ve been working hard the whole time, you’re ready when you break out big.”

Do you find the Marketing and Technology System time-saving and effective?

“The purpose of technology is supposed to make certain functions easier, but the additional exposure eventually makes more work; So you’re going to be busy one way or another, and I’d rather have more time to be out there selling. The marketing technology is working quite well, so I’ve gotten busier and I’m out there selling more and closing more transactions. As a result, I brought in someone else to help with that, but it does make things more streamlined for us as office.

How does the Help-U-Sell Real Estate system help you overcome a tight inventory environment?

“Name recognition and that constant presence in a multitude of marketing efforts goes a long way. It creates more incoming phone calls from people looking to save money, and we more easily get our foot in the door. You have to be in front of them when they’re ready.”

Climb the Ladder 1st Quarter 2018





It’s no surprise that Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties is making the top of the list again. Richard Cricchio and his team are really having a tremendous start to 2018.

Patrick Wood and his Help-U-Sell Prestige Team also are having a great first quarter, along with Jack Bailey of Help-U-Sell Greensboro, and Mario Ferrante at Help-U-Sell Metropolitan. Congratulations to everyone in our top…eleven! Thanks to a three-way tie .

Office Q1 Sales
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties 47
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties 30
Help-U-Sell Greensboro 29
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan 29
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate 26
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty 24
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty 22
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty 19
Help-U-Sell Central Properties 16
Help-U-Sell Legacy 16
Help-U-Sell Real Estate Specialists 16

We have also ranked our office by gross sales volume. Many of our offices from the usual ranking also make a place here, but we’d like to take a moment to congratulate David Bartels and the team at Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty for ranking in the top three this quarter!

Office Q1 Gross Sales
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties  $     26,962,400
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties  $     16,697,680
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty  $     10,905,900
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty  $      7,505,300
Help-U-Sell Greensboro  $      4,867,536
Help-U-Sell Central Properties  $      4,474,202
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty  $      4,357,550
Help-U-Sell Marquis Properties  $      4,280,000
Help-U-Sell Legacy  $      4,142,410
Help-U-Sell Tri-Valley Homes  $      3,980,000

Top Producers for March 2018


March was such a robust turnout for home sales that we have three offices each tying for third, fifth and sixth places, making it impossible to have just a normal “top ten” for last month. This month, we’re bringing you the “Top 12” in Total Sales. Congratulations once again to Richard Cricchio at Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties for making it to the top of our list. Mario Ferrante at Help-U-Sell Metropolitan also finished strong in March with 15 total sales.


Broker Office Buyer Seller Total Sales
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties 4 13 17
Help-U-Sell Metropolitan 8 7 15
Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty 5 5 10
Help-U-Sell Heritage Real Estate of Steele County Inc. 3 7 10
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties 1 9 10
Help-U-Sell Greensboro 3 6 9
Help-U-Sell Direct Savings Real Estate 4 3 7
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty 4 3 7
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty 3 4 7
Help-U-Sell Beachside 6 6
Help-U-Sell Folsom 3 3 6
Help-U-Sell Options Unlimited 3 3 6

Additionally, we are introducing a new type of Top Ten list based on gross sales volume, and thus putting a spotlight on a completely different take on other top performers in the Help-U-Sell family. While Richard Cricchio tops this list as well (!), we’re also seeing impressive results from Patrick Wood at Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties, Marc Dosik at Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty, and Dave Bartels at Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty.

Broker Office March Gross Sales Volume
Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties 10,359,400
Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties 6,265,800
Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty 4,091,000
Help-U-Sell Full Service Realty 3,532,900
Help-U-Sell Beachside 3,478,000
Help-U-Sell South Santa Clara County 3,160,000
Folsom 2,367,000
Help-U-Sell  Marquis Properties 2,140,000
Help-U-Sell  Tri-Valley Homes 2,095,000
Help-U-Sell  Smart Realty Pasadena 1,922,000

Congratulations to everyone for their success.