Hot Utah Market Spurs Growth for Broker

Danny Kettle was working in regional sales in California, selling garage door systems to big box stores when a friend from his home state suggested he get involved in real estate. His friend owned a Help-U-Sell Real Estate franchise office and explained there was nothing else like it around. Business was good, and he invited Danny to get involved.

He moved back to Utah and pursued his real estate license while his friend was the broker of record. “Retrospectively, I realize 2007 was not the best time to get involved in real estate, but we made it work. I made a check every month. We had to be lean at first, and since I was still learning, that was okay,” Danny shared. “I spent three years as an agent and then became a broker. My partner had a reciprocal license out of Idaho and consulted.”

Since those lean beginnings, Danny’s office, Help-U-Sell Legacy, has grown to nine licensed agents. “Me and three other people produce the majority of the transactions each month. The others are part-time and mostly show houses. We also have a transaction coordinator, of course. I’ve only ever added people to our team when natural growth made sense. I’m not out there recruiting,” he added.

While his team is always working hard, part of the recent success is due to the hot market in Utah right now. “We list homes and have a contract within a few days. Much of the new growth is due to tech companies coming here, which is creating the need for more infrastructure and homes. The airport was recently expanded, and we now have an area called “Silicon Slopes” (akin to Silicon Valley in California). Homes are in short supply; contractors can’t build them fast enough, even though they are trying.  The median price of a home was around $275,000 just last year, now it’s more common to see houses in the $300,000 to $450,000 range. Our region is really growing quickly,” Danny explained.

To handle the uptick in his market, Danny had a plan already in place. He went on to say, “The main thing is to have the right people with you as growth happens. A few of my agents have been with me for more than five or six years. I can’t say enough good things about Tasha, our Transaction Coordinator and Office Manager. She really takes care of everything the team needs. Brandon is one of my main producers, he’s responsible for about half of the transactions in our office.  Last year we did 70 transactions, this year we’re on track to do at least that, if not more. One of my agents speaks Spanish and since we’re getting a lot of clientele moving here from California, we’re positioned to serve another burgeoning market. We continually add new services to accommodate change.”

When it comes to competition, Danny is confident in his ability to outperform them. “Help-U-Sell is different from every other real estate franchise out there. When I meet with a new client for a listing, I tell them that I’m going to do exactly the same thing as a traditional brokerage. But I’ll do even more on top of that, and I’m going to save them money while I’m doing it. I almost always get the sale with that approach,” Danny said. “People don’t want to give away all the equity in their house. The business model helps us pick up more listings. We illustrate that we can do it all, and the clients sign on gladly.”

To help spread awareness, Danny is fond of using the automated Center of Influence postcards and the “Just Listed/Just Sold” postcards. “We’ve begun working with the FSBO and Expired Listing programs as well; we expect it will add traction. However, what we find works best is just getting in front of people. When we illustrate the value of what we do naturally, along with the professional, ready-made marketing materials from the corporate office, it all comes together easily,” Danny explained.

In his off time, Danny is raising four kids with his wife, Jessica, who has a bustling business as a wedding photographer. He supports the Sunflower Charity, a children’s home in Peru for orphans and street children. This year he took his oldest child to Peru on a humanitarian trip, where they  served children at the Sunflower Children’s home. Danny added, “Right now we’re helping 15 kids, the capacity for the house is 80. There’s more fundraising to do because we want to help more people. Part of my drive to succeed with my Help-U-Sell business is so that I’m able to do good elsewhere.”

Help-U-Sell Presence Grows 50% in Florida

Everyone familiar with the Help-U-Sell Real Estate brand knows there has always been a strong representation of franchise offices in the state of California. Over the past few years, we’ve been working to grow our presence in Florida, and those efforts have been paying off with a growth of 50%. Please meet our three newest members of the Help-U-Sell family.

Hugo Calvillo, Help-U-Sell Sunshine Realty

When Hugo Calvillo wanted to return to selling real estate after the market crashed in 2008, he studied several franchise options before deciding to open a Help-U-Sell Real Estate office in Orlando, serving the Space Coast region and surrounding counties.

Mr. Calvillo started with a traditional, 6% commission-based real estate company. While grateful for the industry knowledge gained, he wanted a different experience for both himself and the home seller, so he forged a new path. “The business model that Help-U-Sell offers is a good disruptor to the conventional 5% to 6% model that everyone else is using. Many other franchise options exist within a similar price range, but Help-U-Sell offers a lot more flexibility. They have over four decades of experience fine tuning this model, whereas many other options have come and gone over the years. Help-U-Sell continues to exist and thrive for a very good reason, it works well,” Hugo said.

Hugo went on to share, “What stood out for me is the fact that you disrupt the new web-only companies. Sure, there may be a flat fee for the home seller, but the seller also pays for every other service. There is another option to list your home for 1%, but literally all they do is put the home on the MLS. There’s always a catch that leaves the seller short. Help-U-Sell is the exception because they offer full-service in conjunction with the savings.”

There is also more simplicity with the Help-U-Sell model. “There are real estate franchises that require you to have 3,000 square feet of office space. You’ll also need furniture, computers, and people to fill the offices. You rack up utilities. You spend more money advertising the agents rather than the business. I’ve already done that, I love my little office and the two in-house members of my team. By keeping my expenses low, I can pass those savings on to the consumer. I know they see and appreciate the difference when they get their check. They get everything they needed, more than they expected, and they haven’t missed out on a full-service experience,” Hugo explained.

Brian Meyerowitz, Help-U-Sell Broward Realty

Brian Meyerowitz and his wife Aimee are the best kind of Help-U-Sell Broker/Owners, the returning kind, warmly referred to as “alumni” by fellow Brokers and staff alike. Brian and Aimee spent a number of years in Chicago where they owned a Help-U-Sell office. They later moved to Florida and expanded their real estate offerings by getting involved with property management.

While Brian spent time in a traditional real estate format, he recently felt the call to own his own shop again and wanted to run things a certain way. “We did very well in Chicago in the early 2000’s. We closed 50 sides in our first year, and grew steadily through the ensuing years. The brand recognition worked well for us. I have always liked the concept of providing deeper service, a set fee, and the Help-U-Sell branding message. I am thrilled to return as Help-U-Sell Broward Realty,” Brian said.

Returning to Help-U-Sell was easy. “We are already familiar with the brand and business model. The corporate office has made several advancements in their technology and marketing systems. Plus, we love the idea of having a business to pursue together.”

 Jim McCarthy, Help-U-Sell 4 Less

Jim McCarthy built a very successful brokerage after moving to Spain in 1998, but loved Florida so much that after a three-week vacation, he and his family made Florida their adopted home. Jim initially focused on a niche market of European clients seeking commercial investments. When the market shifted, he expanded to include residential real estate. Creating a hybrid of a traditional office and a reduced fee format, Jim had 25 agents working for him and managing properties, but something was missing. “What I didn’t have is 40 years of experience, a national reputation, and a brand that people recognized and valued. I really liked that,” Jim said.

After researching options, Jim found that the Help-U-Sell Real Estate model was close to what he had in mind. “My office would often give discounts on the commission of homes. The Help-U-Sell model was easier to explain to my clients,” Jim added. Rather than continue with a big office and staff, Jim pared operations down to four people, including himself. “It was easy to choose Help-U-Sell versus staying independent because I’m getting leads, I’m passing them to my team, and there is zero pressure for the clients. Once we explain how it works, we generally have enthusiastic agreement.”

The set-fee model that saves home sellers thousands of dollars per transaction was an enormous draw for Jim, “I have strong opinions about clients not getting ripped off. Under a traditional brokerage model, I’ve seen agents charging between 5% and 7% in a transaction fee, which is a lot of money. Anyone who works with me is trained to look after clients, first and foremost. I have built an honest name for myself and my business over these last 25 years. My job is to convey the message that there are no catches and we’re here to help. The Help-U-Sell Real Estate model makes it easier to achieve my goals compared to what I was doing on my own. We’re going to do well.”

For more information on opening a Help-U-Sell Real Estate franchise in Florida, or any other state, call Dave Patterson, Chief Marketing Officer, at 941-951-7707 x 2001.

Client Education: The Key to Leads

Beverly Sonnier has been the proud owner of Help-U-Sell South East Rita Ranch Realty for 15 years. Last weekend, Beverly joined forces with Maria Powell, the owner of Help-U-Sell Galleria Realty, at the SAHBA Home Show (Southern Arizona Home Builders Association) to spread the word about Help-U-Sell Real Estate and saving home sellers thousands of dollars.

Last year, Beverly and her husband, Jimmie, exhibited at the show on their own. This year, it made more sense to double up because the attending audience grew larger. “The show is held on two floors,” Beverly explained, “Downstairs are the companies that sell larger items such as spas, windows, and doors. Upstairs there is space for smaller vendors in the community, and that’s where we set up a booth. Last year we were the only realtors at this event.”

Beverly went on to share, “We had a very good response and ended up with lot of qualified leads. We gave away a small TV, and a large, flat-screen smart TV. The folks that registered are definitely interested in selling or buying a home. The great thing about these events is the opportunity to explain how the Help-U-Sell set-fee works. A commonly heard response is: ‘Wow, we had no idea’. So education is really a key component of success when it comes to the Help-U-Sell Real Estate model.”

With more than 27 years of real estate experience behind her, Beverly is a solid expert. She spent the first 12 years of her real estate career learning from one of our most successful mentors and coaches, John Powell. “I started off as an agent working with John, and went through all of his training. Prior to that, I was a mortgage banker. When Jimmie retired from the Air Force and Postal Service, he became an agent, too, which was a great contributor to our success when we opened our own shop,” she added.

To spread the word about Help-U-Sell in their Tucson community, Beverly advertises in a local newspaper with a 12,000 to 15,0000 audience reach. They also employ the automated postcards for “Center of Influence” contacts and the “Arounds” program. “That connects us with past and potential clients,” Beverly said, “It keeps us present in their minds. We are also starting a sanitation station (for shopping carts) at a local grocery store. Our signage is included, and we’re handing out reusable grocery bags with marketing materials and a snack bar inside. We’re excited to see how that’s going to go. We do not underestimate the benefit of being live in front of people. It makes a big difference in the number of qualified leads we get.”

Treat Employees and Clients Like Gold

Marc Dosik, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell Federal City Realty, has always been interested in real estate and selling. He began as a business broker and later segued into commercial real estate. Wanting to make a name in residential real estate, Marc bought a Help-U-Sell franchise in 2005. The office is located in the Washington DC area, and has the unique distinction of serving the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia. “I became interested in residential real estate because I enjoy working with people and making them happy. The services we provide, combined with the thousands of dollars saved by home sellers, makes them pretty happy in my experience,” says Marc.

Marc’s office is a regular on our Top Producers list, which tracks the number of transactions closed and gross sales volume monthly. When asked what makes his office successful, Marc replied, “There are two reasons we’ve done well. My team has been together for a long time and we provide excellent customer service because our systems and processes are polished. I put the right people in the right place, and I make sure that employees and customers are treated the same way, like gold.”

The team at Marc’s office includes: Melissa, a transaction coordinator, who has been with Marc for six years; Lynn, a virtual assistant for four years; and Chris, a marketing assistant for ten years. Additionally, there are six agents for whom his team provides concierge leads. The staff is busy making calls and setting appointments, and qualified leads are then handed off to the agent. Mark believes this system creates a higher conversion to sale rate, and a more productive office overall.

The numbers give credence to Marc’s method. In 2017, he closed over one hundred transactions. This year, he is about halfway there. “There are two reasons why agents fail; lack of leads and lack of training. Over the years I have found that certain transactions have nuanced details, some agents are not savvy in certain areas, ongoing training solves a lot of those problems,” Marc shared.

Help-U-Sell Federal City is situated in a population-dense metropolitan area, where the median price for a home above $400,000. There is a lot of competition from splashy real estate upstarts such as Redfin. “I’m situated in the heart of their best market, but people are still choosing Help-U-Sell, mostly because of our online reputation and expertise,” Marc said.

One of the marketing platforms Marc prefers are the Center of Influence postcards, which are sent to past clients at least twice a year. These postcards keep the brand top-of-mind and help create referrals. “All of the pieces are professional and polished. The newly-designed website has a fresh look and is easy to navigate. There are additional options offered to help you get more business, but the bottom-line attraction is our business model. When the market is good, people turn to us to sell quickly and save money. When market is tough, people turn to us for expert advice to get their home sold and save money,” Marc explained.

While his staff is highly-focused on providing impeccable service, they also make it a priority to seek great reviews from clients once the transaction has closed. “I tell potential clients to look me up online and read the reviews. We take clients away from competitors because the home seller wants everything – the savings, the service, the expertise. The unique proposition that Help-U-Sell offers makes it easier for them to choose us when they have the facts. We are flexible to whatever the client needs are,” Marc said.

There was another unexpected benefit to choosing to be a part of the Help-U-Sell Real Estate franchise. Marc Dosik added, “After four decades, the brand is familiar to a lot of people and business comes from that national reputation. I can’t tell you how many people relocated to our area, used Help-U-Sell to sell their home in the old city and use us to buy their new home. You can’t buy that kind of trust. We cultivate and cherish that reputation.”

Loyalty and Creating Clients for Life

Karen Detwiler of Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty wants you know that she saved home sellers a total of $203,000 in commissions last year. Impressive, right? So is she.

Karen had worked as an executive secretary and made a career change to a transaction coordinator for a traditional real estate company. As often happens in these scenarios, Karen naturally caught the real estate bug herself. When Karen and her husband moved to Pennsylvania, she enrolled in a real estate course so she could pursue her license. More importantly, she wanted to be in charge of her own future.

When Karen decided that she wanted to break out on her own, she sold 15 homes during her first year and she has been blazing a trail ever since. “I worked with a great mentor who had a Help-U-Sell office in Camp Hill. He encouraged me to open up my own franchise. So I opened an office in Carlisle and eventually took over the Camp Hill office when my mentor retired. After a while it didn’t make sense for us to have two offices, so we consolidated into one. However, because we had already established ourselves in both towns, we still get a lot of current business from past clients in both areas,” Karen explained.

Now, with a staff of four full-time and four part-time agents (and one incredibly busy office manager), last year Karen’s team had 95 transactions to stand proudly behind. Over the years many potential clients that Karen encountered expressed doubt over the set-fee system for which Help-U-Sell Real Estate pioneered and is known. “I explain our system by saying if my husband and I had used Help-U-Sell ourselves over the numerous times we’ve moved, the amount of savings would have been amazing. Unfortunately, we lived in areas where there were no Help-U-Sell offices.”

Like so many others in the real estate industry, Karen’s office was no exception when it came to being hard hit by the economic depression of 2008. “Of course we went through some tumultuous times, but you find ways to work through those. You up your game to stay competitive. Part of what drives you are the webinars that Help-U-Sell puts on, and the weekly coaching groups. The other part is fine-tuning your marketing. Help-U-Sell makes that easier than ever by constantly bringing in different programs from new vendors so that we can simplify and streamline a lot of our daily processes. For example, they just started a FSBO program that we’re very excited about. There’s other programs that are beneficial, too, such as the new expired listing program and predictive analytics. Last year they improved all the franchisee websites. They look fresher and are now more functional for any device. Overall, it’s a great system,” Karen shared.

While there is some local competition, it’s not impacting Karen’s business that much. She has noticed that homes are taking a longer time to sell, primarily if they are not priced appropriately, but overall her market is seeing low inventory. “Homes that are priced right, sell fast! The driving principle behind the Help-U-Sell model is that our clients are so pleased with both our service and how much money they saved, they become our clients for life,” Karen said. “You can’t buy that kind of loyalty, you can only earn it. This has been proven over and over for me, especially now that we are currently selling homes to the grown children of our previous clients, too.” As far as additional marketing outreach is concerned, Karen shared that they use a little bit of everything to get the word out: Billboards, radio, newspaper advertising and online advertising. “We also keep in touch with our clients regularly and make them feel appreciated,” she added.

When she is not busy running her business, you can find Karen in her flower garden, spending time with her grandson, or co-chairing the local Thanksgiving food drive. “I’m pleased to say that last year we served 800 families. This coming year we are aiming for 1,000 families. One of my agents, Kelly Spasic, co-chairs that drive with me. Ultimately, this business is about so much more than just real estate. You need to make the people in your community a priority to succeed and I believe we’ve achieved that. I’ve been doing this for 18 years now. Choosing Help-U-Sell was a no-brainer for me, and I’ve really enjoyed my career thus far. I’ll probably be doing this until I’m 90,” Karen said laughing.