What exactly do real estate agents and brokers sell? It sounds like a simple question. But the truth is actually a lot more complicated. When looking for an agent, for instance, both sellers and buyers cite trustworthiness and reputation as the most important qualities, with “knowledge of the neighborhood” coming in fourth and third place, respectively.
Clearly, the value that real estate professionals are providing consumers isn’t just about numbers, listings, or even expertise. Just ask Leighton Dees. He’s the CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations in Alabama. For Leighton, real estate isn’t about selling homes: it’s about selling yourself. “You are the product,” Leighton told us. Your systems, your process, the way you do things and the way you make the experience awesome.”
Learn from your mistakes and fail, fail, fail, fail. But learn every time, in every one of those situations, so you can bypass that the next time.
— LEIGHTON DEES
Leighton knows a thing or two about success in the real estate business. He’s been in the top 15 percent of Better Homes agents for three years running, and his company was named Most Innovative Real Estate Brokerage by Inman News in 2014. More recently, Leighton launched GENLIFE, a high-tech, personalized training system designed to help agents at all levels succeed.
For Leighton, the same logic that holds true agents also holds true for building a successful brokerage. A great real estate company, Leighton says, is more than the sum of its transactions. “Our culture is the glue for our organization, period,” he explained. “I don’t care if you’re the top producer at another company: if you wanna come over here and you are poison, it’s just not gonna happen. Because my culture is way more important to protect than your numbers.”
In fact, Generations doesn’t pursue other companies’ talent at all: instead, it draws them in through culture. “We don’t try to take someone else’s sweat equity and what they’ve put in their business and built in their people,” Leighton said. “We just try to do what we do and if it attracts you, bring it.”
In this interview, Leighton tells us why the best real estate companies spend so much time thinking about culture, and explains how strong systems built on experience can protect your business when things don’t go according to plan.
- Matt & Seth