â€œI figured out that I could create a business model that would put me between the listings and the buyers,â€� says Jeff, referring to his newfound knowledge. Since Internet Data Exchange (IDX) wasnâ€™t legal yet, prospective buyers typed in what they were looking for and Jeff e-mailed them what he found.
â€œIt worked brilliantly,â€� says Jeff. â€œAll of a sudden I had prospective buyers, and once I had buyers, it didnâ€™t matter if I had listings.â€� It worked so well, in fact, that in 1998, Jeff was the number one RE/MAX Sales Associate in the county.
One thing led to another. First, he put together a team. Then in March of 1998, he and his wife Karen bought RE/MAX All Pro. â€œAll of our success is by the grace of God and the tool has been the Internet,â€� says Jeff. â€œTen years ago, I knew no one in the market and was starving to death. I went from less than zero to number one.â€�
Today, RE/MAX All Pro is the number one real estate franchise in the county, with $82.6 million in total closed volume. â€œFrom a Broker’s point of view, it makes it easier to recruit quality agents if you are number one in the county,â€� says Jeff, who has 15 experienced Sales Associates at his office.
Using the Internet to Provide Information
IDX gives Jeff the freedom to post everyoneâ€™s listings on his Web site, http://www.gatlinburg-homes.com/. â€œIf you are from Ohio considering a second home in the Smokies,â€� says Jeff, â€œyou donâ€™t care so much about the agency or agent. You want the inventory. What is phenomenally important is that if I provide the information, the prospective buyer will generally allow me to serve them.â€�
For this reason, Jeff stresses the importance of using the Internet to provide information. Along with the Multiple Listing Service, Jeff includes supplemental information on his Web site, such as information about his community and a link to his blog, http://gatlinburg.blogspot.com/, where he posts real estate information pertinent to his area. â€œFrom a business point of view, blogs are one more service you can provide your customers,â€� says Jeff.
Years ago, Jeff had a successful agent who said the Internet is great but people donâ€™t buy homes over the Internet. â€œShe couldnâ€™t be more wrong,â€� says Jeff. â€œPeople often call with the MLS numbers of the properties they wish to see. Theyâ€™ve already gotten all the information they need on line, and they come to town prepared.â€�
Since the percentage of Internet leads that become successful transactions is not as high as a referral or a sign call, Jeff says you have to work more numbers. The dollars invested, however, are much more efficient. â€œWith our marketing, we are Internet centric,â€� says Jeff. â€œWe spend much more on the Internet than on print advertising or any other form of advertising we do.â€�
Jeff belongs to CyberstarsÂ® – an invitation only group of around 200 Internet savvy agents from around the world. One of the slogans within this group is to â€œmind the gap.â€�
â€œWe must be moving forward to make sure we maintain the gap over competitors,â€� explains Jeff. â€œWe really donâ€™t need to know how the watch is made. We just need to be able to tell the time.â€�
To contact Jeff, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 865-436-0444.
Article written by Sarah Solomon, Communications Coordinator, RE/MAX Regional Services. To Contact Sarah, call 678-397-1217 or e-mail her at email@example.com