A brokerage in suburban Boston takes the emphasis off competition.
At A Glance
Broker-owner Lisa Sevajian runs her brokerage like a family business.
Lisa first got her start in real estate as an agent for a local RE/MAX office. A single mom to two young children, she jumped into a real estate career to allow for a more flexible schedule. “I was crazy enough to think that was a thing in real estate,” she says now.
She loved the competitive environment at RE/MAX, until she didn’t. “I woke up one morning and just felt really alone,” she said. It was every man for himself, and she was comparing her work to others’ rather than celebrating it.
Now, Lisa and co-owners Robert Bentley and Alissa Christie focus on fostering a culture in which success isn’t measured by what the person next you is doing. The Bentley’s office operates much like a team, in the sense that the office lacks the competitive atmosphere found in most larger agencies. “We have a totally different vibe,” she said.
She describes the Bentley’s team as a big family, where everyone knows what’s going on in everyone else’s lives. Coworkers babysit for other coworkers. People cook for each other. “It’s not just people you work with, it’s people you care about and who care about you, and who want to see you win.”
In the office, agents sit in desks that form a U-shape, rather than in solitary cubicles. Lisa calls the space collaborative: “It’s all-day conversation.”
While enjoying the intimacy of a small team, Lisa has her eyes on growing quickly. She wants to bring in 30 or more agents by early 2019.
Lisa prefers to bring on brand new licensees. “I love getting someone who’s excited and interested in learning the right ways and the best ways to do things,” she said. “It’s the best of both worlds—I get to mentor and teach, and watch them succeed.”
When bringing on new agents, new or experienced, she looks for something specific: a personal tie to the community with a passion to give back. “It’s a special type of agent: the kind that wants to roll up their sleeves and help people.”
Having a small team, Lisa is able to personally train her agents one-on-one. Rather than training on technology and systems, she believes the “street smart” approach to training is most valuable. She’ll have agents shadow her on appointments to show them how to engage the seller and practice good “agent etiquette”.
“It’s about showing the client that we really care, that they’re not just a paycheck.”
In addition to 15 agents, Bentley’s employs two “nurturers”. “I would set you up with a nurturer if you were looking to sell in two years,” Lisa said. The nurturer is a licensed agent, who would focus on creating a relationship with the prospect, setting up coffee dates and meetings over time until they’re ready to sell. Then the agent takes over.
Nurturers are paid solely on commission and are responsible for verifying all leads that come in, filtering prospects based on their selling timeline.
When it comes to branding and marketing, Bentley’s strives to show that it’s able to cover all aspects of a lifetime, said Lisa. Branding is minimalist and modern. And social media is key, Lisa says. “I share everything.”
Her marketing strategy is based on transparency. Though Bentley’s operates in an affluent suburb of Boston, there’s no luxury marketing program. “Everyone has flaws and every house has flaws,” she said. “From the smallest house to the biggest house, I treat all properties the same.”
Recently, Lisa sold a house in the area that had been in her client’s family for multiple generations. She marketed the property by humanizing the house and telling its story. The client didn’t just want to sell to anybody, but when they found the right fit, it was a record-breaking sale.
Lisa says that, if she could change one thing about real estate, it would be to celebrate individual successes as an industry more. “We’re too focused on who’s number one and who’s number 10, and we forget to recognize who’s stepping out of their comfort zone to do things differently.”