Realty Austin mixes savvy, fun to create workplace culture

Selling real estate is part art and part science.

Innovative brokerages are finding better ways of harnessing the science part computer software that can sift through an avalanche of market data that helps good agents find the prospects and deliver the data they need to focus their buying choices.

In Central Texas, the brokerage that seems to show the most software savvy has become a magnet for compelling sales growth.

Realty Austin now numbers 420 sales agents across the area, which represents an average 15 percent to 18 percent annual expansion of its sales force over the past five years.

The company attracts promising agents with successful track records with the promise that its technology will help them find clients and its computerized back office systems and expert support staff will free them up to concentrate on selling.

The company ranks No. 2 among midsized employers in the American-Statesman’s 2017 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project.

The formula seems to be working. The company says that its system can help motivated agents to double their sales volumes within a year or so of joining the firm.

The brokerage works hard to free up agents’ time by using its software and support staff to handle more routine work like advertising and promotions and even putting together neighborhood brochures.

“They make it where I can go sell homes and I don’t have to be messing with paperwork,” said agent Allison Olson, who joined the company five years ago. “They have set up systems for me that I can tap into. They can help me send (promotional) mailers to clients or custom brochures in just a few clicks,” of the computer mouse. I have the resources our our support staff to help marketing and advertising.

The culture here is fun, innovative, cooperative and organized,’ she said. “They are so organized! Anything you can think of that you need is usually on their website. It is all there.”

Realty Austin also is known for its computerized rankings of its agents by the amount of their accumulated sales contracts dating from the start of each year. The rankings are available for all employees to see.

Some agents say they don’t track the rankings, but many do.

“Do I watch the rankings? Absolutely,” said agent Michelle Jones, who has been with the company for 11 years.

“The rankings give you more motivation. It helps you know where you should be and it motivates you to keep going up. There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition.”

The company keeps pushing on finding new ways to market its agents and the properties they sell.

Online marketing coordinator Brandon Krivohlavy said the brokerage has developed an automated method of creating Facebook advertisements to promote both its property listings and its agents. Those ads were viewed more than 800,000 times in a recent month, he said, and they have generated plenty of new customer leads.

The marketing department also is developing more videos of company social events and philanthropic projects as a recruiting tool for potential new agents.

The company mixes hard work, with fun and charitable giving back.

It sponsors two major parties a year and multiple happy hours that let agents get to know one another.

One major party in late September had a Western theme and was titled “Boots and Bling.”

Principal broker Yvette Boatwright, who co-founded the company with her husband, Jonathan, in 2004. She takes a personal role in planning parties and social events and in charitable giving.

“I have dubbed myself the Culture Queen,” she said. “I love the philanthropy and the fun aspect.

“We like to let our hair down and have fun with each other. We can’t take ourselves too seriously because this is a very demanding business. This business will wear you out pretty quickly if you aren’t careful.”

She also sits on the boards of two major area charities, Habitat for Humanity and Foundation Communities. Realty Austin volunteers have taken on the construction of one Habitat for Humanities house a year for the past six years. The construction process takes 10 weeks.

Yvette Boatwright calls her charitable involvement “is what I love and my passion” adding that “it becomes easier to make it part of your culture if people see” management involved.

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