Value is an aesthetic experience, says Krisstina Wise, broker-owner of the Austin, Texas, brokerage The GoodLife Team. It’s not just a product or service, she said, but how a brokerage makes a customer feel.
Wise and five other panelists will discuss how to make doing business in real estate “as easy as buying a latte” at Real Estate Connect New York City, which runs Jan. 16-18 at the Grand Hyatt New York. Wise will appear on an opening-day panel, “What does the industry need to do to make the ‘Latte Vision‘ happen?”
Wise’s answer to that question revolves around value and her real estate raison d’etre: “To care, to make a difference.”
Customer experience, Wise says, should be a full one. An experience with a brokerage is analogous to walking into a coffee shop — it should be sensual, she said. Customers should “feel something.”
She scrubs that perspective against the 12-agent, two-office brokerage she founded in 2008 by asking questions like: What does our website look and feel like? Does our office space match our online presence? How quickly do we respond to leads? Do customers get more value than they expect?
“Real estate is about value,” Wise said. It’s not only about the quality of what customers get, she said, but also about the way they feel, which explains her brokerage’s six-point service manifesto and its clean, purple and sea green branding.
GoodLife Team branding from the brokerage’s website.
Wise spent her first 15 years as an agent with Austin-based Keller Williams Realty, one of the largest real estate franchisors in the U.S. By the time she set out on her own, she led a team of agents and was a national trainer.
Since then, The GoodLife Team has been held up as a model of the modern real estate brokerage for the transparent, innovative and forward-thinking way it operates.
In October, The GoodLife Team held an inaugural two-day conference, REiNVENTION, in Austin, that shed light on the brokerage’s inner workings, from marketing to technology to inspiration. Wise expects REiNVENTION to become a yearly event.
The conference was an opportunity to share with the real estate industry the working elements and systems of an actual working brokerage, Wise said. Sometimes it’s hard to know what practices that are taught on the conference circuit actually work, and how they work, because what’s being touted is not always what’s actually used by the person explaining a system or service.
REiNVENTION built on the momentum (and demand) from a mentor-like program Wise founded in 2010 in which she coaches and shares her insight with paying participants.
Real estate has fully entered the digital age, Wise said, and this has shifted the value propositions for agents and brokers, whether they like it or not.
“Brokerages have to get back to the basics of caring about the customer,” she said.
Providing value in a Web-based world is immensely complex, Wise said, which is why she maintains a single-minded focus on choosing technologies and systems that maximize agent productivity and client ease of use at The GoodLife Team.
She attends conferences around the country to find the best and most useful technology and systems to integrate into The GoodLife Team’s business, simplifying her agents’ lives so they can focus on serving their clients, she said.
The result, Wise said, is a six-part “G-core” real estate operating system The GoodLife Team works with:
- Salesforce. The customer relationship management system is the hub, Wise said. All leads automatically enter the program.
- Google Apps. All agents use Gmail for email, use collaborative Google calendars so everyone knows everyone else’s schedule, and Google Drive, which allows real-time collaborative sharing on brokerage documents. It’s part of a “nothing secret” way of operating, Wise said.
- Evernote. All tasks for the brokerage are managed with the cloud-based project management software; agents can check off items on their to-do lists seen by everyone else in the brokerage.
- Social media. The GoodLife Team has a Facebook business page, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest accounts and a WordPress-powered blog that agents are encouraged to source for social media content.
- Mobile. Every agent has an iPad and this January The GoodLife Team is launching a new mobile-optimized website.
- Paperless. Last year, The GoodLife Team went completely paperless by integrating the paperless transaction management system Cartavi and e-signature platform DocuSign into its business. “Everything’s digital,” Wise said. “We have no file folders.”
Wise says she has a business philosophy of “failing forward.” Last year, The GoodLife Team went fully paperless. This year, she said, the challenge is to further simplify business operations.
“It’s a big vision,” she said, and “scary,” but “we have instances where we have three screwdrivers when only one is truly needed.”
When Wise has time to herself — which is not often, given that she’s also a wife and mother of two children — she enjoys reading the latest murder mysteries, running, and practicing the “art of doing nothing.”