Intero Broker/Owner Rishi Bakshi tells how he went from 15 to 140 agents in just two years
Rishi Bakshi joined Intero as a broker/owner in December 2005 with his seminal office in Fremont. Within two years, he has grown from 15 agents to more than 140 and has expanded to a second East Bay location in Union City. We asked Rishi to give us insight into his recruitment strategy and what he feels are the selling points for agents when it comes to the Intero brand.
When did you officially become Intero? Were you with another brand before that?
We joined Intero December of 2005. Before that, we owned a small Realty World franchise in Fremont—actually, we were the number one Realty World franchise in Northern California in regards to sales volume/units closed in the year 2005. At that time we only had 15 agents on the roster. We did this without much support from Realty World. We interviewed many franchisors at the tail end of 2005 when we decided to make a change. Intero really stood out in all areas:
- Company culture
- The training they offered to agents
- Brand-name appeal and consistency of branding
You’ve been very successful with your recruitment. We’ll get to that, but right now, can you talk about some of the other things you feel have been instrumental in the growth of your office?
The power of Intero’s brand and the culture of the office and company have been very important to us. We have made the brand and our office and exciting part of our local market in Fremont/Union City/Newark.
Intero is well known as a reputable brokerage in other parts of the Bay Area, but that wasn’t necessarily the case here. We leveraged off of what corporate was doing elsewhere and tried to bring that exact model to our market when we opened our franchise. I made a commitment to myself and to our team that we would be the #1 brokerage in town in every single aspect: market share, ethics, training and education, consistency in our branding, etc.
When we interview agents, we know that we can offer them the best experience of any brokerage around. I think our enthusiasm for the real estate business sells itself, whether it is the staff, our agents or me.
How many new agents have you brought on since your opening?
We started with 1 Fremont location and about 15 agents. We were in a 4,000 sqare foot office. Two years later, we have 140 agents: 70 were brought in through traditional recruiting efforts and 70 through an acquisition we did of an ERA franchise that had two locations in our local market.
Furthermore, we had a 95 percent retention rate from the merger. We sold the agents on the brand by talking about the value of our culture and our commitment to becoming better. We now have two locations, Fremont and Union City. We went from being completely off the radar to being in of the top 3-5 brokerages in the tri-city area in terms of market share and presence.
What has been your strategy for recruiting?
I just recently (one month ago), hired a director of business development to help me recruit. I also get a lot of help from our leadership at the corporate level. The leadership team holds some great recruiting calls weekly to help us focus and be accountable in the process of recruiting. I love the fact that I can call our CEO or any of the founders/managers and they will pick up the phone and call recruits on our behalf.
We have a hit list of around 50 experienced agents that we try to contact at least 2-3 times a month. We do this through email blasts, phone calls, visits to open homes, and having our other agents calling on our behalf. I also ask agents in our office who they think the perfect Intero REALTOR® would be, and they refer me to their friends in the business.
I personally tour our local marketing meeting/broker open every Thursday to meet agents one-on-one. I also tour open homes most weekends to connect with them. Honestly, though, we have been lucky to have many agents directly call me or walk in.
Here’s our approximate recruiting breakdown for agents:
- 50 percent come in for an appointment
- (through cold calling or meeting them at open house or broker tour)
- 25 percent come in from word-of-mouth.
- 25 percent are walk ins
How much do you think the personality/environment of the individual office and its management influences recruitment vs. the Intero brand itself?
We make an effort to be completely seamless with the corporate culture and standards of Intero as a whole. However, though the brand can help you bring in an appointment, it’s the manager, staff and office culture that make all the difference in recruiting and especially retaining. We leverage tremendously on what Intero as a brand offers agents and sell them on it: great training, leadership, culture, etc.
In your recruitment efforts, what tactics have been most successful and least successful?
Most Effective: Agent Referrals.
Our agents will basically sell the agent before they even sit down with me. I need to leverage even more on our agents helping us out.
Least Effective: Advertising.
I think in recruiting, agents really need to get to know you on a personal level. Advertising in the newspaper or on the internet has been useless for us in terms of pulling agents in for an appointment.
What do you find are the most attractive/appealing things about the Intero brand that makes agents want to join your team, i.e. is it culture, commission splits, people, or other?
We never sell the “high commission splits,” unlike most companies. We sell the Intero values: professionalism, fun, integrity, enthusiasm, competency, and all the rest.
We focus on selling our culture and values when we recruit because we know that is our differentiator. We are lucky to have a great roster of diverse agents and very professional, seasoned agents who help us attract similar types of agents—it’s power of association.
When we get a prospective REALTOR® in to our office for an appointment, we emphasize four main things:
- Culture of the office and company
- Training and Education (both Provizio and our in house training)
- Broker and staff support
- Consistency of our brand (we sell them on the high end/full service appeal of our brokerage)
What the biggest mistake someone can make when it comes to recruitment?
NEVER downplay the competition. I know many brokers that will talk more about their competitor’s weaknesses than their own company’s strengths.
Also, I would recommend that you do not make “commission splits” your selling point. Most agents do not change companies to get higher splits. They do it because they’re searching for something more, such as a better office environment, more support, better people, more opportunity or improved training and education.
Contact: Rishi Bakshi, Broker/Owner
43225 Mission Blvd
Fremont, CA 94539
Phone: (510) 651-6500
Fax: (510) 651-1545
Intero Union City
Contact: Greg Nasol, VP/Sales Manager
32145 Alvarado-Niles Road
Union City, CA 94587
Phone: (510) 489-8989
Fax: (510) 489-6821