The real estate industry is rapidly evolving. With historically low interest rates, new buyers are coming into the market, and they are equipped with new technology and information to help them in their buying process.
Carlos Reyes, the CEO and founder of Smart Settlements, a company dedicated to helping real estate agents grow and scale their businesses, has embraced these trends. His company has grown from $86 million in purchase price volume to $1.1 billion.
Diverting from the traditional, conservative nature of the industry, Reyes has managed to generate twelvefold growth through simple means: by adapting to the market, and understanding his audience and their future needs.
This level of organic expansion in the real estate industry is unique in such a well-established market. These tenets helped shape the course of his business growth.
Part of Smart Settlements is a consulting business where they train real estate agents on how to be successful, and where they preach the importance of self-awareness.
“Self-awareness is paramount in achieving long-term fulfillment in life and in business. You can consistently follow up with clients, be visible, and meet people. You can do everything right. But without self-awareness, you’ll never understand how people are experiencing you,” Reyes explains. “You’ll have no clue how to gain trust, even through the speed in which you talk. Hands-down, this is the number one thing that individuals should invest in first before making contact with hundreds of people.”
Reyes maintains that self-awareness allows you to play to your strengths, but also the strengths of others.
“Investing in self-awareness has allowed me to be a better parent, co-worker and leader. Starting with understanding my personality type, I know how I respond to challenges as well as the best placement for myself. By understanding the personality types of your team, you’ll know where to best place them and challenge them. For example, you don’t put an engineer in front of 2,000 people to speak. Once the individual is placed correctly, you can give them a proper challenge and the right amount of support to see them excel and be happy.”
While Carlos believes self-awareness is a prerequisite in achieving success, he also believes how you allocate your time is just as important.
For Carlos, he invests 30% of his day in self-growth. He regularly tries to develop attributes and skills that he doesn’t hold innately, pushing for new levels of understanding and bettering himself as a person.
The skills he invests in developing are purposeful. He knows these skills will help him push his business forward in the other 70% of his day. For example, by working on leadership competencies, he’s better able to plan and execute long term strategic growth initiatives with his team.
Carlos’ teams meet regularly to keep everyone up to speed and aligned. His departments meet on Mondays and his leadership team meets on Thursdays.
Their meetings focus on execution week to week. They don’t discuss larger strategic initiatives in their weekly meetings as that can be a distraction from the immediate tasks at hand. Instead, he has monthly, quarterly, and yearly retreats where his teams can discuss the big picture.
Carlos’ teams also follow the philosophies of The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran, which is a guide to shorten your execution cycle from one year to twelve weeks. While most organizations and individuals work in the context of annual goals and plans, Smart Settlements shortens these cycles to avoid the pitfalls and low productivity of annualized thinking.
All of this has allowed Carlos to anticipate and address issues faster, which in turn maintains a higher level of customer service.
A key driver to Smart Settlements’ growth is their ability to turn customers into advocates who are proud to work with the Smart Settlements’ brand.
Per Carlos, to cultivate a community of advocates, you need to first define what your client values. Once you add consistent value to someone’s life, they go from being skeptical, to being your client, and then to being your advocate. Moreover, as the company grows, if you make sure your clients are part of your success, they will continue to advocate for you.
Active listening is also a key part of developing advocates. Over time, Carlos has fine-tuned his process to listen to clients and realtors, and take executive action based on feedback.
For example, Carlos invested in Zoccam to facilitate electronic closings and help manage safe, paperless transactions. This investment means that real estate agents don’t need to spend time meeting their clients, getting a check from them, and delivering that check. Their customers also have a seamless experience.
This type of seamless technological innovation is consistent with the experience the Smart Settlements team has cultivated with their clients, similar to how Apple customers expect a certain holistic experience with their products. Everything is stored in the cloud, and their customer can purchase properties from their phone.
Carlos explains, “We’ve grown twelvefold not by taking shortcuts, but by investing in building a long term brand. In our case, it represents high quality and experience. Everything needs to be right when developing your brand: the quality of the staff, the office, the decor, the water bottles, and even the thickness of the paper. For a long-lasting brand, each individual element is instrumental in achieving prolonged growth.”
Carlos is now making his playbook of success available to other ambitious leaders in the real estate space. Along with Leo Anzoleaga, he created a curriculum called the How2 Series, which covers topics from execution to accountability to becoming an influential realtor.
Carlos’ story underscores how there is no silver bullet to success. Rather, if you’re disciplined, and stick to your fine-tuned operating principles, you can create a great business.
I’m the cofounder of SOTA Partners, where we invest in companies changing the future of work and food. We also rapidly experiment and incubate new business ideas.