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Episode 126: The Next Evolution of the Traditional Brokerage with Winston Murray

The traditional brokerage model typically found its strength in individual realtors working independently to manage their clients and transactions.

Brian Charlesworth

Brian Charlesworth

Chairman & CEO

Brian is a highly accomplished entrepreneur, business builder, and thought leader in the real estate industry. With a track record of success in software, telecommunications, and franchise businesses, Brian has a talent for identifying and realizing business opportunities. Driven by his passion for technology, Brian is dedicated to using his skills and experience to bring about positive change and improve people's lives through the advancement of technology.


But with the emergence of the full-service brokerage model has proven to offer several advantages over its conventional counterpart. 

By providing real estate agents the autonomy in building their businesses while providing “team-like” support, these full-service brokerages are able to keep and attract those agents who approach their production and trade like a business.

And in a time when big-name brokerages are becoming less relevant, the full-service brokerage is helping agents leverage their time so they can do what they do best and provide top-quality service to their clients while still maintaining a quality lifestyle. 

In this episode, Winston Murray, CEO of Works Real Estate talks about how he built his real estate business, his vision for starting his own full-service brokerage, and why he believes that Sisu is essential for setting up real estate businesses for success. 

Top Takeaways:

(06:26) Why Winston decided to start his real estate brokerage
(08:08) How Sisu Client Portal works
(10:49) What makes Works Real Estate different 
(20:23) The advantage of building an intentional referral-based business
(24:43) Is it worth leaving your team or brokerage to work solo?
(30:54) What does an agent need to do to be successful?
(34:38) What separates Works Real Estate from a team or a traditional brokerage
(37:08) What prompted Winston to start a sales challenge for his agents
(40:49)  Winston’s biggest WHY
(43:49) A piece of advice to those running a real estate business

Connect with Winston Murray


Instagram: @winston_murray1



About the guest:

At 20, Winston Murray got involved in some trouble and ended up getting a DUI. He decided to change his life and got totally sober.  He then spent the next four years building and doing volunteer work for a nonprofit organization centered around helping youth who have struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. After passing the torch, he then shifted to real estate so that he can make money to support his family.  

Although Winston has been in the real business for 11 years, with the last 2 years building his own brokerage, his philanthropic entrepreneurial spirit never left him.  He wants to sell real estate, learn the trade so much, and then eventually come back to the nonprofit world. 

Today, Winston Murray is the CEO of Works Real Estate and Works Housing, a nonprofit organization centered around agent resource education, and raising funds through community members and past clients to help other nonprofits who are already doing really good housing-related things in the Pacific Northwest.

Episode Transcript:

Brian Charlesworth  00:35
All right. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the Grit Podcast. I'm Brian Charlesworth. I'm the founder of Sisu and your host of the show. And today I am here with Winston Murray and excited to spend some time with Winston. Winston runs a team or a brokerage "teamerage", we’ll talk about that. But he runs something out of the Pacific Northwest up in Portland, did about I want to say around 700 transactions last year, is that correct?
Winston Murray  01:04
750, 400 million.
Brian Charlesworth  01:07
Okay, and how long have you been in the business?
Winston Murray  01:09
I've been in the business for about 11 years.
Brian Charlesworth  01:12
Okay, so 11 years anyway, it's just really taken off as of late. I wanted to share this story Winston because how I met you actually just recently, I'm we're actually meeting now. But a few weeks ago, Winston happened to be at a Zillow meeting. I think it was a Zillow Flex team meeting. And he shared a screen that I actually have here on my screen, maybe I'm going to share this I don't ever share on my podcast. But for those of you watching, I'm actually going to share this on my screen because I think it's cool. So can you guys see that? Are you seeing that? Winston? That's the one Yeah. All right. So tell me what is this? Why did you share this in a Zillow meeting? And the way I heard about this is my wife who runs a Zillow Flex team happen to be in that meeting, and said, hey, it's a guy named Winston. He's in there talking about Sisu. I said, Oh, that's cool. I need to meet Winston. So tell me more.
Winston Murray  02:07
Yeah, well, they asked me to share kind of the best practices and what we did last year to my first 12 months in Flex, how we scaled our small team of agents to 80 and started a brokerage in the first 12 months. And so they were kind of having me share best practices and how I was able to do that. And, of course, all the growing pains that come along with that. We implemented Sisu earlier last year into our business, and it's been instrumental, I think, I think I related it to being the dashboard for my business. And you know, when you're driving 200 300 miles per hour, it's nice to have a dashboard for your business. And so that's how I talked about it. But it was really genuine. It wasn't. I mean, it was a plug for Sisu. But it's, I believe in it, so I wouldn't have done it.
Brian Charlesworth  02:56
But I think it's awesome because Sisu was built for people like you, I came into this business to help my wife grow our business for a year. And I saw like, I was like, Why has nobody provided this to this industry? And so yeah, so that's, that's how Sisu got started, but eight to 80 agents, in what timeframe?
Winston Murray  03:13
12 months.
Brian Charlesworth  03:15
12 months? How did you do that?
Winston Murray  03:17
You know, a lot of pain.
Brian Charlesworth  03:21
But isn't growth always pain? I mean, yeah, there's some pleasure in there, but there's always pain, right? I think from the outside, we only see pleasure. But
Winston Murray  03:30
Yeah, I always joke about how like when an agent joins our brokerage, you know, they're gonna come out of their first 12 months with like three to five years of volume, exposure, and experience and how it's not as much time in the industry as much as it is volume experience. Because if you're, you know, if you're doing five houses a year for 30 years, it's not a ton compared to maybe someone in their first year doing 20 to 30, you know, they're coming out of the gate swinging. And the same for us running the brokerage at that speed. We're, you know, a brokerage that's only two years old. Although I've been running my real estate business for 11 years. I feel like in the last two years, you know, we've gained like 10 years of brokerage experience. And so when we first got on Flex, it was kind of like an overflow of leads. And my biggest challenge was that I didn't have enough agents to pick up the phone, which is a very unique challenge to have for a realtor credit dream, honestly, it'd be like, Wow, okay, how is it that my biggest challenge is that I have too much business and how can I handle that much business? And so I had a coach previously who was just like, scale thyself, scale thyself. And he actually when I was heavy in production, I sold 70 houses in one year by myself and you know, work until 2 am sometimes, but I wrote this manual
Brian Charlesworth  04:45
Selling 70 houses, I just want I don't want to step because if you're a realtor selling 70 houses, I mean, most of you know this because most of our listeners are in real estate but like, you do not have a life at that point. Like Real Estate is all you do and you go on vacation and you're still doing real estate. I remember being on vacation, honeymoon, having homes under contract, being out on the beach on my cell phone in Mexico, you know, it's constant work. So do you agree with that Winston?
Winston Murray  05:17
Yeah, and luckily, you know, and I got into the industry as early 2022 or so 23, 34 now and you know, I didn't really have a life it was really just all work. And my whole thing was that you know, hey, one day I want to grow a family and have a life and so I might as well put these kinds of hours in now but you know, this brokerage was self-funded off of my production so I'm the only owner I'm the founder of it and self-funded the majority of it and so
Brian Charlesworth  05:47
so your brokerage is Works Real Estate. Where... which brokerage did you start at when you came into the business?
Winston Murray  05:53
Well, I've been at REMAX, I've been at Keller, and I've been at a couple of other boutique brokerages that are local to Portland as well. So today we're Works Real Estate, Portland Works in Portland, Seattle Works Real Estate in Seattle, and so on and so forth. So we're working up and down the I-5 corridor with the 70 agents we have today, between both markets.
Brian Charlesworth  06:14
Okay, so you've now been in the real estate industry for 11 years, and nine years in, you decided you're going to start your own brokerage? Yeah. Why? Yeah. What was the vision here? Why did you do this?
Winston Murray  06:27
Honestly, out of necessity, I mean, you know, when we got the flex partnership, it was like, look like, the big box name, I think is becoming less relevant. The name and the brokerage is becoming less relevant. It's all about the human on the other side, representing the client and that connection, right? Even for us, they don't really care about our company, they care about the quality of service that that agent relationship that they're building is, that's it even more so today with, you know, how common it is for people to just hop online and meet their agent compared to you know, how common walk-ins used to be back in the day, and or having that trusted name and brand as like just a staple in the community. So
Brian Charlesworth  07:11
I totally agree that the brokerage name means nothing to the client, right? Yeah, honestly, the team name doesn't really mean anything to the client. What means something to the client is that they're taken care of. They're confident they're going to be working with the right person who's going to do everything on their behalf and represent them in the best way. And that is actually I don't know if you've used Sisu's client portal yet because I know you're fairly new to Sisu. But in my opinion, that is the future of real estate is that you have to let people know where they're at during that transaction. And visually, not just by calling them once a week on Wednesdays and giving them an update, they need to visually know what's next and what they just completed. And that's one of the benefits of Sisu.
Winston Murray  08:01
That's exactly where the opportunity lies in the industry so many clients don't even know how their realtor get gets paid. They don't know that when they click a home through Redfin, that agent can show them any home, they don't know. They just don't know how it works, you know, like transparency is a goal here and turning the lights on in the industry and creating more transparency and easy access to homeownership for the consumer and ultimately just having them feel more empowered through the process. But we're far away from getting to that point. So we're barely scratching the surface of it, what I think is the opportunity heading into the future of the industry. So yeah.
Brian Charlesworth  08:40
Yeah, so you've been able to go from eight to 80 agents because you had an abundance of lead flow. So I know you have a Zillow Flex relationship, which that's obviously a lot of leads coming in. What other ways are you generating leads for your agents?
Winston Murray  08:56
Yeah, so we partner with Ylopo for our website. So that's more of a retention tool, we found, you know, obviously, our clients are still searching on Zillow as an app. But you know, it's really nice to have any kind of consumer data that will say, hey, this person hasn't talked to you in six months is active, you should probably call them any anything and everything we can do to help leverage our agents time is a value and so yeah, we scaled eight to 80. But at that point, it was like, Okay, and let's leads means nothing without quality control. So having a really nice streamlined automated education program that is really hard to synthesize and figure out okay, how am I going to teach someone who's never sold a home, everything they need to know about real estate in 30 days, you just you can't do that I'm learning something every day and I'm 11 years into this. And so for us our philosophy there was like, Okay, if we can teach an agent how to build trust and gain a client, both a buyer or a seller, then the client will teach that agent everything else they need to know about the process through a series of scenarios and questions that come up about sewer lines and roofs and whatever, with an emphasis on repeat business and referrals. And so I think the thing that makes us different than a traditional team or teamerage is that I would like to think we are we're a brokerage. We're not a team. We're a brokerage we offer team likes support, but our agents have autonomy in what they're building. And I've found that that actually helps us with retention and attracting more of a self-starter type entrepreneurial realtor that is what this industry was built on.
Brian Charlesworth  10:33
So when you say you offer that kind of support, let's talk about what is the support that you offer as a brokerage,
Winston Murray  10:41
full transaction coordination support, they're, they're local to our market, they're real human beings. They have a depth of experience in this market and relationships with other realtors. We were able to bring them in-house, I feel really fortunate to have brought that six-person transaction coordination team in there.
Brian Charlesworth  10:56
So you have a transaction coordination team in your office. Six agents are not agents, but six TCs, let's call them all time.
Winston Murray  11:05
Yeah, they're not in the office, but they're in you know, in our virtual office or we do have a physical office, but most of our agents, you know, are working from home right now. And so we have them and then we have a listing, a dedicated listing team to support our agents with data entry on the back end. So our agents are responsible for getting the house prepped for sale, you know, paint this, fix that landscaping, cleaning, whatever. And once the agent fills out the datasheet, we will enter it on the back end for our agents and help coordinate lockboxes keys flyers, and open houses send out the email to the MLS promoting the listing the social media posts, so a lot of that heavy lifting on the back end is leveraged off of our agent's plate. So we meet them halfway on that which saves a ton of time to do more of what they're best at. So yeah, there's never be a reason in this market that we're not available to meet the client demand, whether it's a go show house now or, Hey, I need repair negotiations. Now if we're designing a flyer for our latest listing or getting ready for the open house like that's not the agent is not the best person to do those things. And for us as a sense of quality control and marketing. I don't want our agents taking iPhone photos on their listings. So we pay for photos, video marketing, and professional, and we do 3d tours, and floor plans for every listing. So there's that's our marketing package. That's a cost saving for the agent but more importantly, is time savings.
Brian Charlesworth  12:28
Yeah, and that it's time savings. And it represents professionalism from you guys. So I mentioned the word teamerage use it word brokerage, in my opinion, you're a teamerage, and I'll tell you why. Okay, because the traditional brokerage doesn't do any of this stuff you just talked about doing from lead gen to transaction coordination to the photos to any of that they just don't do it. And so when I say teamerage, I say you're a brokerage that operates like a team.
Winston Murray  12:56
Yeah, I would like to think that we're the next evolution of a traditional brokerage. Yes, I would agree with that. Yeah, so my head's in 10 years where like, every broker should be providing this kind of value to their agent in order to survive and stay relevant in the industry. Because when it comes down to the backend things that I just mentioned, that's not what a realtor does best, right? It's not that the agent who aces the exam, that is going to ace it in the field, is usually that that person has a very high emotional and social IQ to be able to like, maintain a high-level quality relationship with hundreds and hundreds of people at the same time. That person should be high-level supportive. So we're talking about leverage beyond transaction coordination and listing support. We also offer referral cards. So you know, we use Follow Up Boss as a CRM or agent, if they get maybe a past client who refers them, let's say their neighbor to sell their house, that agent can go and Follow Up Boss tag concierge, hey, can you send this person, a handwritten thank you referral card for referring their neighbor to me? So this is old school. Buffini leveraged with tech, right, it's still all about that personal touch. So that agent is now incentivized and supported by the brokerage to build a strong, intentional referral-based business through these systems, including referral cards, post referral cards, plus closing gifts, and we meet the agent halfway on the cost of a home warranty to ensure that client relationship is protected at the end of the day. That's all that matters.
Brian Charlesworth  14:24
Yeah. Okay. So I'm gonna shift gears here for a minute because I think part of the problem with real estate over the last 30 years with these brokerages has been that they didn't, they didn't charge enough, then charge enough on each transaction in order that they could build the support to really provide the value to the agents.
Winston Murray  14:48
Totally. I agree. 100% Yeah.
Brian Charlesworth  14:50
So what do you guys charge? Like how do you price it if you're providing a lead to an agent? You know, how is that different than a normal transaction? I just love to hear your cost structure
Winston Murray  15:01
Hasn't always been the same. And we started out on a 50/50 split. Regardless of the source, it made it way easier to track, it was really simple for agents to understand, hey, everything sells 50/50. And the reason why is because we want to help you build your referral-based business. And it doesn't matter if that client is coming from Zillow, or referral, we're gonna help you get referrals from all of those clients. And we're going to teach you how to provide that kind of service that generates repeat business referrals. And we needed that when we were small and at scale things, you know, when you have more agents, you have more money, and you can come off of those splits over time. But in the early phase of building our team, like we had to keep our splits high because of so expensive just to build this business. And so
Brian Charlesworth  15:41
it building a team. So are you talking about building a team before you were a brokerage? What are you talking about?
Winston Murray  15:47
Oh, I was a showing agent, I was a buyer's agent. And then I went solo. And then I started in then I hired a TC and then I built a team and then a brokerage. So every floor,
Brian Charlesworth  16:00
Okay, so that's when you were building a team, you were 50/50 when you started this brokerage? What are your splits? Like there? What is the compensation look like?
Winston Murray  16:09
Yeah, so it started out 50/50 for the first nine months, and then we and then we switched it to 60/40, when the market flipped, we were actually offering staging for every listing. So we cut that out just in time, I think we were at one point, we're doing like 40 grand a month in staging, which would come back every 30 days, but then only half of it started to come back after a while, and when the market shifted. And so you know, we increased agent-generated business splits by 10%. So it's a 60/40 on that 50/50. And we share the success fee. So any referral fees outside of these sources, we do off the top, and then it's split 50/50. Recently, as of the last three or four months, we've implemented a new comp plan, which is more structured around a total company production tiered split. So a new agent, a brand new agent, which I'm not scared of a new agent, because of the education program we have. I have new agents out selling veterans all day. I love new agents,
Brian Charlesworth  17:06
Most power teams and I'm still calling you a power team because everything you've told me about your brokerage, you run like a team.
Winston Murray  17:13
Okay, I'll tell you what's different, though, in a little bit.
Brian Charlesworth  17:16
Okay. Okay. So that being said, what I found is, it's easier to teach real estate skills, and have them move into your culture, which is a culture of production, and actually be willing to make 25 great conversations per day than it is to train somebody who's been in the agent for 10 years to actually work, right. I mean, that's, you bring somebody in, and it's been in the business for 10 years that's been selling four homes a year. They don't know what work is, right? They don't fit into your culture.
Winston Murray  17:53
Nor do they see where the industry is headed. Because they already have a fixed mentality around what and, honestly, like, they might have 10 years on me and have a more established database. And they don't need to work that hard. So kudos to them. But for those folks coming into this, you do. And not only that, you need to learn these tools and systems to operate your business at a high level. So we include the tech stack, including Sisu as part of that, of course, plus CRM and Ylopo and all the tools, you need to have a good presence online and run your business at a high level.
Brian Charlesworth  18:26
Yeah. Okay. So, tell me, I mean, what, what is the elephant? How are you different than the team?
Winston Murray  18:34
So let's talk about it now. So we have a tiered split. So new agent starts at a 60/40 split and over time as they become more experienced, and now hopefully more of their business is coming from referrals, we see a 15 to 25% increase in referral business year after year.
Brian Charlesworth  18:50
When you say referral, you're saying SOI?
Winston Murray  18:52
Yeah, the sphere of influence or past clients and so on. Zillow is like, hey, we want to provide the kind of experience to that Zillow client that generates two or three more deals. And so if you're providing a good experience online, you're not going to last online long because you're building an intentional referral-based business and becoming less reliant on that Zillow source of business. And so when an agent comes in it, we're wanting them to get to that 10-year mark, where they're sitting back and they're collecting referral checks, and I want to keep that agent at our brokerage for the next 10 15 to 20 years too we're helping them build, a go for it
Brian Charlesworth  19:30
What do you do so? Yeah, like, what do you do to keep them there? Right. Yeah.
Winston Murray  19:34
So will the splits help? So
Brian Charlesworth  19:37
So what are they?
Winston Murray  19:38
Yeah, so 60/40 for a new agent after that agent sells 4 million and volume which is about eight houses in our market, their split gets incrementally better by 5% So go 35/65, And then another 4 million after that, their split will be at a 70/30 on agent generated business, which now sudden 70/30 is comparable to a normal brokerage out there. Plus you have all this unique support that we offer and Zillow opportunities that they would not have had otherwise.
Brian Charlesworth  20:05
Yeah. So
Winston Murray  20:07
it goes deeper if you want.
Brian Charlesworth  20:09
Yeah. So let's stop there for a minute. So, so
Winston Murray  20:13
It's all times, so that's not on a rolling 12. That's just like, hey, a new agent needs a lot of support in the beginning. And then once they got a year and a half under their belt, or 15 houses under their belt in production like they're gonna be good. And they know
Brian Charlesworth  20:24
Is that is that based off last year's production? Is that based off this year's production? What is that based off of?

Winston Murray  20:41
Yeah, so for folks coming in, we take a toll on a snapshot of production, and then we place them in their 70/30s 65/35 or 60/40 split.
Brian Charlesworth  20:51
So if someone goes down in production, they can actually go up in splits again.
Winston Murray  20:56
Yeah, potentially. Yeah, it could take someone five years to get to a 70/30 to sell a million or it can take someone three months.
Brian Charlesworth  21:02
Yeah. So I was with one of the top coaches in the real estate industry the other day. And, you know, he's coached teams to a billion dollars teams and brokerages to over a billion dollars in closed volume. And I was talking to him about the splits and that was okay, look, your typical team charges 50/50. Your brokerage a lot of brokerages are doing that now if they're acting like teams just like you are. And he said a lot of them are also good doing 70/30 Where, but it's 70/30. It's also 30/70. So you bring your own deal to the table, your referral, I'm gonna give you 70/30. But if I bring my Zillow leads to the table, so now I'm keeping 70, you're keeping 30. Which, if someone's 50, if someone's 50% SOI referral, whatever you want to call it, that all balances out, and we're back to 50/50. Right?
Winston Murray  22:04
Yeah, yeah. Oh, that's interesting. Yeah, we don't do that. But we did keep our agent gen business or company gen business split 50/50. So that doesn't change. So as we grow our database and our tools around Ylopo and Zillow,, and all these other online lead sources, were equipped for volume. And so we'll continue to drive that forward, and reinstate our value because even the best agents in a slow time might tap into Zillow and supplement because they're slow that month, that's a value and you know, they're going to convert at a high level because they're a veteran. And so, previously, we would lose agents at about that year, year, year and a half mark, when people are like, Hey, I know what I'm doing. Thanks so much, don't need to pay the split anymore. And especially in COVID, because they had a lot of early success. So people's heads got really big, really quick. And they're like, Alright, I'm gonna just go do this on my own. And then they realize, oh, wow, Works provided a ton of support. So that being said, we have,
Brian Charlesworth  23:00
what percentage of those people have you seen that leave you like that that actually ended up failing?
Winston Murray  23:06
Good question. I say that the majority of them are probably still in the industry, but maybe have sold like one or two houses.
Brian Charlesworth  23:14
Yes. So one to two houses a year? Is it worth asking this question? For the agents out there, they shouldn't leave it is that worth leaving a team where you're selling 20 homes plus a year to go sell two to four homes a year and make no money? And ultimately, you're gonna be out of the business. If you do that you will be out of the business, they may be in for a year or two, but they're going to be gone.
Winston Murray  23:36
Short-term thinking, you know, at a time when someone needs cash, it's like, wow, well, 10%. More today is nice, even though I might get paid better in the long run. But it's very short-term thinking. And that's where it's like, when an agent comes in, I want them to know that we're wanting them to build like a tenure database in three years, and grow this thing together for the next 15 or 20. And create a space where they actually can sell their business back to later because there's also no retirement plan. There's no exit plan for many Realtors as well. And wouldn't it be nice if the person adopting your business learned the same way you did? uses the same tools, the same systems? And from the day you started, you were intentionally building that business to sell it later.
Brian Charlesworth  24:20
Yes. What other kinds of growth opportunities do you give your agents? I know a lot of these teams like my wife's example. You know, she has agents that have been around for five-plus years. Those agents have always had growth opportunities. They become mentors, where they're getting, you know, a percentage of other agents' deals and now some of them have become where they're operating an expansion team. So are you doing things like that as well for your agents or what kind of growth opportunities to give them within the organization?
Winston Murray  24:50
So, tier one, two, and three is up to 70/30. But then we have a production maintained and a rolling 12 is actually at 80/20. So for folks doing 15 million of volume or 25 units or more, and they're maintaining that on an annual basis, they're on an 80/20 for their agent-generated business. This is like we would lose agents out a year and a half. And now this agent after a year and a half, it's getting way better split. And they're incentivized to continue growing their repeat business referrals.
Brian Charlesworth  25:19
Yeah. And even at that, yeah, those agents, what percentage of their leads would you say, are SOI? And what percentage are company generated
Winston Murray  25:30
At that point is probably 75% agent-generated business compared to your referral. And that the value is when they're intentionally building by referral. Whereas a brokerage, we're freeing up our pipeline to bring in new agents that will benefit the same way they did to build their business. But if we're only focused on Zillow, we're only focused on this online, and we're more transactional, we're seeing fewer repeat business referrals, and we're stagnating our growth because we're solely dependent on that lead source.
Brian Charlesworth  25:59
Okay. Okay, great. Um,
Winston Murray  26:03
There's one more tier, Brian, I have one more. I want to say this,
Brian Charlesworth  26:06
Thanks for opening, you know, your doors and showing us the whole business
Winston Murray  26:11
There are no secrets. By the time anyone implements this, it's going to change again anyway. So that's okay.
Brian Charlesworth  26:16
Oh, yeah, well, that's the thing about let's think about real estate, like everybody here is willing to share what they're doing. And people see things working. And they usually don't take action on it. But even if you do take action, great, it's all about execution. And most likely, nobody in Portland is going to listen to this and execute on this. But people from all over the country likely will so
Winston Murray  26:39
I hope so. Okay, last year, you said it yourself, when you're selling 70 houses a year, you don't have any life. So a lot of this company was built out of necessity and my production experience, and you can go have one, two, or three really killer years, but can you do it and maintain that high volume for the next 5 10 15 years, and have a quality of life, you can't and that's exactly where the opportunity lies, this industry is broken. It's in many ways, it's not set up. For long-term success. As a realtor, there are not a lot of retirement options. It's exhausting, etc, etc. So if an agent is maintaining 35 units, or more or 20 million in volume works, real estate actually employs someone to support that agent at a deeper level in their business. So now that the agent has their own assistant, that brokerage is providing where that's a W two salaried employee with a small base bonus based on closings dependent on the source of business. So if the agent, the lead agent brings in a deal, they pay the bonus, or technically the brokerage pays the bonus out of the check, and so on and so forth. So now that the agent has a lot more leverage in searching, sending, showing scheduling inspections, we call it the four S's, which usually takes up about 75% of the time it takes to represent a buyer. So now that agent can do 50 units a year and still have a day or two off a week and maintain a quality lifestyle.
Brian Charlesworth  28:10
Yeah, okay, cool. Love it.
Winston Murray  28:13
And we've had an 80/20 split for those heavy hitters out there in the field already. And you know, so that's our story for now.
Brian Charlesworth  28:22
All right. So, back in November, October, November, you know, interest rates went on a hike, right? Like, faster than has ever happened before, because interest rates, quite frankly, have never been that low before. I've never seen a 2% interest rate in my lifetime. And I have a long lifetime, that has never happened until, you know, two years ago. So interest rates come back up, they're now you know, five to 7%, which is, you know, actually a good fair rate. If you look at, you know, the history over the last 30 years. So, in your opinion, what's happening in real estate today, and what do you need to do to be successful?
Winston Murray  29:05
I just had our brokerage meeting this morning, and it was talking about the agent who's going to survive and not only survive this market but thrive in and capture market share is the one who has a routine is the one who is actually approaching their production and their trade, like a business. You know, teaching an agent that trade is so different than teaching them how to run a really strong, intentional, repeat business referral business that will last you know? And I think that a lot of the changes in the industry that you and I have referred to is really talking about the majority of the industry, which are part-time agents that don't do this as a full-time career, you know, they might do for four or five houses a year and that's it. I think the future of the industry is going to be more full-time high-level advisors who are living and breathing real estate, year after year. So this shift that we're experiencing seeing I've been talking about because there's always going to be another shift, it's going to happen again. And day one at Keller Williams, I remember an agent saying is 2011 right after the crash, they're like, Oh, you just got into real estate. Today's day one, okay, well, good luck, you better find another job soon because there's going to be another crash. And so I've had this instilled for 10 years, I need to build a hyper-intentional business now. So I don't get squeezed out later. And so for any agent who's doing this full time and has intentionality and a really solid database, I don't have a lot of concerns about it in terms of what rates are doing. This is what I'm telling clients, yeah, rates are higher than they were before. But historically, it's pretty normal. Hopefully, they'll come down, it's not ideal, I'll definitely say that there's a lot of stress on the economy, and that trickles down to like every family's household right now. And I think it's worth just acknowledging the pain that we're in. And after COVID, I mean, there's a lot of people and in pain, and ultimately, what I tell clients is that there's just simply not enough houses. So I can't tell you what rates are gonna do, I don't have the crystal ball on that. But I do know that there are just not enough houses. And for as long as we're alive, I think housing is going to be a crisis, and that there's not enough of them. And everyone deserves a roof over their head, a locked door, and a source of heat. And if nothing else, you just have those four walls, like everyone deserves that sense of security. And so if you can afford to buy if you're privileged enough to be in a position to buy, buy now, and hold it, yeah, that's what I've been.
Brian Charlesworth  31:34
And if interest rates come down, refi
Winston Murray  31:37
Refi. And even then when rates come down, it's not that demand is down, no one doesn't want to own a home, you know, it's just affordability is down. And so when rates come down, it's going to be Yeah, it's gonna be like 20 offers on every house again, good luck. And that's exhausting from a realtor's standpoint. So anyway, that's my thought, we need more houses, we need to build more houses. And ultimately, that's my end goal.
Brian Charlesworth  31:58
And most builders have held back on their buildings right now. So the inventory shortage is continuing. Yeah, thanks for sharing that there's something you share that I want to dive deeper into you said, you know, if you're an agent that's running your business, like a business, you're going to be okay. Great. So if I'm a team owner or a broker-owner, how do I get my people to run their business like a business? Because that's, like, those are the people that need to make this shift, right? They're the leaders of this industry, Winston. So how do I do that if I'm a business owner?
Winston Murray  32:33
Okay, this is perfect. You asked earlier, what separates us between a team and a brokerage. And it is ownership. That's what it is. And that, you know, our agents do buyers versus sellers, I think a good buyer's agent is what makes a good listing agent and vice versa. It's that agent's name on the sign, when if they ever were to transfer beyond the brokerage, the contacts that they were that were company generated, as long as they still pay the split on that they can walk with those contacts, so the business that they're building is theirs. And what we're doing is we're opening up a huge opportunity in the market where we're seeing a lot of really well high volume experienced agents who are on a traditional team. And they have maybe 100 units under their belt, but they don't have anything to show for it. They don't have those deals tracked under their name. And so those agents are coming to me and they're like, I finally want to build something on my own perfect. Now all sudden, that agent is a lot more excited about taking our suggestions around how to build an intentional referral-based business and what activities you need to do because they're tied to the results of having it as opposed to me just telling them what to do.
Brian Charlesworth  33:42
I think there are a lot of teams that do that, in fact, my wife's team, their agents, their own transactions, you know, it all falls under their name, they have their business. My question, though, is as a business owner, it's so important. These people are running their business like a business today, like the agents that are successful today. They're doing the work, they're having the conversations as a leader, how do I get them to do that?
Winston Murray  34:08
Good question. Okay, so I think having other agents share success stories constantly is something that that we do a good job with. today. We just announced a challenge up until the end of April in Sisu for the most amount of appointments set for both buyers and sellers to have real estate-specific set appointments.
Brian Charlesworth  34:30
So what does that mean? So you're having a sales contest sales challenge, based on appointments set, walk us through when did this challenge start?
Winston Murray  34:40
Today? Actually, it starts tomorrow. We announced it today.
Brian Charlesworth  34:43
Okay, it starts tomorrow. I wish it started on the first of the month because I wanted you to share those increased results. I can guarantee you this. You will have more appointments set in the next 15 days than you have the last 15 days because you are running a challenge.
Winston Murray  34:59
Winston Murray  35:00
What made you decide to do this? Well, because we ran a challenge with the reviews on Zillow, actually five-star reviews on Zillow in December, we got 250 5-star reviews in 30 days.
Brian Charlesworth  35:12
Do you know how many times I've heard that story? Oh, it's crazy reviews. That's all the reviews you need for the year, right?
Winston Murray  35:20
$500 cash prize and I'm like, yo, y'all don't get that, like, you're gonna get five grand times five off this. But they'll work so much harder for the 500 I think it's more just a healthy competition, I understand that. It's like this healthy competition amongst your peers. And really, it's like, with Zillow, everyone is running their own business. But we're all still so closely tied to each other. And if someone has a really bad call, it negatively impacts everybody, just the same as someone getting a listing or has an offer accepted. That's it boosts everyone's performance up. And so in so many ways, we're all connected. And if I think you could get agents to see the big picture of what we're building, and all the benefits that come with building a high intentional referral-based business over time, and the lifestyle that it comes with, and the flexibility, getting people to see the big picture, I think, is how you connect the Why am I doing this, that really has been proven to work for us. And you know, we'll see over the next, you know, 45 days how this next challenge goes. But the intention is go have more real estate conversations, and you will get paid more period, it happens, I think it's hard for people to see that when they're not gonna get, you know, $100 check at the end of every day of eight hours of cold calls or whatever.
Brian Charlesworth  36:33
Yes, well, I would love to hear the outcome of this challenge, I believe, you'll see significant results from it. So excited to hear about that. What is the reward this time?
Winston Murray  36:44
$250 1st prize, $150 2nd prize, and $100 for bucks third prize, and we're doing it for both markets separately.
Brian Charlesworth  36:52
Okay, so it's not as much about the money as it is about the culture and everybody lifting each other. And that's what you see happen when you do a sales challenge. Type prizes for all boats, right? Yeah, everybody's setting more appointments, and everyone's going on more appointments. And therefore everyone is putting more transactions and more homes under contract.
Winston Murray  37:12
Yeah, and having that data to be like, Look, statistically, if you call X amount of people, you get this many more deals back in 90 days, like having the data on that I think the biggest thing is getting our agents, we just implemented a new action follow up boss kind of rollout for database management. And that as a brokerage, we've created automated tasks where like, if you just set the stage, all your tasks will be automated. So we're helping enable our agents to make that follow-up game way easier, which is also how we're just making it easier, you know, like agents have enough to worry about, it's our job to make their life easier. And so we're rolling that out. But part of them auditing their database is just making calls. You can't do a mass action that like defeats the whole purpose of being intentional and making outbound calls. And so yeah, I'm excited to see what happens over the next 90 days or so.
Brian Charlesworth  38:02
Yeah, exciting. All right. Well, congrats on all of your success. The last thing I wanted to share before we jump off, I know you are involved in it started a couple of nonprofit charitable organizations love for you to share with us what you're doing there. And I think this makes a big difference and kind of separates you may be from a lot. Yes, a lot of times it's about the why why am I doing what I'm doing. So tell us more about those.
Winston Murray  38:28
Yeah, when I was 20, I got into some trouble. I ended up getting a DUI and hit a car full of people. And I got totally sober and changed my life. I was 20. And I spent the next 12 years helping build a nonprofit centered around helping young people who have struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and changed their life. And that was a grassroots effort. On my behalf. I was a college dropout. And I was like I'm gonna start a nonprofit and everyone was like, You're crazy. You've never done that. I was like, Well, no one ever has until you just do it. And so fast forward today, that nonprofit now has four different locations, almost 100 employees, and gets over 5 million in grant money per year, I believe I've passed the torch and have, you know, found someone else to kind of take that was a four-year volunteer effort. And then I was like, Okay, now I need to go make some money and figure out how to build my family and support my family. But it taught me it was the best four-year college education I ever had. Because it helped me create something out of nothing. I almost do better with a blank canvas than with structure. And similar to real estate, it was very transferable and taught me how to like manage a market and organize and rally people and great systems and processes and education. And ultimately, when I got into real estate out of that, I felt like I was selling out a little bit and I was like, Look, I have this philanthropic entrepreneurial spirit. I want to sell real estate, learn the trade so much and then come back to the nonprofit world. And so last year we were able to form Works Housing, which is a nonprofit centered around agent resource education and raising funds through our community members or past clients to help other nonprofits who are already doing really good housing-related things in the Pacific Northwest. So really excited that it's full circle. Now,
Brian Charlesworth  40:10
If somebody, if somebody listening wants to help with that, what can they do to help with that? Is there a website, people can go to?
Winston Murray  40:17 And our website is
Brian Charlesworth  40:21
Okay, so it's not the best way to reach you if somebody needs to reach you, Winston?
Winston Murray  40:25
Yeah, or Instagram is good. I'm active on Instagram, always or LinkedIn. So you can find me on Instagram, Winston_Murray1, I'm on LinkedIn, and Facebook and all that as well, of course.
Brian Charlesworth  40:38
Okay, awesome. Last question. If I'm running a real estate business, what is the most important advice you could give me, just one piece of advice that you would give me that you think is going to change my world and set me up for success in the future?
Winston Murray  40:55
Get Sisu. Straight up.
Brian Charlesworth  40:58
I agree with that. But you might need to go into more depth.
Winston Murray  41:02
Well, I think there's so much to do, and Sisu, there's a lot to learn. And by having that one thing, I think that it will force you to look at a lot of different areas in your business. I mean, we run our recruiting through that we run our listing, we're building out the client portal, we run our, you know, our transaction coordination as well, our challenges, I mean, everything is in that. So if you get that I think it will open up a lot of other doors of how to get organized and what things you should be paying attention to.
Brian Charlesworth  41:30
Yeah, well, and just so you all know, I did not pay Winston to say that had no idea that was going to be your answer. But I honestly agree with what you're saying that is one of the most important things you need to do to be in this business in the next three to five years. So
Winston Murray  41:42
I mean, Brian, the software is like a dream come true, like a 10-year dream come true. So I'm really happy to be here today. And that was a genuine answer. I really appreciate your time.
Brian Charlesworth  41:52
Well, thanks, Winston. To all of you listeners. Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Grit podcast. If you can like this episode, give us a review. It will help us get more and more industry leaders like Winston to join us on the show. So thanks, everyone for listening. We'll see you next week on next week's episode of the Grit. Thanks.

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