That is why in order to scale and grow the business, and gain competitive advantage, fully leveraging systems is a must.
Because with a well-integrated system, teams can streamline their operations and workflows. Thus allowing them to focus more of their time and resources on building relationships with clients and closing deals.
And with the right systems in place, teams can work smarter, not harder – which will ultimately take the business to the next level.
In this episode, Erin Catron, Managing Broker, and Heather Lens, Sales Director, of Erin Catron & Company talk about how fully leveraging their systems allowed their business to achieve substantial growth.
(03:42) One of the biggest challenge that every team owner has
(04:33) The value of providing growth opportunities for agents
(08:56) Three things to look for when hiring people
(10:20) What Erin and Heather love about Sisu’s Client Portal
(16:17) Who will succeed in today’s market?
(20:51) What is “Hello Week” and how it works
(27:24) What is their company’s sweet spot for agent attraction?
(30:16) The reality about following systems
(39:35) What Sisu Mastery is for
(41:49) How Sisu helped propel their business forward
Connect with Erin Catron and Heather Lens
Phone: (918) 984-0994
About the guests:
Erin has been in the real estate business for over 15 years. Her innovative approach for utilizing systems and relationships has allowed her to scale her real estate team and achieve incredible success.
Her love for helping others has driven the success of her team and helped her to sell hundreds of homes every year. She's a best-selling author, podcast host, and a member of the Zillow Advisory Board, making her an invaluable asset to the real estate industry.
Heather is one of the top performing agents on Erin’s team. With the amount of production she has under her belt and how much she has given back to the team, she was promoted to Sales Director where she now handles anything that has to do with the sales side of the business.
Nine months into the position, she prides herself on being an advocate for the team. And having been in the trenches has given her the mentality that she’s no different from the rest of the team, she just has a lot more responsibility now to help them all.
Brian Charlesworth 00:35
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'm excited for the show. I get to have two people on here with me today, which is pretty uncommon for me. So I have Erin Catron. Got its pronunciation correct. And Heather Lens who is herself director, and podcast co-star of the show. Anyway, I'm excited to be here with you guys. So Erin has a team based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she used to have a brokerage in Florida. And I think that's one of the coolest things about real estate is you can go anywhere. In fact, I have a brother that's in real estate, and he's more of a mike ferry listing agent, if you will. And, you know, he told me recently his wife wants to move somewhere. I'm like, beautiful thing is you can go anywhere, right? They have a house there and they want, she wants to move there full time. I'm like, Just do it. Like if you know how to generate listings. It's an easy thing to do. So anyway, you guys, Erin, Heather, welcome to the show. Erin has a tremendous background in the real estate industry. She has been in it for over 15 years. She is one of the Zillow Flex Teams that is also on the advisory board for Zillow. And she also has a history of being on TV. She's been on TV with Barbara Corcoran, and a lot of other news channels. So we're gonna dive into that today. And excited to have you guys, welcome to the show. Thank you.
Erin Catron 02:05
Thank you for having us.
Brian Charlesworth 02:07
Anything else you want to add to that? Erin?
Erin Catron 02:10
Wow. I mean, I think you did a great job. So that was a fantastic introduction, it makes me sound like I'm way more important and special than what I probably really am. So I appreciate it, you did a great job.
Brian Charlesworth 02:20
I'm sure there are a lot of people in this industry that look up to you. So anyway, congrats on all your success. And maybe before we get started, you can kind of introduce Heather and share her role in your business so that as we dive into this and learn more about your business, everyone knows who's talking about what and why.
Erin Catron 02:41
Okay, that sounds great. You know, one of the easiest things is to talk about somebody else who you have a lot of respect and admiration for. So Heather is an easy one to kind of tell what she does, because she really does it all. Heather was one of, well, the top performing agent on our team. And this is something else that I think is really amazing in our industry is that, you know, when you start scaling your business, and you want to continue to grow, that there is that ability to promote from within. And that was a great opportunity that we had with Heather, she had the respect of our team already because of the amount of production that she did and how much she already gave back to our team. And so when we made that transition about, it's been about nine months, nine months ago now, and it was not easy as a business owner to go, I'm taking my top producing agent out and now I'm losing her production. But I'm also going to be giving a bigger salary here to bring on somebody in that sales position or a sales manager position
Brian Charlesworth 03:42
The biggest challenge that every team owner has is How do I stop being in production? Most never get there. So anyway, congratulations.
Erin Catron 03:53
Thank you. I also think that's something to hope for gain, you know, for the team itself, like, it gives your other agents that hope, future opportunities. And I think that that's really important for retaining your team, that you have opportunities.
Brian Charlesworth 04:11
So I just want to key in on that. Because I think that it's such an important point, I think so many teams have been down that road every two years, they lose their agents, right. And it's because they're not setting up growth opportunities for those agents so if you guys will make a note of anything on this show, if that's all you get out of this show today. And if you want to stop listening, now, you got to make sure, just make sure that you get growth opportunities for all of your agents so that they can grow within your company and the only way they can grow within your company is if you are growing as a leader. So you need to outgrow your business personally. And the only way you can do that is by getting out and going to events and learning and listening to books and doing all this stuff for personal growth. And I know that Erin does that she came out to one of our events here a while back and So I know that's something you guys do. So anyway, thanks for bringing that up. And I think it's such an important point.
Erin Catron 05:04
Absolutely. So I know I really didn't get to the nuts and bolts of what Heather does. But she is in sales operations she does, basically anything that has to do with the sales side of the business. And that's implementation, she was such a huge factor when we were with her and about Sisu. I heard about it because a lot of the people that I'm associated with on the advisory board for Zillow, were starting to talk about it. And some of the people that I respected the most were saying, if you're going to run your business, like a business, this is really what you need to do that brings everything together all in one place. So of course, when I mentioned anything like that to Heather, she geeks out on that, she loves it.
Brian Charlesworth 05:45
So I saw her light up just when you said the smile, the smile hit her face.
Erin Catron 05:50
So I couldn't I couldn't do it without her knowing what she has done with implementing Sisu. What she has done with making that relevant to the team friendly to the team, because everybody knows that I would say, you know, hope for Ghana is really important. But I'll tell you, what's important, too, is when you have changes with your team, how you present those changes, and how you make those transitions. Because I think that if you don't do it correctly, it will backfire on you and your agents will not buy into the big picture.
Brian Charlesworth 06:20
So Heather, I want to ask you, so transitioning from an agent on a team, to a leader on that team? What did you have to do to gain the respect of the agents because that's a challenge of its own right, they need to view you as a leader. And obviously, you were a top producer before you did this. So they already looked up to you. But there's a difference when you're the one now, that is in that position of hey, you know, I'm holding you accountable, I'm going to help you hit your goals. And so what did you do to make that a successful transition?
Heather Lens 06:52
So we had the conversation of me moving into this position, I mean, probably for a year and a half, two years. I mean, it's been a long time that we kind of had the desire to move into, that she knew as we were growing, that we would need someone in that role. And so even though I wasn't in that role, over a year ago, two years ago, I really acted as if I was, and so a lot of things that you know, would happen, you know, I wouldn't maybe take as many lead opportunities so that they could see that I'm not trying to gobble up everything I'm trying to help pass it on. If someone needed help, I was the one helping them if they wanted extra time, you know, I would take extra time with them. So we really kind of had that role before I even had the role. And I think when the transition happened, the respect was there, because I kind of worked with them in the trenches in both capacities, which was hard. I mean, it wasn't an easy thing to do both. But I really think that there was a lot of I tried to be very humble in that position, too. So it wasn't something that when I moved over, it was like, Look at me, I'm the Sales Director, I'm different from you, I really still have the mentality of hey, I'm you. I just have a lot more responsibility for helping all of you guys now.
Brian Charlesworth 08:01
Erin Catron 08:03
Advocate. Yeah, I think it's 100% Her helpfulness and humility. And being an advocate for the team and being able to say, I've been there. I know, you know, I can totally relate to where you are. And so I'm going to be that mouthpiece for you.
Brian Charlesworth 08:19
Listening to a book right now that talks about the qualities of a great leader, and one of the things is hiring the right people, but when they hire people, they're always looking for three things. And it's humble, hungry, and smart. Smart is the least important of the three, obviously, Audible is at the top. So it's the most important, right? So any great leader is going to be humble. And you're also going to have to be smart, right? So you can lead people but think it's a key piece. So anyway, congratulations on your, you know, progress, and I just glanced at your Sisu account, we have a way now that we can go in and see just how effective people are utilizing Sisu. And from what I saw, you guys are really, really taking advantage of the platform. And always
Erin Catron 09:12
We're really grateful for Sisu.
Brian Charlesworth 09:15
Well, well, we're grateful to have you as a customer. But I wanted to ask, are you also using the client portal?
Heather Lens 09:20
Brian Charlesworth 09:21
Okay. So this is awesome. I had no idea that you guys were doing this. So I would love to hear from you guys. As a customer who now uses a client portal. What kind of an impact do you see this having on the industry because as the CEO of Sisu my vision here is look like if I ordered DoorDash or if I order Instacart or whatever it is. I get to see. Right, the orders have been submitted. It's now being prepared. It's now waiting for pickup. It's now out for delivery. It's now on your doorstep right now with a picture. I feel that we as humans have been trained, that that's what we expect. That's what we expect and experience. But there is no other company that I'm aware of that is actually delivering that experience. So really during the, you know, listing to under contract or under contract to close, so can you talk about the client portal and how you guys have that set up and what you feel it means to future real estate?
Erin Catron 10:27
I'm going to talk really quickly, and then I'm gonna let Heather speak to the technicality of how it's set up. But one of the things that I love most about the client portal is that it has really taken automation to a new level. The other thing is, I think we are insane, to depend upon our agents to do all the things. And so I think the more that we can take off of their plate, and that we can transition to somebody and more of an admin type position that can watch that track that make sure that it's being done, because I think that the overall idea is phenomenal. But it's only as good as the implementation goes. And if you're depending upon the wrong people, because we've had campaigns that we've had set up in our CRM before we've made email templates for our agents. And if you will just send out these emails, when you go under contract, if you will just send out you know, these updates. If people update somebody, I mean, we could go on and on with expectations and what we asked them to do,
Brian Charlesworth 11:23
yeah, the agents will not get.
Erin Catron 11:25
So the client portal has given us way more control of that whole process of going, we don't want to look like it gets to our clients by not sending out these milestone updates. And if we are using the program correctly, and which we're trying, we really have IT admin heavy on clearing tasks, like finishing tasks, because we know that if we put that on our agent side, it's going to be a disappointment for the client, it's going to be a disappointment for us. And then at the end of the day, it doesn't make us look very professional, when it's not getting done. So
Brian Charlesworth 12:00
task lists, as you're going from contract close, like you don't want those tasks to be assigned to your agents, right, agents don't do that. That's your admin team.
Erin Catron 12:09
And the other part of that is that we can actually give value to our agents by saying this is going to be done. Yes, we have some of the things that you have to be responsible for, we have to know when you have contracts, we have to know, you know, when inspections are complete, or whatever those are, but I'll let her speak to the technicality of maybe what that looks like. If you want to know kind of on the backend, what we're using, is that what you're asking to
Brian Charlesworth 12:31
Yeah, feel free to share. Heather,
Heather Lens 12:33
I was gonna say I've got a couple of things to share about that our transaction coordinators did so much of helping us know what the client would actually want to see. Because you know, there are a lot of tasks that really they don't need to know about. But one of the biggest things for the client portal for for me and for our agents is that all of a sudden, you know, the agents, you know that you have one under contract, and then they're going to try and find another one under contract and another one under contract, we found that the communication from contract to close from the agent isn't always the best if there isn't something happening. So if there's not an inspection, or there's not an appraisal, there are a lot of gaps in communication. And so one thing I love customer service wise, is I feel like that client portal is another layer of our customer service that lets them know we're working on this. So you might not hear from your agent today, because there's nothing really new to update, but you're gonna get an email saying, hey, something new has been done on your client portal. So for me, it was a great way to help support our agents in their communication without them having to communicate necessarily. Now, obviously, we want them to call and talk as much as they can. But I love that piece of it. The other piece of that is that I just talked to someone I think Frank over at Sisu, and he was saying, you know, Hey, are you guys doing your settlement statements towards tax season? You know, in January, you can do it on the client portal. My mind was blown. I hadn't even thought about not even closing the contract to close, but just follow up in general, later, you know, following up with our clients during, you know, January, February, when tax season is coming up. So there's so much more to the client portal that's available to us than just close.
Brian Charlesworth 14:06
Yes, yes, absolutely. Thanks for sharing that. I also think that agents should take advantage of that if I'm an agent before the reason Sisu got born is because they helped spring with our business for 18 months. during that time frame. I was trying to be a power listing agent. I sold 48 homes my first year in the business.
Erin Catron 14:29
That is a power listing agent, yes.
Brian Charlesworth 14:31
But what I found is you know, every Wednesday I blocked Wednesday afternoons off to call all of my under contracts and talk to them about what was going on. Well, if only I had had this client portal say look, these are the things we did this is what's up next right? And also I think about it if I would have had the client portal to leverage to go into a listing appointment and say, Look, this is what sets us apart. This is how we communicate with you. Same way you're used to being communicated with all the time on Anything else you do? There's nobody else that does this in the industry. And I guarantee you, there's probably none of your competitors in Oklahoma, are doing that, right. So it's a huge advantage for agents on the buyer side and the listing side to go in and share that with their clients.
Heather Lens 15:15
One thing I didn't mention, but we're working on implementing this now is using the client portal, also for our onboarding for our new agents. And so making a roadmap for what an onboarding looks like to them, and then using the portal for that as well.
Brian Charlesworth 15:32
Oh, that is such a great idea. I didn't even think of that. How, how genius, are you? I'm impressed
Heather Lens 15:38
With your system.
Erin Catron 15:39
We just have these ideas. And we're like, oh, it'd be nice if we can do this. And then there's like, I think we can do this. Like she's always like, I think we can make the system work in these ways. And we do that all the time. And everything like yeah, it seems like it's probably once a week. What if we did this? Or what if we, why are we not doing this? Why are we not? Yeah,
Brian Charlesworth 15:59
That is such a great idea for the onboarding of agents that is taking it to a new level. And I will take that to Spring's ops person. Because I think that's critical. Definitely critical. So you guys have about 30 agents now. Is that right? Yes. Tell me, what is your view of the industry today? Industry is so big, but what's going on in the industry?
Erin Catron 16:24
Market industry, I mean, all I can say is it's hot. And the agents who are willing to work are going to be successful. And I think if you want to sum it up, and just that little nutshell, then that tells the whole story. Our agents have high accountability, it is an expectation of being in the office being available, having office hours, sales training, we do just in time for our team twice a week, you know, we are trying to give them every resource that they can possibly have. Because what that means is that they're engaged in their business, they will outperform every other agent in our market.
Brian Charlesworth 17:02
What is just in time?
Erin Catron 17:03
Just in time is...
Brian Charlesworth 17:05
For those who don't know, I actually do
Erin Catron 17:07
Oh, like, right, you know. So just in time, so we coach with Spring, and Justin Nelson is her ops manager. And he's also
Brian Charlesworth 17:18
Her director of sales, or he basically is her team leader in a sense, sales leader.
Erin Catron 17:24
Yeah, exactly. I mean, pretty much. He's my Heather. Yeah, he also was a Tony Robbins coach previously. So he's very dynamic. And he is a stellar salesperson. And so that translates to any type of sales. And what we've also done with that, as we are leveraging that in other ways to that he does two trainings a week. So on Mondays and Fridays, one o'clock Central for us. And so we've opened that up to not just our team, but we're also opening it up once a month, to recruit and invite other agents to come in, and listen to that. And then we've also opened that up to our industry partners. So like, I met with our media billboard. He's the owner of the Tulsa billboard. I mean, he's a pretty big, pretty big deal here and on air. Yeah. And I was having breakfast with him yesterday. And I was like, Shawn, you should be sending your salespeople to our office, any Monday and any Friday, because this sales training, like I said, it translates into any type of sales. And so we've tried to leverage that as well. But it's powerful. And just giving our agents that opportunity. What we want to do is we didn't want anybody to come to us and say, I failed at Aaron catering company, because you didn't do something for me, you know, that we give more than anybody. And if somebody can't make it in our environment, it is 100% because they decided not to.
Brian Charlesworth 18:50
Yeah, it's on them not on you. Yes, yeah. And then it's because you have the systems in place. So one of the things that you just shared, you said that the market is hot. Yes. And, you know, I wish every real estate team owner felt that way. I believe it's true. I do. But it takes work. And it didn't take work, right. It takes a team leader who's willing to hold their agents accountable. Yes, it takes a team leader who's willing to have sales meetings every week. Yes, you have to be a leader. And I mean, that's really why Sisu was built was to help managers become better managers, leaders become better leaders. That's really what it does. Right? You said somebody at Zillow was saying, Oh, yes, just kind of what did they do? What did they tell you before you came into Sisu?
Erin Catron 19:43
Oh, they were like it brings everything together. Like it's your command station. I don't think they said that. But after that,
Brian Charlesworth 19:48
I think you said it. It basically helps you run your business like a business. Yes. Yeah. Which is a great description. It's really what it does. But even at that, even teams that are on Sisu, a lot of the team leaders or not, or sales leaders are not willing to hold their agents accountable, not willing to make them do the work. And if you're not willing to do that, you may be in the wrong business. Right?
Erin Catron 20:14
I agree. And that was a mind shift that we had to understand. And honestly, I think Spring said this best as she said, I can't want their success more than they do. And so, at the end of the day, you know, like, attracts like, so who you are is who you attract, which I like who we are. And so we tend to attract, you know, people that are motivated. And we have implemented a lot of things, not as many as we should, I'm sure, but a lot of things that we've learned from Spring, such as Hello Week, and that's just setting the standard from the get go.
Brian Charlesworth 20:51
What is Hello week?
Erin Catron 20:52
Yes, I'm glad you asked. Hello week is basically our boot camp for new agents. And when they go through the process, which is 90%, with Heather, for recruiting new agents and attracting those agents, and then once they say, Yes, I'm going, I would like to join your team, then hello, week starts and hello week is basic training for them to come in and go, are you going to make it? Do you want to make it? Do you like this environment? Or is this not for you? And should we part ways after the first week rather than investing into somebody who's never going to fit that culture and that expectation of accountability?
Brian Charlesworth 21:34
So what do you require them to do during Hello week?
Erin Catron 21:37
So it starts out as only taking this one because it is pretty rigorous? Yeah. So I don't think it is. But it's agents. Yeah. The average agent thinks it is.
Heather Lens 21:45
It's not rigorous. But yes, some agents would think it is. So they come in at nine o'clock every single day, that week. So Monday through Friday.
So you know that they actually have a job, right? That's a good first step. That's a good first step with a new agent, right?
Heather Lens 22:00
Yes. So they come in, they're there, it's usually about nine to 2:30. So it's not even a full day. But it's usually the hours that we want agents to be in. Because at that point, after 2:30, they're showing, inspecting all of that.
Heather Lens 22:24
During that, we're walking them through our systems and our processes, our CRM, but more importantly, we're making them pick up the phone. So there is a requirement of hey, you're going to make this many dials per day, you're going to connect with this many people per day, and you're going to text and email this many people per day. Their mentor is also involved with that not as heavily during that first week, but we kind of introduced them to their mentor, their transaction coordinator understands how they're going to be working with these people. How do they make your life easier, better?
Brian Charlesworth 22:52
Heather? Do you mind going into detail of what it is? As far as that? What are those numbers? Like? How many texts, how many emails, what do they actually have to do? I think this is probably something that most team leaders out there are going, Hey, this is an amazing idea. What do you actually have to do?
Erin Catron 23:09
And we're happy to share that too. I mean, we're happy to share documents or anything. We're one of those people that we're like, whatever it is, that can help somebody else, we're happy to help.
Heather Lens 23:17
I would love to say that we created this, but we still say that's from Spring. So it's a call call text. So that's what we're saying we want you to call, we want you to get 10 leads. And when we put those in their database, it's not there somebody that they have to create, we've got those already. They need to call call text 10 different people in that one day, if there's not a phone number with it, then want them to email if they can't call the email, too, but it is at the end of the week, they should have over 50 dials out and hopefully, you know somewhere around 20 to 25 conversations from those requirements and
Brian Charlesworth 23:50
And what if they don't?
Erin Catron 23:52
Then they're not a good fit.
Brian Charlesworth 23:55
So what do you do?
Heather Lens 23:56
So Friday, so we start Monday on Friday after Justin time is done, because that is part of their Hello week they attend Monday and Friday. Again, just letting them know like this is what successful people do. This is what your week is going to look like. On Friday after Justin time we sit down and usually by Monday or Tuesday, we have a really good idea. It's going to be a go or no and we've been wrong, too. Yeah, there
Brian Charlesworth 24:20
There is no way to know before somebody comes in if they're going to be a fit or not. I know that for a fact.
Erin Catron 24:25
That's right. And some of the people are shocking that are fits that you would have counted.
Brian Charlesworth 24:30
Yeah, so don't judge them before Hello week Right?
Erin Catron 24:33
That's a great take away.
Heather Lens 24:34
We have learned that the hard way. But yeah, on Friday, I sit down with them and I just say hey, how did you feel about this week and I kind of let them do a little bit of talking because I don't want to talk too much yet. I really want to see what their response is. And then at that point, I say okay, well this is what I'm feeling and either this is a good bit not a good bit. And we parted ways at that point. If it's not, we've had people go through hell week that we've been like, yes, you know, you made it through Hello Week you did it. And then the next day They just don't show up. So I mean, I would like to say that it's fail proof, but it's not.
Brian Charlesworth 25:04
In my opinion, it is because I would say in that case, they decided that's too much work for me. I don't want that kind of accountability. I just want to take it easy and sell a couple of homes a year. That's not a fit for me. I'm not showing up.
Erin Catron 25:18
I would also say that the majority of the agents who aren't a good fit, they weed themselves out. Yep. In our culture. And so if they're not showing up, we probably have 90% attendance of our team Monday, Wednesday, Friday. And those morning huddles are, we expect them to be there. But the people that aren't committed, they will eventually just be like, Hey, this is too much for me. And you're like, it's too much to ask you to come in three hours a week.
Brian Charlesworth 25:49
So those are in-person huddles. In the office.
Erin Catron 25:53
Heather Lens 25:54
And to piggyback on that a little bit, something that Aaron Aaron was actually before Sisu, the accountability part Aaron had down, we just didn't have the systems to make it easy to do it. So that was I think, where Sisu was a lot easier to train. We were working on Google Spreadsheets, we had 1000 spreadsheets with all the you know, accounts.
Brian Charlesworth 26:12
I understand I had those too, that's why I created Sisu.
Heather Lens 26:15
Yeah. So but one of the things that you know is very clear when you join our team is that if you're not here, then opportunities aren't going to come to you. And so if they don't attend those Monday, Wednesday, Friday meetings, they're not on lead gen for that week. And so I think that's why the attendance is so good, because they want it and they don't even know that they're showing up. And in return that's making their business better even without the leads, right.
Brian Charlesworth 26:39
Yeah, exactly. Let's go back to Hello Week for a minute because Erin, and Heather, you're nicer like Spring. You guys call it Hell Week. I personally call it hell week. It is Hell Week. It is truly are you going to show up? Because if you're not, you're not a fit for our business.
Erin Catron 26:59
Right? So we even tell them that Hello Week is a spin off of Hell Week. And we tell them this upfront and show them you know, we show them we it's a two page document that says schedule. Here's the schedule for the week. And so even before they decide, yes, I'm gonna say I'm up for the challenge. We put it out there like it sucks, like going from what you know right now, because our sweet spot for agent attraction, in my opinion, are attracting agents who had success elsewhere, but want to be successful. Yep. And so usually agree.
Brian Charlesworth 27:36
Hungry. Humble, hungry, smart. That's the second most important thing.
Erin Catron 27:41
And I also think that there has to be a level of gratitude. Because I think that brand new agents, even though we like brand new agents, because they don't have anything to compare it to, they come in and expect things that no other brokerage would be giving them but they don't know that. Yeah. So we'd love agents that come from other brokerages. Because when they come in, they're like, wait, wait, you're gonna give me people
Brian Charlesworth 28:03
As long as they're not set in their old ways, right? That's the risk, you need to watch out for there.
Heather Lens 28:09
Yes. And you know, something that we didn't talk about yet. And Hello Week that I really like is I can see their personality in the way that either they're going to be a go-getter or not. Some of the stuff we do is like, Hey, sit down and watch these training videos, or, Hey, sit down and go through this. And you can tell really quickly, who is good at getting in there and digging into it and finding it and getting it done. And then people who are like, Oh, I can't do this, or oh, I don't know where to find this. And so that's a huge piece of Hello Week for me is just Yeah. Are they motivated so that I can sit them down by themselves, and they're actually going to do whatever it is.
Brian Charlesworth 28:46
Yes, it's a really important thing in today's society to figure out if somebody is actually resourceful.
Erin Catron 28:52
Yes, yes. And we have a lot of agents, one of my favorite agents on our team, Helen, she’s been with us three years, probably three years. Yeah. And if she were sitting here, she was saying she didn't know how to use email, like, let alone you see Sue, or a CRM or dot loop. And now she still isn't, I would say she still is a little bit technically challenged. But the changes that we've seen, and somebody like her coming in and going, I'm just going to try to figure it out. I'm going to ask a lot of questions. But at least I'm going to try. We can handle that. We can work with that. And we are very, I don't want to say we're like techie because we're not really techie. But we are very system oriented. I hate printing anything. Very process. We're very process driven. I want everything to be able to you can go sit down at any computer and find what you need. And so for people that aren't used to that style, it's a challenge sometimes, but a lot of Excel she did. She's gonna get an award at our gala. This year. She's called our rising star. She's getting I think that's what she's getting Anyway, she's getting an award for being somebody who is willing to learn.
Brian Charlesworth 30:04
Let's hope she doesn't listen to this. So she doesn't know that ahead of time.
Erin Catron 30:07
She's not techy, she wants.
Brian Charlesworth 30:12
That is the key, though. You guys said something about, you know, it's hard to follow systems. The reality is it is for a week or so. Right? Maybe two, but then it's your life, right? Then it's harder, not so second nature, then you're successful, what's really hard is not having the systems and failing, right? Because that's what happens if you fail. I remember, I don't know how long ago, this was five, six years ago, Spring lost a transaction coordinator. And it was the biggest deal because it would take her three months to go in and train a new one. And now it's plugged in Sisu has all the systems, have them checked the boxes. It's easy, right? No big deal.
Erin Catron 30:57
Well, and even utilizing, like, VAs, I think, you know, if you have if you have a strong system, and we don't we I like in office in person, you know, I want to I want to be able to go down and our team, I'm going and we're a small we because our systems are good. We can keep our administrative team small.
Brian Charlesworth 31:18
How big is your admin team?
Erin Catron 31:20
We have two in-office admins, transaction coordinators, Heather myself, and then we have one out of office part time person who really all she really does is help us keep our Zillow Fex updated like and she's not operation at all like she's really just one specific
Erin Catron 31:41
And I think as TCs right now, we carry right at 80 transactions. But I think our TCs could easily handle I'm gonna say this, and then they're gonna watch this, and they're gonna go what? But I think they I think with the systems that we have in place, they can handle double what they have now. Yeah, I think that it is so systematic, and it's so task oriented, that it's not a ton of what they don't like. And you know, these TC's don't love picking up the phone and calling people. Yeah, they want to work on the systems.
Brian Charlesworth 31:41
Reality is you really have two TC's that manage your entire business.
Brian Charlesworth 32:17
And that's why a client portal is so valuable.
Erin Catron 32:19
Brian Charlesworth 32:20
They can actually communicate with that client, right through the client portal.
Erin Catron 32:23
Yes. So the things that they don't enjoy doing the most have become systematic and automatic. And the things that you know, that that we can do, have, Sisu shows you where your holes are, too. And I think that's important as well,
Heather Lens 32:37
That's been a huge part of my side of it is just being able to see data and be able to go, Oh, I know why this person isn't hitting their goals.
Brian Charlesworth 32:49
It's interesting, because sometimes, you know, I have people who are Sisu customers, but they're not leveraging Sisu. And they're coming in, they're complaining, or they're canceling, but they're complaining about paying 500 to, you know, $900 a month, whatever, somewhere in that range, typically, as our average customer, and I'm thinking, you know, I could save you the cost of three, four employees, if you would just go all in, you know, I would save you 10s of 1000s of dollars a month and improve your business and allow you to scale and actually grow your business.
Heather Lens 33:26
It is hard to change. And it's hard to have new processes. And like you just said it can take a while or the pain of it lasts a little bit. But I mean, I remember when we started Sisu. And we were trying to transition everything into it and do it ourselves. Yeah, I do it ourselves. And we're looking more transaction wise at that point. I remember calling Erin and going, I think we've made a mistake, because it's so hard. But after we got everything in, it was like oh my gosh, it would have been the biggest mistake to not do it and not push through. And now a year later, that was in May. So almost a year later. I don't know how our business wait
Erin Catron 34:07
It's the best thing. And I think we said this, I was like we're gonna look back a year from now. And we told our team this. We're gonna look back a year from now. And I think we're going to say this was the best decision that we've made, you know, as a team. And 100%. I would say that Zillow Flex has been amazing for our team and Sisu has been amazing for our team sees there's two totally different types of things.
Brian Charlesworth 34:26
Sure. Complimentary of each other.
Erin Catron 34:29
They are complementary of each other. The other thing that I would say is like think that every single time that we were ready to roll something out to the team, we had to get really strategic about that. We pulled in our leadership team, we got buy-in, you know, from our leadership team before we launched it, because we knew that we needed their buy-in to, you know, kind of help us move that forward. We went from Google Sheets and our team huddles, and this was just in the last few months. Maybe Yeah, like, three, maybe three months or so. And we're like, oh my gosh, this is gonna be a disaster for a couple of weeks. And we just have to be ready for this. And I'm telling you by week one, it was just like, everybody loved it, because it had streamlined our meetings. And it had actually given them more time, it made it a lot more like it flowed so much better. And it cut down on all the crap that some of the agents could tell you on the spreadsheets that you couldn't back check. Yeah.
Brian Charlesworth 35:29
Are you guys saying this has just been the last couple of months? You've had Sisu for a year? Are you saying Sisu Mastery had an impact on this?
Erin Catron 35:37
Oh, yeah. Okay. Yes. We'll give you a great plug here. Yeah. So, two of our admins, we tried to take the admins to Salt Lake City. But it ended up being Heather one admin, and then myself that went, I will say, if anybody's listening to this, take your admin team, yes. Because if you don't have buy-in from them, and if they don't have an understanding of it, and you're trying to convince them, it is really difficult. And when we went, we got there, and we were like it was so such a great cadence of what you learned and how you learned it. And you know, the kind of being able to ask questions, as you went, we were there with a lot of people that were in the same boat, as we were that, you know, we're kind of like, am I going to keep this program? Am I not going to keep this program? We did the White Glove onboarding. Spring was huge in that too. As far as you know, I loved it, that you guys have the same Yeah, the same mentality as we do, like, let us help you. We'll give you anything that we feel like can be beneficial. But mastery, for us, was the turning point. And that was last summer. Yeah, it was in June. So we went in June of last year, we came out 22. June of ‘22. We started Sisu. Let's just say January 2022. I think it was a little bit before the end of the year, we started it but we didn't simply decide to do white glove at the first year, we were like, We're gonna try to figure this out. We're gonna try to make it work. Then when we went to mastery, it just clicked and all came together. And the other thing that I would say was that was really great about mastery is that we got connected with people at Sisu. So we weren't just feeling like, we don't know who these people are. And Erin Kelly is amazing. Or, I mean, she probably like has a love hate relationship with us, because
Brian Charlesworth 37:28
You have no idea how much I love hearing stuff like that about our team members. So
Erin Catron 37:33
Heather Lens 37:34
We talked about her a couple of days ago. I'm like, Hey, let's put this on our notes so that we can ask her because we do a check in once a month with her. And every month, she tells us something that we're like, oh, yeah, this is amazing. This is great. We didn't know we could do this.
Erin Catron 37:46
And she's so responsive too. Even when we have something, Oh, I was dying the other day. We sent her something. We're like, Yeah, this emails are going out. We don't know why emails are going out. And there's a glitch. There's something happening. She looks at it, she goes, Well, your agent hit the button that says email now.
Brian Charlesworth 38:03
Erin Catron 38:04
It was funny, but no mastery, but I would say if you are a team lead, and I know we're kind of coming up on time here. But if you're a team lead, if you're an ops, if you're in admin, go. And what I love too, is they introduced us to Spring.
Heather Lens 38:18
Yeah. And that changed a lot to see. I think it's one thing to see how Sisu works in you know, system wise, but then to see a team take it and actually implement it. For me, that's where it all clicked. I'm like, Oh, I can do this. We do the same thing. We've got the people, we've got the system, we just need to put it together and it changed so much. And with our transaction coordinator, she has been with us for how long? Four years, four years. And so you take someone who has been in her own system, tell her we're getting a new system and you're gonna have to change. I mean, it was not something that our TCs were super excited about. She went with us on that trip. And she came back and was like, this is incredible, like I'm in and so it got her buy-in as well, which was so important.
Erin Catron 39:00
And the crazy thing was is our other admin Christa had really been instrumental with you. Yeah, really building out Sisu and our other admin Brittany had been a little bit resistant.
Heather Lens 39:11
Yeah, she had been in longest
Erin Catron 39:12
And so when we were going to mastery and Christa wasn't going, I was actually more disappointed that Christa wasn't gonna get to go because she was the one who had been so instrumental in the launch. And then it actually ended up working out beautifully. Because then we got buy-in from Brittany. That was amazing. You already had buy in from her. Yeah, we already had buy-in from Christa. Yeah,
Brian Charlesworth 39:34
So if there's one thing I'll say the reason we started doing Sisu Mastery is exactly for the reason you guys just described. It's one thing to be able to work with our team, which you know, everyone on our team, our goal, our focus is to help you do whatever it takes to help you double your business every year. That being said, it's a different thing to come out and see someone who is fully leveraging Sisu because Sisu was really built for her team. She had five agents when Sisu was built, she now has 80 agents, or I think they hit 90 this week. So. So anyway, and you know, that's leveraging our platform for onboarding agents just like he talked about, but you've taken it to a next level with having them in the client portal for the agents, which is super cool. So first, I want to congratulate you guys, I mean, you, obviously, I compliment you on being able to execute, because there's a lot of people that come out and they see that system. And I think most people after mastery, a lot of people, a higher percentage than most conferences are going to be able to execute because there's a lot of execution going on there. I've had dozens of teams come to me and say that has had the biggest impact on my business of any event I've ever been to. And it sounds like you guys feel the same as that right? Yeah. So anyway, to all of our listeners out there today was not meant. I have not spent time with Erin and Heather at all, other than a little bit of easy mastery. Until today. It was not meant to be a Sisu promo. I guess every once in a while I do have a podcast that ends up being a Sisu promo. So this has absolutely been complementing Sisu. That being said, I know for a fact that every team that comes in and fully leverages this will grow your business substantially. So can we talk about this, 2021 was the biggest real estate year ever and then 2022 hit. And now here we are in 2023 transactions are going from 6.9 million down to 5 million or possibly less. But what's happening with your business? Can you give us an idea of your year over year growth? Just I don't know. So I'm hoping this is good.
Erin Catron 41:49
It is good. And with Sisu, we can actually see it and I'm pretty certain that we're up 17% year over year. So we are on track. So our goal was to sell 500 homes last year. Our goal is to sell 600 homes this year. It's like you're crazy. You're gonna sell less homes. And we're like, No, we're not. And we are pacing to sell 600 homes this year.
Brian Charlesworth 42:10
And one of the reasons that you'll probably sell 700, in my opinion, is because there are so many team leaders out there saying that they can't sell as many as they sold last year. Great. Don't sell them when you will take them right. That's your mentality. We'll take them, right?
Heather Lens 42:25
We've been pushing, you know, Mark market share market share market share, people are going to buy homes, people are going to sell homes, we have the agents to help them.
Brian Charlesworth 42:33
Yeah, I know, Spring just closed out March at 84 homes last year in March, I think she was at 41. Incredible. So anyway, it works you guys, this is a great example. It's great to connect with you guys and learn more about your business. And congratulations on all of your success. It's amazing what you guys have done. I'm gonna have to do another podcast, though, to get to know more about you because I didn't talk about anything I plan to talk about on this podcast.
Erin Catron 43:02
But you know what this is? The funny thing is that this is what we love. And this is our passion and so you get us started and going down this path. We don't want to talk about us, we want to talk about I mean, it's kind of like when you hear good news, and you're like, I got to share it. Yeah. And so for us, you said part of you said you saw Heather's eyes light up. And it's true, because this is what we love. This is propelling our business. And talking about us is fun. And that's fine. And if there's anybody that we can help, and anything that we could do, we'd love to. I think that there's some things that we're doing right, and that we could probably help but there's a lot of things that we need help on. So that humility coming in there, too.
Brian Charlesworth 43:41
We're all learning, right? It's learning. You know, Tony Robbins says if you're not growing, you're dying. But I would say if you're not growing, you're coasting. And if you're coasting you can only coast downhill,
Erin Catron 43:54
Right. You can't go faster.
Brian Charlesworth 43:55
You can't coast uphill. So if you want to climb, continue to grow, continue to learn. Never feel like you've gotten there. Because the minute you feel like you've gotten there, you're going to stop growing and learning. And guess what you're gonna get hit hard. That's right. So anyway, you guys are amazing. Thank you for the time. I've really enjoyed it. And I'll see you soon. Are you going to be at any event soon where I'm going to see you?
Erin Catron 44:17
We were just in Salt Lake at Springs. When was that in January? Yeah. And then we have so much, especially just this month, I'm in REIT, and I've got conferences and I've got advisory board meetings. So we don't have anything slated right now. Sisu.
Brian Charlesworth 44:33
Well say hi to the REIT. I know we have somebody going to the REIT conference for the first time this year at the end of the month. It's the same time as our current Sisu mastery this month. Yeah. So anyway, it sounds like you guys will be at REIT. Enjoy that and say hi to the owners out there for me.
Erin Catron 44:48
All right, we will. All right.
Brian Charlesworth 44:50
Thanks you, guys. Bye.