In 2007, Renee and Jeffrey Funk went all in.
“We were in 1,000 square feet, we were broke, we had plastic furniture and the power was getting turned off…and we had a new baby,” remembers Renee. No doubt about it, starting a real estate business (and a family) in the middle of a housing crisis, isn’t exactly a stroll in the park.
They knew they needed to hit the gas.
So Jeff did what any visionary would do: He locked himself in a room for six months and built a business.
“Everybody told me I was crazy,” remembers Jeff. But then, one day “the website started hitting.” Today, Renee and Jeffrey Funk are one of Orlando’s premier up-and-coming teams. Together, they grew The Funk Collection to the #2 eXp Realty team globally, in the 5 to 9 agents category.
We sat down with Jeff and Renee to get an inside peek at how they skyrocketed their team’s production from $20 million to $50 million in just 12 short months.
Forget the ‘solo game’
Today, those six-months on lockdown are Jeff’s forever, “I told you so.”
And that’s a direct quote from Renee.
Before bringing on a team, Jeff worked for several years as a solo agent—and his website was a powerful lead machine. “The thing that was killing me is that I was running from deal to deal so fast, I wasn’t really nurturing my clients. I’d seen listings come up that I’d sold and the reason I wasn’t getting the listing was that I wasn’t keeping in touch with my sphere,” says Jeff.
It was clear he had more leads than he could handle. But it wasn’t until Renee sat down and took a hard look at the backend Jeff’s website that she realized just how much money they were leaving on the table.
They knew they needed a team.
Build on a strong foundation
After getting her license, Renee officially came on board as a makeshift ISA, working on the customer service side while Jeff was out in the field.
“At the time, we were using another CRM that didn’t provide any synergy or organization. I was just muddling my way through it. We knew it would be imperative to have a better system that would keep everything organized among multiple users,” says Renee.
Empowerment + accountability = rockstar growth
For Jeff and Renee, the key to growth is all about the foundation you build.
A rock-solid system ensures that their agents always know what to do when they turn on their computers in the morning.
“First, our CRM enables us to keep in touch with our customers—whether they’re past or future clients,” says Jeff. “And second, it gives us accountability and reporting when it comes to our team. We look at that every day.”
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” Renee points out. “After all, you’re leaving so much money on the table by not having your systems and processes in place,” adds Jeff.
The two Funks definitely speak the same language.
Here’s how they empower their agents to convert more leads
Start with speed to lead
Jeff and Renee’s agents always aim to call new leads in less than 90 seconds. “If you can get it in less than 5 minutes you’re golden, but if you can do it the first 90 seconds—score!” says Renee.
“We know what the customer is doing at that time. They’re engaged in real estate when they’re on the website,” says Jeff. When a new lead comes in, it’s immediately flagged and distributed to the right team member so they can get them on the phone ASAP.”
Automate with intention
After a new lead comes in, an Action Plan automatically gets triggered so that agents always know when a text, call or email needs to go out.
“Follow Up Boss gives us full ability to customize any Action Plan the way we want,” Renee explains. “That’s important because customers today are so smart—we know when we’re being automated.”
For the Funk team, Action Plans aren’t a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ automation tool—they’re one of many ways they keep agents alert, active and engaged with their database. The team also uses Tasks and Smart Lists to make sure no lead ever slips through the cracks.
And they always keep it as personalized as possible. The team uses Custom Fields to help lead new agents through the call and make sure they capture all the right intel. As a major bonus, comprehensive Custom Fields also help their team remember birthdays, anniversaries, closing dates—all the little things that help make their Action Plans relevant.
“Behavior-based follow up is the name of the game,” says Renee. “Not automation.”
A 30/30 plan for failsafe follow up
The reason Jeff and Renee love Tasks and Smart Lists so much more than automated follow ups, is because these tools help put the agent’s value front and center.
“The typical approach to automation doesn’t offer anything to your customers. But behavior-based automation allows us to come from a place of providing value before we ever ask for anything in return,” says Renee.
The team has what they call a ’30/30 plan’.
Once a lead is contacted and the team has collected some intel on buying/selling timeline and preferences, they look at all the leads that have been on the website in the last 30 days but haven’t had a call in the last 30 days. “In a single click we can put all our leads in chronological order and immediately have a call list ready to go,” says Renee.
Smart Lists = smart call schedules
Because the team always knows which leads have been on the site, they always know who to contact.
“As an agent, of course, you can schedule that follow up, but sometimes that follow up just doesn’t make it onto your calendar. These lists are our catch-nets,'” says Jeff.
Jeff and Renee use a similar Smart List strategy to ensure that their entire SOI is contacted by phone on a quarterly basis.
For Jeff and Renee, the beauty of the system is it shows your customers you’re paying attention.
“Now that our agents are engaged in the lists, they can go on an individual basis, check the last property viewed and see what the customer’s doing when they’re on the website. We can engage in a discovery of what their likes and dislikes are so that we can continue to provide exceptional service,” explains Renee.
Jeff and Renee refer to customer timelines as “stories” to help agents better understand where the customer is in their real estate journey.
Rinse, optimize, repeat
For the growing Funk team, lead tracking is a crucial learning tool.
“When you check inside Follow Up Boss and you see if an email has been opened or not, you realize maybe email isn’t this customer’s thing,” points out Jeff. Similarly, if a lead signed with the competition, Jeff and Renee can take a deeper look to see where they went wrong and what to do differently next time.
Armed with behind-the-scenes lead intel, Jeff and Renee’s team has gone from $0 to $50 million in production in just three years.
Do more of what works
Now that the Funk team is killing it with online leads, Jeff has more time to focus on developing his sphere and making sure his team has everything they need to start developing strong networks of their own.
“Using Follow Up Boss has helped the team tremendously with the online leads, which helped me personally as I was finally able to concentrate on my sphere of influence,” says Jeff. The team uses a strategic Post-Close Action Plan to help their agents (many of whom are still fairly new) keep in touch with past clients. The point isn’t to bombard past clients with automated emails, it’s to alert agents about what’s next.
The entire Action Plan is 14 months, keeping agents engaged from the time a customer closes a transaction all the way through to January to check in and make sure they’re filing for their homestead exemption.
Jeff and Renee use the Agent Activity filters to get a quick, one-page view of how closely agents are staying on top of leads.
But they also give their team plenty of reasons to stay hungry.
When agents in the Funk Collection do things like make a gratitude call, secure stellar online reviews and lend a hand to other team members, they’re rewarded with points. The winner of the last contest won a one-week cruise for two—not a bad cherry-on-top for doing the things you should already be doing to hit those jackpot commissions.
And the agents aren’t the only ones enjoying it. “We’re having fun, too. And that’s the biggest thing with this business. If you’re not having fun, take a good look and figure out how you will because the customer will know,” warns Jeff.
New school tools to do the old school stuff that works
“We’re a very innovative team but at the same time, we like to use new tools to do old school stuff that works like letting people know when to get on the phone, when to write a handwritten card, send a birthday card, etc.—these are really important but they’ve kind of gotten lost in our industry,” says Jeff. “Relationships are the only thing that will keep us relevant in the future.”
“What still shocks me to this day is the number of agents—even top producing agents—who aren’t using a CRM,” says Renee. “At the end of the day, all leads work. The real question is ‘What’s your follow-up strategy?’”