How to Outshine the Competition in a Low Inventory Market — Interview with Anthony Malafronte

Mindset & Motivation
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At Follow Up Boss, we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing the brokerage owners and team leaders behind some of the most successful real estate businesses in North America. 

These teams boast multiple millions of dollars in transactions and tens to hundreds of agents. But sometimes, a close-knit team with just a handful of agents can give you the most priceless insights. 

Anthony Malafronte is the owner of My Tampa Agent in Tampa, Florida and as a real estate leader in a low inventory market, he believes it’s the team culture that brings the most value to customers—not how many deals or agents you have.

We sat down with Anthony to find out how building the right team culture can help move your business to the front of the pack in a market with over 11,000 Realtors and a 29% drop in inventory.

Table of Contents

  • Small Team vs. Big Team: How to Build a Real Estate Team That Punches Above Its Weight
  • 4 Simple Rules to Stand Out in a Cutthroat Real Estate Market
  • Team Training: Keeping It Practical
  • How to Manage Thousands of Leads With Just a Few Agents
  • Building Community One Person at a Time

Watch the full interview to find out exactly how Anthony runs his team!

Small Team vs. Big Team: How to Build a Real Estate Team That Punches Above Its Weight

Anthony started as a solo agent in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2013 that the idea of building a team even entered his mind.

At the time, he was bombarded with buyer leads. The next logical step was to hire two more full-time agents to help carry the load.

In hindsight, it wasn’t the best decision.

Let your people do their jobs—not someone else’s.

“We certainly created some problems having buyers agents and myself. We were creating more deals, but we didn't have the ancillary support to take care of it,” says Anthony. 

So when he noticed they were drowning in incoming deals and paperwork, he decided to build a support team so agents could focus on what they do best: closing deals.

“We have a full-time operations manager and client care coordinator. And they’re busy all the time. I don't know how we did it without them,” he says.

In small teams, people tend to be jack-of-all trades but the way Anthony sees it, no one benefits from that kind of chaos. He lets his agents and staff do their jobs, without forcing them to take on tasks that don't utilize their full talent.

Just say no to micromanagement

Just because you’re the leader, doesn’t mean you have to be the best.

“Our operations manager and our transaction coordinator are way better at operating our team and helping us get from contract to closing than I am,” laughs Anthony. 

(And that’s coming from someone with almost 15 years of experience in real estate.) 

But for this team leader, letting people do their jobs isn’t about humility. It’s about productivity. Even if deep down he feels like no one can do it the way he can, he can still acknowledge that there are some tasks that simply don’t belong on his to do list.

“I'm not going to micromanage you. There are things that I know work. There are things that I know, if we all do them and do them together, we'll all be better. And I get people to buy into that. That's part of our culture, our mission statement and we all live by that. But it's about helping each other get better. I mean, I learn stuff from them every day.”

Foster collaboration (not competition)

Competition is often a driving force in large teams, with agents frequently trying to outperform their peers. But Anthony’s team has a completely different dynamic.

For them, the only way to get ahead is to work together.

“I see things in a house that Sarah might not. Or Sarah sees things in a house that I might not. Her style is a tiny bit different. Eric is really good in certain communities in Tampa, and we rely on him when one of us is showing houses there,” Anthony explains.

Playing to the strongest traits of every team member is what makes the whole team more valuable to clients.

Anthony doesn’t mind who’s bouncing ideas off whom. At the end of the day, everyone’s bringing new clients in for the team. When one wins, they all do.

It’s more choice for the team and more choice for the customer. “With everybody on the same page and on the same team, having the processes and the systems in place where information can be shared is really valuable. We can make that more a concierge type service. And clients like it,” Anthony adds.

“If you're working with people you know, like, and trust—and they know, like, and trust you in return, the word spreads.” (Image source)

4 Simple Rules to Stand Out in a Cutthroat Real Estate Market

“I don't like calling them leads. They're people.”

Every day, Anthony strives to sustain a relationship-driven culture. For him, it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s a core competitive advantage.

“It really is helpful for me to be able to make the statement to potential buyer opportunities: when you get one of us you get all of us,” he says. “Tampa's got a lot of really, really good Realtors. Our team also has really good Realtors.” There is plenty of business for all of us, and we are a team ready to help you, Anthony explains.

He’s not kidding. In the Tampa area alone there are over 11,000 Realtors and with Tampa’s inventory dropping nearly 30% in the past year, competition is fierce.

For Anthony, your team culture is your core differentiator. And with different agents with various levels of knowledge and experience on the team, Anthony aspires to keep culture simple with four basic rules.

Rule #1: Be Better Than Zillow

“Zillow is the real estate mindset for a lot of people,” says Anthony.

“When people think of Zillow they think of real estate, they think of houses. When you think of Starbucks you think of coffee. Zillow's done a great job of building that. The ex-CEO just put his house on the market for $7 million more than the Zestimate. So we can be better than Zillow. It really isn't that hard.”

With this as the bar, Anthony’s agents know exactly what’s expected of them from day one on the team.

Rule #2: Invest in Yourself (You are the shiny OBJECT!)

At the end of the day, you are your own best investment.

Anthony encourages each of his team members to pick up a book, course, podcast, whatever—anything that will enrich their value as an agent and individual.

“Invest in yourself, invest in your education, invest in your knowledge, invest in your experience, invest in the people who know, like, and trust you,” he explains.

“I love this book. I read it every day, I look at it everyday. I always like to have something on the bookstand that is not business related.” (Image source)

Rule #3: You Can’t Love Everybody

Nor can everyone love you. 

Clients come and go. And Anthony makes sure that everyone on his team knows that this is simply the name of the game. 

“I can't be mad at somebody because I sold them a house and they decided to sell it with somebody else. I can only support the fact that they made a decision to do that. So I can't love everybody the same and I can't be loved the same.” 

Sometimes we don’t get to choose, and that’s ok. 

Rule #4: Work Your Database

For the team at My Tampa Agent, your database is everything. 

That means not only following-up on leads, but always being aware of what’s happening with every agent on your team.

“I can look very quickly and see that we have one, two, three… seven, eight buyers under contract right now. I can see eight listings that are going to come onto the market fairly soon.”

At the end of the day, you can only do so much with an Excel spreadsheet before you start losing leads and for Anthony, having the right tools in place is key to holding his agents accountable. 

All of Anthony’s agents run their lead management through Follow Up Boss, giving him the bird’s eye view of the business, any time he needs it.

With Follow Up Boss, real estate teams keep all client and prospect interactions in one place. Every time they make a call, they have all the info they need to have a meaningful conversation, without having to switch between a dozen different screens. 

Team Training: Keeping It Practical

Anthony uses two distinct types of training to keep his team sharp.

#1. The speakerphone approach to learning on the job

The first type of training comes in the form of practical workshops from the best in the biz.

Anthony is precise and consistent in trying to bring in the best teachers. “It's part of our core values here. It's dedicated to quality and getting better,” he says. When the team needed to brush up on their martech skills, Anthony brought in digital strategy expert Bill Risser.

But according to Anthony, the best training comes directly from each other.

“I learn stuff from them every day. Eric's right around the corner, when I listen to him on the phone, he is really good. He's knocking it out of the park right now and it motivates the other people on our team.”

#2. Train the right agents on the right systems

Anthony and his team also participate in weekly training sessions with their brokerage to make sure they’re squeezing every last ounce of ROI out of their systems.

“We do a weekly meeting where we talk specifically about training for the processes that we’re already using or trying to implement. For example, we’re planning to create some Action Plans specific to our lender and our new marketing program.”

How to Manage Thousands of Leads With Just a Few Agents

In a small team, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a high volume of leads. And the last thing you want is for deals to start slipping through the cracks. 

Anthony’s been there.

“When we started generating leads through various channels, we had a 10% rule—400 leads to 40 conversations, to four people in the car. If we did that, everybody would make a lot of money. The problem was, it took us a lot of time to cultivate 400 into 40 and then 40 into four. But the bigger problem was that we purged 360 leads,” he explains.

There was simply no system in place to stay in touch with the 360 people that Anthony and his team neglected in order to get to the leads that were generating the revenue now. 

“We didn't stay in good contact with those 360 people. And when we went back to follow up on those people, which maybe we should have done when we had better systems in place, we found that an awful lot of people had already bought or sold. We just didn't have the right conversation with them at the time.”

Anthony’s system was so flawed, he decided to simply delete almost 4,000 inactive leads from his database. “We purged a lot of people who we hadn't been able to contact and they hadn't opened up anything we had sent them, in four years. We just purged all those people.”

That 4,000 lead purge would have gotten even worse if Anthony hadn't made a change. 

By the time he got started with Follow Up Boss, Anthony was more than ready to follow a clear framework for turning leads into deals. Here’s how he got his team back on track.

Step 1. Keep your mornings focused

We all know the money is in the follow up, but when you don’t know who to follow up with and when, it’s easy to ignore this first fundamental rule of sales.

Anthony decided every agent should block an hour of time dedicated exclusively to follow up. Luckily, he’d been following this schedule for years, so the groundwork was already in place. 

“The mornings are really about planning, about following up with past clients, with people who we’re working with and being here for the team,” says Anthony.

Step 2. Know who to follow up with and when

For Anthony and the team at My Tampa Agent, this is where the magic happened.

Using Follow Up Boss, Anthony was finally able to track the team’s leads and, more importantly, prioritize them. 

“Follow Up Boss has become a bigger and bigger part of what we do. We benefit from seeing the hierarchy of the deals that we’ve closed and the timeframe with which things happen.”

“That all needs to be in one place,” he explains. “Now the real hand raisers are the people that we pay attention to. We spent a lot more time, effort, energy, and money on our small viable audience.”

With Smart Lists, the team at My Tampa Agent automatically categorizes a high volume of leads for follow up so agents always know who to call next.

Step 3. Establish efficient lead workflows

Anthony’s team no longer needs to purge anyone.

“Now that we are using some analytics and some remarketing, I would have loved to have remarketed to those people [we purged] the way we're doing it now.”

With the right sales and marketing workflows in place, Anthony and his team can recreate “the steps that get people to put up their hand.” 

Rather than peppering a bulk of leads with random check-ins, they have a dedicated plan for each lead segment in their database. People may need to be moved to a different list or Action Plan, but they never need to be purged.

Using the Follow Up Boss Pixel, Anthony can track exactly which pages people are viewing on his website. His agents always know who the most active leads are and when is the best time to contact them. “It's absolutely working for us,” he says.

“It's apparent when they're ready to go from dreaming to planning. We close them with ‘Let us help you plan.’ And if they say it's a year from now, great,” Anthony explains.

“We are patient enough and skilled enough to help you plan for the year so that when you go from dreaming to planning and planning to shopping, you're going to think of us.”

For Anthony, it’s important to have workflows that can grow in lockstep with his business and culture.

“There's never been an instance in, going on seven years now, when we couldn't figure something out about Follow Up Boss that we didn't get a response quickly. The Follow Up Boss team gives us all the time we need to figure stuff out. It’s the most important tool we have.”

Building Community One Person at a Time

Anthony’s not worried about being the biggest.

“We're not gonna be the biggest real estate in Tampa. That's not our goal. We want to be good at real estate to a level that gives us the opportunity to have some fun.”

For Anthony, when you’re having fun, the business takes care of itself.

“I had a conversation today with a guy who had referred someone to us a while ago. He said, ‘You know what? I don't really want to drive all the way over from Belleair Beach to Tampa so I'm going to refer him to you. We’ve been in touch a long time and the conversation was so simple.”

This kind of thing is only natural to Anthony and his team, because they do exactly the same thing in return.

“Getting calls from friends of mine in the industry across the country that I can help, it's the best way to do things. There's plenty of business for all of us and we're much better together than we are apart.”

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