Lee Adkins
on

Let’s be honest. The barrier to entry in real estate is low. 

Anyone looking to get into this business has about a million online real estate courses to choose from, but according to the NAR, 87% of Realtors will fail by year five.

Real estate team leaders don’t have it easy knowing that only 13% of agents have what it takes to succeed. So there comes a point when a broker has to decide:

  • Do you want to host a wall for agents to hang their licenses?
  • Or are you ready to step up, become a real leader, and find agents eager to put their blood, sweat and commission splits into your business?

Attracting these types of “unicorn” agents to your team may feel like fishing without bait at times. But with the right strategies, you can build your dream team of productive agents ready to live your company values.

That’s why we’re thrilled to have none other than legendary real estate coach, Lee Adkins interviewing Austin-based broker Ryan Rodenbeck on GrowthHouse this week. 

After seven years running a brokerage with agents who merely filled seats, Ryan transformed his boutique real estate company into an education-based office top producers pay to get into.

Here’s how he did it.

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Table of Contents

  • Broker Mindset: Why Culture Comes First
  • How to Make Your Hiring Pay-to-Play
  • Why Every Broker Should Make Tech Part of the Culture
  • Beyond Branding: How Your Onboarding Content Can Help You Reach a Bigger Audience

Just want the video? Watch the complete interview here.

Broker Mindset: Why Culture Comes First

Ryan has been the broker/owner of Spyglass Realty in Austin, Texas for the last 12 years. 

But it wasn’t until six years ago in 2014, that he finally decided to get serious about team building.

Ryan was tired of leading a brokerage where anyone with a license could hang their hat. He wanted to run a different kind of business. Ryan set out to build a complete real estate training center where only the best and most driven agents will pay to play. 

Spyglass Realty now houses over 20 high-producing agents who were drawn to his team simply because they wanted to be a part of his groundbreaking approach.

The first team meeting in Spyglass’s swanky new office, a place where agents look forward to spending time each week. 

With roughly $96 million in annual production, things are definitely looking up for Ryan. But broker life wasn’t always this good. And the lessons from the past are never far from the team leader’s mind.

Case in point, Ryan is laser-focused on recruiting right now. But he won’t hire just anyone willing to take up space in his plush Austin office (he’s made that mistake before).

“I had three to five agents that used to hang their license with me. Looking back, I had no reason why,” he admits.

After a major reality check, Ryan decided to build his team with intention.

He developed high-value training, including a continued education and mentorship program, that helps him attract the exact people he wants to share space with.

After more than a decade of growing his real estate business as a producer turned broker, Ryan now focuses on finding top area agents to join his team. He does this by spinning bites of information from his onboarding training systems and team meetings into high-conversion recruitment marketing material to use on social media and other outlets.

“I think I would tell five-year-ago me, ‘Read The Culture Code’,” says Ryan.

But before Ryan set up a single training program or recruitment ad, he created a crystal clear vision for the team.

Rather than be a “warm-body shop”, Ryan wanted to focus his team on three core areas:

  1. Technology
  2. Training
  3. Increasing production

With this in mind, Ryan narrowed it down to the exact type of real estate firm he wanted to run and the exact type of people he wanted to help run it. And when it comes to executing that vision, it all comes down to culture.

Here’s how he sees it:

By integrating recruitment into new-agent education and onboarding, you convey the same message from the agent’s very first interaction with your brand and continue that throughout their journey with your team.

It’s great for the agents. It’s great for your brand. A true win-win.

Another huge advantage many brokers overlook is that, by using highlights from some of your best training material, you assert your company culture into every message before an agent clicks on your recruitment ad or calls your office to schedule an interview.

It’s the best kind of pre-screening tool there is. But there’s a second, very important layer to this process that has helped Ryan grow his team, without cutting corners on quality and experience.

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How to Make Your Hiring Pay-to-Play

For Ryan, one of the many lessons learned from a litany of hiring mistakes, was that the hit-and-miss approach just wasn’t working out.

So, he adopted the pay-to-play standard of hiring and onboarding.

Agents who don’t have production pay $1,000 to join his custom-built six-week training program. 

(Yes, you read that right—they pay him.)

This upfront investment reduces the risk of hiring new agents who won’t stick around and increases the likelihood that an agent will be productive once they’re on the team.

It also saves Ryan tons of time on wasted interviews because it weeds out the applicants who aren't serious enough about their career to make that kind of investment.

It’s an awesomely effective recruitment tool, but Ryan doesn’t just wait for agents to come and invest into his team. 

He meticulously scopes out the real estate scene in Austin to find agents with grit, hustle, and (not least!) coachability. 

But when you’re actively headhunting top producers, the pressure to walk your walk as a leader is even higher. The mistake most brokers make?

According to Ryan, it’s forgetting to make sure your recruitment marketing message matches your company culture. If there’s a disconnect, your potential team members will be able to sniff that out as soon as they step foot in your office.

The 2020 Spyglass Dream Team

Know the difference between branding and recruitment marketing

When it comes to recruitment, there's a significant distinction between branding and marketing. 

So, what’s the difference exactly?

Branding covers everything.

Every message you put out should align with your brand identity. No one who interacts with your brand should ever feel confused about who you are or what you stand for.

Ryan explains, "Agents have to get what they see when they show up at your office. If you do a bunch of great marketing and they show up and it sucks, then there's no point."

Your brand, mission and company culture all need to align so that agents know exactly what to look forward to when interviewing for your team. Otherwise, you're spending marketing dollars just to get warm bodies in the door when you should be working to attract top-producers eager to be part of your brand. 

Marketing in a recruitment context is all about how you package up your brand message and promote it to top-producing agents who might be looking to make a change.

Ryan and his team regularly share quality educational content with their social media followers.


When Ryan decided to get serious about building a high-performance team culture, his goal was to have a team of 30 agents producing a yearly average of $5 million each.

Today, he has 20 agents doing $4.2 million each.

“We're getting there,” nods Ryan.

He’s clearly unphased. With as much blood and tears as he’s shed on his broker journey so far, he sees no point in glamorizing the struggle.

“I mean, don't get me wrong. I do some bragging on Facebook but… I'm proud of what my people are doing,” he says. “And to be honest with you, people aren't knocking down my door to be in my brokerage. It's work.”

But the ripple effect of building a team-centric brand is starting to pay off as the quality of Ryan’s team continues to get stronger and stronger.

Why Every Broker Should Make Tech Part of the Culture

Okay, you've built the systems you need to train and attract the best agents in town. 

You lasered in on your brand identity and culture. 

You created killer recruitment content.

You’re ready to go. Right?

Not so fast. Fact is, none of this is relevant unless your team is equipped with the right tools to get the job done. For Ryan, tech plays an integral role in the team and the greater Spyglass brand.

And as a self-proclaimed “tech nerd”, he understands the challenge of finding systems that agents will actually use.

Here’s Ryan on the role of tech in his team:

As Ryan points out, choosing the right tech tools is crucial to your brand and business. 

You need software that complements your agents' skill levels and helps keep them in front of clients—not computer screens.

According to Ryan, each piece of software you select should have a distinct purpose.

That purpose could be to:

  • Generate leads
  • Facilitate follow up
  • Organize transactions and commission payout, etc.

The list goes on (and on). But if you know what you need and you can identify tools that your agents will actually use in their day-to-day workflows, you can rest easy knowing you made the right investment.

Here are some questions to consider when selecting tech for your team:

  1. How does this software fit into my marketing budget?
  2. How will I train my team to use this?
  3. Is there a steep learning curve?
  4. Are the tools easy to implement, and do they integrate with other software I use?
  5. Will this save my team time/energy/money?
  6. Will my team outgrow this software? Or is this software too robust for our current needs?

“I have used a lot of CRMs out there,” says Ryan. After experimenting with every type of system from the overly complicated to the over-priced, Ryan finally found Follow Up Boss.

“We wanted to have a better class of leads, we wanted to have a better website. I wanted to have a CRM that was not attached to anything else. That was super important to me.”

In Follow Up Boss, Ryan can easily experiment and adjust his systems to be as productive as possible. For example, when he decided to go from Round Robin to First to Claim, it happened in a “click of a button”.

Ryan can easily segment leads by price point and buyer vs. seller which is crucial in helping him create the right opportunities for each member of his team. But what he really loves is the ability to track his team’s day-to-day performance.

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“Measuring success with reporting was super important,” says Ryan.

It’s a crucial point. With agents having to persist for an average of 90 to 100 days before a lead finally becomes a deal, it’s tough to know how they’re performing at any given moment. 

To get a true understanding of how his team is performing, Ryan uses Follow Up Boss to track agent activity and BrokerFlow (now Transactify) to help with commission disbursements, transaction management, and tracking growth in every area of the business.

“At the end of the year, you need to be able to see where your money went, especially when you’re dealing with house leads,” explains Ryan. We couldn’t agree more.

Ryan uses Follow Up Boss’s reporting features to make sure his agents are taking the right kind of action each and every day.

Are you looking to get started using Follow Up Boss with your team? Try it free for 14 days and fix your follow up. Friendly support available 7 days per week.

Beyond Branding: How Your Onboarding Content Can Help You Reach a Bigger Audience

Ryan’s training and onboarding videos cover topics like architecture photography, social media marketing, and video repurposing. 

These videos not only provide valuable content to his agents, but also serve as excellent recruitment tools by giving agents a taste of what's in store if they sign on with his team.

After that, it’s all about using the right systems and tools to back it up. 

“What I’ve realized is that the onboarding experience needs to be really good,” says Ryan. He and his team buckled down and spent months getting it right.

Here’s a glimpse into Ryan’s rock-solid onboarding system:

  • Use Trello to create your onboarding checklist
  • Use Workplace by Facebook to house all videos
  • Include an introductory video from Ryan explaining next steps for new agents
  • Add a library of 5-minute videos on all the different systems within the team

Now that Ryan has built an incredible content library to educate agents and attract rockstar recruits, his next big step is launching a podcast. 

For him, it’s just a natural extension of the educational platform he’s built so far.

By now, Ryan has recorded hours of valuable content. But of all the material he’s produced, his favorite videos is the one where he just says, “Look, I’m going to be here if you need me at any point.” He wants agents to know that he and his team are there to support them.

And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s really all about.

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