Will Featherstone’s long-held interest in real estate drew him to investing, and eventually to getting his own real estate license and joining an REO brokerage. He leveraged his experience as an investor to thrive, even amidst the distressed 2008 market.
Soon, Will seized the opportunity to become the go-to agent in this niche market, carrying up to 250 assets at once. In time, he turned his inventory of properties into a thriving brokerage — Featherstone & Co. — that helps agents from different backgrounds achieve their goals and empower the local community.
Losing business from a lack of systems
As an REO agent, Will had a large inventory of properties he was selling for clients, banks, investors, and government entities all over Baltimore. But what he didn’t realize was that he was sitting on a goldmine — a huge database of listings in disguise.
“I would get calls all the time about potential buyers interested in listings that I may have been carrying at the time,” he says, “And to be honest, I didn't have time to service those folks. I was just too consumed with the tasking and the management of the larger portfolio.”
But when his friend’s wife, a licensed agent, was looking for ways to grow her income, Will offered to step in.
“I was like: ‘Well, I get leads all the time, so if she wants to come over to my company,’ I was with a smaller brokerage at the time, ” Will shares, “Then I could feed her all the leads.”
That “sharing is caring” attitude is a hallmark of Will’s career — and it has rewarded him many times over.
“I did nothing with the lead that I gave her, and then a month or so later I got a check,” Will smiles. “And I was like golly, what is that? I didn't know the client. I never talked to the client. I only knew of the property that she sold.”
That’s when Will knew there was a big opportunity right in front of him.
“It was like wow, a lead comes in and I’m not doing anything with it. I’m losing out on business because I don’t have the proper systems and tools in place to help leverage a bigger or better business.”
“I think that was around the time I got Follow Up Boss,” Will recalls.
"We’ve created a structure that people can grow in and when they hit a ceiling, they can grow some more.”
MANAGING BROKER AND FOUNDER OF FEATHERSTONE & CO.
Designing systems to create opportunities
Soon enough, Will became interested in building effective real estate teams and the systems he’d need to support them. As the freshly-minted team leader of Featherstone & Co., he had a great opportunity to leverage the brokerage’s existing credibility.
“People were paying attention and that allowed me to start recruiting talent that ultimately helped build the team,” Will says, “My first great hire was my operations manager that I still have now, Lisa. And then it started going from there.”
A fully integrated system
Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so Will and Lisa put their heads together and worked to fine-tune the systems and structure that new agents on their team would rely on. Will brought in ideas on how to make the processes more effective, and Lisa would help bring them to life.
They integrated all their systems through the Follow Up Boss platform — web leads, calling, marketing, and more — until they knew everything was ready.
“That's when we definitely started hiring buyers' agents,” he says.
Building for opportunity
Will’s vision for Featherstone & Co. extends far beyond revenue goals. He and his wife share a passion for nurturing opportunity in underserved communities, sharing knowledge, and helping people accomplish their goals.
But he didn’t feel like the “big box” brokerages were helping him achieve that vision.
“I started noticing the barriers to success, especially for agents coming in from different socioeconomic backgrounds,” he says. “The dialogue and the mentorship they were receiving wasn’t geared towards their experience or what they needed.”
So he took another big leap.
Now, as an independent brokerage, Featherstone & Co. is capable of empowering agents and the community at a much larger scale.
“We provide them all of the tools and everybody shares everything,” says Will. “We share the resources and how we get business done to help leverage them to possibly do more.”
Whether they want to do two deals a month or six, Will is committed to guiding and mentoring his agents to grow their careers in a way that’s satisfying to them.
“The thing about the brokerage team is that it teaches them how to become a team and the skills it takes,” he continues. “It doesn’t mean that they have to stay on a team, but that’s why I like saying, ‘How do we retain people that know and think like us? That come from the same background or have the same barriers that they have to overcome?’”
With Featherstone & Co., agents don’t have to constantly search for structure that meets their needs. “We’ve created a structure that people can grow in,” Will says. “And when they hit a ceiling, they can grow some more.”
Community empowerment, at scale
In addition to Featherstone & Co., Will and his wife Lanaea started the Featherstone Foundation to further their vision of community development. Twelve years later, they’ve achieved a strong community bond — and then some.
“We're giving scholarships to students for college. We have financial literacy programs, educational programs for underserved communities. And we’re funded by just about every financial institution, in terms of small local banks,” he explains.
As the brokerage and foundation continue to evolve, Will’s goal is to further bridge the gap with the community, build them up, offer more resources — especially in real estate — and then to leverage that into more sales and internships that will hopefully create more successful agents.
“You build this ecosystem of community where they're involved in your client parties, or the givebacks or what have you, then it's about tapping into their circle because you're a community,” adds Will.
“It's like infiltrating their sphere with impactful changes to their life. So now we're influencing great things in someone's life, in their family's life,” he shares.
There’s no doubt, Will is committed to helping his community be great.