A CRS shares his formula for success, including partnering with other firms to offer a compelling employee benefit.
When several agents and brokers in the Salt Lake City market asked Matt Dulle, CRS, to be active in RRC leadership, he decided to pursue the CRS Designation. He took RRC education courses and concluded, “It was far better education than anything I had experienced in my years in real estate.” Dulle has been in real estate since 1998 and became active in RRC leadership in 2012. He was CRS of the Year in 2016 and Utah State Chair in 2017. And Dulle has just opened his own office: Dynasty Point. His objective is to attract the top-tier agent population.
Dulle has adopted strategies that have led to success in his local market. “The Salt Lake City market is finicky,” Dulle says. “We have an inventory problem—a shortage of homes and a surplus of buyers. The inventory shortage creates a bidding war in which some homes sell above their asking price. However, buyers are getting tired of putting forth an effort to compete with other buyers, and then often coming away without a home—so they stop.”
Dulle says the market is slowly stabilizing, but the shortage affects virtually all price points—not just affordable homes. “People don’t want to list their home until they first find something to buy—and they don’t want to make an offer contingent on selling their home,” he says. Overall, these dynamics have had a cooling effect on the market.
High tech, high touch
Dulle says research done in 2003 showed that a real estate agent basically has to be in front of people on average every 11 days to remain top of mind and to compete with other businesses trying to attract more eyeballs, such as Google and Amazon. His conclusion: “It takes more automation to be in front of your sphere of influence. It’s important to automate the distribution of your text messages, greeting cards, email, etc., so you can get in front of people efficiently.”
To automate a variety of business functions, Dulle uses Zoho One. He says it’s a very robust platform that can manage an entire business, “but you have to build it out yourself—it’s not plug ’n play.”
According to Dulle, it’s hard to stay relevant without using tech and automation. But if you are focused on building and maintaining relationships using tech, then a REALTOR® can’t be replaced with tech alone. “Online services that have the attention of consumers could start trying to practice real estate,” Dulle says. “But without personal connections, there is no human aspect—it’s just a robot,” Dulle says. “If you combine the human element with tech, then there’s no way a tech company can win.”
An example of how Dulle merges high tech and high touch is automating the generation of “handwritten” thank-you cards. “There are products that handwrite the card and envelope, and they yield great ROI.” Dulle sends the cards to both existing and potential clients.
Other examples of conventional approaches that are enhanced by technology include client appreciation events. For Thanksgiving, Dulle holds a pie-giveaway for top clients. He surveys the top 100 clients and asks what type of pie they want. Information is collected in the system, and clients are told to stop by the office to pick up their selected pie.
Around the December holidays Dulle organizes a photo shoot with Santa and his sleigh using a school photography system. Each person has a ticket with a QR code: the cameraman takes a photo of the QR code and then takes a photo of the family. The QR triggers edits to the photos, and when clients leave the event, they receive the 5–6 photos that were taken.
Employee benefit package
A fruitful component of Dulle’s lead-generation strategy is a benefit offered through HR companies to local employees. By packaging discounts on products and services from a variety of professional security, solar, alarm and loan companies, Dulle has been able to partner with local HR companies to offer an employee benefit that consists of discounts on various products and services. “We get in front of the employees frequently—we’ll do a lunch & learn, place a coupon with their pay stub or cater a lunch. Employers recognize that an employee who becomes a homeowner is a stronger employee.
Dulle performs a lot of relocation work, which led him to pursue the employee benefit approach, and this lead generation strategy is supported by the changing dynamics in his local market. “In Salt Lake City, an airport is being rebuilt, a prison is being moved and they are looking at creating an inland port that could clear products through customs that are coming into the western part of the country.”
With so much happening on a large scale, more businesses have set up operations there or are planning to do so. Utah has low taxes and utility costs, which helps to attract businesses. “The area where the prison will be located is being called Silicon Slopes and it’s bringing a lot of people to Utah,” Dulle says. “Among the three counties in that area, projections are that another 1 million people will be there by 2025. This will drive up home prices, and new construction is starting in the outlying areas.” With that projected growth, the future looks bright for Matt—there won’t be a Dull(e) moment!