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156 Trust Between Builders and Realtors - Kim Guley

Trust Between Builders and Realtors - Kim Guley
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Show Notes




This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Kim Guley of Builder Boost joins Greg and Kevin to discuss how trust between new home builders and real estate agents helps build valuable relationships and facilitates more new home sales.

There can often be feeling of mistrust among builders and realtors which can lead to missed opportunities. Both groups are responsible for resolving the skepticism. On the builder side, marketing teams can ensure that realtors are a valuable part of the sales process. Kim says, “So, I think for marketers, marketing managers are so busy and there's so much chaos going on. It's hard to take that creative space to build relationships sometimes, but it's really what leads to more sales is creating those relationships and having that other person feel important and feel like they're contributing to their business. If you're gonna pour into people, people pour back into you, and that's, to me, how sales happen.”

Realtors can make an effort to understand builders better. Kim explains, “I think that I would go back to the whole idea of, give newer agents grace, give the more seasoned agents respect. And then for the realtors, learn about builders. You don't have to learn all the stages of construction, but just being open to how that works so that you can present that to your clients. Because I think not presenting new, especially as we move into 2023 and 2024, the new build industry is going to be huge for real estate agents to pay attention to. So, it's time for them to really open their eyes and to learn more if they've been putting that off for some time.”

Builders and realtors have the same objective and that is helping home buyers find the right home. That goal can be accomplished more effectively as builders and real estate agents work together. Kim says, “Really, just we're all humans trying to make a living, trying to make our client happy. And I think coming together to build that trust and the relationships, it's what makes this industry fun too. You know, we need to bring that back into it. That it's not, ugh, I hate working with this realtor or builder, but it's, let's find out how we can work with different personalities.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how builders and realtors can develop trust and comradery with each other.

About the Guest:

With 20 years of experience in New Home Sales and Marketing, Kim’s career has given her a deep understanding and appreciation for this industry. Through her years of experience, she has seen the ups and downs of marketing budgets, analyzed market data to keep builders competitive, and has been a part of countless strategy meetings.

One thing that stands out to her, is that the key to success in this field is all about building relationships. Whether it's with home buyers or real estate professionals, it's about being there for them, working together, and being a true partner. While marketing plans and budgets are important, the most crucial factor is the connections you make and how you work with those connections.

Builder Boost was founded through close collaboration with REALTORS with the goal of helping both parties find and sell more new homes. We believe in fostering strong relationships within the Realtor and Builder community, openly discussing challenges, sharing best practices, and providing resources to each other so that we can ultimately provide homebuyers with the best possible experience.


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everyone, and welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.

Greg Bray: And we want to give a special shout-out to today's sponsor, NterNow. You can learn more at nternow.com.

And today we're excited to welcome to the show Kim Guley, who is the founder of Builder Boost. Welcome, Kim. Thanks for joining us today.

Kim Guley: Yeah, thanks for having me. Honored to be on the podcast with both of you.

Greg Bray: Well, Kim, let's start off and just help people get to know you a little bit and give us some [00:01:00] quick background about yourself.

Kim Guley: So, I am the founder of Builder Boost. Before Builder Boost, I was in the new home industry in a variety of different ways. As time would have it, I got laid off years ago and had an idea for Builder Boost and my husband said, now or never. So, I jumped fully into that and embraced it. It's been since 2014 and we've spanned into four different cities. Love what I get to do every single day, and I love our team. Very fortunate to be able to do what I get to do.

On a personal level, I'm a wife. I've been married almost 20 years, in August it'll be 20 years. Time flies. I have two teenage girls, so I'm very plugged into the Gen Z world. I'm keeping it cool. They keep me on my toes for sure. And then our hobbies, we've been bike riding lately. We live in Austin, Texas, and we've been getting on the bike. We're in awe of how interconnected they've made the city from north to [00:02:00] south, and it's been so fun. We have these dreams of grandeur now of retiring and going off to Spain once we're empty nesters and traveling the world that way on a bike. So, life is good.

Kevin Weitzel: So, two teenage daughters.

Kim Guley: Two.

Kevin Weitzel: All right, so number one, I'm sorry because when they hit college years, you're gonna have to spend crazy money. But two, please tell me that either one, they have good taste in music and they listen to the classics or two that you do not listen to their horrible, horrible taste in music.

Kim Guley: You know, it is funny, they put their playlist on in our car and it is the classics. I think we raised them right when they were little and it kinda brings back those memories. But yeah, good taste, thank goodness.

Kevin Weitzel: All right.

Kim Guley: I do hear some of that other stuff, but.

Greg Bray: Well, Kim, you mentioned that you're excited about what you get to do, but we don't know what that is yet. So, give us just a little bit of background of Builder Boost and the kind of services that you offer and what it is that you get to do that get you so [00:03:00] excited.

Kim Guley: Awesome. So, Builder Boost essentially is a realtor relations community for the home building industry. So, what I mean by that is we put out digital information. So, builders' promos, events, bonuses, what have you, but it's not static. So, we involve the realtors in it. So, we make sure that they feel a part of it. We give them the opportunities, we give them the mentorship, we encourage them so that they become the procuring cause of the sale for the home builder. So, it's a little bit different in that way.

Because back when I did home building for a new home builder, a couple of new home builders, what I noticed was a lot of agents were like, no way, I never want to sell new homes. That's too hard. I don't wanna get mixed up with that. There's just this big part of the real estate community that didn't understand new homes or that were scared. To me, I thought there needs to be [00:04:00] more of a way to educate, excite them about it, and show them how to take those bonuses, those incentives, the inventory, and market to their consumer. That's really where we put our heart and our mission in what we do and how we market.

Kevin Weitzel: And you're not just a fluff. You didn't start with Hillbilly Carl, the one-home-a-year home builder. You work for some heavy hitters.

Kim Guley: We do. So, we work for about 40 new home builders and we're talking the big corporate builders. When we talk to them and we talk to the marketing managers, the VPs of sales, they're all looking to increase their bottom line, right? And they're all looking to increase their realtor relations. And sometimes, as you know, we're all in home building, it's some of the same ideas for years and years. We throw a party, we give a Louis Vuitton bag, we give them lunch, and we hope for the best. I used to do that as well.

It's really hard to predict ROI from doing those activities. But it's a little [00:05:00] easier to predict the ROI when you work to cultivate a group of engaged agents, and you're able to watch them go from selling one to two new homes a year to 10 plus new homes a year and becoming brand loyal to their builders. And one of the things that I felt the home building industry was missing when we talked to realtors, you know, they were getting a lot of e-blasts and a lot of piecemeal type of information.

So, one thing we do at Builder Boost is we put everything together for them. I like to tell real estate agents, think of us as your backend office where somebody's collecting all the builder flyers, putting them all together in one spot, making sure everything's up to date and current, and that's what we do. We have the digital Builder Boost book with all the information from the big builders. They can go to it at any time. It's live. They don't have old information.

Kevin Weitzel: And you're talking, just to make sure we're on the same sheet of music, cuz, uh, I wanna make sure I understand what it is we're talking about. You're compiling both the customer-facing [00:06:00] and their compensation-facing, realtor-facing packages, correct?

Kim Guley: Mostly. So, what we're mostly hitting on, for the real estate community, is getting to realtors and saying, guess what? With the information that builders provide to us, you can be very competitive in your area because this is builder-to-realtor information. This is stuff that your buyers can't get their hands on. Sometimes it's inventory that doesn't hit the portals yet, doesn't hit the MLS. Oftentimes, you know, it's the bonuses and of course, you don't want your clients to see.

So, we're really trying to get them that information to give them the leg up in the new home industry. And that's what builders like about Builder Boost is that it gives them an outlet to put their realtor-facing information out there in a place that realtors are. So, realtors are on social media. We're meeting them in a place that realtors can see that information and making sure that we're target [00:07:00] marketing the real estate community for the builders.

Greg Bray: When I kind of became aware of what you guys were doing, it really made a lot of sense. Because there's this middle ground, right, that you're trying to fill in between builders and realtors because it's a lot of information to keep up with. Especially when you're dealing with more than one builder in the area and you're trying to find the best fit for your client, the buyer, as far as what home is best for them. Which isn't every builder all the time.

You have to be able to deal with more than one and it really makes a lot of sense because there's a disconnect between a lot of builders and realtors, from what I've heard, but why is it that there's this disconnect? What's your experience been that makes it a little bit rough sometimes for builders and realtors to be friends?

Kim Guley: So, I think it's twofold. I think that there's a lot of groupthink misinformation. You know, you have somebody in your real estate office that had a raw deal with a builder and you hear one side of the story, right? That builder cut me off out of the sale, and you get this [00:08:00] misinformation that goes, and it kind of spirals in the real estate community. So, I think we really have to reframe that.

That's a lot of what Builder Boost does too, is Hey guys, let's really think, have you had that experience yet? Are you meeting the onsite salespeople? Are you building those relationships? Cuz you might find you have an incredibly different perspective than your teammates that had something happen two years ago. So, I think misinformation and just the fact that the digital social media world has gotten to, you know, you can quickly look on a forum and you're like, Nope, I'm never gonna sell that builder, and it's just wrong.

And then I think the other part of the mistrust is that we forget to set proper expectations as a builder. So, we who've been in the new home industry, we know that building a home the mistakes along the way can be in the hundreds. We're building a house and we're humans and there's so many vendors and it's so multifaceted. And [00:09:00] I think that onsite sales representatives forget to tell the realtor, Hey, there is going to be mistakes along the way. But just like a writer, just like somebody that writes an essay, they're gonna go back and they're gonna proofread and they're going to fix their spelling errors. The same for a builder. We're going to go back and fix it.

So, I think what happens is a real estate agent who doesn't have those expectations. They think it's going to go seamlessly, and they're there to protect their client. They see one, taco, you know, trash and they freak out and it spirals and it makes everything go wrong. So, I think if they know that, and the builder's super honest with them about how they're going to be mistakes, they become human again. You know the realtor and the builder start to work together as they're on the same team and they want the clients to have the best experience.

Kevin Weitzel: But then if you proofread after you hit sned. And yes, I mispronounced it cuz it's send and I didn't proofread it, but if you proofread after you hit sned, you still have a warranty on a new home. So, it's [00:10:00] not that big a deal.

Kim Guley: Yes. That is another place where I think that marketing never ends at the sale of the home.

Kevin Weitzel: Can you say that again?

Kim Guley: That marketing doesn't end when we sell a home. Your warranty department and everybody that is part of that builder really needs to be part of the marketing as well. They're a representation of the builder. Again, that's part of a builder's reputation. When it goes to warranty and you have somebody that's been in that position, they're burnt out, they're mad, that just really can go into the community as something that is not good about the builder. So, I think that is a marketer's job.

I keep hearing this lately, a lot of marketers from builders saying, we're working on internal marketing this year, and that's what they're working on, is really how other people in the industry, except the salespeople, other people are working on their marketing as well.

Greg Bray: You mentioned [00:11:00] that realtors can sometimes have had maybe a friend of a friend who had a bad experience with a builder. They might not totally understand the construction process and some of the ups and downs that go through that because it's a little longer than a typical 30 to 60-day close, especially for a to be built. But from the builder side, where do you see builders hesitating to wanna work with realtors? What are some of their obstacles that get in the way?

Kim Guley: So, I think number one is realtors tend to stand in their own way. I hear a lot of builders talk about this. They're very trained to give a sales presentation, and they're excited sometimes to give this presentation, to walk through the features of the home. And the realtor is so used to protecting their client and being the best thing for them, and they interrupt that process, or they ignore the buying signals. You know, the person they brought in is like, wow, this is it, I found the house. And the real estate agent's like, no, no. We have nine more houses to see, so [00:12:00] let's get back in the car.

Kevin Weitzel: That's heck buying signal you just dropped. Wow. I love this house. I think I found the perfect place.

Kim Guley: That's what I love to do too, is I love that we can be honest with real estate agents. Like, quit putting yourself in the way of the sale. These onsite sales reps are very good at giving that presentation, and if your buyer's ready to buy, let them. They just fell in love with the home. They might go home and decide something different if you don't also act on that. So, I think that's one of the first things that a lot of builders get frustrated with agents over.

I think the other, and I would say this is number one actually, is the real estate agent that is incentive-focused. They walk in the door and the first thing they say, it's not, hello, how are you? It's what's your incentives? What's your incentives? And so a builder is incredibly turned off by that because they're not selling the incentive. They're selling a home. A realtor that can take a step back and say, it's not about price. [00:13:00] Let's learn the value. What's different about this builder? So, that's another thing we really try to educate agents on is slow down, don't be so incentive-focused.

The third thing I would say is that agents are oftentimes too micromanaging during the build process. So, they little nitpick things. They have their little tape measure out and their measuring and they're blue-taping the heck out of a house. I think when you're working with professionals and you've set up that relationship upfront, it doesn't have to be so nitpicky during that, and you're going to have a more seamless process and you're going to make the client feel more comfortable.

Greg Bray: Do you think some of that, Kim, comes from a realtor trying to figure out how to bring value to the process? Where, I'm not sure if I'm needed here. You know, because this new home salesperson is doing some of the stuff that I would do for a resale home. You know, and so I've gotta [00:14:00] prove that I'm helping, so I'm trying to get in the way or add some value. Or is it just, they really just don't understand how it all works?

Kim Guley: I think it's a little bit of both depending on how seasoned an agent is. But I think you hit the nail on the head. That agent goes in and they're wanting to prove value. It's weird to just sit there in the background and be quiet. Like you said, am I doing my job? Am I showing to this buyer that I am of value to them?

And I think too, one of the things that agents can do is build relationships with builders before they bring their client in. There's no better feeling when you walk through a door with your buyers and that onsite sales rep's like, Hey Todd, how are you doing? It's so good to see you. Oh my gosh, you guys made a great decision with Todd. He's a great real estate agent. So, I think, if an agent can sort of reframe their thinking a bit and really [00:15:00] prove their value by knowing people in the industry and making connections, their buyers are going to feel that they did make a good choice. [00:16:00]

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From a builder's marketing department perspective, what are some tips you have for how they can reach out to the realtor community? Because it's kind of a marketing process to a new audience, right? It's not to the buyers, it's a different message, I'm assuming, and a different benefit as well. But what are some suggestions you have for them as far as outreach to the realtor community?

Kim Guley: So, I would say the biggest difference a builder can make, and I've seen it, is embracing the actual connection with real estate agents. So, meaning making a mastermind group where they're just with six different agents, maybe once a month, and talking with them or creating an educational series. That's really what realtors want. When I talk to them, most of the good ones really want the education. They don't want the trip. They don't want the [00:17:00] Mercedes. They really want the builder to tell them, how do I sell more homes? How do you help my business?

So, I think for marketers, marketing managers are so busy and there's so much chaos going on. It's hard to take that creative space to build relationships sometimes, but it's really what leads to more sales is creating those relationships and having that other person feel important and feel like they're contributing to their business. If you're gonna pour into people, people pour back into you, and that's, to me, how sales happen.

Greg Bray: So, in today's buyer journey, you know, so many times the website becomes kind of the first contact with the builder. There's an online sales counselor that is part of answering questions, scheduling appointments, providing more information. There's the onsite appointment and meeting.

With a realtor, they might be bringing someone who has kind of skipped part of that [00:18:00] process. Like, maybe they didn't spend as much time on the builder's website, or maybe they come with the realtor and then they go back later, and now all of a sudden they're engaging with this online sales counselor. What are some of the opportunities for mistakes that can happen in this back-and-forth? And what are some ideas for kind of overcoming or improving that communication process as they're bouncing around between all these contact points?

Kim Guley: That is such a big can of worms, so I have lots to say on that particular area. I do think as home builders, we've sort of overcomplicated that process. I get it. We want to track our sales, we want to know where they're coming from. There tends to be though, different funnels and different ways of communication like you said, and sometimes builders get in the weeds of all those digital handoffs if you will.

So, you're right that there could be a realtor bringing a client, and the client's incredibly versed on the website, and maybe the realtor even not so [00:19:00] much. One of the things I always really educate realtors about is it is setting the appointment. You have got to set an appointment. These onsite salespeople are so busy from warranty to walks, all the things they're doing. So, setting the appointment. I always let them know there's always typically a point person at a builder, which is the OSC or the online sales representative.

You would be surprised, I'm surprised, how many realtors do not even know that position exists. Who's that? What does that mean? I see the opportunity for builders to market their internet sales consultants more to a realtor audience. To me, that's where it makes the most sense is to really get those agents to know there's a point person and I don't see a lot of that. I don't see a lot of builders marketing that internet salesperson as a realtor relation person. So, I see opportunity there.

But like you said, I think that it's so many different people in that beginning process that can trip [00:20:00] up a builder and sort of lose people. I really think the fortune is in the follow-up. My husband and I love to go visit new homes, and we do this a lot. And the amount of people that follow up with us is so small, even with our own homes. We basically have to keep following up with a salesperson. We're interested in buying this house. So, I feel like some of the processes tend to trip builders up when it's sometimes back to the basics of simplicity of follow-up and making sure appointments are set, and that you show up for the appointments.

Greg Bray: And when we get kind of overwhelmed with process or anything else we tend, I think human nature, we fall back to the simpler one, which is the resale home. It's just simpler. I understand that process. I know what to do next. It's not gonna take as long. They can see everything, even though it's got all those used home issues that new homes don't necessarily have. We tend to just fall back on what's easier. Don't we? If we don't help smooth that out and make [00:21:00] sure everybody understands where we're going.

Kim Guley: Absolutely. I love that question because I think the biggest competitor with new home sales is resales, especially when you look at the real estate side. So, I talk to realtors all day long and there's so many that just do not sell new. They say it. I don't sell new. For whatever reason that they got in their mind that they don't sell new. But a lot of it is like we've talked about, it's fear of the unknown. They don't know. They haven't sold many new.

And I think when the builder can educate the realtor and the realtor's done it a couple of times, they're like, this was easy. This is fun. I'm building a pipeline for myself where I can count on income down the line. Once you rope a real estate agent in, they're sold on selling new. But the biggest increase a builder can make on their bottom line is to hit to the realtor who already has typically pre-qualified buyers and convince them that new is the way to go. So, I think [00:22:00] definitely there's more new home sales if we can get to the realtors that have decided for some reason not to sell new builds.

Greg Bray: So, how do we get to them?

Kim Guley: I think it goes back again to collaborating with them. I hear a lot of builders and different talk of, oh, realtors are going to be obsolete one day, or we're just gonna push buttons to buy houses. I can't deny that. That might be the case someday, but it's not now. It's people. We really rely on people in our industry right now. It's a person-to-person industry. And so I think if we pour into them and we educate them, we build community and we really embrace that relationship and go back to that again, it's going to increase your sales.

Greg Bray: So, Blue Tangerine recently did an attitudinal survey of home buyers about their digital preferences, and we found that the audiences are split into different groups. One of those groups is very much comfortable [00:23:00] with the online, but there's another group that is really worried about making a mistake and they are looking for that trusted advisor and the realtor can really serve a great purpose of being that independent trusted confidant and advisor in the whole process because you don't wanna make a mistake.

Nobody likes making mistakes, but especially with a huge purchase like a home, you really don't wanna feel like you made a mistake. I think there's a huge value there for the realtor to bring as that trusted advisor who knows the market, knows what you're getting, and can say, yeah, this really is a good decision that you're making. Yes, there was a bump and yes, somebody left their taco wrapper on the floor. We'll clean that up. You know, if that's the biggest mistake that happens, I think we're doing pretty good, right? But yeah, the idea that everybody's gonna do it this way or that way really isn't what we found. There's these different preferences and it really is gonna depend and we have to serve all those different buyers.

Kim Guley: Yeah, absolutely. And we have this neat initiative that we do, where we call them Builder Boost [00:24:00] Missions. Essentially, a builder will come to us and say, I have a struggling community. We haven't seen traffic in months. So, we say, okay, what we're gonna do is we'll find you 15 real estate agents that are focused on that submarket, who sell new, who are good in social media. We'll send them out to meet your onsite sales counselor one-on-one. It's not a party, it's a one-on-one meeting, and then we encourage those agents to do marketing while they're there.

And this initiative has created so many conversions of sales and we get a report, we get basically an exit survey from these realtors. And it's interesting to find what they say of, you know, sitting down and talking to somebody made me feel very comfortable to bring clients to them, and I would've never thought of bringing clients here. I drive past this community all the time, I've never stopped in. I'm so glad. So, again, it's just making that agent feel comfortable that builder's going to take care of them, and [00:25:00] that happens before they ever bring a buyer into the sales office.

Greg Bray: So, it's all about trust. It really is all about just establishing trust and doing business with people that you know and trust.

Kim Guley: Absolutely.

Greg Bray: That's kind of the heart of it all, isn't it? That's a key takeaway from what I'm hearing. If I'm a builder and I'm like, okay, we haven't done a good job with our realtors, what's one thing I can do tomorrow or next week that can start building or rebuilding trust with the realtor community?

Kim Guley: Well, I shared with you that I have two teenage daughters. I sort of think about it in this way, if you will. Builders and realtors, realtors being the teenager in this. They're like, can I trust them? Should I tell them this? How does that work? But the builder really needs to create an environment that they're able to be transparent with them. They're able to come and say, Hey, my buyers are crying. This is going on. So, if we build those sort of relationships, it just helps the industry overall.

It really is [00:26:00] about being human and trusting who you're working with. Who you work with really does matter. Some of the newer agents, I get it. They can be tricky to work with, but we need to have grace for the newer agent. Some of the agents that have been in it for 20 years, want to make sure you know that, and they're tricky in their own right. Really, just we're all humans trying to make a living, trying to make our client happy. And I think coming together to build that trust and the relationships, it's what makes this industry fun too. You know, we need to bring that back into it. That it's not, ugh, I hate working with this realtor or builder, but it's, let's find out how we can work with different personalities.

Greg Bray: Well, Kim, this has been a great conversation. Do you have any last words of advice for uh, builders or realtors, one or the other, that you wanna leave with our audience today?

Kim Guley: I think that I would go back to the whole idea of, give newer agents grace, give the more seasoned agents respect. And then for the realtors, [00:27:00] learn about builders. You don't have to learn all the stages of construction, but just being open to how that works so that you can present that to your clients. Because I think not presenting new, especially as we move into 2023 and 2024, the new build industry is going to be huge for real estate agents to pay attention to. So, it's time for them to really open their eyes and to learn more if they've been putting that off for some time.

Greg Bray: Well, Kim, if somebody wants to connect with you or learn more about Builder Boost, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

Kim Guley: So, I love LinkedIn. I think it's so fun to connect the industry that way. So LinkedIn, Kim Guley, and then my email address is kim@builderboost.com.

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, thank you, Kim, so much for sharing, and thank you again to today's episode sponsor of NterNow. Check out more about them at nternnow.com. And thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And [00:28:00] I'm Kevin Weitzel at OutHouse. Thank you.

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