Kris Lindahl on extending its branding know-how to new real estate activities
As Founder and Director of Kris Lindahl Real Estate, Kris Lindahl has built a reputation as a passionate advocate for the importance of branding in the real estate industry.
Now Lindahl has co-founded the Marketing Team, a boutique real estate marketing company, with his childhood friend, marketing and advertising veteran Steve Soldberg.
Below, Lindahl shares his expertise and real-world experience with agents, teams and brokerages to create breakthrough solutions.
(Note: This interview has been edited for length and style).
Tell us about the differentiators of your team. Let’s start with those that are not directly related to marketing.
There are several in no particular order. We are a 100% brand-based model which is very rare. We generate all the opportunities for our company’s agents and connect with consumers in our market.
We have created a streamlined process that is consistent for our consumers. Many real estate companies claim to be a team, but working as a team is very difficult. What we are looking for is a consistent, world-class consumer experience.
Creating a brand where everyone in the market we serve knows who we are is how we measure success. There are many ways to run a real estate company. I see people buying a lot of leads from third-party companies, but if you have a brand on top of that, it’ll speed that up.
If people are considering selling their home and they know who you are, the likelihood of them contacting you increases. A well-defined brand cannot be taken away from you, while leads come and go.
Because I’m a true visionary, I focus on getting the right people in the right seats and understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I have people in the company who are very strong and who work in integrator roles because I dream of years and years to come.
Often times you will see people who are team leaders and then become brokers; but they never created a brand, and they really aren’t visionaries. The result is you see team leaders and brokerage owners handing over their credit cards to portals because they don’t know how to create their own opportunities.
That’s why I created the Marketing team – to help businesses build their own brands so they don’t depend on other businesses. I haven’t seen this kind of addiction pay off in the long run in any industry.
Uber first supplanted auto services, Instacart in retail, and last year we saw many small restaurants lose money delivering food because they weren’t in control of their own eyes. and impressions. It is simply not responsible.
How has your growth been impacted by the events of the past year? How did you manage this growth?
Last year when the pandemic started we had 60 officers, and a year later we have over 400. That’s in a year. This year, we are on track for over 4,000 transactions. We operate 100 percent as a team model where the business delivers a consistent experience every time.
We have a very strong management team; they are amazing human beings. When everyone’s headed in the same direction, you can do more than you think.
I find the lack of confidence a barrier to scaling up. You often see homeowners still selling homes. Often, this is a short-sighted thought. They don’t have the systems, processes, and people in order, so they have to sell just to stay profitable, and they can’t scale.
Others cannot reach this higher level because their risk tolerance is low, or they don’t know how, or they are not visionaries. Most people are not true visionaries who run teams and brokerages. Many are operations oriented. They are busy preparing and constantly trying to create a process and a structure.
Because they are not visionaries, they haven’t formulated a vision for their business, so they can’t communicate the vision to their business. When the pandemic first hit you saw a lot of quiet people in the industry who didn’t say or do anything for their people and their families.
How did you change course at the start of the pandemic, and how did you adjust as you went?
Whenever there is a crisis, you make quick decisions and react. With everything that happened, I knew we were prepared for it. When you look at companies with strong brands, when a crisis hits, they have a platform to connect with their communities.
Lots of brands claim to be recognized, but when you take the layers off, they don’t have any marketing initiatives to implement. The only brand is the sales signs that the agents put on the construction sites.
Real estate companies could not communicate when the pandemic began because they depended on solopreneur agents to communicate with their communities while management was silent. This is why teams with brands are taking off considerably right now.
How does your team deal with today’s market for super-fast, low-inventory sellers?
I really believe there are always challenges and ups and downs. What’s really interesting about the times we’re in right now is that agent’s value has never been higher. It’s not as easy as going to a website or app and looking for homes that aren’t there.
When you have a brand that everyone knows, people go to whom they trust. In a time when everything is going well, you see owners reaching out to someone they know. When times get tough, they turn to someone they trust and who can do it. We are taking market share because consumers are struggling to solve the challenges of the market we are in now.
What are you investing in right now?
It starts with training. We have world-class training; we brought in a top trainer from outside the industry. She has come and reorganized our entire training process over the past year.
A lot of people come from different industries. The past year has brought us people who have wondered if they were on the right track or if they had perhaps been put on leave. Branding attracts people who want to work for you, not just buyers and sellers.
It starts with training when you have a brand because you have to deliver on the customer’s promise. If you make a promise and don’t keep it, people hear about it because we are in a criticism society. We need to have the best training in the country, and we continue to invest in it.
We are constantly innovating. Over the past year, what I’ve seen is that the consumer has really changed. You look at the different trends and the need for solutions based on convenience – everything is so much faster, so we keep innovating knowing that this is what the future would be. I always knew that day was coming.
Many broker-owners do not know how to connect with the consumer after the pandemic. A lot of real estate teams are doing the same thing that they’ve always done, and they’re starting to get stuck in a standstill, and they don’t know how to get back on track.
I went to hire my lifelong friend to create a marketing team to create a solution to help people build a brand that could connect with the consumer. And the question is, “What is the new normal?” I think there is a lot of uncertainty as to what this will look like, but it also means that innovation has increased in a short period of time.
What are you doubling up on? What strategy or solution has really proven its worth over the past year?
When the pandemic first hit, we shifted all of our marketing to humanity rather than business. We have done all kinds of things to help the communities we serve. We have redoubled our efforts without any program other than to truly help the communities that have been so good to us. He created a tremendous amount of growth.
As soon as confidence started to return, and following the protocols, it became clear that people were placing more emphasis on “home” than ever before. We tripled our marketing and brand-based initiatives as everyone backed up and hit the pause button, and we ended up so far ahead. Much more than doubling.
I’ve always known that during tough times this is where you find out who the real leaders are. The crisis is different every time, there are different forms and forms of crisis, but we have always been prepared. We can make quick adjustments because we understand the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on our team. Often times, companies have employees who don’t really know who they are.
What is your greatest lesson from this experience?
I am convinced that the model we have developed and the consistent world-class customer experience is the future. I am 100 percent sure. It’s creating a brand that people know, having a platform with attention, serving your communities – it’s such a differentiator.
Most places have tens of thousands of real estate agents in their market. How do you stand out? It is thanks to the brand image.
What would be your starting point for someone starting this journey?
Spend time, reach out and learn from someone who has. It might not even be in the real estate industry. A lot of the people I’ve spoken to are CEOs from other industries. Success leaves a lot of clues and you will dramatically reduce the learning curve.
The number of learning opportunities we’ve had along the way – which some call failures – means you learn something from everything that doesn’t work. Stay focused and commit to lifelong learning.
I like the collaboration you find with Inman events. Most people let their egos stop them from seeking help or asking questions. What I realized is that the person who already did it learns more by sharing. It’s a win-win.
Christy Murdock is a real estate agent, freelance writer, coach and consultant and owner of Real estate writing. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow the real estate editorial staff on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.