The Branding Trend That’s Terrifying Real Estate Dinosaurs

08/30/2016 02:25 pm ET
"The bleeding-edge corporate offices of JK Realty. Open-concept floor plan, an arsenal of the newest gen Mac workstations, an
Josh Knicely
"The bleeding-edge corporate offices of JK Realty. Open-concept floor plan, an arsenal of the newest gen Mac workstations, and plush bean-bag chairs within the loaded up X-box gaming area of the 'JK Kids Zone'."

The Real Estate Industry is changing for the worse. That is, if your brokerage or team is still doing things the way they’ve always been done.

“Playing it safe” is ironically no longer the safest way to play. In many industries we have all noticed the “conversion to casual” as I like to call it. Ask any millennial if their workplace has a “Casual Friday” policy and their face will probably scrunch up in confusion. Formality in business is a dying tradition, and for good reason: the smart brands realize that the most effective way to connect with their consumers is to “humanize” their businesses.

The same is true for Real Estate companies, but the trend is only just beginning to catch fire. The rigid image of the suited and tied agent is still the mental picture most of us have when we think about real estate. But the smart brokerages and teams are letting this rigidity fall by the wayside in favor of more disruptive and humanized approaches....and they’re seeing stellar results.

JK Realty is a prime example of a brokerage surfing these tides of change with great success. They have taken great care to differentiate themselves in ways that precisely align with their target customer. They also go to great lengths to prioritize their agents and put them first.

All of these practices and approaches stem from an ultra clear brand strategy, but there’s obviously more to success than branding. Here are 7 things these guys are doing right:

1. Sharing

The old way of business was generally one of fierce competition. “There’s not enough to go-round and it’s only the biggest/fastest/strongest that will survive!” JK Realty have opted for a sharing mindset rather than competition. Jody Thyfault, one of JK’s top producers for 2014 and 2015 had this to say: We all support each other and are there for each other. Other brokerages are cutthroat and their agents keep all sorts of information to themselves. JK shares what’s working and not working in the industry, even with outside agents! The more that you share the more you’re going to get back.

2. Culture

This culture of sharing have given way to an incredibly supportive environment, which is quite attractive to outside agents and is a great recruitment and retention tool. With the turnaround time of an average agent being less than 2 years at a given brokerage, culture is a vital consideration. Jody also describe it as, “More of a family atmosphere, kids are always welcome even.” JK has even built out a “JK KIDS” room in their offices, boasting bean-bag chairs and video game consoles for the little ones tagging along with their agent parents. They realize their agents have lives, and many times their work will intersect with their home life. Their strategy makes sure that when that happens it’s an easy (and perhaps even fun) hurdle to jump.

3. Social Media

If you’re reading this and have already said to yourself, “Hey! I know those JK folks!” chances are it’s because of their relentlessly effective social media strategy. They are one of the top users of Snapchat in the real estate space, and have even slapped the founder’s “snapcodes” on the rear windows of their company cars. They use this platform to create awareness and reinforce their brand through humanized snapchat stories. The rest of their social channels are also frequently and consistently posted on, always remaining conscious of the F.O.R.D. anagram: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. This model for social posting is great for showcasing a brand’s personality. Showing these tid bits of real life is particularly differentiating in this typically dry and mortgage-rate-filled social space.

4. Video Content

The barrier to entry to consistent video posting is fairly daunting, but JK knew it was important. Not only does the company and it’s owners create content daily, but they encourage and train their agents to do the same. They’ve gone the extra mile and have even created an in-house post production suite for video editing to ensure their media gets the professional attention it deserves thereby maximizing its reach and virality.

5. Mentorship

A common trait among successful people is the continued thirst for knowledge, and a humble “I don’t know everything” attitude. JK Realty spares no expense on this either having mentors such as John Cheplak himself, of, personally train their agents and teams. Providing a top-dollar mentorship resource further bolsters current agent retention rates and strategically beckons the outside agents to “come on over to JK and learn from the best!”.

6. Technology

Again with the support! Noticing a theme yet? JK dropped good coin and opted for the Kunversion platform for their agent’s internal lead management and automated follow up needs. In addition to providing the platform itself, they support the agents through the system training ensuring a continued and effective use of Kunversion’s tools. In the words of Kunversion themselves, “The best system is the one you use”. But sometimes one platform simply can’t do it all, so JK keeps their ears open to their agent requests and needs. If they are unable to find a 3rd party tool that make their team’s lives easier, they won’t hesitate to innovate and develop their own technologies.

7. Not taking themselves too seriously

Finally, and perhaps the most important point of all. JK Realty has fun! AND SHOWS IT! They continuously look for ways to add flavor to this notoriously bland and stiff industry. They’re not ashamed to publish some weird stuff sometimes, because that’s who they are. You can always expect some sort of disruptive content to churn out of their content creation machine, and 9 times out of 10 it leaves smiles on the faces of those exposed. Some may say it’s risky, but remember, “playing it safe” is no longer the safest way to play.

All in all JK Realty is a testament that when you create a comfortable, supporting space every agent employee and owner gets to love what they do. And when they turn their content machine into overdrive and show the world this is the way we work and live, the ether of their contagious culture is damn near impossible to resist.

 Conforming to industry norms used to be the least-risky-option. Nowadays, being disruptive and different is the least-risky-option. JK is pioneering this differentiation in the real estate industry and much can be learned from their successes. It’s not too late for stale brokerages to pivot! If this sounds like stuff your company is struggling with, it might just be time to let your hair down and get wild!

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