Leading Women: Molly Kay Hamrick
Company President Believes 'Stickability' is Key in Real Estate Success
In 1998, husband-and-wife real estate team Bob and Molly Kay Hamrick purchased Coldwell Banker Premier Realty in Las Vegas. At the time, she was already the top franchise agent in Las Vegas, and he was the top broker in the area. Under their direction, the gross commission income of CBPR/Las Vegas increased from $7.9 million in 1997 to more than $30 million in 2006.
Fast-forward four years. In 2010, Molly Kay Hamrick says the past three and a half years have been by far the "most horrific" since she entered the real estate business 20 years ago. "Las Vegas has been number one in all the categories you don't want to lead in," Hamrick says, including an unemployment rate of 14.5 percent. "Seventy-five percent of our market is still underwater, with home prices dropping to what they were in 1990."
However, through their unique management style, the Hamricks have coached agents through the tough times. And Hamrick is proud to report that CBPR has only laid off two people and has not cut pay, while other real estate companies in the area have been forced to close offices.
She believes CBPR is now a stronger company through weathering the storm. Today, the company includes 325 agents and 40 staff. In July, CBPR appeared on REALTOR® Magazine's list of the "Top 100 Real Estate Companies" in the U.S.
Hamrick sat down with eConnect and shared some of her insights on industry trends and being at the helm of a large real estate company.
Being a Leader
For CBPR's President and COO Molly Kay Hamrick, being a successful REALTOR® starts with "having the skills." As technology has made listing information readily available to consumers, real estate professionals "must have the skills to be able to market the property, find the buyer and negotiate on behalf of the client," Hamrick said.
"Also, there are now more regulations, and agents must have that knowledge, always act professionally and show up every day and treat it like a real job. You can’t be lackadaisical or do real estate part-time anymore," she said.
For Hamrick, she’s never considered being a part-time REALTOR®. She learned to work hard from her parents, who always pushed her to excel from an early age. She carried that ethic through college, where she put in 15-hour days, working to pay the tuition while still maintaining good grades. By the time she become an agent, she knew she needed to put in the long hours, and immediately became a top producer because of that passion to succeed.
At CBPR, Molly Kay manages what she terms the "back office:" the technology, accounting and marketing. For husband Bob, "he's constantly working with agents on driving production." Both are involved with business planning and big-picture strategy.
To lead such a large real estate business, she says you must be "the epitome of the role model."
"Like a mom," she laughs, "you have to remember that you are watched," according to this mother of three daughters. "You do what you say and what you ask of others." Hamrick feels it's vital that she and Bob are "in the trenches" working side by side with the agents every day.
Hamrick says her favorite word is "stickability," which she’s not sure really is a word. Basically, as her parents taught her, you always finish what you start, and carry the same energy through the whole process. "You start strong. You end strong."
Training New Agents
Hamrick feels new agents have great potential to succeed because they come into the business with a fresh energy. But in today's market, they are bombarded with negative messages that can hamper their progress. Hamrick says her agents are set up for success with an extensive training program. "When we terminate an agent, we really question, 'did we do everything to help them succeed in this business?'" she says.
One of the most difficult things for agents to do early on is to actually converse with clients because they lack the knowledge, according to Hamrick. However, she says, scripts go a long to help them through the early meetings, until it becomes second nature to talk with clients.
The Hamricks believe in running CBPR as a family-oriented firm, and even have events, such as a recent family movie night, to drive home the point. Hamrick says that running CBPR means that she is "responsible for 400 families." The culture at CBPR says "we're all in this together, and we help each other."
One of the greatest ways to support each other is through sharing goals, Hamrick believes. In October, she travels with Bob and their executive team to a weekend retreat to plan company goals for 2011. Then, November is a business planning month for the agents.
"Each agent works with our staff to develop their own business plan, which we review with them throughout the year and see if they are track and try to help them," Hamrick said. "We share our goals. Everyone comes to the meeting with their goals in hand. The entire team has to be on board. We share our goals and enlist each other's help in meeting those goals."
Social Networking & Technology
"We own a technology company and provide technology to other real estate companies across the U.S.,” says Hamrick, who started the tech company nine years ago, “But the great part is we get to apply the tools to our business first."
These tools include interactive marketing, Web sites, Intranet sites and leads management. For the future of leads management, automation will be key, according to Hamrick.
"Most often, real estate companies capture leads and don’t have the time to truly incubate them," she said. "For most, we're not able to engage with a lead if they’re not ready to buy right now. We've developed drip marketing to put leads into campaigns based on their needs so the technology is working for you and creating tremendous potential. When you give those leads to agents they are scrubbed leads."
For her personal technology, Hamrick reports that her iPhone is her must-have tech tool. "It does everything I need." She frequently communicates through text messaging on her phone on a range of business matters.
As far as Web presence, each agent gets his or her own Web site provided by CBPR when they sign on. "We were the first company in Vegas to provide agent Web sites to all our agents," Hamrick says.
For the company's social networking presence, CBPR's in-house marketing professional plans delivery of content-rich postings for the consumer base. And it's about engaging "fans" through useful market data and never about promoting the latest company listings.
These postings can include relevant news developed by other sources and shared through CBPR's social network. It also includes market reports developed by CBPR’s in-house industry analyst – with monthly postings and more detailed quarterly reports. According to Hamrick, these market reports have been great for driving investors interested in opportunities in Las Vegas to CBPR – including many international investors.
For example, Hamrick's in-house analyst reported to her recently that 15,000 properties in her area have not yet hit the market but are on bank balance sheets (so-called "shadow real estate"). Having the knowledge is step one in serving the client.
"We are dealing with people faced with a business decision. Does it make sense to have a huge mortgage and undervalued property? There are a lot of people in that category," Hamrick said.
"It's a scary place looking at those numbers. We have to get out there and help them because they are paralyzed with fear. They don't know what to do, and we educate them on options. That's the most important thing we can do."
Again, it's about "stickability," she believes. "Figure it out, embrace it, stick with it and win."
Molly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Web site is www.lasvegashomes.com.
Dianna Kawell is editor of Women’s Council’s eConnect e-newsletter. She specializes in Web content development for associations and small businesses.
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