Episode 309 – Annette Anthony – Vice President, Technology Engagement – EXIT Realty

TRES 309 | Real Estate Technology

TRES 309 | Real Estate Technology

 

As business owners, our number one goal is to close more deals at the end of the day. But how can you succeed in today’s saturated real estate industry? Today, Bill Risser chats with Annette Anthony about finding more efficient ways to do business. Annette is a real estate technology expert. She is also the Vice President of Technology Engagement for EXIT Realty, a firm that builds technology for brokers and agents to help them become more productive. Need some tips, tricks, and tools to help you bag the advantage in any market? Tune in.

Annette Anthony – Vice President, Technology Engagement – EXIT Realty

Thank you so much for tuning in. Thank you so much for telling a friend. Speaking of friends, I get to visit an old friend, Annette Anthony. She is the Vice President of Technology Engagement for EXIT Realty. I have known Annette for years and I have also had the opportunity to see her in action at EXIT onstage, emceeing rallies, doing training and hands-on stuff, which is my favorite. It’s going to be fun to catch up with her, get some tips, tricks and technology which everyone can always use. Let’s get this thing started.

Annette, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me.

I have known you for at least a decade, if not further back. I want to talk about our time in Phoenix together, but before we get there, are you a native of the Valley of the Sun?

I was born in Glendale, California. My father and mom raised three girls. I’m the youngest of three. My dad was an immigrant from Mexico, Alejandro Moreno Rubio is his name. Could you imagine coming to the US, he was sixteen years old with the aspirations to get his education and live the dream of an American. He was fostered with a family, got his education, went to college and graduated. It’s not just going to college, but you have to also be part of extracurricular activities. You have to volunteer, a job, a certain GPA, the number of hours that you are working. It was not handed. It was a pretty awesome experience.

My dad applied for his US citizenship. As soon as he graduated college, he obtained it. He served in the military, in the Army, and married my mom. My mom then came over from Mexico. When she was nine months pregnant with me, I’m the youngest of three girls, she got her citizenship, so that is pretty special. Starting off in California and then as things got crowded, it was difficult, they were noticing to raise three girls. They wanted something a little bit quieter, so we moved to beautiful Arizona. We were in Phoenix at 16th St & McDowell, which is not a great neighborhood now, but back when, it was a safe and quiet place to raise three girls. I’m super proud of that.

My dad was a young entrepreneur. He started a business in upholstery because he was like, “What am I going to do?” He would go to a secondhand store and would buy a piece of furniture, but what he would do with it to convert it into a beautiful masterpiece. He had it in the front yard covered in plastic with a sign that said $25. Luckily, a woman, her name is Sue Jayden. I do not even think that she’s around anymore, but she happened to see that chair and said, “Who did this?” My dad was like, “I did.” She was like, “I want to see more pieces, but I think you are going to be my full-time upholster.” It was a pretty cool dream.

You are close to Encanto Park and the golf course.

We moved to Scottsdale and that is where I met my husband. We were high school sweethearts. I’m still married with two kids. I love Arizona.

I know you love Arizona but there are parts of Arizona that after that long, get a little tiring. You are not a snowbird. I’m going to call you a summer bird because your home base feels like it’s Phoenix and Scottsdale, but you take off in the summertime. Where do you head to?

You can't tell people to do something if you’re not already doing it yourself. And if you’re not having fun with it, they're definitely not going to do it. Click To Tweet

Our son, Michael, has been playing ball. He has had a ball in his hand since I can remember, so he earned himself a baseball scholarship and was recruited by Briar Cliff University here in Sioux City, Iowa to come and play baseball. What do good parents do? You go follow your kid’s dreams. My husband has retired from the Military and law enforcement for years.

We have the opportunity to live in Sioux City, Iowa. Who would have thought that we would be residents here? We love it. When we dropped him off, it was like, “This is pretty far for us to leave our son.” When I was on my way back to Toronto, my husband is on his way back to Arizona after we moved into the dorms. My husband sent me a picture from Zillow, a link to a property that came on the market.

He was like, “What do you think?” I’m like, “What do you mean what do I think?” He says, “What do you think about us possibly putting an offer on this house?” I said, “If you think we can do this, let’s give it a shot.” The offer got accepted and here we are in Sioux City. Who knew that I would want to be a Midwest girl? I love it here.

The people are authentic and relaxed. It’s very different. It’s cold but we love the cold. We are still honeymooners here in this weather. We do enjoy being out here. We are here in the spring and fall months so that we can be with our son, and then we head back to Arizona in the winter and summer. Summer is pretty hot in Arizona, but when you have a pool and air conditioning, it’s all good.

A lot of these little things were happening in the Phoenix area, in the real estate world and at associations or in little different events. I swear that I know you from your SharperAgent days. I would see you in an office meeting where you were talking about the product.

I was working for a small title company called Land Title. They are huge in Colorado, small in Arizona. A friend of mine said, “You would be great in title.” At the time, I was working for FireRock Country Club. I was selling golf memberships at $85,000 a pop. She said, “You would be great working for a title company.” I explored the opportunity and I loved it. I had an awesome branch manager and I learned so much from her.

My role was to build relationships with real estate agents. I did. I helped introduce those real estate agents to my branch manager. SharperAgent, the CRM tool, Land Title in Arizona, was the only reseller of SharperAgent. SharperAgent was my reason for connecting with agents because what I discovered is agents did not have CRMs. We are talking back to the early 2000s. They had no CRM.

They would carry around albums of their referrals, reviews or testimonials, “Look at my huge album. Let’s browse through all these things that people say.” Times have changed. SharperAgent was what got me in the door and I would have one-on-one meetings with agents. That agent, after I helped them be successful by getting organized and start the behavior of, “This is my regular daily thing to do.”

That agent would introduce me to another agent. I would be in a small conference room, the four of us and then those groups started to expand to then I would be leading training for offices on how to stay better connected with their database. Broker owners at the time were like, “You are a value to me. I want to add you to our training schedule because you are helping our agents grow.” That is how it started with SharperAgent.

Were you always techie even prior to that or has this ramped it up for you?

TRES 309 | Real Estate Technology

Real Estate Technology: When you teach technology to agents, they freak out. It’s important that you take your understanding and show them how to apply it in their business.

 

I’m a problem solver. I love to have conversations. I love to listen to people. “What are you doing? How is it working?” Tami says if you could wave a magic wand, but I had different words that I would use. If you could do things a little differently, what would that look like for you? Listening to their concerns gave me an opportunity to find what other people are being successful and what is it that they are doing that I can help you adapt those behaviors? I can help you stay accountable and we can work together.

You can have that hype person follow up with you to see how things are going and we can monitor your success and we will make adjustments along the way so long as we are continuing to move forward. I always have had this curiosity of how to help agents or take a look at what they are doing because we have had great conversations and how do we make it work for their business?

I remember going to an office building in Scottsdale into a fairly small conference room with you and about five EXIT agents. I think you had just gotten rolling with EXIT. Is that true at that point?

It depends on when that was. How I got started with EXIT was I kept my head down with SharperAgent and was exposed to a lot of different brands. SharperAgent then signed a deal with EXIT Realty by providing a white label solution. They call it EXIT Promo Shop back then. I had the opportunity to get to know the leadership at EXIT, worked with their broker-owners, regional owners, all of their agents, while at the same time, still working with a lot of other brands. SharperAgent was acquired by Market Leader. Market Leader was acquired by Trulia. Trulia was acquired by Zillow. All these different transitions and all the while, keeping your head down, continuing to learn, build relationships, trust and have fun.

The CEO, Tami Bonnell, at the time was watching, learning and seeing how I was working with her people. One day, she tapped me on the shoulder and said, “How are you?” At the time, she was a CEO of a huge international real estate company, but she took a special interest in me because she saw what I was doing for her people and had said, “How are you doing in it?” I was honest. I said, “I’m doing great. I love what I do. Thank goodness I’m adaptable. I love learning. I’m helping agents. I’m expanding my knowledge. I can help agents grow.” She said, “What if you could do what you love to do, but do it with EXIT?”

It was at that moment that I knew this was possibly where my last business card will be made. This is the last company that I will ever work for it because I’m home. As big of a company as it is, you always feel like you are valuable. People notice even the smallest of things and they always make, at least for me, feel like I can do more because they do so much for me.

I had the honor of interviewing Tami on the show. I have heard it many times that when Tami says to you, “How are you doing?” It’s not that quick, “How is it going?” She wants to know how you are doing.

She knows my family intimately. She knows my husband and my kids by name. She knows what is going on in their lives because she takes a very special interest in me. I’m not the only one of the executives who feel this way. It’s our regional owners, agents, admins in the offices and the staff, but it’s also the industry. There are so many people who come up to me and say, “I love Tami. You are so fortunate that she is with your company.” They tell me their story of how she makes them feel. Even though we have thousands of agents, she makes you feel as though you are the only one and most important person that she has on the phone with.

She always picks up on things in our conversations or things that I’m doing that I did not even get to tell her yet, but other people are sharing with her. She will write me a handwritten note or send me books with inscription messages that she has written personally to me. I try to do my best to emulate that. I have a lot of learning to do.

When you did the show with Bob and Muleshoe, Texas came up and you had a good time about that. I’m thinking, “I wonder if Muleshoe high school has memorabilia.” They do. I found the coffee cup. Those are the things that Tami has instilled in me so that I can be the best version of myself. I can catch people doing something extraordinary when they least expect that somebody is watching.

Consumers want two things – pictures and pricing. If you don't give them that, they will find someone else who will. Click To Tweet

That is a wonderful talent, skill, whatever you want to call it and something that we all could be better at. The SharperAgent connection was the technology that you started with, I love looking back at people who have been in these roles like me back in the mid-2000s. What other technology were you talking about besides CRM? What was the most popular?

Websites were the next hottest thing. You need to have a website. That was probably the biggest thing. The CRM, people had a very hard time trusting that technology that you could put your contacts up in the cloud. There was a lot of resistance, but those agents, which I suppose were the twenty percenters who believe that this is where the direction of the industry is going, were the trailblazers that I was able to link arm-in-arm with. We would take other people along with us on the journey.

Social media is exploding while you are in this role. That was a part of your repertoire and trying to help people understand to use that better. I have seen you do that even to this day, talking about things like video and YouTube, which I consider social media. Let’s get your favorite social network and why.

I love Facebook. It’s truly authentic. When I feel like I want to post something special when something touches me, “I want to share this,” rather than, “It’s forced.” Facebook is my go-to. I have explored so many things though. I have had so many funny conversations with my husband. He was like, “You are going to do what on snap what?” Snapchat.

Even my kids would throw up their arms and say, “Are you serious, mom?” I have older adult children. Michael is 23 versus 27. They were like, “You are getting on Snapchat?” I’m like, “I’m doing some recon. I need to understand the technology so that I can explain it to the agents and those who are interested. I can teach them how to use it.”

TikTok came about and they were like, “You are going to do what?” I have this curiosity. I never want to be the one that says, “I do not know.” I’m going to explore. I’m going to dive into it. Even Alexa Flash Briefings was a cool technology that a lot of people were very intimidated about. The biggest thing here is when you are teaching technology to agents, they freak out. It’s important that you take your understanding and show them how to apply it in their business. With respect to social media, Facebook is one of my favorite.

Let me put you on the spot. Do you have a least favorite? I’ll tell you mine. It’s important in a lot of ways, but I do not think it is that important in real estate. You might differ, but for me, it’s Pinterest.

It’s not even on my radar. Twitter, I felt like I needed to post more and it felt forced. It’s my least favorite. I deleted it, which to your audience, it’s okay to know that if you are not comfortable in that space, you do not need to be there. You do not have to have all the links and it’s forced. Go where you feel the most comfortable. Do not worry about missing out on something on the other platforms. When you are ready, that will appear to you, jump and dive in.

Thinking about TikTok, I had the pleasure of hearing you sing at the Southeast Region Rally. First of all, you are a fantastic singer. Tell me if I go check out your TikTok account, I can find something somewhere.

My account is private. My singing is an opportunity. If you catch me, that was a good time. I love to sing. My dad used to sing all the time. He sings not quite professionally, but in college. He was involved in plays and sang quite a bit. We even sang together on a cruise ship when we went on a family vacation. It was so fun. I love to sing karaoke and it’s a good time. That opportunity was special for EXIT Southeast. Bob McKinnon, our Director of Leadership, started to learn how to play the guitar. I let Stacy, our regional owner for EXIT Southeast, I let her know, “Your event is coming up. I’m saying Bob McKinnon is learning how to play the guitar and he is pretty good.”

TRES 309 | Real Estate Technology

Real Estate Technology: You don’t have to have all the links. Go where you feel the most comfortable, and don’t worry about missing out on something on the other platforms.

 

That little bug in her ear and then Bob and I strategized and said, “We should do something.” We kept it a secret. Nobody knew. The guitar that Bob McKinnon used, it was a loaner, Carrie Underwood’s lead guitar. That was his guitar. Those are some strings that were pulled. We had a good time and nobody knew what we were doing other than Stacy, Valerie and Kenny, they were the only ones who knew. Even Tami, Craig and Lori Muller, our leaders and all the agents and owners had no idea. Catching them at a surprise was special for us.

I have been to a few EXIT events. The focus on education is everywhere. It’s not just lip service. It’s important. Chat about that a little bit.

We build technology for the agents. Our number one goal is to help them close more business. If it does not work, if it’s hard to use, if the agents are not adapting, we are not going to do it. We have had other tech that we have brought on and it sounded like a great idea at the time, but now that it’s in the hands of the agents, it was not as big of a success. We were big enough to say, “This is not working. We are going to do something else.” They respect that we have such an insatiable appetite to continue to move forward and try to find better ways for them to do their business more effectively.

That is what we do. The most important thing too, is we make sure that we teach them how to use it. We do that in a lot of different ways. They can go online. We have lots of different webinars. We have one-on-one training. They can reach out. I’m one of the executives of the company and they call, text and instant message me and say, “Could you show me?” My answer is always, “Absolutely.” Some will even say, “I hesitated to even call because I know you are busy.” I always tell them, “I’m never busy. I’m booked. I’m scheduled, but I’m never too busy.” We will always find the time. We have a phenomenal franchise support team that they can reach out to. Real people that they can connect with.

The technology is easy and it’s proven, so it’s got to work. Years ago, Tami challenged me and said, “You are just one person. You need to multiply yourself.” I’m like, “You are right.” There are only so many places that I can go and I have led huge hands-on workshops. That is my favorite. I love to have the agents bring their laptops, mobile devices and they follow every single step so that they can apply what I’m teaching them. By the time they leave, you do not have to write anything down. You did everything. You set up your systems. You do not have to worry about going back and going through your notes. I have had as many as 200 people in a room at the same time.

There were cords everywhere. Not one computer was compromised with spilled coffee. Nobody tripped on a cord. Everybody left safe, but they left with confidence, which is something that the industry does not emphasize. Here is where it comes from. When you sit down as a human and walk them through how to do something, you give them the respect and confidence for them to do it themselves.

With Tami’s challenge and saying, “You have to duplicate yourself.” What I did was I reached out to our EXIT Nation and said, “Here is what I’m thinking to do. I do not know how this is all going to go, but I envision people like myself who have an interest in technology, loves sharing with others and know the importance of human connection. I want to be able to share with you a very simple tip. I want you to learn it. I want you to demonstrate it in the office to your agents.”

We started with 28 people who said, “I do not know what you are up to, but I’m in.” We have grown to more than 430. We call them EXIT Engagement Leaders. We have these duplicatable people, 430 of them throughout our network, but we are not done. We need to have one in every single office. I continue to have some work of me, but this is an enthusiastic crowd most of which are not technologists. They do not know everything about technology, but what I’m sharing with them each month is a simple tip, one tool, one resource and something that they can learn in less than five minutes and be able to share with their peers in their office confidently.

What caused is this ripple effect of increased confidence in people engaging with our tools, hands down. What I did not realize that happened was that it would also elevate their confidence to present in front of their peers. I had no idea that would be a by-product of this group of EXIT Engagement Leaders. I’m so proud of them. I continue to onboard every week of people saying, “We do not have an engagement leader in our office, but I want to get involved.”

With their owner’s blessing, they are designated as the EXIT engagement leader. They are not franchised support. This is a peer. It takes about five minutes a month, but the impact is immeasurable. To your point, the education, training and tools have to be easy and effective but we have to be able to deliver the how-to personally to every agent and that is what we are working on. It’s been very successful so far.

That is way more effective than a blurb in the monthly newsletter.

Find someone who believes in you, someone who sees something in you that you don't see in yourself. That's the biggest thing you can do in your business. Click To Tweet

No one wants to watch another webinar. People learn by being shown. You can watch a video on YouTube, but there is nothing more personal than having someone who cares about you to say, “Let me walk you through it,” and in less time, be able to show you. It’s the ripple effect. “I got it. I can show my other colleague and that person can show the next person.”

You mentioned YouTube. I would love your take on getting agents to use video. It’s so tough. What are your tips there?

Kudos to COVID because COVID got people to do video. It put the fear in everybody that for them to stay connected, they had to turn on the camera. They had to remove the sticky note from their computer camera hole. That is where it started. First of all, I cannot tell people to do something if I’m not already doing it myself. If I’m not having fun with it, they are not going to do it. I love videos. I had a BombBomb account. I had 987 videos in BombBomb. I’m starting to use Dub because there are a ton more features. I love the ability to be able to send videos all the time. I do videos constantly.

Anybody can do this if you think about it, “If I have something to communicate, whether it be by phone, text or email, it could be done by video.” Whether it’s, “I’m going to see you next week for our appointment. I can’t wait.” Send that as a video. “We just met. It was so good to see you again. It’s great to hear about your family.” Do a video, instead of that text message.

There is no replacement for the human touch and how people feel when they see you on video is unbelievable. I have a strategy that I did with one of our owners. I love female entrepreneurs. Those are my soul sisters. The ones who say, “I’m going to put my flag in the ground and own an EXIT office. I’m going to attract and build leaders.” I love that.

One of our owners is in the Chicago area. Her name is Esmerelda. I love her. She said, “You are so good at video. I’m terrible. I’m so scared of it. I wish I could do it.” It was almost like rubbing the genie bottle of her saying, “I wish I could do it.” I told her, “I’m going to hold you accountable. You and I are going to help you do video.” She says, “What do you mean?” I said, “We are going to meet every week. I’m going to teach you something and you are going to have absolute confidence to talk about it. You are going to do a video once a week for the next 30 days.”

She was like, “You have to be kidding me.” I said, “It’s Tuesday, so we got a video to do this week because you are going to do it on Friday.” It was holding her accountable that you can do this. If I’m excited about something, I know she is probably going to be excited about that too. It was finding out what are you excited about? Let’s help put the words together, but make them your own. “Here is the due date. You got to do it.” She has been doing videos and I watch her. She is natural now. It’s not forced, but it’s consistent.

She has grown her office exponentially. I told her, “What you are doing in less than a year of being an owner, you are a unicorn.” She is growing. She has about a dozen agents already. That is insane. It’s because of her confidence and talking to her audience on social, letting them know, “Here is what I’m excited about. Here is what I’m learning. Here is who I’m helping. Here is who I’m looking for. Here is a tool that I saw agents leverage of ours and here is how their businesses have grown. Let’s have a conversation.” Her audience is building, but her confidence to do this regularly. I love helping people do videos. If you ever see me and you are like, “I need help.” Know that you are going to get the help and I’m going to help you stay accountable and be successful. Ask for help.

Is there something new out there? A new piece of technology that has you excited or you are checking it out?

One of our biggest technologies is our geolocation technology, specifically. Your readers can check this out. When you text ENGAGE to the number 85377. Take your mobile device, compose a brand new text message, the number you are going to text you is 85377. In the body of the message, it’s going to be the word ENGAGE. Hit send and you will receive a text message from me.

TRES 309 | Real Estate Technology

Real Estate Technology: The training and tools have to be easy and effective, but you have to be able to deliver the how-to personally one-on-one to every agent.

 

Click on the link. What it does is it fetches your GPS location and it shows you the available listings where you are. Whether you are traveling on business or for pleasure anywhere in North America and it’s EXITized, it does not matter if it’s an independent, national brand or international brand, it’s branded to me.

That is a cool technology. It’s our geolocation technology, but specifically for our agents to create their vanity code and share that with their consumers because consumers do not care who is behind the sign. They want to know the information behind the home that they are interested in. The biggest challenge is when they call the agent, their voicemail is too full. You cannot even leave a message. If you send a text message to the agent to learn for information, the agent will not respond until the other part of the day.

What happens is the consumer’s confidence starts to decline. Consumers want two things. They want pictures and pricing. If you do not give them that, they are going to find someone else who will. Our technology is geolocation. It’s throughout all of North America. Helping our agents connect buyers with the home of their dreams, whether it’s anywhere in the US or Canada. Sellers love that because they know that time is of the essence and everyone is fused to their technology. I love our geolocation technology.

I’m going to ask that same question I have asked everybody, give me one piece of advice for new agents going into the business.

My biggest suggestion is to find someone who sees something in you that you do not see in yourself. Find that person. It only takes one who believes in you, who says, “You can do this. I’m going to hold you accountable. We are going to work together.” That person sees something in you that you are not even that person yet. Those people who are out there might be successful as well and were there once where they were beginning and they are giving back. Find someone who believes in you. That is the biggest thing you can do in your business. Your future self will thank you.

You have to be open to what people are putting out there so you can find that person. If someone wants to reach out to you, what is the best way for them to do that?

You can find me on Facebook. My handle is Annette Anthony. You can also text ENGAGE to 85377. It provides you with all my contact information. Do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to empower one another. I love what you are doing with Rate My Agent. You are such a big influencer in the industry. I do not think you know how much of an impact you have made in people’s lives because you have.

I’m not comfortable with that. I have to learn how to be more comfortable with that. Annette, this has been awesome. The only thing I did wrong here is wait so long to chat with you on the show. Thank you so much for doing this, best of luck. Continue success with EXIT. It’s been a blast to watch you and the company grow.

Thanks, Bill. I appreciate all that you do for us in the industry.

Thank you for reading. Please head over to RateThisPodcast.com/RESessions to leave a review or rating and subscribe to The Real Estate Sessions.

Important Links:

About Annette Anthony

TRES 309 | Real Estate TechnologySince 2001, she’s been teaching consistent, measurable strategies to agents. She has coached and trained thousands of real estate professionals across North America. She’s been working with EXIT as the Vice President of Technology traveling across the country to engage with brokers and agents assisting them in the effective use of technology to become more productive.

Bill RIsser, Bill Risser

Bill has been producing The Real Estate Sessions Podcast since July 2015. Passionate about learning the backstories of Industry Leaders, Bill seeks out established professionals as well as up and coming stars in real estate.

Leave a Comment