Last week, we shared eight things Ryan Serhant is doing that most real estate agents don’t do when it comes to email strategy.
This week, we’re focusing on the rest of Serhant’s BAM interview—specifically eight key takeaways from his conversation with Byron Lazine that every real estate professional should take to heart.
Whatever your business goals for 2024, Serhant’s answers could make a huge difference in your success this year and for years to come.
We recommend watching the full interview to gather all the insights from the conversation. But read on for an overview of the eight key topics discussed.
If you’re signed up for tomorrow’s BAM Pro Bowl, keep these takeaways in mind when you hear Ryan Serhant’s keynote address.
And if you’re not signed up yet, get in while you still can!
#1— “When you hear, ‘It’s all because of the TV show,’ what’s your reaction to that?”
Speaking of Million Dollar Listing, Serhant had this to say about the show’s mixed impact on his career, specifically the prejudice from his reality show stardom. But while some discounted him as “just the reality TV guy!” Serhant continued to build on and leverage that experience.
Serhant: “There’s been a lot of people who’ve been on reality TV who haven’t built much else other than that, and I would say it’s helped me open doors but it’s also closed a lot of others… And so I’ve had to work incredibly hard and just use the luck that I got from that one day in 2012 to make it exponentially greater.”
Byron asked whether Serhant’s reality TV stardom sabotaged any of the deals he was working on when he agreed to Million Dollar Listing NY.
Serhant: “The way I always thought about it was I’m never going to know otherwise, and it’ll just be a wash for the business that I don’t get because of the people who will say, ‘Oh, he’s just on a reality TV show.’ But’ then I’ll take all the business I do get. The biggest client I ever had, the multi-billionaires that we work with, I’ve been in contact with in some shape or form via the show… So, would I have met that many people the way I have over the last 12 years organically, just as the quiet real estate agent in the corner without anything special about him? I don’t think so. So, there will always be people who don’t like me, people that make fun of me, and success is just the best path forward.”
#2—Is there a SERHANT. CRM?
While Serhant and his team do not automate their follow-up, they do automate just about everything else. And they do so with the help of the S.MPLE app (powered by SERHANT.), which begs the question, “Is there a SERHANT. CRM?”
The short answer is “Yes.”
Serhant: “I call it SRM… We white-labeled a couple different pieces of another couple softwares and we stuck them together because…our value-add as a company is not ‘Hey, I’m gonna spend $500 million building out a CRM. Why would I do that? It’s the same way I wouldn’t reinvent texting.”
It’s the best of both worlds: Take parts of different software that already does what it’s designed to do—and what you need it to do—and use them to create a solution that fits your business.
Sure beats starting from scratch.
#3—What was it like starting SERHANT. during COVID?
From 2017 to 2019, Serhant was ready to move up from the brokerage he worked in and was interviewing real estate firms. But he couldn’t find a place that made sense to him.
It didn’t help that every firm had the same pitch: “If you come to us, we’re gonna make you better,” which sounds like a generic promise from people who don’t really have a clue how they’re going to keep it.
It also carries the unspoken assumption: “You need us to be better than you are now,” with nothing but assertive body language to back that up.
That pitch might work on someone less certain of their value. But Serhant wasn’t buying it.
Serhant: “I feel like there should be a firm out there that says, ‘Hey, you, agent, you know what? You’re good! You want to improve? Great! We have an education arm. But I actually think that if you come to us, we’re gonna be better for you.’ And no one at all gave me that pitch whatsoever, so I was like, ‘F**k it. I guess I’ll do my own thing.’ And then COVID hit… ”
#4—How did COVID impact the early development of SERHANT.?
Obviously, starting a real estate brokerage in the middle of a pandemic has its challenges. But while the timing seemed unfortunate, the New York City lockdown actually became an advantage for Serhant and his team.
Serhant: “We had started kind of towards the end of 2019, but we were so busy. COVID was a tragic event but a blessing in disguise because, in March of 2020, New York City shut down. We were not essential workers. We couldn’t show. And so then, the few of us who had decided, ‘Hey, we’re going to start our own company,’ we just got to sit there and build all day… I couldn’t do that today; I’d have no time.”
#5— What was your process when you were planning SERHANT.?
Byron mentioned the whiteboards in the SERHANT. brokerage hallway showing the planning process Serhant and his team went through when they were getting ready to launch the new brand.
Serhant: “NYC had all these office buildings… Our office building had ~400 offices in it. The doors were open, chairs were on their side, half-eaten granola bars…It was like a movie. And so, in one of those, we just went in and we were like ‘Let’s just start the company from here. Let’s just borrow this office for a bit.’ It was insane… So, we had never started a company before—ever. I was a soap opera actor who became a real estate agent to pay rent. And so, my knowledge base was just YouTube, reading books, [and] asking other people for advice.
“And so we got all that construction paper, and we put it up on all the walls in this office, and we were like, ‘Okay, so, let’s do what we do when we launch buildings. We’re gonna build out a checklist. So, we need an agency policy manual, we need exclusive agreements, we need this, okay, this is our legal one, this is ops one, this is our marketing one, okay. Let’s invent what the brand is…’ We just wrote them all down and went checklist by checklist and gave everyone their own divisions of labor so we could understand what each one’s scope of work was. And there were six of us….”
#6—About the commission lawsuits, how do you think they’ll impact agents and brokers going forward?
Serhant: “My biggest concern about a class action lawsuit that attacks anyone’s compensation is what kind of Pandora’s box has the judicial system just opened? How many people out there—forget real estate agents—how many people out there earn an income based on a commission? And if you’re going to come after Realtors who are already pretty heavily regulated based on how their compensation is portrayed or which side cuts the check versus the other side, imagine that happening to every industry where you have commissioned salespeople.
“So I think people have to start thinking a lot bigger than just real estate agents. But I think what this is going to do is we’ll see what happens in Missouri… I think you can’t just delay damages like that in perpetuity. You’d have to post a bond and that’s expensive. And then imagine what happens as that rolls out across other states.
“I think that what it creates is I think some better clarity for the consumer to say, ‘Hey, let’s be a thousand percent aware of what all the fees are.’ I think it puts agents in a position where they have to really, really show their value, which good agents do all day every day. I think if you look at markets like Seattle where they started removing buyers’ fees as being mandatory and made buyers’ agents represent to their client what they are and what the fees are. It didn’t change the market. No one quit. And if they did, they were probably going to quit anyway. And so I think it’s just a very, very unique time to be in this business.”
That’s not to say Serhant was never the slightest bit worried about how the outcome of Sitzer/Burnett could impact his business.
Serhant: “For an hour when that happened…I was nervous because I was, well one, I just started my own brokerage company and I just expanded to all these states and I’ve had all these agents here, and you typically make 50% of your gross commission from the buy side, 50% on the sell side in terms of your deal split depending on the marketplace. I’m like, ‘Great! I just started this company. We just started expanding and now there’s a once in a generation class action lawsuit against our business. Oh my god, woe is me!’ And then I started thinking, ‘Huh! There’s definitely going to be an opportunity here.’ Because I started during COVID, and I felt the same way for an hour. April 1st, 2020, it was like… ‘What did I just do?’ Obviously I decided I’m going to start my own company, and the world shuts down. But then there was opportunity. We made the absolute most out of it.
“So a lot of the big traditional firms where scaling is tough, I think are going to have a really, really hard time recovering. I don’t know. I don’t know how NAR recovers from this.”
#7—What’s your one piece of advice for agents when it comes to industry lawsuits?
Serhant: “Just take the time to get smart, really learn it. Understand what the lawsuit was, why it was one, understand what the copycat lawsuits are going to be about. Understand where your value actually comes in and the minute that lawsuit gets discussed, be able to talk about it intelligently and say, ‘I’m so glad you brought that up. Here’s what’s going on? And here’s how the industry is moving forward,’ because houses aren’t going away and salespeople aren’t going away. The more information becomes digitized, the more human beings who buy and sell homes need a human being to help advise on that process. Otherwise, we would’ve been done away with a long, long time ago.”
Lazine: “I should have known you take that approach because you don’t take the lazy way out of anything. A lot of people are like, ‘Just keep your head down, ignore it.’ Not the right answer. The answer you gave is the answer. Know everything about it. Spend the time on it like you do on the emails like you do on building your business. You spend the time, you do the hard work.”
Serhant: “I also don’t think discounting fees is the answer. I’ve seen a lot of these smaller tech firms who are like, ‘Ha! Finally, the traditional way of doing things is dead!’ I’m like, I think the opposite is going to happen…
“The whole reason that you had that 50-50 split with NAR and with other agencies was to protect everyone across the board. So you didn’t have all the power just in the hands of a few. And this might reverse that process. I mean, I already know there’s agents in New York City who are total dicks, who are already going to their sellers saying, ‘Hey, we don’t have to work with buyer’s agents anymore. I’ve got you 6%. We’re going to pay zero to the outside.’ And what’s the seller going to say if that’s what’s being told to them? There’s no class action lawsuit against that behavior and [it’s] not the right behavior for the consumer.”
#8–What should we know about your book?
The final question had to do with Ryan Serhant’s new book, Brand It Like Serhant—the third book in a trilogy of books for sales professionals.
For a limited time, you can pre-order your copy and get $400 in free bonuses!
Serhant: “So the way I always thought about building a great sales career—because that’s what this is all about—this is not about teaching you how to sell one banana one time. So I thought about it as three phases. Phase one is you have to learn how to sell. You brought up at the beginning how to follow up, how to be a professional, how to structure your day as an entrepreneur. All that stuff was in Sell It Like Serhant, which was my first book. And then that’s your toolkit. Okay, I got my toolkit. But if I don’t have the confidence to use my toolkit, if I don’t have any direction on how to set goals, if I don’t think that I can actually put it to use, then the toolkit stays in the closet, and I’m just going to have a regular job. So that was what Big Money Energy was. And I wrote that book like lightning speed because I wrote it during COVID while also building the company… And then it was like how to dress. It was super tactical and all that.
“But then the third and final piece, and potentially the most important piece is, ‘Okay, so you know how to sell anything you want. You have the confidence to actually go do it. But if no one knows what you’re selling, how are you going to sell it? You can’t make any money. How do you generate lead flow in today’s world?’ I actually wasn’t intending to even go through this. I sort of thought, ‘Okay, there’s probably tons of books and videos on how to build a personal brand or the brand of a product.’ And everything that I found was just super dated. Dated and just not really written by someone who’d actually done it from scratch, from the ground up.
“It was like ‘This is the end to my trilogy—from Sell It Like Serhant to Big Money Energy to now Brand It Like Serhant….And so it is everything that I know about how to build a brand from scratch, whether you’re building it for you personally or you’re trying to build it for a product. And the big difference with this book compared to the others is I actually interviewed a lot of people…I picked 50 people where I was like, ‘Okay, they’ve done brand in a different way.’ I interviewed a lot of influencers kind of across platforms and other authors and people who just built brands in their own way to ask them their definition and how they would go about doing it…their biggest mistakes, so I could kind of curate it all and put it into this on top of my own stories and brand stories and how I built this business and how we came up with the brand and how we came up with the period and how we’ve really given it the exposure it needs.”