Real Estate

The Best Of Engel & Völkers’ EVX: ‘Ninja Drops’ And ‘Witness’ Collection

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From intel on best practices for dealing with international clients to gaining inspiration from long-distance swimmer and motivational speaker Diana Nyad, panel discussions and speakers at Engel & Völkers’ EVX had a wealth of knowledge to share with the brokerage’s 1,500 conference attendees in Miami on Monday and Tuesday.

Topics included cutting through industry noise, international markets, increasing leads and listings, social media strategies, brand credibility, visualization, leadership, market trends, finding calm and more.

In addition to Nyad, a number of well-known names both inside and outside of the industry shared their insights, including former athlete and performance coach AK Ikwuakor, California Association of Realtors Senior Vice President of Strategy and Engagement Sara Sutachan, real estate coach Kathleen Black and a number of top agents and leadership team members from Engel & Völkers, including Tom Kunz, Stuart Siegel, Ann Renée Miciak, Melissa Temple, Katelyn Castellano and others.

Diana Nyad at EVX

Looking abroad

During a panel called “Around the World,” Karen Schoemaker, of the brand’s Paris shop, noted that many American buyers and investors of younger generations have found renewed interest in Paris following the popularity of the Netflix show “Emily in Paris.”

Amid jabs between the panelists about which of their international markets was best — Paris, Venice or London — they shared insights into the makeup of foreign buyers and investors in their respective areas, as well as how they aim to best service those clients.

“With any potential international purchase, there are always complications,” said Alexander Broadfoot, who is based in London.

That’s why he and the other advisers agreed that it’s best to set up a referral hub, complete with international lawyers and tax advisers so that buyers are financially prepped before they even start looking at properties.

Securing more listings

During the panel “Creating a Listing Business” Engel & Völkers’ agents lauded the benefits of being personable and authentic with potential clients and reaping the benefits of those interactions with more listings.

Mary Beth McGillicudy, of Norwell, Massachusetts, which is south of Boston, described her intimate farming tactic she calls a “ninja drop.” The once-per-season drop includes a copy of GG Magazine, a note asking for their business and a small gift. Shortly after McGillicudy started the ninja drop, more people in her farm started asking if they could also be added to her list.

“I go to the same farm, it’s 75 people, four times a year, dropping it off at their house,” McGillicudy said. “And when I looked at the same people over the last two years, I was in awe at how many people gave me business.”

Melissa Temple, of Aspen, said she once ended up finding a buyer for one of her listings just because she brought a dog over to the house when she was showing it, and someone at the house called up her friend to say, “You have to come see this dog!” That friend ultimately became the buyer.

Mable Ivory, of New York, urged agents to go out to clients and “speak to them where they’ll be heard.”

“People want to know who we are outside of real estate. And people want to do business with people who they know, like and trust,” she added.

McGillicudy and Ben Larson, of Los Angeles, both recounted silly plumbing incidents involving their kids they filmed and posted about on social media, which, despite being slightly embarrassing, got them a lot of views on social. When McGillicudy cleaned out her kid’s fish bowl, she accidentally poured the fish down the drain and subsequently had to take apart the drain to retrieve the fish, which was still miraculously alive. Larson also had a drain incident when his daughter was washing her recently lost tooth for the tooth fairy and dropped it down the drain. But after taking apart the drain, he salvaged the tooth and made some great social content in the process.

Both agreed that with kids, it’s not hard to find things to post about.

“I feel like I’m a three-ringed circus, and I’m going to invite you into that circus,” McGillicudy said. “Teenagers make it really easy.”

The most important KPI

Real estate agents wear many different hats with a number of responsibilities attached to them. That’s why it’s important to focus on key performance indicators that will provide the most value to their business in the long run.

Melanie Deziel, co-founder of business expense company The Convoy and bulk dental equipment purchasing company GroupUps, pointed out in her keynote called “The One KPI You Should Be Optimizing” that 59 percent of consumers won’t trust a brand unless they’re presented with evidence for why it should be trusted. That’s why she said real estate agents should prioritize the KPI of evidence to show potential clients why they’re competent at their jobs.

Using the extended metaphor of a courtroom, Deziel said agents can bring in “outside experts,” like academics or local publications and newspapers or news stations that will attest to their abilities as an agent.

If an agent is named a top agent by The Wall Street Journal or their local business magazine, for instance, that accolade should be in a prominent place on their website and in marketing materials.

Agents should also collect “witnesses” who can vouch for their performance as an agent. This can take the form of referrals from past clients or written testimonials.

Agents can also provide potential clients with a clear demonstration of their abilities through more in-depth stories from past clients, livestream video that shows off their marketing prowess or an outside evaluation proving their capabilities.

And finally, agents can further show their value by providing potential clients with educational content, including details about the state of the market and their current home value.

Anthony Hitt and Diana Nyad at EVX

Inspiration to persevere

EVX’s Tuesday morning panels concluded with a keynote talk from world-renowned swimmer, author and speaker Diana Nyad, called “Never, Ever Give Up.”

In a wide-ranging presentation that touched on Nyad’s youth as the daughter of a French mother, suffering through her teenage years with an abusive swim coach and ultimately working for decades on her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida, Nyad stressed the importance of giving life one’s all.

The swim from Cuba to Florida, which is roughly a distance of 110 miles, is called “Mount Everest” among the world’s competitive swimmers, Nyad said, both because of the “sheer distance” and the potentially treacherous conditions on the open waters of the Gulf Stream.

The Gulf Stream’s current travels due east and Nyad’s route was straight north, which meant she would be fighting the current the entire time, as well as the possibility of sharks, jellyfish, capricious weather conditions and hallucinations that result from sensory deprivation when swimmers spend such extended periods in the water with limited visibility and ability to hear.

Regarding the sharks, Nyad said experts told her, “yes, they might take a leg but they’re not going to eat you whole,” because their sensors might detect her body as something akin to an injured fish near the surface. “And I can’t tell you how heartening that is,” she joked.

Between 1978 and 2012, Nyad made four unsuccessful attempts at the journey, along with her team of divers, kayakers, guides and coaches. An asthma attack, dangerous jellyfish stings, a lightning storm and other inclement weather foiled her efforts each time.

Finally in 2013, at the age of 64, Nyad successfully completed the crossing in 52 hours, 54 minutes and 18.6 seconds, even while hallucinating the Taj Mahal and the seven dwarves from “Snow White” along her journey.

From the time that she was a teenager, Nyad said she had used the mental image of working so hard and swimming so fast that she could walk away at the end of the day knowing that she couldn’t have gone even one fingernail length faster.

After that, she carried that image throughout her efforts in life, whether it was in being a good person or a good athlete.

“I did it all, so I just couldn’t do it a fingernail better,” she concluded.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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