Brick & Mortar vs Flesh & Blood: An Interview with Ryan Serhant
Even if you’ve never seen “Million Dollar Listing,” you should know who Ryan Serhant is, especially if you’re involved with a multi-location brand.
Serhant is the high-energy and visionary media personality successfully breaking almost every real estate marketing and sales rule.
Serhant launched his brokerage company (called SERHANT, of course) in 2020. The company now has 350+ brokers across nine geographies and has completed $2.2B+ in real estate deals.
Real estate is a cluttered, volatile, and rapidly-changing industry, and many consumers now take a DIY approach to online home browsing. About 3M people have real estate licenses across 107K brokerage firms.
Although real estate is a multi-location business, consumers don’t necessarily “shop” physical locations (although storefront real estate offices have become a popular place for digital displays of home listings).
Unlike other brokers, SERHANT doesn’t rely on two-dimensional photos of homes for sale or traditional video tours of interiors. In fact, his real estate office storefronts are as likely to be “studios” as they are to be traditional offices with desks and phones.
Serhant refers to his new Hamptons office as “the clubhouse.” One of its main uses is as a fully equipped, state-of-the-art social media studio. He has a similar setup in Manhattan.
“Agents are empowered to build their own brands,” Serhant stresses. “And, in some markets, agents will open their own local offices to serve their communities best.”
Because real estate is a significant purchase in a consumer’s life, often filled with stress and time pressures, the relationship between agent/broker and homebuyer needs to be one that Serhant calls a “passive friendship.” He believes that the person showing homes needs to be authentic and trusted and that social media marketing is a great medium for showcasing the unique personality of each professional.
Marketing technology is also a huge component of SERHANT’s marketing strategy. The company hired an A-list team, including a senior social media professional from Vayner Media. SERHANT offers a wide range of training and video production services for the real estate industry, including brokers and agents who don’t work for his company.
Serhant views the company’s purpose as extending beyond real estate. He says he is building a “technology ecosystem revolutionizing the sales industry.” SERHANT’s digital education platform comprises 14K+ members across 110 countries and produces a separate revenue stream, which may help protect his company from real estate market downturns.
Although Serhant wants to build brand awareness for his real estate business in every market, he isn’t using traditional local search techniques. SERHANT plans to use geo-targeting and beacons to find and market to people who may be home-hunting.
Whereas some multi-location companies fear allowing their employees to build their own personal brands, SERHANT encourages it.
So, how can other multi-location brands outside of real estate leverage SERHANT’s philosophies?
- Consider your own brand’s personality and culture and how you can distinguish it from your competitors
- Embrace personal branding among your company’s high-performing team members
- Train your representatives on how to use social media to build awareness and trust
- Look for creative ways to use your brick-and-mortar storefronts
- Diversify your revenue sources
- Break a rule or two. Experiment with radical new techniques, although everyone else in your field has marketed a certain way
Of course, having a popular TV show on BRAVO never hurts. And that is, perhaps, another valuable lesson. Use popular media to showcase your business. We live in a media-centric world, and having a little reality TV swagger certainly hasn’t tarnished the SERHANT brand!