This Podcast highlights the problems faced by independent brokerages and team leaders across the States. The challenge of recruitment and retention is still prevailing in many business models. Al Stasek, Cleveland Rock star agent and team leader who switched over to EXP explains how the EXP model helped him to overcome these problems and how EXP is growing organically.
Click here to listen to the podcast. Read the complete transcript below.
Mike: This is the Agent revolution podcast. The next evolution of the real estate industry. Let’s get started.
What’s up. Welcome to another dose of the agent revolution podcast where each week we dive deep with mega agents around the globe who transition their business to EXP and absolutely crushing it. I’m your host EXP mega agent Mike Wall.
Today we’re sitting down with Cleveland Rock star agent and team leader Al Stasek. Al and I are talking about his journey to EXP, shutting down his already thriving independent brokerage to join EXP. Why did it? How did he broke into his team? And how they’re selling more real estate than ever before.
Please welcome Al Stasek.
Al: What’s up Mike? How are you doing? Thanks for having me on.
Mike: I am doing good brother. Appreciate you being my first victim today. I appreciate that. And really I just wanted to create this platform you know for every agent out there who either joined EXP or looking to join EXP.
Every agent has a story to tell. Every agent has a reason why they are joining or are thinking about joining EXP. I just wanted to provide a platform for agents like yourself to come on and talk to other agents and kind of tell their stories.
You and I know each other and we run in the same circle and obviously have some of the same contacts. And I know you I guess on a surface level but you know how you been in real estate Al?
Al: Well, it’s 2018, and so that would be August will be my 20th year. So, yeah it’s been a long time. My dad is a real estate broker. He did it part-time as we grew up. So I grew up in real estate offices going up to the real estate offices.
Watching my dad hustle, do his thing and that made me not want to be in real estate. You know watching what he did and making cold calls, and I mean times were just different then. There was no internet. You didn’t do real estate online as we do it now. It was a grind, and you to drive everywhere to get signatures and it was just it was just different. I didn’t want anything to do with it.
But here I am 20 years in the business, loving it and couldn’t see myself doing anything else. And a lot of that is because of the EXP model and what that platform has allowed me to do and grow. So, yeah 20 Years.
Mike: That’s awesome man. This whole EXP model has just reinvigorated me, my real estate career and I’m sure in talking to you, it has done the same for you. And most people that we speak to it’s like a big awakening where we’re just enjoying ourselves again.
Al: Yes, we are having fun. I am an entrepreneur. I run three companies. And so do you do. So, I mean every morning I huddle with my respective teams from the different companies and every morning I can say this and I wasn’t able to answer this a few years ago even when our business was booming where I am having the most fun I’ve ever had in this business for 20 years.
And that says a lot because I’ve had some pleasure in the past and we’ve made lots of money and sold lots of houses and he could get to a point your career where it has to be a little bit about building something more than that you know, and that’s kind of how I feel about the opportunity with the EXP and why I saw it and then I just you know I couldn’t really unsee it in fact.
This coming month June here marks my one-year anniversary where I saw the model. It was June of last year when I allowed myself to see it because I ignored this thing for like a year.
Mike: Yeah, I am excited to dig into that part of it man. How is your business? How’s your team structured? You run a real estate team, you have agents that work underneath you.You transitioned over from a brokerage that you were running yourselves? Is that correct?
Al: Yep, we were a brokerage. It was the team model basically, and we were trying to do some tweaks with the model to fix a few of the things that EXP model corrected. And that’s kind of why this is all kind of happened the way it did.
We were the number one Remax team in our market for a while. In 2013 I broke off and we were about the write Remax a six-figure check in fees if I didn’t leave in 2013. Luckily my dad at his brokerage license and I paid him a fraction of the amount to be the broker, and I just kept running my business with my dad.
So, after four years, we doubled. But I still had two pretty big problems. One of them was recruiting, and the other one was retention. And you know like I was continually training my competition, and they would leave to go to Keller Williams. So, I just wanted to give them more opportunity like a piece of the company, and we were even trying to figure out ways of doing that. And we just kept falling. We had great intentions and lots of good ideas but we were not able to execute.
Mike: Yeah, I completely understand that so we’ll unpack that just a little bit. You spoke about your recruiting and retention. How do you think that you know since making the transition that you saw for EXP is helping to solve that whole recruiting issue?
Al: Well, the thing is I never liked recruiting, never. I was more relational versus going out and just trying to knock down appointments to meet with agents. That for me didn’t feel natural. So I didn’t do it. When I was building my real estate business, I equated many tasks early in my career; didn’t care or didn’t like it, but did it anyway. Then I got to a point where I was getting a lot of referral business. I was still doing marketing because I could afford to do different marketing but I always prefer attracting versus chasing even though I did my fair chase. Who doesn’t?
You know Mike, you would agree you’d indeed attract business as well. But I felt the same way about recruiting. I didn’t want to go out and chase it because I was always being chased like you. You probably were being chased by other brokers. And so I didn’t like that. Thus for me, I’m now attracting great people because of the model. And I joke with Kinder all the time and be like well “I didn’t all of a sudden get nicer or cooler or anything”. I’m the same leader that I’ve always been. I feel like I lead with my heart in the right place. I have a better model that I’m leading.
It’s attracting versus me going out and having to chase. And that’s right up my alley. That’s why this to me. After of course I shot some holes in it and it seemed like a no-brainer to me.
Mike: Well let’s be honest you are a little bit cooler since you came EXP.
Al: Alright! Well I’ll take that. I’ll take that. Thank you sir. So are you.
Mike: Appreciate it. So you talked about this whole recruiting issue. You can talk to team leaders all across the United States who feel the same way we do about recruiting. It is I would say top 1, 2 or 3 of the most significant challenges that team leaders have in a growing real estate business.
So, EXP to some extent has solved that as it relates to the type of people you are attracting and in the offering that you have. So talk a little bit about your group, your specific group and maybe some of the different components that excited them when you decided to join EXP.
Al: Well I mean with the group that I believe you’re talking about is Mike and Jay who are my friends and your friends as well. I ended up entering into a business partnership based on the EXP opportunity. And so we’ve been growing that out. It’s been an absolute blast. We’re attracting other high-level, high thinking people who are entrepreneurial like yourself.
So I would break it into a couple of different categories. Mike to be honest I mean we are attracting what Che calls the badasses. You know these are guys that have sold houses, they’ve ran teams, they were leaders. They’ve even head coaching companies, and training companies and these people love dropping value in the real estate world for real estate agents.
They’re either running very successful brokerages, they’re great at Legionary, and they’re just leaders. So, they’re attracting that group I would put together as the “entrepreneurial business owners”.
Then we have the people who love selling real estate, not that the first group doesn’t. Its just that these people don’t have big teams. These people are agents who you know they might be sold a few houses a year, and they love it. They love the business, they love taking care of their clients, but they’re not out there trying to make significant work. We’re tracking those types of folks as well. So what’s beautiful is the marriage between the two. It’s great as it gives agents an option.
They can hop on one of these teams that are operating in a super high level or they come just come and join EXP and still get some support not only with the team environment. They are given options, and that was the biggest Ah ha I saw in probably the most significant nudge that I had where now I can talk to people about options.
I had a girl in my office right before we hopped on today. And that’s that was this exact conversation she’s leaving for another brokerage for multiple reasons. And then I said here are your two options, join Stesek group. And here’s how it looks like. Or you can join EXP on your own and here’s what that will look like. I can try to help you build your team just like I did. This option didn’t exist in the independent model that I left.
Mike: Yeah and either way you win right.
Al: Either way, we win. Everybody wins but it boils down to the point that I can work with more people because I’m meeting them where they’re at their business and they don’t meet me at my turf. You know one size does not fit all of them. This opens the opportunity for that young lady who just left.
She may think “You know what I think Stesek group is where I want to grow my business.” And I think that’s the opportunity I need to look at building my business that way for now. She may leave and say I’m inspired by what you did and this is going to help me. Then I set up a schedule and get on a call with some of my folks on a regular basis to check in with them.
There’s no coaching. They don’t have to sign a coaching agreement. Not indefinite. I don’t have enough time for everybody. However, the people I bring onboard, I love helping them grow their business because we are aligned to the opportunity.
Mike: Yeah, that’s just amazing, the mindset that you have because you know we work the same way. I mean we just sat down with somebody this morning as well and talked about the opportunity in our team and then also at EXP and then kind of compare and contrast.
Like I said, now we have a system now that we’re building to start people out on our team and graduate them to be an independent EXP agent if they want to do that. And what’s great is we’re training them to do real estate the right way just like you are and then you know there’s an opportunity for revenue sharing not only for us but for them because we’re teaching them. Then to go out and teach others how to recruit and train.
Al: Yeah, I love it, helping them build their teams Vs you are building your team because I didn’t have any incentive about helping anyone else develop their team when I was an independent broker unless of course there with my brokerage and I didn’t have an ownership option.
The option to give shares of my company away wasn’t there. So, it was tough to attract people to that model. I’m being honest. I coined myself the worst recruiter in the world because when I left Remax, I had about seven agents. I topped out at like 13 over four years so if you do the math, that doesn’t come at the top of the list of Head Recruiter.
Mike: I think my biggest profit share check from KW was 368 dollars and it was June of last year. And I think my first revenue share check was over two grands. So, I mean it’s just amazing the type of business model that Glenn has set up for us. And like I said, every day I get out of bed and I’m excited to come into the office because I think you know people like you and me and other team leaders out there.
You know they can change lives in this model provides more value than we previously offered. They talk about expansion, and the big thing when we were at KW was this whole expansion model.
When you had to expand into another office, you had to get another camper, you had to pay you had to pay more fees, and now you can expand into any market anywhere in the United States and people essentially working with you on your team but they don’t have you on your team.
Al: Right. Yeah. And we did that. And I’ll be honest Mike I never had the desire to run an expansion team. I just I know there were a ton of opportunities still in my town that you know I’m from Cleveland, you’re Ohio guy too. You’re down south and I’ve got the north border. I had to get a good enough market share before spreading out to others.
What happened was I ended up in Boca Raton because I had two agents that needed the resources from my team. They didn’t have any money down there. They just moved down there to take another job. Long story short the husband ended up losing the position because the company got bought and he was downsized.
He went got a real estate license. They didn’t know anybody down there. Imagine just dropping into a brand new market. So I was able to expand without trying to expand. It just you know again it’s attracting those expansion partners versus trying to chase them down. I still had no desire to do that, but I could help them. I could partner with them and help them grow their brand down there. And everybody wins.
Mike: Yes Absolutely man! I want to touch on this definitely because I think it is an essential component of the conversation. You talked about when you first heard about the opportunity. Was it June of last year? What was your reaction when you heard of it? How was it when you joined?
Al It was when I first saw it because for about a year. I coach real estate agents for a while right under Mike and Jay. When they asked me to become a coach. And I loved it. I met a lot of great people because of it. I kept good relationships with them even if I wasn’t coaching them any longer. I did stop coaching in 2016. I had too much on my plate.
I still have good relationships, and some of these people who have joined EXP kept messaging me like “Al you gotta check this out.” And I my exact words were “George, I have my brokerage. I’m paying nobody anything. Why would I close my brokerage and go to pay somebody a cap” So that was just my stubbornness which didn’t let me look at the possibility that might be a better way out of this model.
And I’m an Inman. I watch Inman News and I read the articles that come by and I see these new innovative models come by every day. And I’ll say not all of them have impressed me.
Let me put it that way. So I was brushing these guys off. I even have good relations with them, and I did not believe them. I didn’t think they understood I had my brokerage so why would I? Why would I ever do that?
Well, the truth of the matter is that if you have some problems in your business that you solve I think you have to think of what are all the ways you can solve them. While there are an infinite number of ways to solve problems right? So if you’re not if you’re looking through a certain lens at how to fix these problems you might be actually. That’s what I was doing.
I was figuring how I could fix these on my own. That was the lens I saw it through. The second I started looking through a different Lens saying “Okay let me look at this model and see.” I looked at it so I can get them off my back.
Cliff my first real estate coach asked me to have a look at the model and I said – Look I’ll look at this just long enough to tell you “you’re nuts.” and then I’m out. Then you can stop bugging, and Cliff goes “yes please tell me if I’m crazy. “
I was skimming my pool June of last year 2017. Then while skimming my pool, I decided to listen to it. So I listened to one of the webinars, and I heard it right away. Then I stopped skimming the pool, put the skimmer down, went inside the house and I watched a replay of that same webinar. I was like Wow. This solves the two most significant problems that I have in my model; retention and recruiting.
From there, I took a deep dive for 60 days. I started poking holes in it because I like something’s not right here. There has to be something I’m missing. Every night I couldn’t even sleep.
However, I had a notepad next to my bed. I would be writing questions down that would pop in my mind so that I wouldn’t forget them because the next day I was about to make a call to somebody at EXP about that.
The questions were: How abut this? What happened with that? And the more I did it, the more I know I found that these you know Glenn I’m not saying he thought of everything. Yeah at least in the questions I was asking to try and poke holes in it, he had it all covered!
This wasn’t something that he just dreamed up one day and put together. This was one of the most well-thought-out business models I’ve ever seen. And you know the closer I got to that 60-day mark I was just like I am in. I told my team “Guys check this out. Tell me if I’m nuts”.
Now it’s shoes on the other foot and my entire team. I found that it was better for my agents. EXP was able to give my agents more than I could provide as an independent broker and that was the big defining moment. When I saw their faces, and they were like, Heck yeah! we gave them this opportunity. I get stock, I can help you grow it, and get compensated for helping you grow it.
It was a no-brainer, and there wasn’t an agent who didn’t come over. Every single one came to EXP and we’ve been just having a blast.
Mike: That’s awesome. OK, so the timeline was that 60 days later you were talking to your team about moving?
Al: Well, I didn’t wait 60 days to talk to the team. I have two leaders Joel and Colleen who sit in all my strategy meetings. They’re my trusted advisers that I go to if I have to make a business decision. So I first told them” You guys watch this and tell me what your thoughts are?” and I honestly thought that they were going to give me negative pushback.
They were like wow this is amazing. So then I went down the line went to my next leader. This was a guy Dan who was with ReMax for 25 of his 30-year career in real estate. So this guy you know he’s an O.G. This guy knows he’s been in real estate you know not before I was born but you know a long time OK.
And he was really behind the ReMax brand. He Loved it. So I thought I’d get some pushback from Dan. I did not. It just right down the line. Once all my leaders in the company all saw it, and they were all like yeah I think we need to explore this at the very minimum.
They’re like well let’s not jump right away but let’s explore it make sure that this is for real. I did all that legwork, and then after 60 days, I left the rest of the team know. The newer agents took it well. Everyone was in.
Mike: That’s awesome. That’s a great story. And you know we were in a similar position, and I was actually in the process of getting ready to open my own Keller Williams market center in between Dayton and Cincinnati and you know that’s when I found out about the opportunity.
I did exactly what you did man. I tried to poke holes in it. You guys were very helpful in me and my team transition over. As we left kW, we brought our entire group over except one agent who is a part-time agent. And you know we just never look back and so like I’m glad you know we kind of share the same story in that regard.
So let me ask you this. And you know obviously we’re going to draw to an end here. For the agents or team leaders or brokers out there listening right now what would you, what would be a piece of advice that you will give them to help them make the decision.
Al: Well I mean I think it’s to get on the phone with you or myself or someone that they trust you know and really you know, Jaysus look at this with both eyes wide open. If you’re going to stay where you’re at, That’s fine.
If you’re with a great company that’s awesome. But what I’ve been told a lot of people is look at wherever you’re at as a platform to grow your real estate business. I think it starts with mindset and changing people’s mindset that the reason they’re successful at Keller Williams it’s not because of Keller Williams. It’s because they’re a successful human being and they’re probably going to be successful at any shop whether there are at Remax, they would have been successful.
That’s not to say that that different brokerages offer different value propositions because they do. What I am saying is don’t look at them as that, look at them as a platform. And when someone does business with someone, they’re doing it with that agent because there’s the relationship. And if they are going to refer that person back, they are not referring their broker, they are referring the agent.
The agent is the brand. So, if we can agree that agents are the more important brand in the relationship then they have to look at the brokers as a platform they’re using to build their business. And it’s no more than that. Once we can agree on that, you look at the different platforms and say – Am I on the right platform? Is there an opportunity on this platform? Is this the best place to spend the next 5, 10 or 20 years of my career? As it’s a big deal where you decide to spend it.
Especially when you see a fast growing company like this where you know when I joined Mike there were about 4000 agents last August. Nine months later there are 12000 agents, and that means it tripled from 4 to 8 to 12 in nine months.
There’s a reason, and it’s not because we have good recruiters. That position does not exist in our company. You know whereas with I’m not that familiar with KW I know enough about it being dangerous but you’re about to open one so you know what are the positions that the most crucial place in a market center is the team leader. The team leader’s main priority is recruitment.
Mike That’s all they do is recruit.
Al: We just don’t have that position. And without the brick and mortar, we have less expenses and we’re growing quickly, but we’re growing quickly organically. We’re not going in buying the companies because that’s another way to grow. And I know Berkshire Hathaway is buying privately held companies and I’m not pooh poohing the idea. I mean it is what it is and they’ve got the cash to do it. But we’re growing at a faster rate than any other company in the United States organically which is really cool. So check it out that’s the advice I give.
Mike: Absolutely brother. Thank you. Thank you so much for taking a couple minutes out of your day to day. Any way they can get hold of you?
Al: Yeah, you can reach out to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org or you can hit me up on my cell.
Mike: All right you heard it. Thanks so much man.
Al: You’re welcome Mike. Thanks for having me on.
Mike: All right. That was my conversation with Cleveland icon real estate agent Al Stasek.
I just got some serious knowledge. I always love talking. If you know someone who you think might enjoy the podcast please share it with them. If you like the podcast please subscribe. If you’re curious about EXP and what it can do for your life and business, watch my short video to get more details and see if EXP is right for you and your business. If you have questions for me you can schedule 30 minutes with me and meet Mike Wall. That’s it for this episode of Agent revolution. I will see you next time.