Future of Real Estate: Bill Scavone
In this next installment of the Future of Real Estate series on Union Street Media’s YouTube channel, Rachel Allard, Senior Vice President of Strategy, chatted with Bill Scavone, President of the Weichert Real Estate Affiliates. Weichert is headquartered in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Weichert has over 300 affiliate offices in 37 states and is recognized as one of the top residential real estate franchises. Click the video above to watch the full interview.
About sixteen years ago, Bill Scavone was working at a large franchising company across the street from the Weichert world headquarters. A friend who worked at Weichert at the time mentioned to Scavone that Weichert was opening a franchising division and that Scavone should check it out. “He said to me that it wouldn’t hurt to be one of the most successful business owners in the state of New Jersey,” Scavone recalls. “I said ‘you know what? You’re right.’”
“I looked at the opportunity and thought ‘this would be kind of cool to spread it across the country.’ And I’ve been there 16 years now.”
– Bill Scavone
When asked about how Weichert has handled the pandemic, Scavone says that they had all of the tools in place to be able to communicate with each other and work remotely, but they just weren’t using them before the pandemic. Scavone recalls keeping an eye on the virus as it spread across the world and already planning to go remote at some point. “I think it was on March 16th when we had someone in one of our buildings come down with COVID – we evacuated the building pretty quickly. But we were already virtual. We already had everything in place,” he says.
Another advantage that Weichert had to help them during the pandemic was they had just finished rolling out new technology to all of their offices and agents at the end of 2019. This technology – including a new CRM and virtual tools – helped agents and owners continue working and helping customers fairly seamlessly.
Scavone remarks on how much more efficient technology has made Weichert this year. He says that agents don’t have to drive to the office or to a coffee shop to meet with clients and that hopping on a video call is a faster way to get connected face-to-face. It is a balance though.
Though technology has made them faster, Scavone says that he still prefers meeting clients and his team in person. They’re making do by having frequent video calls with their team to talk on a one-on-one basis. “We’re all about people, we’re all about communication,” he says. Scavone says that at Weichert they are extremely customer-centric and states, “we say focus on people, focus on the ‘why?’ of the people.”
“We want to know what’s driving them, what’s their purpose in life, what are their goals? And that’s hard to do when you’re on a laptop screen and earphones in.”
– Bill Scavone
When asked about how franchising has changed over the years for Weichert, Scavone says that they’ve pretty much stayed the same at their core. The only real change is that they’ve “injected more” industry trends and technological advances. “Our belief is that people buy people before they buy a property or service,” Scavone says. “How we sold it or pitched it or presented it back in 2004, really hasn’t changed that much except we added ability – we’ve added product, we’ve added services to the core foundation,” he explains.
Touching on how to grow a brand, Scavone cites marketing fundamentals such as visuals and consistency. “You need to hit them with a combination – people need to see things ten or twelve times now.” He continues on to note that with how we interact with media today, it’s difficult to capture an audience’s full attention. But the biggest secret according to Scavone, is sales activities. Scavone says that the work done on the streets – like having open houses and signage – is what truly makes an impression on the customer.
Scavone also mentions that he prefers these “old school” marketing methods for Weichert and isn’t swayed by the next big thing. He explains that as long as companies take care of the client and the client is happy, it shouldn’t matter what model is used. “Who will win and who will last – that is the company and the individual, the manager – that takes care of their clients the best. That’s it. We can’t control what everyone else does. What we can control is ourselves,” Scavone says. He goes on to explain that Weichert is “laser-focused” on improving themselves and doesn’t really pay attention to what others are doing.
Reflecting on how Weichert became so successful, Scavone states, “adjust as you go on. That’s the one thing I love about Weichert: we have, at the core, a sound foundation that doesn’t change – it’s rock solid.” He continues on to say, “we have systems in place. Then we add in what we need to add in to give us a better advantage working with our buyers and sellers. And if we do that we’ll just keep being successful.”
“In the end, whoever takes care of the buyers and sellers the best, whoever is the trusted advisor – they’re going to win.”
– Bill Scavone
Looking ahead to the future, Scavone believes how they do business will be similar to how it’s done now – what will change is the transaction. “I think people are still going to want to see a home, they’re still going to have an agent to negotiate and take care of it, someone who is the advisor,” he says. Scavone then adds, “that middle piece – that transaction piece – before you take ownership, that’s going to probably thin out, get faster, get easier. We know it’s coming. Who’s going to control it?”
When asked if he has any advice for new people in the business, Scavone says “our business is simple, but it’s not easy.” He then says that he frequently tells people to “suit up and show up” and if they “do the activities, and you connect with people, it’s almost like a guarantee you’re going to do well in this business.”
“It’s not old school, it’s forever. It’s just the way things are. If you just do those things – if you own everyone that you connect with and you’re their trusted advisor – you’re going to win.”
– Bill Scavone
Learn more about Bill Scavone and Weichert’s franchising division at their website: https://www.weichertfranchise.com/