Thomas Suchoweew on The Importance of Customer Feedback
Thomas Suchoweew is founder of the Makler Nachfolger Club e.V., an independent association that finds successors for realtor portfolios and companies. "We once worked with a real estate agent who was in the hospital. The family was very grateful that we helped find a successor during this difficult time. Otherwise nobody would have taken care of it."
Suchoweew has been working in the financial services industry for 30 years. After 15 years of building up sales, he decided to start his own management consultancy. The Makler Nachfolger Club e.V. initially emerged as a vague idea, but soon found its way to association status due to the high level of interest in the industry.
The association Makler Nachfolger Club was founded at the beginning of 2014 and its concept is unique in Germany. How did you get the idea to found the club?
I had my first experience relatively early in my time as a management consultant: a Berlin real estate agent asked me to sell his properties. I posted this via a contact platform for consulting companies. Almost 80 interested buyers from all over Germany responded and asked whether this also existed in their city. One evening, when the Dead Poets' Society was on television, I had the idea: "Man, we should found a society for that. That's how the Makler Nachfolger Club came into being. At first we only informed realtors about succession arrangements. In early 2014, we registered the association - within a year, we gained almost 60 new realtors as members.
Apart from the Dead Poets' Society - did the association also have role models in other countries such as the USA or the UK?
We had no role models for this. There are indeed stock exchanges that want to transfer portfolios or companies, but when a real estate company is about to pass on to the next generation and the agent retires, he leaves behind a life's work. Nobody wants to sell it impersonally. I would say that many realtors are therefore also somewhat skeptical about selling - because they naturally want personal advice. This makes the Makler Nachfolger Club e.V. unique. From a successor pool of about 1000 potential buyers, we select exactly those who also fit the portfolios. And we get to know the buyers who are shortlisted personally beforehand.
Let's assume I am an interested real estate company that is about to face a generational change. What would the cooperation with the Makler Nachfolger Club e.V. look like?
First of all we offer a realtor succession check. We analyze the estate agent's portfolio or the company free of charge and point out potentials. If it turns out that an optimization would increase the value of the portfolio, we advise you to do so. Of course only if the costs remain below the value to be extracted.
Then we talk with the realtor about different strategies how to realize this succession. There are up to 24 different possibilities. For example, the agent can sell, inherit, give away, transfer or even "lease" his portfolio to a specialist. Another possibility is a "run off": the realtor basically keeps his portfolio and lets someone else handle it with or without new business. In the last step, we help the realtor to prepare for the succession arrangement. For this purpose we have some of the best tax consultants, lawyers and marketing experts in this field in our association.
What are the classic ways of rating realtors' customer portfolios?
Unfortunately, there is no standard for the assessment procedure so far. On the market there are various providers who provide an expert opinion for high fees. However, there are usually large differences between the individual valuations, since, for example, commission income, the portfolio reduction or the capitalized earnings value are multiplied by self-defined factors. In the end, the buyer will decide on the market value what he is willing to pay for the company or the agent's portfolio.
With our selection process for the suitable successor we achieve the optimal sales price for our members. This means that the portfolio is usually sold for about thirty percent more than previously determined. A portfolio of clients working in the medical professions is more interesting for a realtor who has focused on the target group of medical professionals, for example, than, say, for one who specializes in private clients.
What role does customer feedback play in this calculation?
Customer feedback is and has always been important for our association. Only then do we know how to optimize our service. I can only strongly recommend that every realtor obtain customer feedback to show the buyer that there is a high level of customer satisfaction in their portfolio. On the other hand, this also applies to the buyer: if you can show customer satisfaction, you will have a better chance of being allowed to take over the portfolio. It would actually be an idea to advise agents to start a customer survey one year before the inventory is sold.
Read more here on the importance of customer feedback.
To which platforms would you then refer the realtor?
ProvenExpert is obviously the new generation of review management: I find the questionnaires and the bundling of different reviews very exciting. The profile page with the text and backlinks is great for a good Google ranking. With our review profile we made it to the third place of the Google search results within a few days. Collecting reviews that can’t be found is pointless. When I google a service provider, I want to see the stars on page one.
Read more here on the benefits of displaying Google rating stars.
Many thanks - and congratulations on the good Google ranking. What feedback has the Makler Nachfolger Club e.V. received so far?
The idea of founding an association for realtors who want to plan their succession has been very well received by the market. Many are grateful that there is a neutral and independent association for this often very emotional matter. Since the feedback from the bank has been positive, we are also experiencing a rush for the pool of successors. The problem here is that buyers often have inflated expectations, which are usually higher than their own working methods. Some have price expectations for which you would never in your life sell your own stock. These different expectations are exactly what we want to solve. For most realtors, we have been able to achieve significantly higher sales prices than they imagined at the beginning of our cooperation by means of targeted preparation and the selection of the optimal successor. For one agent we were even able to achieve a fifty percent higher sales price.
Many thanks for the interview Mr. Suchoweew!
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