“Remember what it’s all for, your why that is driving you, and maintain balance in your life” With Thomas Heimann

Remember what it’s all for, your why that is driving you, and maintain balance in your life. Determination in overcoming obstacles and challenges is important, even critical, but it’s not about who is putting in the most hours. Have some interest or hobby to unwind with and don’t forget your relationships. I had the pleasure […]

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Remember what it’s all for, your why that is driving you, and maintain balance in your life. Determination in overcoming obstacles and challenges is important, even critical, but it’s not about who is putting in the most hours. Have some interest or hobby to unwind with and don’t forget your relationships.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Heimann, Founder and CEO of Realty Partners, the Agent owned Company. Thomas is a successful entrepreneur who founded and co-founded several successful business, two of which ultimately went public. He has been pioneering new business models in the Real Estate and Title Insurance Industry since 2003 and is now looking to shake up the current real estate brokerage business model paradigm.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have been an entrepreneur all my life, starting my first business in Munich, Germany at age 17. My key interest has always been technology, and so in the early 90’s, I discovered online services such as Genie and Compuserve and then Internet NewsGroups. One thing led to another, and I realized that the Internet and specifically the WWW were the great equalizers of our time. I then built a company to allow even the smallest business or entrepreneur to harness the power of the emerging Internet. I guess empowering others to achieve the dreams they ordinarily would not be able to do (or afford) drove me.

In 2003, I got into the real estate industry, originally with a focus on creating a newer and better business model. I learned that the agent — not the consumer — was the real customer of the industry as far as the current brokerage models are concerned. I saw that for real estate agents who got into the industry to have a business of their own, did not really have a business to their name, did not have an exit strategy, and did not have anything of value regardless of how ‘successful’ they were. In the end they were just commissioned salespeople, only as good as their last sale. Heaven forbid if anything happened and they stopped working, then that was the end.

Of course, there is the option to strike out as an independent broker, but even here the situation remains the same. Most small brokerages are dependent on the broker-owners’ sales. When the broker-owner stops selling then business is closed. Now in the current environment, the only one that owns anything is either the corporation (think NRT) that owns that big box brokerage or the person that owns the franchise.

I knew that there had to be a better way, so I came up with the partnership-driven business model we have in Realty Partners. Agents and associates own the majority of the company. Agents then qualify for profit sharing and ownership based on the value they create for the company, very much like traditional consulting business’s model or law firms’ business model.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh my god, there were so many. But this is the one I learned from most. In the mid 90’s when I had my eCommerce business, I created a seminar called “The Internet Bootcamp”. We marketed this seminar through ads in business papers and business sections of the newspapers and held events all across the United States.

We scheduled one event in NYC and rented a huge room to hold up to 500 people (usually we would get 80–100 but, hey, this was NYC). We ran ads in the NY Times and Wall Street Journal and I figured that we would for sure have a huge crowd.

Well, it was mid-December and there was a huge snow storm and generally bad weather around that time, and our even was set to start at 8 AM not figuring how long it would take people to commute to actually get to the event.

Big mistake. I ended up giving a seminar to two attendees.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Most agents — especially those who are experiencing success and earning six figures — have no exit strategy or way to retire and replace their income. One of my wife’s relatives is actually an agent working in the Fort Myers area. She is in her 70s and still selling — because she has to in order to keep an income stream.

To me the big eye opener was an annual event at the local REALTOR association where the Emeritus Award was given. To qualify, an agent must have been a REALTOR for 40 years. Most of the recipients were in their 60s, 70s, and some in their 80s. They were still selling real estate: not by choice but necessity. There was no plan B. If you’re making $100K, you are not going to survive on $1,600 a year on social security.

So, our company — for the first time ever — is offering a real exit strategy to those agents. They have the opportunity to qualify for profit sharing, ownership, and residual income. All of this will vest after 5 years, meaning they will continue to reap the benefits long after they stop working.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Right now, we are focused primarily on growth and expansion. In July, we expanded into the Orlando market and next month we will launch in to the Fort Lauderdale/Miami-Dade market.

Our secondary focus is on continuing to provide the best technology solutions to our agents. The real estate industry is becoming more and more technology driven by the day. Most solo agents — and even some teams — cannot afford the top-notch technology solutions employed by high volume teams and agents. Yet the honest truth is you have to be at the cutting edge of technology if you want to remain relevant in the future. We look for ways to deliver those kinds of tools and technology that a 1,000-transactions-a-year agent or team would utilize and provide that to our agents as part of our services to them.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?

The “tipping points” in terms of success came to fruition usually at a time when it least looked like it would happen. The only reason I got there was as a result of sheer determination and never give up kind of mind set.

The first time I experienced significant financial success, I continued to invest in high-risk, high reward technology prospects before ’95, paying handsomely at first. But then with the dot com meltdown, I lost it all. After some time, the second time I decided to get a little bit more conservative. My wife and I paid off all our debts, and we purchased a portfolio of rental properties that has and is giving us a monthly passive income that is ‘untouchable’. I can now move forward and create with the knowledge that I have that foundation. Of course, my age could also play a role here. It’s easier to ‘lose it all’ and start back out at below zero in your 20’s or 30’s, but when I got to 50, I figured “been there done that” and I’d like to avoid that moving forward. Not that I am not willing to take big risks, but you need to maintain a foundation.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Remember what it’s all for, your why that is driving you, and maintain balance in your life. Determination in overcoming obstacles and challenges is important, even critical, but it’s not about who is putting in the most hours. Have some interest or hobby to unwind with and don’t forget your relationships.

How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?

To me, marketing encompasses the entire communication process with your community and your “tribe”. Within your community you not only market yourself, but what your community means to promote your brand, your mission, and how you and your community can work together. Through building and maintaining awareness with other community members, the perception in, of, and about ourselves becomes more about that mission and desire for shared success than anything else. That’s what we want to do here is connect others with their dreams.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I think the greatest influencer in terms of my mindset, attitude, and how I approach challenges and opportunities has been Tony Robbins. I have been part of his programs and community going back to 1992 when I attended his first event, and since then have attended almost every event he has held in my area.

In terms of a person much closer to me, I would have to say my wife, Pamela. Franz Schubert had said, “Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend his wife.” She has been my support through it all. Getting the encouragement to go for it, having someone that genuinely believes in you and what you are trying to accomplish, is invaluable and has been a major factor to me. She had lifted me up on more occasions than I want to count, and to pick one story sharing that experience would not be fair to her.

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?

The first would be marketing automation. Tools such as ClickFunnels or InfusionSoft allow anyone to create powerful marketing campaigns and funnels to engage with their audiences.

At this day and age of Facebook Ads and Facebook Audiences, remarketing is a must. The two mentioned are other excellent tools for even a small business to stay in front of their audience.

Finally, automation tools such as IfThisThenThat (IFTTT) and Zapier are invaluable.

What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”?

1. Hyper-specific Targeting

a. It’s really common to think that it’s best to cast your net wide, and that will give you the greatest number of fishes. This is not the case. When we did several Google ads in the beginning, we casted that wide net all around Florida. Results were terrible. So, we decided to try again but within a 10 mile radius around the center of Tampa with an ad devoted to those who were interested in Keller Williams or currently working for them. I had heard of this working for some other people and decided why not. We had more inquiries because of that ad than when we had cast such a wide net.

2. Pop culture marketing

a. This one works more for younger generations and it requires you to be quick and clever. There are so many memes out there, yet hardly anyone knows how to use those for marketing purposes. We saw on social media the memes that were being passed around and what was making people share these specific memes. We thought how can we make them real estate related? The Lighter Side of Real Estate does this fairly well, and often times their memes go viral through the community.

3. Using Pissed Off Customers

a. No one ever thinks to use the bad, one-star reviews or the scorned employee to their advantage. Bad reviews can be a good thing for a few reasons. Not one company is perfect, much like people. Anyone or anything that has a perfect 5-star review means they’re probably lying or using some black-hat technique to kill it. We had some fairly recently who we had to let go, and now they carry that chip on their shoulder. Having that one person who is willing to talk bad about us makes us appear more human. If we were to be perfect, that could come off as a little weird.

4. Listen

a. Many agents don’t get heard, and that leads to broken promises and angered people that could have not been misled or misunderstood. If brokers were to stop and listen to what it is that their agents want, like actual ownership in the company they work for and a retirement plan, maybe there would not be so many agents who quit. I listened to the agents out there to give a better way to real estate.

5. Use data, but not so much that it kills creativity

a. Growth hacking has not died yet, and we are in the process of using. It’s about using a combination of data that you gather and a swath of creativity to bring people’s eyes towards your brand. It can be a deadly combination if calculated right. But data will give greater insight into who is and who is not interested in your brand. Figure out why they are not and go for them using growth hacking. It’s much like using the pissed off customer. To win them over to your side is a unique challenge, but high risk, high reward.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

>>> I would start a movement to bring financial and entrepreneurship education to young students. I think by teaching children self-reliance, entrepreneurship, and financial skills we could transform a generation. These are skills that are missing, and I have to wonder why.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The past does not equal the future. (Tony Robbins)
 I came from a very humble background and it seemed that the deck of cards was always stacked against me for most of my younger life. Realizing that it does not matter how great or how horrible the past was, that the only thing mattered was what lies ahead. What’s more I was both fully responsible for my experience up to this point, and that it was 100% up to me what I would create for myself moving forward.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @thomasheimann


Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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