In 2006, Adam Hergenrother borrowed $8,000 for a small office space to begin his career in real estate. A little over a decade later, he owns 5 businesses and manages multiple real estate offices across the continental U.S.
For Adam, expanding his business has always been about creating something bigger than himself. He learned early on that reaching a number of zeros on a paycheck wasn’t enough to make him feel truly successful. It was breaking past barriers, and empowering other people along the way.
You’ve got to want it. Adam had a pivotal moment early in life that shaped his work ethic. At 15, he was 100lbs overweight, depressed, and failing in school. Desperate to make a shift, he stayed up all night visualizing what he wanted his life to look like, and strategizing what steps he’d have to take to get there. Within a year he had lost the weight, turned his grades around, and become the quarterback of the football team. That tenacity stuck with Adam over the course of his career.
"The reality is that I’ve just been working on myself for 20 years. The key to any business is that you first have to add value to yourself before you add value to the lives of others."
A Shift into Leadership
Being a self-starter, the real estate industry was a natural fit for Adam. Look no further than the fact that he began his career during the Great Recession of 2006. He hit the ground running, kept his head down, and refused to let any negativity or fear hold him back. The way Adam sees it, starting his career at such an impossible time was actually beneficial in the long run. In order to succeed, you had to work harder than you ever imagined, period.“It was literally the first time someone was giving me permission to think the way that I had been thinking. That was a freeing moment."
In 2009, after reflecting on a speech he’d heard by Gary Keller of Keller Williams, Adam decided that expanding with a franchise was the next step for his career. He had an entrepreneurial set of skills that were best suited for leadership. He knew how to delegate, how to structure a good team, and how to inspire.
He opened a Keller Williams office in Vermont. In less than 30 days, it was the fastest launch in New England history. Within two years Adam had already begun expanding his KW team into different states.
Mistakes to Avoid
Hiring the Wrong People
When you work in an industry that has commission structures, there is an added layer of complexity when building a cohesive team. A good support team needs to be skilled and aligned with the goals and core values of the business. Adam stresses being as tactical as possible with new hires. Create an interview process that clearly defines what it takes to succeed on your team. Don't hire until you're sure.
“Most people are sales oriented, which is correct, but what people fail to do is to invest in high quality people, to make your team a better salesperson.”
Living Beyond Your Means
Early in his career, Adam would fall into a cycle: income increase, lifestyle increase, income increase, etc. Eventually he realized how much further along his career could be if he was investing that income back into his business through new hires or new technology. Living beyond your means will put a cap on how far your business can grow.
“When anyone increases their income, they naturally start increasing their lifestyle. But if you don’t increase your lifestyle, and instead put that back into your business, and hire a person, that individual will get you a better return than anyone else will as long as it’s the right person. ”
Technology as a Weapon to Win
BoomTown is the crux of day-to-day operations for Hergenrother Realty Group. Where it truly shines is with scalability. With growth in mind from day one, it was beneficial to adopt a system early on that worked across multiple states. So, when they launched in new areas they could quickly start piping new reliable leads with accurate predictions.
The agents in the Hergenrother Realty Group use the Shark Tank feature to respond to leads as quickly as possible, well within the 5-minute threshold. Quicker response times means more lead conversions and more closings for the team as a whole. Additionally, the lead rotation puts all of the agents on an even playing field. When managing a team, reporting is crucial for accountability. For leadership, the full suite of reporting has been invaluable. They’re able to have hard conversions using the numbers directly from BoomTown dashboards.
The Opportunity Wall gives an agent to-do’s based on analytics and aids us in converting more leads to clients. It's a cheat sheet for which leads you should be following up with and when, based on their site activity. e-Alerts are what drive leads back to our websites over and over again to ensure we are getting the back-end analytics to populate the Opportunity Wall and Hot Sheet. The Hot Sheet allows us to reverse prospect and easily find good property matches for our leads to keep us top of mind and show we are constantly working on their behalf (even when BoomTown is really doing that work for us).” - Erin McCormick, Director of Marketing
Erin emphasizes the importance of fully adopting the platform. Every quarter, the HergGroup hosts a month-long marketing initiative where they focus on BoomTown activities. To get everyone laser-focused on “building their pipeline for the future,” they send out daily tips and accountability reports to celebrate the team members with the best response times. Additionally, they host bi-monthly BoomTown trainings to ensure that every team member is up-to-date on any new features.
99 Failures for Every 1 Success
When you look at the past decade for Adam Hergenrother, it may seem like it was smooth sailing to the top. The reality was years of tireless work, sticking to a vision, and investing his personal profits back into his business. Adam knew he had to use every failure and misstep as a learning experience for how to do it better next time. Knowing why you want to expand is critical. He wanted to build something of value, to share it with a team, create jobs, and help make other people’s lives better.
"If you want to expand for ego you’re going to fail. If you want to expand because you’re currently limited in what you want to do, buckle up."
His vision has clearly come to fruition, as Hergenrother Enterprises was voted one of the best places to work in Vermont in 2017. Today Adam owns 5 businesses, as well as the Hergenrother Foundation, with a mission of empowering today’s youth to become confident and dynamic leaders.
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