What do hand-peeled baby carrots have to do with home sellers? What do baby Brussel sprouts have to do with buyers?
Well, it takes approximately six months to grow a Brussel sprout. And it can take anywhere from six months to six years to cultivate a real estate lead.
And this metaphor goes even deeper.
Nobody knows that more than Scott W. Lehmann, co-owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Sonoran Desert Lifestyles in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to being a successful REALTOR, Scott is also a cultivator of Vegetables. He owns a specialized vegetable distribution business called AMS Exotic.
Scott’s professional life was deeply rooted in food before real estate. He worked in a grocery store at age 15 and then spent 17 years with the nation’s largest chain and a pre-packaged salad manufacturer. Now, as a REALTOR and Brokerage Owner, Scott can see a great deal of overlap between these two industries. Just look at the terms both use: farm, nurture, grow, cultivate. So let’s explore the entire ecosystem of real estate and farming and how one informs the other… according to the man himself.
Cultivate a brand
Before planting even begins, the ground has to be ready. For farmers, that means turning the soil and adding nutrients — readying the environment to receive.
Real estate agents can’t just walk out into the market and get clients. They need to establish themselves and shape a brand that communicates who they are and why they are the local expert to work with. That takes some strategic work, including display advertising such as Adwerx, direct marketing and nurturing their sphere of influence.
As a real estate agent, Scott does this same groundwork with his brand. And he even “brands” his listings.
By giving each home a formal name, Scott creates campaigns around the listing, securing a URL and giving the home a unique personality and name, he Humanizes the Home. It makes the property easier to remember, and friendlier for search.
Sow the seeds
All produce starts simply as a seed. One tiny little package contains everything it needs to become a baby carrot or a beautiful French bean — but it can’t do it alone. Seeds need special care. They need the right environment and conditions to be met and monitored.
The same is true for real estate leads. For Scott and team, they are just as careful and attentive to real estate clients as those tiny seedlings. It’s a process. And Scott’s key to nurturing leads is being out and about in his community. Not surprising, he’s a foodie who loves great restaurants and tends to eat with his ears open.
“I’m really attuned to what people are talking about,” he said. So when he visits his favorite bistros and bars, he’s open to whatever he finds. “I’ll hear somebody mention a property or selling their house, and that opens the door for me to say, “Where do you live? What are you doing?” That’s all it takes. We just planted that seed. We’ll drop them a card and water that seed, next thing you know, we’ll hear from them.”
Not only does Scott nurture his client relationships, he nurtures other agents. When a newer agent joins his team, there is a great deal of education on offer. Not just certifications and transactional specifics, but hands-on and hand-holding from the get-go.
“Our new agents get an invitation from me asking them to come and interview to list my house,” Scott described. And it will be as though they’d never met. It’s a real-life practice listing session and it’s based in role play. Referencing his trainees, Scott explains, “Their job is to put together a whole listing package: the presentation, the comps, and everything they think they need to get the listing from me.”
Harvest the bounty
The moment a buyer makes an offer or a seller receives an offer — that’s the harvesting moment for Scott. “It’s that emotional moment where you realize, “I love this house and I’m going to buy it,”” he said. “I’m the one that’s going to help harvest this.”
But Scott won’t harvest vegetables that aren’t ready, and he won’t help a buyer make an offer that isn’t right, or a seller accepts an offer that doesn’t fit the criteria. And he’ll help them understand every step of the way.
This kind of transparency in product is critical in the food industry, where food-borne illness has to be traced. “We have a traceability program we utilize and it allows us to trace each individual bag of vegetables all the way back to the source.”
Because honesty and integrity are the first two words in Scott’s professional bio. And he learned them both from food.
“I can’t tell you this zucchini is actually a grape no matter how hard I try,” Scott explained. “And I can’t tell you this house is a dream come true when it’s not.”
As Scott continues both as a farmer and as a REALTOR, he keeps one foot in each of two worlds that meet in the middle in so many ways. And the result is truly delicious.