Our Mission

Improving the real estate experience requires more than just tech. It starts at the brokerage level. A brokerage that supports and guides agents positively impacts the agent and client experiences and attracts like-minded agents.

Our mission is to help agents grow and succeed as independent real estate agents and to foster cooperation in the real estate culture by providing our agents and their colleagues with unique, high-quality technology services and by supporting our agents with professional, friendly, and helpful staff.

Our Approach

At van Winkle Group, our mantra is simple: “Word Hard. Be Nice.” There are many challenging aspects of the real estate industry, and we feel strongly that these two rules can conquer any obstacle.

 

Matt van Winkle entered real estate in 2009 after graduating from Seattle University School of Law. His first brokerage, RE/MAX On the Lake, opened in 2011 and grew to 85 agents in three years. OTL aims to help every agent reach their goals, whether they produce $2 million a year or $20 million. With one-on-one business development consulting and monthly training meetings, agents find the guidance and support they need. Our agents are a highly-motivated group – they’re collaborative and helpful; they share ideas and help each other out.

 

When agents join OTL, their production increases an average of 40% in the first year. Experienced $5 million dollar producers are mentored to become $10 million dollar producers. We value each agent’s success equally, and as a result, highly-involved agents have seen their business double in two years.

 

Van Winkle Group also leads teams in technology development and consulting services. After meeting brokerage owners at various conventions, it became clear that collaboration is needed at the brokerage level, so van Winkle Consulting was created to connect brokers to business mentors. The tech wing of van Winkle Group develops transaction management software and other industry-related platforms.

 

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How Much is Your Time Worth?

Time - How Much Is It Worth?

Time – How Much Is It Worth?

How Much is Your Time Worth?

In meeting with my agents over the past few months to work on business planning and marketing strategies for the coming year, I’ve noticed a surprising trend: agents don’t know how much they are spending on their business, or the ROI of their various marketing strategies. I’ll do another post soon on ROI specifically, but the pattern got me thinking: if they aren’t tracking how much they are actually making, how could they know how much their time is worth?

In real estate your business is limited by two factors: time and leads. Hundreds of high quality, ready, willing leads are worthless if you don’t have time to work them. Yet many agents will constantly seek new leads even when they don’t have time for their current business.

If you’re not tracking and assigning a value to your time, it’s easy to fall into the trap that “anything that makes me money, I should do.” It’s important to recognize that the worth of your time changes over the course of your career. Newer agents need to work more for every dollar than seasoned agents do, because they are still building their referral sphere. As an agent, you want to be regularly reevaluating your time, and focusing on the high quality activities that produce the most revenue.

When engaging in an activity, remember time has an opportunity cost. For every activity you do, you’re giving up the ability to do a different activity. If you are touring homes, you can’t be returning phone calls. If you are printing and scanning an offer, you can’t be updating your website. While it can be easy to spot time-wasting administrative activities, it’s important to remember that some clients aren’t worth your time either. They might have all day to tour and reject every home on the market, but you don’t.

Once you assign a value to your time, it will help you determine whether you should participate in certain activities. If your time is worth $100 an hour, do you really want to drive 2 hours in traffic for every showing of a $150k property? Will you “break even” at the end of the transaction or will you actually lose money?

Now that it’s tax time, most agents should have a good idea of how 2014 turned out, including gross income and net income. Look at your income and determine how much you made per hour. Compare that to how much you need to make per hour to hit your financial and life goals. For a lot of agents, simple changes in their business can greatly adjust their hourly income.

Knowing your hourly rate and the value of your activities is crucial if you’re considering getting an assistant. If you have tasks that you could have an assistant do for $40 per hour and your hourly worth is currently $200, then it certainly makes sense to hire an assistant – assuming you have additional work to do. If you don’t have additional, high quality, activities to work on, or your time is only worth $80, having an assistant is probably not worth the money. The math only works if you can take the time you’ve been spending on admin and use it to work on revenue-generating tasks.

With all that said, don’t forget to assign value to leisure time as well. Most of us work so that we can play, so relaxation and fun need to be part of the equation.

Be Professional, Buy a Domain

Buy A Domain!

Step One: Buy a Domain

Anyone can buy a domain, so long as someone else doesn’t already own it. Domains can be purchased online from any number of registration companies (or registrars), and usually cost $10-$35 a year. Once you purchase a domain, you own it. It is yours as long as you renew and pay the annual fee. Because the domain belongs to you and not the registrar, you can switch companies anytime you like.

If your first choice of domain is taken, have some backup ideas. If www.johnsmith.com is taken, consider www.johnsmithseattle.com or www.jsmithrealty.com. Avoid purposeful misspelling like www.johnsmth.com or very long names like www.johnsellstheverybestrealestateinseattle.com. The domain you chose will be what comes after the “@” symbol in your branded email, so that might be something to consider as well (john@smithrealty.com).

Unless you or your tech advisor has a preferred company, stick with the better-known registrars such as GoDaddy.com or Register.com. Put in your preferred domain to confirm it’s available, and the site will walk you through the steps to purchase. It’s best not to buy any additional or add-on products unless you know what they are.

Step Two: Direct the Domain to Your Website

Once you own a domain, you need to tell it where to point. You’ll need to login to the site where you registered your domain and give it an existing URL. This way, a client can type www.jsmithrealty.com into their browser, but the site they will see is actually located at www.johnnysellshouses.wordpress.com/about.

Every site is a little different, but what you are trying to do is set up “URL forwarding” or “domain redirect.” If it’s not clear where to go, search for those terms in your registrar’s help section, or Google those words along with the company name to find instructions. You may find information about “masking,” which you can choose to pursue or ignore, as it doesn’t fundamentally change what you’re doing.

You can direct your domain to go anywhere, including sites you don’t own. If you don’t already have a website setup, point to a profile site like Zillow or your office profile.

Step Three: Creating Your Branded Email

Now that you own the domain, you can set up email addresses for that domain. You could have jane@doe.com or bill@condosbybill.com. The easiest and best way to have a branded email address is to use Google Apps. This will cost $5 per month for each email address, but the set up and management is very easy. Additionally, with Google Apps you won’t run the risk of being put in a spam folder, which can happen with email masking.

If you would like to continue using your same email account but send and receive from a different address, you’ll need to set up forwarding and masking. Like directing the domain, your registration company will have it’s own way of setting up email forwarding. Login to your registrar and look for keywords such as “email forwarding” or “email redirect.”

You don’t have to use the email system provided by the registration company. Instead, you can add the information to your account indicating that any emails sent to john@jsmithrealty.com should be forwarded to johnsmith5243@gmail.com. That way you will be able to put john@jsmithrealty.com on your business cards while still using the same email account and provider you’ve been using.

Most email providers, including Gmail, allow you to set up masking. Masking allows you to choose the email address your emails show as “sent from.” In Gmail this can be done under the accounts tab of settings, with the link “add another email address you own.” Once masking and forwarding is set up, you will receive all emails sent to your branded email, and you will have the option to send from that address when composing emails.

Meet the Team

Matt van Winkle

Matt van Winkle

Founder

Matt is the founder of RE/MAX On the Lake. In 3 years RE/MAX On the Lake has grown to 85 agents in the Greater Seattle area. Matt enjoys developing technology and helping agents develop and increase their business.

Maggie van Winkle

Maggie van Winkle

Technology Director

Maggie’s specialty is self-generated organization and proactive project management. She has helped brokerage owners and agents with business development, training, process oversight, and technology integration

Katrina Hamilton

Katrina Hamilton

Operations Director

Katrina has extensive experience consulting and training real estate agents and brokers on how to utilize technology to improve their businesses and their lives.

Anna Lyublin

Anna Lyublin

Executive Assistant

Anna can always be relied on to get things done quickly and efficiently. She manages and maintains schedules for the company and ensures that every detail is followed up on.

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Contact Info

Located in the Pacific Northwest, we currently have offices in Seattle, Bellevue, and Issaquah.