Taylor Hack Takes Us from Lone Wolf to Wolf Pack
This article is a sponsored post and was originally featured on The Follow Up Boss Blog
It took Taylor Hack just three years from the start of his real estate career to be in the top 2% of RE/MAX agents worldwide.
Since his teens, Taylor has had a hunger to win and an intrinsic ability to connect with people—not to mention a knack for negotiating. “I’ve probably negotiated about half a billion dollars over the course of my career,” he reckons.
While he seems to figure out how to be a high performer in any role, you can tell Taylor has taken it to a new level in real estate. (Seriously, he has too many accolades to mention.)
And now that he’s developed a razor-sharp process for bringing on new teammates and helping them launch their careers? The sky may not even be the limit for this guy.
But that astronomical success didn’t happen overnight.
Not even close.
Table of Contents
- A Big, Nosediving Crash
- The Best Player Isn’t the Best Coach
- 5 Steps to Coaching a Black Belt Teammate
- Keep the Cycle of Success Moving
- Meaningful Connections and “Wicked Adapters”
- What’s Next?: Being the Worst Is Actually the Best
A Big, Nosediving Crash
Taylor has had a sales mindset since he was 18 years old.
“The first thing I ever sold was appliances,” he says, “After that I ended up selling cars, and then I moved up to doing mortgages.”
Going to a hundred percent commission so early in his career delivered significant advantages down the road. Even still, the transition from selling luxury vehicles to mortgages wasn’t a smooth one.
“I was terrible at it,” Taylor says. “I made a tenth of the money I made the year before [selling cars]. It was like this big, nosediving crash.”
“I went from living in my own condo to living in a friend’s basement. I went from driving a brand new, $80k car every four months to driving a 2001 Toyota Corolla with do-it-yourself windows. It felt like I had leased somebody else’s lifestyle, and then the lease was up.”
After ten grueling months, his previous manager at Lexus approached him with a job offer.
“I was in so much pain,” Taylor says. “I hadn’t gotten paid in months. I was in a rough, rough place.”
But he knew he couldn’t give up yet. Through tears, he looked across the table and said, “I’m failing so brutally right now, I am so deeply on fire right now, that if I ever come back, you’ll own me forever. I’ll never be able to leave again.”
So instead, he turned the job down and toughed it out.
Bringing Gameness to Real Estate
As is his M.O., Taylor figured out how to become a high performer—and picked up more skills that he eventually brought to his real estate career.
“In mortgages, you’re always working for buyers. That made me a really effective listing agent,” he explains.
After eight years as a mortgage specialist, Taylor knew it was time to make the switch. When he finally got an office in a real estate brokerage, he was stunned by what he saw from the agents around him.
“The people I knew from the car industry would wipe the floor with these guys. When I heard them talk about negotiations…there was no gameness. They were just clerks taking orders.”
That’s where Taylor saw an opportunity to apply the skills he’d learned selling cars and mortgages and create more value in real estate negotiations.
But it wasn’t just the thrill of the chase that got him motivated:
“In previous jobs, I had clients, but I wasn’t caring for clients. When I became a real estate agent, what that meant for me and my clients is that when I win, we win. That’s a deep, resonating element of who I am today and what we do. That’s what makes a difference to me.”
Developing meaningful connections, creating incredible customer experiences, and helping people win has become a trademark, not just of Taylor’s service as a Realtor, but of his unique style of team leadership.
The Best Player Isn’t the Best Coach
Taylor will be the first one to admit that switching from being an individual agent to leading a team is tough.
The first year, he hired two agents and an assistant, and performance was strong. They did about 100 transactions and over $750k GCI in a market that wasn’t doing well. Taylor had big goals for the team: “I wanted to run the entire RE/MAX award set and break one million GCI in a year in my first five years,” he shares.
Then one of his agents left.
At that point, Taylor recalls, “I started to make regular team leader mistakes. I was so nervous about having a smaller team that I made some mistakes in hiring.”
So he hired two more teammates. Both failed in their first 90 days.
Firing them was a difficult decision, particularly because it meant giving up a goal that meant so much to him. “But I grew in a way that I wouldn’t have grown otherwise,” he says.
Today, Taylor has a well thought-out hiring and onboarding system. Together, he and his rockstar team ranked as an REP Top Team for 2020 and are on track to have their best year yet in 2021.
Although he had proven himself an excellent agent, Taylor still needed to develop the skills to lead and mentor his teammates.
“Everybody used to think that Michael Jordan would be the best coach, ‘cause he’s the best, but that’s not true.”
This is something that works against many agents, he says: “They don’t understand the amount of transformation that needs to take place to go from being a top agent to a top team leader.”
5 Steps to Coaching a Black Belt Teammate
So Taylor decided to do things differently. He developed a new plan for mentoring, onboarding, and upskilling new teammates.
“I took really good care of that first teammate,” Taylor explains. “Christian is what I would call my first black belt.”
Many people aren’t prepared to do the work upfront to build self-sufficient teammates. But Taylor took an intensive approach that he has applied ever since—and he’s seen huge success as a result.
Not only did that early investment of Taylor’s time and energy help get Christian up to speed faster, it set him up for his own incredible success:
“He became a very high-level teammate. In the year he left, he was only with us for about $10 million, but on his side of our splits, he was at about a quarter of a million.”
1. Look for gameness from the start.
“I don’t do very well with apathetic people who aren’t passionate,” Taylor says.
That’s why it’s so crucial to know what to look for in the interview process. Before you even hire someone, you have to see what their appetite is. What’s their motivation? Can they make meaningful connections? Are they going to have gameness and chase?
“When I look at successful salespeople or real estate agents, they’re motivated by chase. Whether that’s chasing status, stuff, or help. But they’re much more modeled after predators than prey. And that pursuit is what we’re trying to foster.”
Among Taylor’s teammates is a former stay-at-home parent. During the interview process, he found out that she sold quite a few of her previous homes because she’d had a bad real estate experience herself. The reason she decided to make a career switch was to save people from that.
“I’m like, ‘That’s part of our company identity. You’re damn straight, let’s go get those clicks!’” he says.
For him, it’s about finding out what really motivates your agents so that you can work together to hit the ground running.
2. Commit to in-depth mentoring and investment upfront.
If you’re going to bring someone on as a teammate, you have to be willing to invest in them from the start.
Of course, the reality is that the first time you do it, nobody’s good at it. But you get better at it, and the more you can give at the beginning, the quicker and longer they’re going to be more functional on their own.
Taylor understands this implicitly. The latest teammate he brought on mentored with him for six months before joining the team—that’s a heck of an investment.
But it’s worth it.
When you have a race horse, everything is more expensive or needs to be done at a higher level. You have to feed it the right food, have a good jockey, travel to events. The same is true for your team: You can’t just feed it garbage and expect it to be amazing. You have to put in the work, the money, the time, and the thought.
3. Give them the tech tools to succeed—and stand out.
In Taylor’s system, the mentorship period is about talking, not tools.
But once you officially start with the team, you get outfitted with the full tech package: a new laptop, a new iPad, plus programs like PDF Expert, Evernote, Follow Up Boss, and BombBomb.
It surprises Taylor that more real estate teams don’t invest in standardizing their technology. Not only does it make communication and collaboration so much easier, it’s also a value proposition.
“When our agents are seen in the marketplace, they always look like top agents. They always look like they’re a part of us. We’re a wolf pack.”
Taylor uses the leaderboard inside Follow Up Boss to gamify follow up, keep his agents motivated and encourage a little friendly competition within the team.
4. Unlock achievements to reward ramp-up milestones.
It’s not just about having game—it’s gamification, which Taylor has woven through the onboarding and ramping process.
“With a new teammate, you don’t actually get access to Follow Up Boss until you enter over a hundred database entries,” he explains.
From there, they have to get their database to reflect a certain standard. And once they do? “Achievement unlocked, you have now opened web leads,” Taylor shares.
The next goal a new teammate must achieve is delivering a remarkable buyer experience and seller experience. With that done, they’re now able to list property.
5. Build the customer experience around them.
Reaching senior teammate level is a critical achievement: “We make them a customer experience,” Taylor explains.
Up to this point in the process, new teammates are restricted to generic email templates and generic websites. But at the senior level, all the emails have their picture—so it looks like them plus the team.
“We treat them like we acquired them as sports athletes,” Taylor says.
(And if you’ve ever wondered what a real estate team would like in a boxing ring, Taylor’s hilarious pro-team video is a must-watch.)
Of course, with that added recognition comes additional responsibility. Instead of focusing on how to get an agent to fit his team’s brand, Taylor has them build a business around themselves.
“They each have their own vendors list, their own assigned lenders and home inspectors to maintain relationships with,” Taylor explains. “They have their own strategic alliances.”
Not only does this give his agents more autonomy, it takes extra work off Taylor’s plate—a real win-win.
With Team Inbox, team leaders like Taylor can give groups of agents access to incoming messages. Instead of just hoping someone picks up their phone, you can rest easy knowing that your whole team knows about every inbound call and text.
Keep the Cycle of Success Moving
Leading a high-performing team isn’t just about onboarding. In addition to investing in people, Taylor believes in creating a culture of measurement and focusing on meaningful connections—both with his team and with their customers.
Measuring meaningful connections is a key distinction for Taylor’s team.
“Meaningful connections are how often you come into contact with somebody where there was a back-and-forth that was meaningful enough that they will remember it tomorrow,” he explains. “Because I’ve renamed it that way, I can make that apply to Facebook, texting, or phone calls.”
How many meaningful connections do Taylor’s teammates create?
“We’re regularly seeing our inside salesperson get 60 meaningful connections each week—and that’s not including attempts or non-responders. ”
It’s a pretty strong pace.
That’s why he takes specific steps to ensure that his teammates are getting the support and training they need to take their careers to the next level.
Weekly Check-In and Training Process
It all starts with a weekly check-in using Typeform. At the end of each week, he asks teammates to respond to questions about meaningful connections, appointments with new clients, and deals. He’ll also include several personalized questions or comments, and an opportunity to request coaching.
In each area, he asks three questions:
- What’s your goal?
- How did you do in relation to your goal? (Response options are multiple-choice: Equal, more, or less than.)
- How do you feel about it?
Through all of this, Taylor prioritizes building a relationship of trust with each teammate so he stays accessible and approachable, whether that teammate is succeeding or struggling.
“When somebody isn’t making their calls, I’m really not pushing on them. I’m trying to solve for why they’re not making their calls. Is it overwhelm? Is it fear? If I’m able to solve that problem, we’re never gonna have to diminish my relationship with that teammate. Trust will get you further than anything.”
Taylor then uses the Typeform responses, as well as any info from their regular Monday meeting, and brings it to his professional business coach, who applies it to their Tuesday afternoon team coaching. This ensures that any issues are always being addressed head-on, and teammates are getting training that is immediately relevant and actionable.
Meaningful Connections and “Wicked Adapters”
Look at Taylor’s career and you’ll see meaningful connections pop up everywhere—it’s what motivates him to do great work for clients, it’s how he approaches leading his team…it’s even one of his most important metrics.
But Taylor’s success hasn’t come just from building meaningful connections with the people around him. He’s also crazy committed to learning and becoming an expert. As he sees it, that’s what it really takes to be successful:
“When you spend a lot of time with the top performers in real estate, the commonality isn’t that they could learn real estate,” he says. “It’s that you would probably see them at the top no matter where they ended up. They’re just wicked adapters.”
He should know—he’s been doing that exact thing in every role he’s ever taken on, whether he’s selling mortgages, building his real estate team, or cultivating his saltwater fish tank.
What’s Next?: Being the Worst Is Actually the Best
“Success” is almost too small a word for Taylor and his team. They are absolutely crushing it.
“The year before last was the first time the team outperformed me as an individual,” he says. “Then last year, a teammate outperformed me individually. But this year, I will be the worst teammate. I’m pretty sure they’re going to fire me in December,” he laughs.
But being the worst teammate is going to be a big change for Taylor.
When he started the team, Taylor took inspiration from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Live a few years of your life like no one else will so you can live the rest of your life like no one else can.”
“I literally just imprisoned myself in business on purpose,” he recalls. “I’ve sacrificed a lot—hobbies, a social life. And I have to be a very careful scheduler to have a good, involved family life. I want to be real about the penalties.”
Now, however, he’s swimming back to shore and designing new goals. In addition to having hobbies and a social life again, Taylor’s not just looking to find his next deal, he’s looking for the next hundred deals.
And he’s going to do it by doing what he always does: innovating, creating more value, and simply caring about meaningful connections with the people around him.
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