This month, Real Estate magazine spoke with Ashley AhYou, team leader of business strategy, and Nick Cabrera, business strategist of purchase business strategy at Rocket Mortgage®, who discussed how to create a successful plan of action to adapt in an ever-changing market.
Paige Brown: Tell us how you got started with Rocket Mortgage, how it led to your current role and what exactly that role is.
Nick Cabrera: I started at Rocket Mortgage in 2020 as a data analyst, focused on our business-to-business opportunities. Everything was a “new normal,” and I had the benefit of not relying on “how things used to be.” Instead, I could focus on how things are. It taught me to be adaptable and open-minded.
Ashley AhYou: My title is team leader, but my calling is to serve people by disrupting “what’s always been done.” I have the privilege of leading a group of amazingly talented and diverse team members who are constantly evaluating our next five steps as a purchase mortgage lender; keen to adjust, shift and build as needed.
PB: What are your primary roles and responsibilities?
NC: As a business strategist, my primary responsibility is to synthesize all information available to help inform our leadership. I primarily focus on agent strategy and how Rocket Mortgage can better partner with agents. In any market, but especially in a tougher market like today’s, it is imperative for lenders and agents to work together to provide for our clients.
AA: My days are carved out between five major focuses:
- Driving our initiatives forward. Ensuring we do not lose steam or drop in prioritization.
- Ideation. Keeping some free time to think, process flow and look into future strategies.
- Learning from our people. Spending time with my team, shadowing leaders and team members, walking the floor to find random conversation and finding new problems to focus on.
- Documentation. It’s the difference between a good strategist and an excellent one. The truth is that a strategist is a documentarian and scribe, which is one of my team’s antes.
- Keeping the machine running. Troubleshooting issues between our people, process or technology.
PB: What is your favorite part of your job?
NC: Being in a constant state of learning. I really enjoy learning from our partners and understanding their needs to bring solutions to them. To me, strategy does not happen in a vacuum; it is the means to solve the problems of our partners, and I am fortunate enough to interact with them and learn constantly.
AA: One of my proudest moments was the team implementing an initiative we called “Back to the Future.” The implementation required many of our internal teams to align across banking, operations, product, marketing, technology and training—but we were committed to the work, knowing it was the right thing. Six months later, we’ve seen successful mortgage closings rise 8% and agent satisfaction scores increase by 28%.
PB: In your opinion, what does it take to be a successful real estate professional in today’s changing environment?
NC: Persistence and consistency. The industry is growing every day; however, a market like this is less attractive to the part-time agent. If you as an agent continue to provide a consistent and respected service and earn positive reviews from your clients, you will be a trusted agent in this market even if it contracts.
AA: I agree with Nick. Anyone entering the real estate industry needs to know it’s a long game, as our business ebbs and flows. The market is hot one moment and chilly the next. Being patient in the downturn and hyper-diligent about building your brand will help you find success.
PB: Over the last few years, the industry has seen many changes, from low housing inventory to rising interest rates. How has this affected you and your business?
NC: When the market starts to shift, that is the best time to lean in and build new. When you can make change, or be disruptive when others are leaving the industry, that is when a business can make the most gain, and that is where strategy can make the biggest difference.
AA: As the market began to shift, we focused on internal strategies to build skills, develop our team members and grow knowledge around our product offerings and value props to ensure our folks could continue to impact their agent partners and clients.
PB: What is the key to a successful business strategy in a changing market?
NC: A key to a successful business strategy is to be humble enough to recognize when it is time to adapt and be flexible. It is important to set a high-level strategy to aim for, while maintaining and grooming different tactics to accomplish your goal.
AA: Any good strategy should include plan A, B and C…and so on. As you iterate or shift, take a moment to ensure you’ve accomplished your goals or solved your client’s problems, and look for opportunities or enhancements. Is it time to pause, pivot or persevere? How long will it take to see the value? Questioning your own strategy is where you can find important inches to move your business forward.
PB: What are some tried-and-true strategies that real estate professionals can implement in their business strategies today?
AA: The industry is all about your network—it’s about the constant repetition. Whether you’re joining a local chamber of commerce, a board or your local real estate association, your strongest advocates are your peers. From there, building the rest of the team is just as crucial, like partnering with an excellent lender, title/closing agent, insurance, etc. Oh, and—Social. Media.
NC: Ashley is 100% spot on. Building your influence and network is key in this industry. Referrals and word-of-mouth can be huge. Implementing things such as testimonials can be a great way to attract clients. But it’s important to know where to put these marketing materials. Millennials and Gen Z will start to become more prevalent in the home-buying sector.
The above article is sponsored content. For more information, please visit www.RocketPro.com/RealEstate.