(Above) Rudy L. Kusuma, President & CEO, Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty
Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty Sets Out to Chart a New Course
Rudy L. Kusuma learned early on that the standard approach to the real estate business was not the way to win. The traditional tactic of filling the funnel through cold calling and door knocking wasn’t his style.
“I was failing at prospecting and stumbled on this idea of reverse prospecting,” he explains.
And with a strategy focused on attracting customers instead of chasing them, Kusuma started the top-ranking Team Nuvision in 2008, and, this month, embarks as his own brokerage, Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty, where he plans to bring his team success formula to agents throughout Los Angeles and, eventually, the entire state.
Here’s why Kusuma believes he’s onto a model and a philosophy that just might change the real estate industry for good.
Maria Patterson: Rudy, please begin by telling us a bit about your background and how you first got into the real estate business. Rudy L. Kusuma: Sure. I used to sell door-to-door promotional items, and one of my clients was a real estate broker. He told me I could be really good at real estate, so I got my license in 2007.
MP: Were real estate sales a lot different? What did you learn early on? RK: As soon as I got my license, my broker told me that the first thing you do is prospecting: cold calling and door knocking. But I was struggling with cold calling, and it wasn’t successful for me. I thought, “Maybe my voice doesn’t sound good over the phone,” so I tried door knocking. The only difference with door knocking was that now people were mad at me face-to-face! That’s when I first realized that there was a problem in this business. Most real estate agents spend 70-80 percent of their time prospecting, but normal businesses are not this way.
MP: So how did you come up with a different approach? RK: Back in 2007, I started to figure out how to attract customers to me instead of chasing them. I was failing at prospecting and stumbled on this idea of reverse prospecting. I started hosting Cashflow game nights based on the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. Every time people came to the office to play, I would always ask them, “How many are thinking about buying or selling?” By doing that, I would pick up three, four or five new clients. So instead of cold calling, I hosted the Cashflow game nights and created an investors’ club that taught people how to invest in real estate. By the end of my first month, I had picked up 20-25 clients.
MP: You then formed a team right away, correct? RK: That’s right. I realized most agents were just busy looking for clients, whereas I suddenly had more clients than I could handle. In 2008, when I was working in a Coldwell Banker office, I asked the other agents if they wanted to partner up with me, and they all said yes. So, my first team was started by accident out of necessity.
MP: 2008 was an interesting time to be ramping up in real estate! RK: Yes, in 2008 the market crashed. I looked around me, and even though people were not doing well, they were still talking about cold calling and the “long run.” For me, I had no “long run.” I had to pay bills now. I was a brand-new agent and my second baby had just been born. I couldn’t be thinking about doing branding and long-term campaigns. My long run was 60 days, not 20 years from now. So for me, it was about direct response marketing where you create compelling offers so that prospects chase you. And business continued to grow. My first year in 2008, my team in the Coldwell Banker office became No. 1 in the office. We then moved to RE/MAX, and for the past five years, our team has been the No. 1 team in RE/MAX.
MP: Talk about the evolution of your team. RK: We started in 2008 as Team Nuvision. We focus on only one thing: generating buyers and sellers. We have about 2,000 buyers and sellers calling us each month. We operate on the same principle of reverse prospecting—using radio, billboards, direct mail, etc., so that people are calling us. We sold 550 homes last year, and we do not do any prospecting, cold calling or door knocking.
MP: How is the team structured? RK: We have more than 17 people on the team. We have a marketing and media department, and a general administrative staff that inputs all inquiries into our CRM. We have an inside sales team who then follows up with inquiries to check on their timing and motivation. If they find out someone is moving in the next 3-6 months, they book an appointment with our outside sales team. If they’re not ready, they go to our customer service team. Our outside sales team uses my buyer’s and listing presentations. We’re not a franchise, but it’s a blueprint—a duplication of a system that works, instead of 10 different agents using 10 different listing systems.
MP: How would you say your team differs from other real estate teams out there? RK: The term “team” has been abused so much. Just because you’re under the same roof doesn’t make you a team. When we talk about a team, we mean that each individual person has a specific role in the transaction. We have been perfecting this model since 2007 to make sure it works.
MP: And now you have made the big step to turn your team into its own company. Why did you make this move? RK: Yes, we have left RE/MAX and just launched Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty. I felt there was a problem in the traditional brand model, no matter what brand you’re talking about. For example, McDonald’s teaches you how to cook a hamburger. That’s why, wherever you go, you know that when you have a McDonald’s hamburger, it’s going to taste the same. However, in the real estate industry, in general, the system is broken, because at the end of the day, after all the shiny objects, each individual agent is still responsible for their own business. And the problem with that, just like me in 2007, comes down to the fact that it’s not humanly possible for an individual agent to do everything that needs to be done to be successful.
Our team system, however, redefines the job of the real estate agent. In our new company, we are going to focus on growing and developing real estate sales teams, and help as many real estate agents as possible grow and develop their own teams. We want to change how the real estate industry works.
MP: Will you base your company around the strategy of reverse prospecting? RK: Yes. On our team, because there is no prospecting, we are focused on only one thing: servicing the client. We are teaching real estate agents how not to rely on the MLS, but, instead, how to set, negotiate and collect their own buyer’s agent fees so that they can show a buyer all the homes that meet their criteria, not just some of them. I believe that in the near future, buyer’s agents’ commissions on the MLS will go to zero, and everyone will have to negotiate their own fee. But no one is teaching the real estate agent how to do that. We are.
MP: How do you plan on attracting agents to your firm? RK: My introduction to agents is that we are the only company that books you a face-to-face buyer or listing appointment. That’s our uniqueness. Leads are useless. The same lead goes to 20 people. We are the only company to focus on helping real estate agents grow. Our vision is to be the best place to work, buy and sell real estate in the state of California. We hope to have 50 teams in the next 12 months.
MP: Given your team model, what role will new recruits play in your company? RK: Generally, there will be two types of agents. Some will join as outside sales agents, some as team leaders who want to build their own successful team. Usually, this is someone who is the No. 1 agent at their firm, and they’ve hit a plateau. I know the struggle because I was there. Right now, they’re a one-man show. They have no time for their family, health is usually an issue, and it’s just a matter of time before the machine breaks down. We will teach them how to leverage themselves with people and with technology.
MP: How will you help agents succeed in an increasingly competitive market? RK: The real estate agent commission is under attack. The consumer is looking at the agent and asking, “What value are you bringing?” If your value proposition is that you’re just a nice guy, you will be eliminated. If the machine can do what you do, you should be worried because, one day, you will be replaced.
Our asset is training on how to do something the machine cannot do: negotiate. We give buyers access to homes they can’t find online. When you’re selling a house, instead of giving sellers a For Sale sign or drone photos, through our CRM, we give them a pool of 45,000 prospective buyers. Using AI, we do a search-and-match analysis, so we know which prospects are most likely to buy your home. Then we call all of those prospective buyers. Sellers hire us because we have already done all the work for them. Because we already have the buyers.
MP: So how will Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty stand apart from other real estate firms? RK: The relationship between a broker and an agent today is often like a landlord and a tenant. We are the only company to teach real estate agents to grow and develop their own teams. You have to add value as a broker, and that’s what we will do. We’re teaching real estate agents to build their own system.
MP: Rudy, beyond your new firm, your M.O. has been all about teaching others, as evidenced by your seminars, videos, etc. Why is sharing knowledge so important to you? RK: I was born and raised in Indonesia. My family never had money and never talked about money. My mom always focused on education, and paid for the education of myself and my four siblings. People can take everything away from you, but no one can take away knowledge and education. That was programmed into me since I was small.
In 2007, I saw a problem in this business. I could’ve kept that a secret, but that’s not my personality. I believe in the law of generosity: Whatever you want in life, give it away…including time and money. I believe we can change the world if each individual, team or agent has a cause. So every person who joins my company, as a requirement, has to choose a non-profit to give to. For example, last year, we were the No. 1 fundraising office for Children’s Hospital in LA.
You must understand that your business is designed for others and you’re a channel of that. The more you add value for people, the more money you will make per transaction. Focus on adding more value than the machine can offer; otherwise, we’re looking at the commoditization of the industry. Income will continue to go down if we fight over who has the fastest technology.