Kinder, gentler Compass CEO regrets 'arrogant' marketing

BY PATRICK KEARNS

In an exclusive one-on-one with Inman, Compass CEO and co-founder Robert Reffkin reflects on the 6 whirlwind years since the company launched in New York City.

Compass’ Robert Reffkin has had a big year, to say the least.

The company he co-founded in October, 2012, with Ori Allon has raised more than $1 billion in the past 12 months while expanding into more than a half-dozen new markets, introducing futuristic for-sale signage, doubling its agent count to 7,000 and rattling the real estate industry as a whole.

In a wide-ranging interview in a conference room in Compass’ Manhattan headquarters on Friday, Reffkin reflected on his company’s growth over the past six years, the state of the industry, his support for multiple listing services, plans to go public and criticism of the brokerage’s recruiting practices.

He also acknowledged regret for the company’s past marketing strategies, which, he admitted, frequently verged into braggadocio.

“I think the language from the marketing became about being everywhere and winning,” Reffkin told Inman. “And there’s nothing about my motivation that has to do with winning or being everywhere.”

The full interview, edited lightly for clarity and length, is below.

Tom Ferry outlines the process to identify your “ideal” client – and how to become the professional they choose READ MORE

As you look back, are you satisfied with the rate at which Compass has grown?

I’m happy with the rate that the company’s grown. Most importantly I’m happy with how our agents feel about the company. I think it’s really building the community out with our agents across the country that are working together that are supporting each other. To me, it’s what gets me emotional joy, it’s what I’m most happy about.

Compass has been jabbed over its agent productivity numbers by MoxiWorks. Can you defend your agent productivity record? Are agents more productive when they come to Compass?

I know they are.

What allows agents to be more productive when they come here, versus their past brokerage?

So 89 percent of the average agent’s time is spent on non-core administrative and arts and crafts tasks, which are taking away from their clients and their families. We give them more support and more tools and they get more time.

When you have more time, you’re able to spend more time with your family and more time with your clients. We have much more support than the average brokerage firm. We just invested in a now 200-person marketing and advertising agency across the country spread through local offices.

We have an agents operations group of almost 100 people. We have IT in virtually every office that can help with computers. We have a higher ratio of sales managers to agents than the traditional brokerage firm.

What about Compass’ technology platform separates it from RE/MAX or Keller Williams, or what an agent can get from third-party vendors?

As a general matter, I don’t really talk about competitors or other companies that talk about us. But I’m happy to share our technology. The average agent has to log into over 10 companies to do their job and there are all these different systems and all these different places. Here, at Compass, we build and recreated a lot of those systems so there’s only one login.

Let me give you an example. If you’re an agent at a different company, you have a customer relationship management platform that’s a different login, you have a digital newsletter that’s a different login, a brochure creator that’s a different login, you have your Facebook ad campaign that’s a different login, you have your social media creator that’s a different login, where you do your searches is a different login, your open house app is a different login.

At Compass – and I can go down the list because there are others – there’s one single-space. The number one thing agents ask for is time and it’s how are you going to give them that time? When you don’t have to log into so many different sites, it gives you that time.

Click link below for full article.