Who could ever imagine a real estate company that is operated out of a VW Bug – Bug! Real Estate is doing it right now?
Wallene Nelsen, the owner of Sycamore Creek Mortgage in Danville is the newest franchise owner for Bug! Real Estate. Her office is located in the Livery in Danville, but her real estate business is actually run out of a VW Bug that has been branded in an unforgettable manner! Bug! Real Estate is the brainchild of Kevin Seney out of Coronado, California – right next to San Diego.
Ms. Nelsen embraced the vision of Kevin Seney, the CEO of Bug! Real Estate. Mr. Seney started Bug! Real Estate with a mission to deliver a new real estate experience. If he could pull it off the company would be the first real estate company to break the mold of the current real estate business models. Mr. Seney says, “Today’s real estate companies don’t vary in the way they’re branded, how they advertise or how they service the customer. When you see something like that in the marketplace, that spells opportunity!” Ms. Nelsen has latched onto that opportunity.
Mr. Seney has witnessed how much money agents waste on marketing. “They run their $2,000 to $3,000 ad, and they don’t get any calls from it,” he says. Seney’s intuitions were confirmed when he read the Purple Cow by Seth Gordin, which emphasizes that advertising doesn’t work anymore, and it hasn’t for years.
Seney says the only three relevant factors in home selling are putting a sign in front of the home, putting the home on the MLS and pricing it right. “If you price the home at market price, it will sell,” he says. Without a need for marketing, Bug! has eliminated the expense from its budget and is a more efficient company because of it. We will see if his theory holds true in the current market of homes taking two to three months to sell.
The other major costs for real estate companies is overhead. “I’ve surveyed hundreds of buyers, and very few ever meet agents at their office,” he says. “Buyers either meet at the property or sign the papers at the mortgage or title company.” In a laptop-friendly, work-from-home business model, the majority of agents use the office only for meetings. That’s why Bug! agents work virtually. Using the latest wireless technology, agents have full access to the MLS and the company’s intranet via their wireless laptops and cell phones.
Mr. Seney’s last hurdel in getting his company out to the marketplace was creating a brand. While Seney isn’t a big supporter of traditional advertising, he is a firm believer of creating a unique brand. “In business today, you have to stand out in an amazing way, and if you don’t, you won’t get any business,” he emphasizes.
So Bug! is the “purple cow” in a herd of herfers! In fact, Bug! bills itself as the no-frills, no-hype real estate company, making it a fun, friendly real estate brand like nothing else that exists today. To live up to that image, all Bug! agents drive the VW Bug, a car that not only represents a casual and fun experience, but it’s also an worldwide brand already. “And by using the VW Beetle as our delivery vehicle for this brand, we get to borrow that history,” says Seney.
Bug! agents drive around with the company’s logo on their vehicles, so the cars actually double as billboards. “You see them everywhere because they’re so recognizable,” says Seney, “and that’s the essence of what we’re doing from a marketing standpoint-we’re famous without much advertising.”
Having launched in February 2007, Bug! is going strong. It has opened four new franchises, as well as one regional office, and receives 100 inquiries per month from eager real estate brokers who love the Bug! model and want to open a franchise. It looks like Seney’s plans to turn the traditional real estate models upside down wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I will keep you posted on their progress, and how Ms. Nelsen’s Danville rolling Bug! Real Estate business turns out. We wish them well, as the face of real estate continues to change. Until next time…Any comments???