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Get on the Bus! (And Sell a Home)

Bill Knepper and the bus driver
Think you’re the only sales associate having a hard time getting other sales associates to see your listings?Find out how one Realtor® brings them in by the busload.

Bill Knepper was frustrated that his open houses weren’t attracting other top-producing sales associates in his farm area. “I tried traditional open houses, but those of us selling in our area were all sitting at our respective listings and weren’t able to preview the other homes,” he says. “The [sales associates] who came through often sold in other markets.” No one was venturing out to see each other’s properties—and very few were closing on a sale.

So, in February, Knepper, a broker associate at Weichert Realtors-Credential in St. Petersburg Beach, organized a bus tour for other sales associates. His listings as well as the listings of other sales associates in the area are featured on the tour, and they typically visit about 16 homes in the same neighborhood. Because he was able to preview other associates’ listings on the tour, he found the perfect $650,000 home for a Wisconsin couple with whom he was working. Plus, he’s sold three of his own listings that were featured on the tour.

“We were trending one sale a month in this neighborhood,” Knepper says. “Since we did the bus tour, we’re up to two sales a month. Is it attributed directly to the bus? I don’t know, but I do know that agents are now working together who didn’t before.”

Here’s how Knepper organized his tour:

1. Invite Movers and Shakers
Knepper’s goal was to get all of the top-producing sales associates in the neighborhood to look at his clients’ homes. So he carefully selected 13 invitees who had current listings in the area. He also chose three other sales associates who had regularly sold homes in the area in the last 12 months, even though they didn’t have a current listing there. His e-mail invitation stated they could show one of their homes on the tour, but only if they would agree to see everyone else’s. “It was an ‘I’ll go see your listing if you’ll come see mine,’” he say.

2. Choose the Right Time
According to Knepper, Thursday is a traditional brokers’ open house day in his area. Sales associates typically attend those events from11 a.m. to 2 p.m., so Knepper scheduled his bus tour for a Thursday from 2 to 5 p.m. (at a cost of $450 for the tour bus rental). “Even if people were having a broker’s open house, this was a natural transition,” he says. “The tour wraps up in [fewer than three] hours, and everyone has a blast. We previewed a lot of homes in a short amount of time, and had an opportunity to catch up with each other.

“We also received valuable feedback for our seller,” he adds. “It was a real win-win-win situation for myself, the other [sales associates], and our clients.”

3. Keep It Organized
Knepper used an Excel spreadsheet to track who was coming and to have a central place for their e-mail contact information for regular updates leading to the event. He also had one sign-in sheet at the tour bus. After the event, he scanned and e-mailed it to each invitee so they could show their clients how many sales associates had visited their home that day.

For his own listings, Knepper gave everyone a packet containing property information, such as renovation upgrades and aerial photos. Sales associates on the tour also had the option of circulating their own materials and providing snacks at their respective properties.

4. Plan an Encore
Next, Knepper plans to host a walking tour for a building where he has 10 listings.

Knepper’s peers respected him more as a result of his bus tour, he says. “Everyone was so appreciative, and impressed that I pulled it off. The idea itself isn’t new. I‘ve seen these types of things for developers, and I’m sure others have done it. There were a lot of things I did that made it really work well.”