An interview with Orly Ripmaster - Slipher Smith & Frampton Front Range

Orly has a deep history in real estate through her families business, that was recently acquired, so she is able to provide us with some incredible insights, especially what it means to be consistent in what can be a fast moving & sometimes unstable industry.

Orly Ripmaster

My name is Orly Ripmaster and I'm currently the president of Slipher Smith & Frampton Front Range.Slipher Smith & Frampton Real Estate is statewide, we're the number one independent brokerage in the state of Colorado. So we're statewide from the Front Range, which really represents Colorado Springs to Fort Collins along the initial peaks of the Rocky Mountains all the way back to Aspen.Front Range and Slipher Smith & Frampton acquired my family business, which we've had in the family since 1977, about two months ago.So my dad ran the company independently for 45 years and I joined him to help understand what second gen could look like, should look like, really just help him strategize on next steps and how to make the model and the legacy that he's built sustainable. And honestly, we weren't really for sale, but Slipher Smith & Frampton is an absolute legacy here in Colorado and we've known them for a long, long time. The opportunity presented itself and there was just too many good things. The story was just too good. The alignment was too strong to say no. We're leaning in. And you know what? Honestly, you got to be proud of someone like my dad. 45 years at the helm of his own company, he's doing amazing with this transition and really everything has gone very well. They're a family oriented company, too. Legacy. It's all very good.

Luke:
So, Katie, your brand director at MAXA said that you and your team are a great example of clients who really understand marketing and how to provide all of the right systems in the right way to your agents, really creating a stand out and sophisticated brand. So I'd love to know how you are able to maintain that level of professionalism and clear direction?

Orly:

It's a good question. So the market is becoming healthier, right. In the past couple of years, the real estate market has been fairly one sided and it's been much stronger than ever, record years and truly a cycle that has seemingly gone up and up every year, that's starting to correct towards a healthier market, a healthier balance between buyers and sellers. That's actually a really good thing for our business because what it allows is for our agents and our company, our brokerage, to get back to basics. Actually, a lot of those basics include marketing, and it allows for our agents to take the time because there wasn't always time. It was like you put something up and it would sell and put it up and it would sell. And although that was nice, it wasn't necessarily fundamentals. So by partnering with MAXA and by creating both a system that was really, really powerful for our staff and also powerful for our agents, was a really nice marriage to meet at that moment when we needed them to meet, at that moment when marketing was becoming more important. So it truly was this alignment in time, but also a platform that allowed two different types of users.
The more casual user being a broker that just wants to do something here and there, and the more advanced user, which would be the broker that really wants to use it to power their whole marketing platform. And then the expert user, which is the staff and seamlessly across the platform. It provided that opportunity and allowed us to keep our brand standards alive, but also allowed for freedom. And that's what really is important to us. That we're not telling everyone what they have to do. We're giving them lots of options and lots of templates and lots of beautifully designed collateral that they can then use in the way that they want to market. And like I said, it came right at that time when marketing was coming back into vogue.

Luke:
Why is it important for any company and their sales associates to really stay on top of what they're doing in the market and how they're communicating what they're doing?

Orly:

So that is an awesome question. And what I believe to be the root sort of the bedrock requirement of that understanding is consistency. If your broker associates and your staff, really your whole company, has a consistent clear message, a consistent clear brand, a consistent clear story, you're not going to confuse your customers. What's happening now out in the world is there's so much marketing. I read somewhere I won't be able to recall the name of the study that I read, but it says that, and I believe it, that every day you see between 3000 &10000 advertisements. Whether that be the smallest thing like the pen you use with the bank number on it, to the sweater that someone's wearing that has the logo, to the car that you're seeing, to the advertisement, to the thousands of digital things that are hitting you every time you log in. Because if you go on to Yahoo or Apple or Gmail down the side, you're getting 110 ads. Just boom, boom, boom. So with that volume of noise that's out there in the world, it is really difficult and takes a considerable amount of discipline to not get distracted. And by having a platform, like MAXA, that is one platform that all of your materials are on, that allows you to come in and shop, but be consistent and not have to worry about oh gosh, where do I put the logo or will this be approved or anything. It gives you the freedom to shop around, but it also gives you that undistracted, these things work. These are proven. This is material that we believe in and cuts out the clutter. And so that consistency, that confidence in the messaging, that it's all there. It's all approved, so to speak.
But we don't like to use that language because we like to give our brokers freedom, it is so important so that they're not just sending out, oh, one week it's some random emoji, and then the next week it's a picture of a pretty house, and then the next week it's a listing that you don't even know where it is. And I think that MAXA is an awesome partner in keeping that consistency and helping mitigate the distraction.

Luke:
I'm glad you said consistency, because that's, like you said, the most important thing. It's certainly in communicating about anything in any industry. So that leads me into asking, what would you say is your favorite feature on the MAXA platform? Or what is one of the features that you use the most or your close team uses the most?

Orly:

Yeah. Wow. There's a lot. My favorite secret weapon, I would say, is the ability to make landing pages. I have used that almost daily because I can make announcements that I wouldn't necessarily post on social media because it's to my team, but I can make it as a link to a web page and then it feels more sophisticated and feels more like, oh, wow, this is cool. I'm not just sending an email. I'm sending a link that has more interaction and is slightly more techy, so to speak. So that's my secret weapon. It's basically everything I build. I turn it into a web page, and it allows me to actually keep it for history purposes. So if I find it in my emails, I can click on that link and it still lives there. You can send QR codes to it, and so it really becomes more of an interconnected digital platform. And I've really enjoyed that capability.

Luke:
It is a secret weapon, but it makes total sense that you would utilize it in that way, for sure. Tell me, Orly, what is something that you're working on right now or in the very near future that's really exciting you.

Orly:

Okay. So we are going to be onboarding a new CRM, and that is really exciting because it is a one stop shop, comprehensive, award winning platform that allows our agents to connect with their clients in a more comprehensive, routine way. And yes, I know that that sounds maybe a little bit antiquated because there are a lot of brokerages and brokers out there that have been using CRM for decades and all of those things. So it's not necessarily that it's a CRM, it's that it's a new CRM and it's award winning and it really just kind of rounds out our tech stack. So the ability to have the MAXA platform for design, sales and marketing, a CRM tech stack for our agents, client communications, and then all the tech and the digital advertising that we're doing, it really provides a best in class slate of tech tools for our teams. And the app is pretty sweet, so I'm excited about that.
But also, as it relates to MAXA, one of the things that we've gotten pretty good at and that we are really pleased with as it relates to the platform is the unlimited template design. I'm sure that's what a lot of people say because it's very useful, but hopefully we're using it in a slightly more sophisticated, different way where we're not actually sending out make me this design, make me this design as much as we're sending out, hey, we've got this report that we need you guys to be the designer for. Like we have the data, we have the graphs, we have the work, we just need you guys to make it look great and on brand and they do an awesome job of that. So it's this ability to leverage our thinking and do more than just post a blog. You can leverage the unlimited designs to actually create campaigns and take your thinking like, oh, I had an idea, well, let's make it a campaign and build a brochure. And the MAXA team does such a unique job of that. We have affiliations across the globe and all sorts of publications come in and studies come in that we have the rights to and then it's like, wait, let's rebrand this into us. And it's really powerful.

Luke:
Tell me what's something that you do specifically or with your team and associates consistently with your marketing and communications day to day that enables you to stay really at the forefront and that is key to your success.

Orly:

So I think that we're still working on that. I think that any brokerage who says that they've got that down is probably pulling the wool over. And my answer is a little bit roundabout in that the market shifted so quickly and like I said, it's shifted towards the good, it's healthier. I'm not going to say that its better for everybody because it's slower for everybody, there's no question. But it is healthier. But it happened quickly and so everyone's kind of regrouping. There's this very clear patterning right now that everyone's regrouping. Everyone's trying to find their footing, and it is a time to retreat to quality and set your solid footing because we are in a cyclical industry, and that's how it works. And so now that people have a little bit more time, that's when we will be able to impact that communication even more. So we do all the things that every other brokerage does. We put out the e newsletters, blah, blah, blah. But what we're trying to do is create a more elegant and sophisticated storytelling staff so that we're not just doing the basics, we're actually providing collateral that shows and sort of gives a bit of a proven track record to our clients that, yeah, real estate is great. We're experts at that. Here's my rap sheet of all the different things that we've accomplished. But I also know a lot about travel and design and interior, all these pieces of the puzzle, the lifestyle puzzle. And so elevating to that is sort of what our next piece of this puzzle is. Yes, you've got the fundamentals. Yes, you've got all the collateral, but it's really helping our agents articulate that realtors are more than just transaction monkeys who sit there and do all this stuff and make you feel like, okay, someone has the contract done. We provide advice, we provide advocacy, and showing that in a different way that shows like, yes, I understand your lifestyle. I'm right here to work you through. It is really important to this next in my opinion, to this next wave of marketing and next wave of the sophistication of realtors.

Luke:
Yeah, I love that because it means that you care, right? Fundamentally.

Orly:

Yeah. It's not just, here's your posting. Like, go post it. How do we elevate each one of our brokers? How do we elevate our brand? How do we stand out? We've been in business here in Colorado for 60 years. 60 years is a really long time. So we have the track record, we have all the tools, we have all of it. Our story is strong, maybe stronger than ever. And it's making sure that our brokers feel that they can speak about it in real estate, but also in real life.

Luke:
Where do you see the future of marketing and communications going in this industry?

Orly:

Gosh, it's such a tough question because there's so many, it's thorny, right? It's a thorny question because you don't want to alienate any of your brokers. You don't want to alienate those that are actually making really good inroads with farming postcards. Right?
But I guess my true authentic opinion is that there will be a retreat towards a traditional way of communicating. That's not to say it will be a traditional way of finding customers, I think that will probably continue to evolve and become more ingrained on the tech side, finding people who are finding you. But once you've found them, I think it will be a much more traditional way of communicating to them. Handwritten letters, phone calls, taking someone out to dinner, sending them a gift, creating a real connection. We've lost that art a little bit. And yes, you have to find them consistently and remind them I'm in real estate. But there's a genuine approach to just human interaction that I think we lost sight of. Maybe it's because everyone has a smart phone, like, on their hip at all times, and it's so easy. I haven't yet found a person that has said that their email inbox is clean. So you're trying to find them via email. Yikes. That's probably not easy anymore. You're trying to find them on advertisements. Well, like I said, they're getting 10,000 a day, so that's probably not easy anymore.
But if you're sending them, if the phone rings, well, that's a little bit easier. So I just think that there's a fundamental sort of retreat that will continue to power a relationship driven industry. At the end of the day, we are relationship driven salespeople, but you do need the tech to enable that. So that marriage, that cohesion is really important, but I think there's something really powerful about going back towards the old school.

Luke:
Can you give us one small piece of advice? Just something that's at the forefront of your mind that is potentially a tip or something that anyone that reads this, whether it's an agent or a sales associate, broker or somebody that works in a company, can take and use in what they do day to day?

Orly:

Yeah. Consistency, I think. Don't confuse your clients. There are so many ways to confuse them. I'll give an example just to kind of provide some color to that statement.
If you are a person that farms postcards, do it consistently. If you are a person that farms social media, do it consistently. If you are a person that farms postcards and then all of a sudden starts farming social media, you just confuse yourself. Stay in your lane. Find what works for you. Stay in that lane and be great at that lane. Find your genius. Be consistent, and don't worry about the noise. What works for them may not work for you. They might be an Instagram star and you might not be, and that's okay. Have confidence in what's working now. If it's not working, don't take a hard left turn, start veering, but stay consistent because it works. You just have to keep after it, so yeah, I think that's the biggest piece of it.

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