Usually when a business is formed, the people who create it spend some time putting together a business plan, raise some money and find people to work with. Then they put it all together. It usually takes a while from when they first begin thinking about starting a company to when they open for business.
With BlueRoof, our timeline looks much different. I decided to start a company around a website that was not even created yet. I thought about it for a week and gave my notice to Coldwell Banker (who always treated me very well and handled everything with grace) and was asked to stay on for a month while they found my replacement and not tell anyone that I would be leaving until we announced it. So although I had a month before I left, I was still managing an office of 110 agents and creating my website. Mike didn’t come on board until after I had launched the site and we actually became a brokerage.
We didn’t have angel funding or approach any VC’s because we didn’t want anybody telling us how to run our company. I have paid for everything, without any loans, which has been scary sometimes. Fortunately we have been profitable from the beginning.
At the beginning our model was more about price than anything. We knew we could offer people a better price than they were getting at other brokerages and with our technology we could operate for less. We have also been working on the concept of allowing people to find a home on their own and receive half the buyer agent commission. We’ve had that from the beginning, and so far we’ve been getting a couple a month. That is not our focus, like other companies around the country, but rather a small piece of what we do. If someone already knows of the house they want to buy, or they just want to find it on their own, without the help of a BlueRoof agent, we figure that’s a lot of work we didn’t have to put into it- so we’ll give that buyer half the money and still represent them throughout the transaction.
Until a week ago, we didn’t have a clear direction. We spent our first 90 days wandering through different ideas and tweaking our model a hundred times. Things that normally would happen before a company launched, we have been doing as we went along. Which, ultimately, I think has some advantages because we’ve been allowed to see the result as we make changes and improve our service and value model. We’ve been able to listen to our clients and we’ve heard from people who use our website and read this blog.
The last three months have shown me more stress than I have ever felt in my life. There have been nights I could not sleep or even sit down because I had so much anxiety. And there have been some amazing rewards. We’ve had clients write us letters and cards and emails that express such gratitude. We had one client name a room in their house the “BlueRoof Room” and we’ve made some good friends. And I’ve been brought back to center with my family and home and friends and the values and ideals that important to me.
During this time I’ve seen people act in ways that have surprised me. Some people I thought were friends have shown an ugliness I didn’t know they had, simply because our company was different then theirs. Other people whom I thought would be among our biggest critics have shown us a lot of support. You learn a lot about people by the way they say goodbye.
To date, the MLS shows we have listed 63 properties, have 30 current listings, and have closed 26 buyer-side sales (four made online). Add the 17 sales we have under contract and we have written 106 contracts, or about one a day. We have 13 people in the company and 11 who sell, which means we average about 10 deals/person during our first 100 or so days. Not bad for a start-up with no direction.
I’m grateful to have such a fun group of people to work with everyday. Our team is strong and talented. We move into our new office space next week and in a few weeks we’ll be starting a new marketing campaign around our company vision and we’ll begin bringing some fine people into our organization. We’re all pretty excited right now.
Thank you to all of the industry people and friends who have been so supportive. Here’s looking forward to us all having a ton of success during the next 100 days!