The Man behind MrSell
By Lara C. Chapman
What began as a simple six letter personalized license plate, later turned into a marketing marvel. The innovative creator- award winning real estate agent Bill Taylor- struck a cord when he instituted MrSell as his real estate persona in 1998. Since then, he has successfully assisted hundreds of buyers and sellers throughout the Hampton Roads region. But beyond the swanky catch phrase, his priorities have stayed true: unbeatable customer service and plenty of hard work.
Much to Muse Over
As an ambitious military retiree, Bill joined the real estate community in the late 90’s. However, prior to his retirement, he and his family were stationed in Japan for three years. Pondering his up-coming career change, Bill and his wife Connie, started considering their options.
I realized we’d be living and working in Virginia Beach once my orders were complete, he recalls. So while stationed in Japan, my wife and I decided to develop a business plan for starting our own business. We carefully studied the Japanese culture and admired how they always made clientele feel welcomed and important- it was all extremely educational.
After researching the Japanese philosophy, Bill and Connie diligently infused it into their own business plan- which at the time, was focused on opening a business centering on family values. And even though real estate was never even mentioned, they unknowingly created a solid foundation for what would soon come.
Just to be resourceful, we consulted several Japanese businessmen, and had a Japanese company develop our logo, he says. Also, we heavily incorporated the internet, and at the time, it was still in its infancy.
When the Taylor family finally moved back to Hampton Roads- moving costs, newly purchased automobiles, and a new home forced Bill to put the business on hold. Connie was offered a great job, and he mulled over a part time real estate career while finishing his last months in the Navy.
Due to start up costs of moving back to the area and the purchase of a new home, we used a lot of our initial capital, he says.
But despite small setbacks, Bill focused on getting a real estate license- which he thought would be a part time gig. However, after listing his first home, it sold in just three days. He was hooked. From that point forward, all the Japanese fundamentals and strategies went to creating a great career in real estate.
He began working for Long and Foster and eventually moved to ReMax for a few years. Still intrigued by the idea of running his own company, Bill formed ALTA Real Estate with another co-owner.
When real estate was thriving in 2004, everyone was starting their own company, including me, Bill recalls. Running a small real estate company in this competitive market was a real eye opener for me.
After managing ALTA Real Estate, in 2005 Bill recognizing the downturn in the housing market, contacted Keller Williams Regional and eventually sold ALTA to new owners of the first Keller Williams Realty franchise in this area – Keller Williams Greenbrier.
Bill stayed at Keller Williams as the Principal Broker until 2012 when he decided to once again open his own real estate company – James & Lee Realty. He has spent many years developing good agent and client relationships in real estate throughout the area, and by operating his own company, he knew he could expand on his talents enabling him to serve his clients on the very highest level. The concept of James & Lee Realty is to make clients feel special and not like some unknown passed around in a large company or team. We want to create an environment where our clients feel like they are exceptional no matter how big or small the deal is and treat buyers and sellers to the highest standard of customer service, states Bill.
And this concept is working with James & Lee Realty. Going on six years, business has doubled each year with the number of realtors in the company and overall sales volume. Our good name speaks for itself, says Bill. James & Lee follows a different philosophy from the franchise companies in the area making us the fastest growing independent company in Hampton Roads. The company only employs experienced top producing agents and our clients feel comfortable knowing they are getting the very best real estate knowledge in the area.
Enter the Domain
In this ever-changing real estate market, it takes more than standard marketing and advertising to bring in customers. Possibly most important is name recognition and word of mouth. The coveted domain name, www.MrSell.com, is a perfect example of Bill’s clever craftsmanship.
Due to my early knowledge of internet capabilities, I quickly chose a domain name that could easily market my growing real estate business, he states.
Although consumer internet use was slow in the beginning, it quickly sky-rocketed and became the number one marketing source for the real estate community. But many agents came late in the game, resulting in an influx of websites which lacked the appeal of www.MrSell.com. And while many national and local agents chose to use their personal name for a domain address, Bill’s domain was bringing in buyers and sellers on a much larger scale.
At first, internet leads were slow, but I quickly established a client base through MrSell.com, Bill recalls. And with the good, quality customer service I provided, referrals came pouring in.
Bill’s creation, www.MrSell.com, is marketed in print and web advertisements. However, it’s the actual website that’s the real crowd pleaser. And since he does all the page design himself, crucial information is updated as frequently as needed. From real estate news and trends to new and recently sold listings www.MrSell.com has it all, including the exclusive links for customers which gives buyers and sellers the upper hand during any real estate transaction.
I also send out the monthly MrSell newsletter to all of my customers and clients, he says. It’s loaded with real estate information, fun facts, and a chance to win prizes like gift cards. It’s real popular with my clients, says Bill.
Aside from smart advertising and effective marketing, Bill gives top-quality customer service throughout the entire process. From his own personal standards to Japanese influence, customers are treated with dignity, respect, and appreciation. Honesty, nonetheless, is his number one priority.
Honesty sells, he states. I’m totally upfront with all my clients and I know they appreciate that.
According to Bill, his major challenge is telling sellers the true value of their home which is sometimes lower than their expectations. In this market, I’m re-educating sellers at every listing appointment I go to, he says. Homeowners rely on third party websites like Zillow’s home Zestimates and they don’t realize that they are not always right. Once homeowners realize their home’s true value, then I can get down to business.
But due to earlier experience in the less aggressive 90’s and early 2000’s market, Bill can easily out-line a strategy for success. Most sellers understand and welcome his plan, but there are few who wish to list their property at a much higher price.
It’s about quality customer service, he says, and if I can’t achieve that, then the only option for me is to walk away from an unrealistic homeowner. It is disheartening to see another agent list the property at an impractical price, only for it to sit on the market for months. This is not fair to the customer for any real estate agent to set unrealistic expectations. Then eventually their home sells at the price I originally suggested.
Also, buyers love to use the national home search portals such as Zillow and Trulia. What they don’t understand is that there is more reliable and accurate information out there regarding their specific criteria from local, regional realtors. I strive to give my clients the most accurate up-to-date information giving them a competitive advantage over those who are searching on these national sites, comments Bill. But it is exasperating at times trying to convince buyers that their dream house they saw for sale on Zillow was sold six months ago!
Success in Stride
Although the success of MrSell and James & Lee Realty keeps Bill busy around the clock, he is fortunate to have the help and support from his wonderful family. Since Connie came on board in 2006, their business is exceeding all expectations. Even though she has always played a large role in Bill’s business, she is now actively involved in every single aspect- reviewing weekly figures, preparing marketing ideas for clients, formulating new ideas and running the financial end of James & Lee. My wife comes from a financial background, so her analytical skills are invaluable, Bill says. Connie loves chatting with clients and agents in the office and creating that homey atmosphere.
The husband and wife duo are empty-nesters-with their daughter, Jamie, a graduate from VCU in Richmond, lives and works in New York City, and their son, Jarrod, a graduate of JMU, lives and works in Vienna, Virginia. Jarrod is finally settling down and marrying the love of his life, Audrey in September 2018. Their successes mean the most to me, Bill says.
He also believes in the growth and well being of our community. He is a donor to the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter, Virginia Beach Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Alzheimer’s Association.
His father-in-law, who lived in Pennsylvania, recently passed away due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Naturally, this has put a sad strain on the entire family over the years.
And ten years ago, Bill’s older brother tragically passed away- a truly heartbreaking situation for anyone to go through. Due to these recent life situations, I have learned to live each day to its fullest, and never take the little things for granted, he says.
It’s a philosophy that filters from his personal life and into his professional domain, www.MrSell.com -where two outstanding agents loyally serve buyers and sellers throughout Hampton Roads.