As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Based Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Asher Cohen, founder of BUYAZRE. He and his team have helped more than 400 families buy or sell a home and has done more than $140M in transactions over the last 10 years. His company is a standout in the Scottsdale area because he focuses on the experiences of his clients rather than just getting paid. Cohen is a master when it comes to turning relationships into transactions and can offer some very sound advice for others when it comes to creating a service-based business. His approach to providing unparalleled service by anticipating what the client needs are, rather than waiting for the client to initiate the ask, can be applied to several industries.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family with many generations of business owners and experienced the roller coaster ride and thick skin of business ownership at a young age. In fact, my father ran a successful clothing business. I remember listening to the phone calls my dad made to his business partners and clients. His business dealings made me look up to the lifestyle of owning a business and being able to provide jobs for others. I wasn’t sure what type of business I’d start, but I knew being an entrepreneur was my path. Even in high school, I handed out business cards that had my name, phone number and email address with the tagline “Entrepreneur in the making”.
My career background was focused on service rather than product and I finally decided to get into real estate. In 2006, I had the chance to assist a commercial real estate broker who specialized in shopping centers and my love for real estate grew. When shopping centers paused of trading, I went back to the marketing and development business, but it was the peak of the financial crisis. I was working, but many clients weren’t able to pay invoices, so I needed to figure something out and ended up working as a bell man taking resort guests to their rooms and suites. I’d often think, “How did I go from helping sell multiple million-dollar shopping centers to getting excited about a $5 tip?”
During downtime at the resort, I stayed updated with local and national business through newspapers and read between the lines that there were opportunities in real estate, but this time it was in the residential market. A quote in one of the papers I still have on my desk to this day which continues to inspire me is by James Joyce. It reads “I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.” If we want to change our tomorrow, we need to start with the NOW.
I tried to figure out ways to bridge the gap of my investor experience to the low housing prices and that’s when things started to unfold. My first mental barrier was, “I do not want to do residential since I don’t know the process and market very well.” How ironic now that I thrive on educating clients and coaching agents in today’s industry?
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
When I joined a real estate brokerage and became one of the top producers within 1 year with a focus on investors, buying and holding for rental income and fix and flip. The momentum was building, and my name was getting out there. It made sense for BUYAZRE to exist to provide education and high-level communication to others. I was still hungry for more, so I decided to start coaching agents to help them understand the path of how the real estate industry really works with a technology driven brokerage, Tru Realty. Very early in year one, a prospect was surprised that I answered the phone and that every agent they called would take days to return a call. I thought, it has to be harder than just answering the phone.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
One of the very first homes I showed had an alarm system that the owner/listing agent forgot to mention. I was so excited to show the home and felt as though I had my bases covered, arriving before the client to make sure the house was in perfect order. Well, as soon as I put the key in the door, the loudest alarm pierced through the neighborhood and this was the type of neighborhood where everyone walked outside to “investigate”. I was able to get the alarm turned off, but the kicker was that the client never showed. The lesson I learned that day, that I practice every single day in this business, is to pay attention to details. Ask lots of questions. You can never be too prepared for anything in life.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
The vision was a business that made clients feel confidant and comfortable while having a great experience. It had to provide a sense of approachability so clients would always feel comfortable to ask questions, even after a deal closed. Our business is dedicated to providing every client the understanding of what is actually happening before, during and after a transaction. Part of our purpose is to always provide:
- Personalized Insight
- Multifaceted Expertise
- Transparent Solutions
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
We have our mission and tagline on all marketing materials, such as print, web, social and in our presentations when meeting buyers and sellers. We make it clear that we care for our employees by providing personal and business development time. When we huddle each week, we read books together, watch videos and just have the space to have an open forum to talk with each other about whatever is on our minds. We strive to make sure vacation and time off is important along with getting physical exercise daily. We also make it clear to our clients that if a home is not right, we will help you cancel because we want you to buy the right one for you and your family. Transparency is a must.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Always do your best while being honest.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Did I ever want to give up ? YES and NO. I am way too stubborn to give up but there were times each year for at least the first 3 years that I would always get discouraged. It was typically in the 4th quarter around the holidays when I would look at the year and ask myself how I was going to repeat or beat that number. January meant starting over at zero and never knowing how I was going to get my next client. The solution was to just KEEP GOING, analyze WHERE my clients were coming from and GO DEEPER with those relationships. To this day I always wake up thinking I have zero escrows and clients. This helps keep the engines fire on all cylinders. My wife and kids always kept me motivated. I remember the years that my kids were born were always BIG years since they motivated me without them even knowing. Providing for the family was not an option it was a MUST.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
Things are going great! There is true value in never giving up and persevering. We always go the extra round for our clients to make sure they are getting the best deal possible, but we’ll never push the other party away or kill the deal.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service-based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Have the right people that match your culture. We are humans with personality, empathy and we surround ourselves with vendors that are also on the same page. Always seeking to provide value.
- Transparency in all facets of the business for clients and employees alike.
- Systems and processes are also on this list because details matter. In fact, every single detail matters. Be solutions oriented.
- Giving back to the community and engaging with other businesses in the community.
- Follow up and follow through. If you say you’re going to do something, you do it, period.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
It really took three people to help me see “the light”. At the time, my soon to be wife, Danielle, my father Marc who was the first to tell me to get into real estate and one of my best friends and fraternity brother Ben Spreckman. They are responsible for helping me shape the puzzle pieces that are responsible for such a successful business. I’m grateful to have had a lot of amazing people in my corner from an early age.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would think that if I can start a movement it would have something to do with mindfulness and leadership development for children. They are the next generation and having the right attitude and mindset at an early age is critical for the future of all humanity.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram — @asherblakecohen @buyazre
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/BUYAZRE
LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/company/buyazre-at-tru-realty/