By Ryan Kane
United Country Real Estate
Anyone running a business with an eye on long-term success knows customer satisfaction is crucial. Just ask veteran Tennessee real estate agent Jonathan Hickerson. Even when he can’t serve a client directly, he taps into the power of an exclusive network to help meet that client’s needs as a property buyer or seller.
Hickerson lists lifestyle and rural properties for Columbia, Tenn.-based United Country Real Estate | Columbia Realty & Auction. He’s been a REALTOR® of the Year for the Southern Middle Tennessee Association of REALTORS®, and a top sales agent within United Country, a franchised network of more than 400 offices and 4,000 agents from coast to coast. Now, Hickerson adds the additional achievement of being United Country’s leading referral agent nationwide. But what exactly does that mean?
It’s all about the United Relocation & Referral Network, an affiliates-only system designed to connect people selling or buying real estate with the agents best suited to help them. For example, say someone is looking to move because of a new job or family situation. Or maybe they’re ready to retire, embark on a lifestyle change or pursue an investment. An agent such as Hickerson could certainly help that client find a home in his local market in Tennessee. However, when the destination is out of state (or even out of country), this is no longer the case.
Matching Real Estate Clients with Agents is Quick, Easy & Streamlined
That’s when the United Relocation & Referral Network comes in. The system allows any United Real Estate Group agent or broker to refer a client to someone in another in-network brokerage more suited to handle the clients’ needs — based on location, property specialty or other factors. Should the match work out, both agents benefit financially. Traditionally, that never used to happen in real estate. The client would simply call a competitor and the original agent would lose business.
“This system, which we also call ‘Refer United,’ is like no other system I’ve used,” Hickerson said. “As long as I have been licensed (before United Country), I’ve sent referrals but that has always required lots of phone calls and work to pick the right agent and area. Then there’s all the tedious paperwork and continued follow up.”
None of those issues are a concern with United’s system, Hickerson said, which is quick, easy to use, and has significantly streamlined the referral process. And it all works online in just a few minutes. That does not mean the program cuts corners for sake of efficiency, though.
“The agent accepting the referral has been thoroughly vetted by United Country to be a good fit for the client buying or selling,” he said. “Refer United handles choosing the agent, doing the paperwork and ensuring regular communication and updates until closing.”
Of course, the system provides big benefits for the client, as well. Clients are saved the hassle of having to seek out another agent or broker on their own, since Refer United does the work. The client’s needs are communicated to a trusted, quality agent ready to assist. That means a lot less to worry about for the client, which also means precious time saved, and greater peace of mind.
Tennessee REALTOR’S® Community Engagement Leads to More Referrals
Even in cases where the first agent referral may not have been a great fit for the client, Hickerson said he’s often able to find a back-up option given his existing relationship and trust with the client. The type of referrals he handles most, Hickerson said, are for clients relocating out of Tennessee or in parts of the state outside his core market. That core market is keeping him quite busy these days specializing in country homes, horse properties, farms, commercial properties and all types of land for sale.
“I primarily focus (my service area) on two growing counties in Southern Middle Tennessee, Maury and Giles,” he said. “Since 2020, Maury County has become the fastest growing county in Tennessee and is 64th in the nation for growth. People have moved here from all over the country. I try to be very active and recognizable in the community and I love meeting people.”
It’s the kind of engagement that can lead to new opportunities, Hickerson said, explaining that he’ll usually ask about someone’s family back home or if they have a property yet to sell there. “Sometimes they need to liquidate a family member’s home and they don’t know who to call,” he said.
That opens the door to a referral opportunity, a potential new client or both. “Every person prefers a referral from a trusted source, so if a family member or friend in that area recommends someone, it’s hard to beat that,” Hickerson said.
Even as the top referral agent across United Country as a whole, Hickerson admits that success using the Relocation & Referral Network tends to be a numbers game. Timing, personality and perceived buyer or seller need all come into play. But as unique, efficient and powerful as the system is, there’s no reason not to use it if you’re part of United Real Estate Group.
“Refer United has given me a true leg up on my competition in regards to improved productivity and the ability to place my clients into a true agent accountability system that is professionally managed,” Hickerson said. “Truthfully, it can open you up to receive an income from anywhere in the country with two minutes of your time online.”
Learn more about “The Real Estate Man” Jonathan Hickerson and United Country | Columbia Realty & Auction here or here. If you’re interested in becoming an agent or franchisee in one of United Country’s offices around the nation, go here. To discover why United Country has been an industry leader since 1925, go here.