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First Person

Conversation With Joe Schutt

Joe Schutt works in full color.

Three things you should know about Joe:

  1. He has a beloved Schnauzer named Irving.
  2. He has a drink named after him at his favorite bar.
  3. He is always true to his brokerage brand color of “Unit Orange.”
  4. He swears a lot.

Oh, sh*t, that’s four things. (Pardon my own language there, it rubs off.) Well, they’re all true. And I learned them all when I sat down to interview Joe for our First Person series.

The fact is this: you don’t have to look farther for an example of pure relationship marketing in real estate than Joe Schutt.

"Dogs. Gin -- Bombay Sapphire specifically. Real estate. Boston. Orange. Those are my five things."

His Boston-based brokerage is Unit Realty Group, and he’s built it on referrals and relationships. And by being himself.  

Those relationships are forged in the very neighborhoods he serves.

First, Beacon Hill. And now the South End.

In both areas, you’ll find Joe either at the dog park with Irving or at his favorite bar with friends. And he’ll be wearing something orange.

“Dogs. Gin -- Bombay Sapphire specifically. Real estate. Boston. Orange. Those are my five things,” he says.

A Colorful Approach to Branding

But what if your five things are gardening, cats, wine, real estate and the color violet? Keep reading.

What Schutt does is such a great example of blending what you love with how you earn a living.  

About the color orange: “My dog has an orange harness,” Joe says. “An orange leash. An orange sweater. And an orange jacket. So people see us in the dog park, they're like, ‘God, you guys like orange. You match.’ It's like, ‘Yeah, it's our company color. We're always branded.’ ‘Oh, what's your company?’ ‘Unit Realty Group.’ ‘Oh, you're in real estate.’ ‘Why yes I am!’”

Joe’s brand might be orange, but the company itself is green.

They are paperless. He drives a Prius. And everything about their business is local. Oh, and dog-friendly. It’s part of the company culture.

“Pretty much everybody at Unit Realty Group I met through the dog park. It's amazing.”

Joe's Business Goes To The Dogs

Dog parks aren’t just green spaces for pets. They’re Joe’s relationship hub.

So what is the first thing on his mind when he relocated from Beacon Hill to the South End?

“First thing I did was go to my neighborhood association,” he shares. “Got to my dog park. Dog people know everything about everything because they hear things from various people.

“Next thing you know they're like, ‘Oh yeah, we're starting this, we're having a dog meeting.’ It's like, ‘Oh, tell me more about this.’ They're like, ‘Oh, we have a dog group here and we want to do something more with it, with the neighborhood association.’ I was like, ‘I would love to be involved.’

This is familiar terrain for Joe, having done something very similar in Beacon Hill.

And so The Square Dog for the Blackstone Franklin Square Park group was born.

“We created a group here and the group has been around maybe four months, and we're 250 people strong. The community was built around it.”

Promotional Material With a Twist

Joe is at the helm of Tidy-Up Tuesdays.

He brings coffee, and they all clean up the parks together. And he’s co-president of the neighborhood association.

"This is how you become very good friends with a lot of people and build relationships that happens to turn into business."

He also hands out group-branded poop bag dispensers with built-in flashlights. “It’s dark when you’re out there trying to pick up after your dog in the winter.’’

Talk about giving back and connecting with your community.

And at no point does Joe ever yell out, “Does anyone here know anyone looking to buy or sell a home?” Because it’s not about ‘owning a territory’ or ‘dominating a farm.’

“This is how you become very good friends with a lot of people and build relationships that happens to turn into business,” Joe told us. “I've made some great friendships.”

“I'm not going to sit there and be like, ‘Oh, I need to build a relationship with that person so I can get to this person so I can get what I want.’ No. If you want to build a relationship with them, then build a relationship with them without an end goal of getting something out of it.”

Giving Back to the Community

These relationships are the only social proof that Joe and Unit Realty Group need.

About half of his business is actually referral business from other Realtors. Because that same commitment that Joe shows his South End community, Joe shows the real estate community.

“You don't just get involved in a little group online and say something here or there, no. Go to the events,” he said. “I go to the YPN; I go to NAR Annual; I go to NAR Mid-Year Legislative Meetings. I go to my local and my state meetings. I go to CRS. I'm involved in CRS deeply.

“If you're showing up, and if you're giving back, they see that,’’ Joe says. It’s not a surprise that about 50% of his business is realtor-to-realtor referrals.

And his involvement in the communities he has lived in, both Beacon Hill and the South End, extends beyond the support of dog parks.

His company gives a portion of their brokerage commission to charities.

“I just sent out $8,000 in checks to charities that are local to Boston because every deal that we do, we give 5% of our brokerage commission back to charity.”

Hanging With Your People

I think it would be safe to say that Joe is on the extreme end of the extrovert scale.

Along with his community activism, he also holds regular hours at favorite places in the Beacon Hill area.

That’s where the Bombay Sapphire Gin comes into play.

He’ll let people know, via Facebook, when he’s hanging out at a favorite restaurant. It’s the restaurant that you can order The Last Word, the drink named after Joe.

Helping Others Learn to Build Their Own Networks

One of the most interesting aspects of our conversation was the mentoring work Joe does with new agents at his company.

Not everyone is into dogs, gin and the color orange. But everyone has a passion.

Everyone has a network, however nascent. Joe coaches new agents on how to find that network and work within it.

[Be warned: this is where the swearing comes in.]

“I want you, as an agent, to pick 15 to 25 people in your life who are your "f*ck you” people,” Joe explained. “What I mean by that is, who can you go to and say, ‘Send me some f*cking business right now.”

“It jumpstarts everything! Gets their mind really thinking about, who's my closest person that I can actually say that to?”

The second actionable idea he works on with newer agents is taking what they love (often involving that tight sphere) and turning it into events and content.

One of his newer agents came from the wine tour and tasting world.

She’s hosted a (what else) wine tasting at the office and wrote a blog post on the topic, "Uncorking a Fine Bottle of Wine is like Opening a Door to a Fine Home."

Wine or Gin - it doesn’t matter. It’s just the medium to build a relationship.

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