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“Anything We Can Do to Make It Right Is Our Thing”

October 24, 2022

Scott sits down with Jared Nolan, CEO of Norman & Young, a full service media company serving real estate agents. Jared talks about the highs and lows the pandemic has brought the industry, the new technology and standards raising the bar in the industry, and how he’s handled his rise from photographer to CEO.

Check out the transcript below and listen along with the embed, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your favorite podcast app.


Scott Pruim: Oh, hello everyone and welcome to The Helpdesk presented by Integris. I am Scott Prium, and we have a pleasure today of Jared Nolan, who is the CEO of Norman & Young, a full service real estate media company. And we thank him for his time on this, and a special shout to Brad Bethune, who is one of our account executives out of our Dallas Fort Worth area. So thank you to him and thank you to you, Jared. I appreciate the time.

Why don’t you just start by telling us a little bit about you? Who you are, where you come from, and then we’ll get into what is going on at Norman & Young.

Jared Nolan: Awesome. Thank y’all so much for having me. So I am, I was born in Beberg, Germany. I was to a military family. We ended up bouncing around a little while till we ended up in San Antonio, Texas for a little bit. From there we moved on to Cleburn, a little town, about 45 minutes out Fort Worth. And that’s where I grew up. I’ve had tons of jobs. My probably most fun one was loss prevention with Walmart for a while.

Scott Pruim: Oh wow.

Jared Nolan: And then I somehow, my brother worked for Norman & Young as a photographer. Got me on, and then year later, me and my wife had our first kid and came back from paternity leave and was offered the CEO position. Never felt so underqualified and excited at the same time.

Scott Pruim: That’s sometimes the best way to do it, though. That had to be a wild ride. The big question here can lead us into really what you do, and what Norman & Young does, is marketing in real estate and how that’s changing. What’s some of the factors that are driving that change and then how the industry is adapting to it? Feel free to enlighten us.

Marketing in real estate

Jared Nolan: So Norman & Young started probably seven or eight years ago way before I was here in the town called Grandberry here in Texas. A whole lot of, most real estate listings were done on, people’s phones or just dinky little cameras. So the owner actually started for his mom, took a real estate listing for one of her friends, and then it just naturally grew from there.

He brought his brother on. Brought a couple other people on, my brother. And it just, it naturally grew from there.

Competition in the real estate world

Jared Nolan: And it’s funny cuz it’s actually it’s cool to see how a company like ours, if we change something, we force the competition have to change with us. And the whole market changes.

It went from, phone pictures to professional real estate photos and even then we’ve switched from, HDR bracketing mode to, we call it hand blend now, where we actually pull window views through without having to take three hours on-site doing flash photography and bringing lights in and stuff.

Scott Pruim: Oh, wow, Okay.

Jared Nolan: Yeah, we just shoot three different brackets. One that’s really dark, we pull the windows through. It takes a lot more time, but the quality is night and day. And we’ve watched how, slowly, that’s become the market standard now and I think a lot of what drives it is a lot of competition, especially this past year.

It’s been insane how many people are moving, how many listings are going up, and how fast they’re selling. It’s finally start to cool off a little bit. But competition between, even between realtors has become in so much more. People are having to the better photos they can get, the better videos they can get, the more they can post out on social media.

It’s become a whole different market than it was three or four years.

Scott Pruim: Yeah, I guess with that said, and it seems like the answer is pretty straightforward and simple. But how important are really good pictures and video. And I was on your site and even the 3D tour, how important is that to real estate agents? And what have you one, either heard from them as far as how that’s going? Or what more could they want to make things even better on that side?

Jared Nolan: So I think a big part of it is that our attention spans don’t last very long.

Even looking through Zillow, I’m guilty of it, and it might be because I’m a photographer, my wife’s a Zillow nut, she’ll send me a house and I’ll be like, “These pictures are awful. I don’t even wanna buy a house.” Yeah. And the more, like I said, the more that becomes the market standard of better photos, the harder it’s gonna be to keep people’s attention. If you have those, you know, gross windows you can’t see through.

The more you can grab people’s attention and especially with 3D tours, videos, stuff like that, stuff that you can post out. It saves people from having to actually go to the house. They get a really good idea of what it is, and all of that is meant to make them want to go, “I actually wanna see this house in person, look at it and, maybe even make an offer on it.”

Interest in photography and media

Jared Nolan: So I probably should have asked this right off the bat, but, and I think you said it in something you had said earlier, were you always into photography? Did you get into that?

No. I really wasn’t. I had never touched a camera other than my phone before I worked for Norman & Young. That’s one of the things that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to work for us. We do all the training. And we’re a little bit more picky on who we do hire because of that. You have to have an eye for it, what people are looking for.

Scott Pruim: Sure.

Jared Nolan: But several of our best photographers have been people with zero experience. And a lot of that’s just, no bad habits to train out.

We can train them exactly how it needs to be. But yeah, no, I had zero photography experience. I’m just, I’m one of those people that I get a job and I like to know every aspect of it. So I taught myself Photoshop, Lightroom, I can edit videos, I can do anybody’s job in the company.

Scott Pruim: That’s, wow, that’s fantastic. And I, you know, I think we’re all nerds in one way or another to certain things. So I’m sure getting into it is probably a little daunting and overwhelming. Cuz I’ve done a little bit of work just on some of these podcasts and if it’s not Garageband or iMovie or things like that, it gets really technical.

Role of social media in real estate

Scott Pruim: But I think that leads into, obviously, your website has photos and videos on there, but what about the role of social media? Obviously it’s blown up in every industry and every aspect, but what have you seen specifically on the real estate side, or what are you guys doing that’s maybe a little different than anybody else?

Jared Nolan: Most recently, TikToks and mostly Reels and Instagram and Facebook. TikTok not really a driving thing for real estate yet, but for Instagram and Facebook, that’s things that realtors are already using. And we had the idea for it and we started shooting, a couple of test ones for some builders in the area and it blew up.

Think our first one had 8,000 views in the day for a builder. And they absolutely love it. It gets them a lot of views, but it also gets them a lot of traction with clients. Being able to see the house it’s faster than a normal video, so people are more likely to watch it through to the end.

And it focuses more on highlights than a normal real estate video. Usually we’re worried about wide angle. We wanna show the whole room, make it feel big, make it look big. The Reels and stuff is a little bit more fast paced. You get a quick glimpse to how big the room is, and then you get to go into the, what kinda sink is in there, what kinda range is in there?

The borders on the doors and stuff like that. Stuff that the builders actually think about a lot. Even real estate agents, it gets them tons of views, which is something they’re looking for, especially as a market becomes more competitive.

Scott Pruim: Yeah. Do you think or what do you think, if you had to give the breakdown of people. Are they, do they mostly want those short little clips or they want some more in depth, I guess, you know, it depends on where you are in the process. Gotta be attracted to the property first. And you probably wanna know more about it but…

Jared Nolan: I see more of the real estate videos are more to sell the house. That’s more what people wanna see if they’re actually looking to buy the house.

The Reels, TikToks and things like that are more just to get views on ’em, basically. Some after the house is already sold. Just so people can see, this is the kinda houses I sell. This is kinda work I put into selling a house. I get videos, I get drones, I get photos, I get everything. So somebody’s looking to sell their house.

They’re like, “Okay, you put a lot of work into this. You like to market it, you wanna get my house sold? It’s important to you.” So it can even potentially get them leads.

Effect of pandmic on real estate

Scott Pruim: Yeah. I know it’s two years now or whatever it’s been, but what effect did you see the pandemic have on not only what you’re doing, but I guess, we’ve all heard the real estate market’s crazy, but I think it’s always crazy.

It’s just, it’s cyclical, it depends on what year you’re in, you always hear something different. But did you see anything specifically come from that?

Jared Nolan: Very much. So in the very beginning of it, when it first hit, I was still a photographer. I remember being, when Dallas was locked down, we were still considered, we were contracted for multifamily, which was considered essential. It’s almost a fever dream to think back of driving on a Dallas Highway and being the only car there in the middle of the day. [laughs Yeah. But uh yeah, no, absolutely.

We were getting ready to furlough, how is this gonna affect us? And it ended up that, it was really good for our business. We did a lot of 3D tours, became almost every shoot. We were driving to Oklahoma. We were driving Austin, three, five hours away. Because people, didn’t want to go inside houses.

They wanted 3D tours, they wanted videos. They wanted to show the house as much as they could without actually putting somebody in it. Which has kind of stuck. I think a lot of people have gotten used to the less contact, so 3D tours have stayed pretty popular. Videos have gotten a lot more popular.

Cause they want people to see it as much as possible before they actually get into the house. Yeah. And yeah, we were having. Especially after Covid with how many people have moved to Texas. Six to eight months ago, we were having houses sell before we didn’t even get the pictures back to ’em, and it only takes us a day to get the pictures.

Scott Pruim: Wow.

Jared Nolan: Yeah. They were just selling so fast. So yeah, I shifted the market a little bit that way. Like I said, it’s starting to cool down now. Less houses on the market, but they’re not selling quite as fast. It’s gone from a day or two to, maybe a week or two.

So it’s been a train ride for all of us. Been a rollercoaster.

Customer service

Scott Pruim: I’m sure. Yeah. So I mentioned earlier, looking at your website, one of the things. There’s some nice synergy with how Integris operates and feels as a company, but customer service. Just looking at your site, you can tell it that is a main focus and you, like anybody, you wanna make your customers happy. But I think when you put it out there right off the bat, it’s, that’s an expectation, obviously.

Jared Nolan: Mm-hmm, absolutely.

Scott Pruim: Is there something that you all, as a core belief, as a company feel is important when it comes to customer service, whether that’s process or procedures, or, whatever. But what has worked for you the most?

Jared Nolan: We just, anything we can do to make the clients happy. Our loose motto is, if you need it, we’ll make it happen. So we don’t charge cancellation fees. I know things happen. We don’t wanna put that burden on the realtor. You gotta pay, for a shoot that never happened, right?

If the house goes under or the listing falls under the day of the shooting, nothing happens to them. But we just try to, let our photographers know, make sure the clients are happy. If you show up to a house and it’s gonna take you 20 minutes to move things around, go for it. Within reason, right?

Cause we do have a pretty tight schedule most of the time. But we try to be on time as much as we can. If not, we try to let people know. Communication’s a big thing with us. I’d rather, you know something has gone wrong than you find out something has gone wrong. Especially if we can already have a plan of action to fix it before we even get to you.

But that’s one of our big things and it’s been, some growing pains as we’ve gotten bigger. And we’re still in the process of growing. We’ve gone through, four or five photographers too. We have 10 out in the field right now.

Scott Pruim: Wow.

Jared Nolan: So it, it’s a little bit of growing pain especially as we get more clients, but, anything we can do to make it right is our thing.

Scott Pruim: I like it. I also like the transparency. You’ve got pricing on the different things you can do right there on the site. I’m sure things change and there’s ranges, but like I said before, putting all that out upfront, I think says a lot about a company and holding you to it.

Jared Nolan: That’s a big thing with us, it drives me nuts when I look at another photographer’s site and I’m like, “How much is it?”

I don’t wanna sign into your site and, sign on for emails to come through my email all the time. If I get in it’s gonna be twice as expensive, everybody else, I’m not gonna end up using it.

So we, yeah, we try to be very transparent. And anything you can do, you can call us and ask us even if it’s, midnight on a Sunday, send us a Facebook message, it goes straight to my phone. Try to always be available. To fix anything. I mean our editor in the next office over, but if he’s at home, we bring our laptops with us everywhere.

So I do get things fixed pretty quick.

Drone photography

Scott Pruim: Nice. This will be a multifaceted, I guess, is the best way to phrase it, question. But drones, so I I’ll put it out there off the bat. Growing up, I always wanted a remote control airplane. Never got one. Now that drones have been around for a long time and it’s easy.

I went on Amazon probably a couple months ago, got one for 160, 170 bucks, something like that. Couple days good flying, went a little too far once and it just disappeared. Like it, It was supposed to return to home. And I think, and we had talked right before the show about this too, I think maybe it was trying to return home and it just couldn’t get past like some 60 foot trees, but, That I’d come back from that in saying that one, drones are just amazing and fantastic, but two I’d love to know, your background, but then three, how you’re using them cuz you know, drone shots now, aerial drones, those kind of things.

When you have a really good drone and a great camera. It’s cinematic. It’s just like a movie.

Jared Nolan: So it’s something I had no experience with beforehand. We did a short little training thing, but honestly, the newer ones, they’re pretty easy to fly especially once you get the $1200 range. They have sensors and all that.

So we require it for our photographers. You have to get your Part 107 license first, or certification to do commercial. And then we train in house. We’ll bring you out to a field and let you fly around and you know the ins and outs of it. But especially in like Grandberry where we started it, it’s something that’s almost essential to it.

They’re right next to a huge lake. And there’s a lot of land, lot of empty space where, ground photos just don’t do it justice. So it’s very essential. All of our videos include drone shots. So we can, show what’s around it, show what it’s near. And it’s just something cool.

It’s something that not everybody can do, right? And it adds value to the realtors, adds value to us. We’re, they just dropped a new, they’re called FPV drones, where you goggles and they do the flips and all that. Something I’m considering trying, we tried it a year ago and it’s very difficult.

Scott Pruim: Yeah, no, I’m sure.

Jared Nolan: Yeah, flying the standard drones super easy. The FPV drones are a whole ‘nother ballgame, so it’s something we’re gonna probably revisit just to, even for TikToks or Reels it could be a really cool video, get a lot of views, so that’s something we’re exploring.

Scott Pruim: Yeah, and I think what you said, and maybe this is just me, but just getting that shot, especially on the real estate side, to see not only the house like an aerial view. That’s great. We always, I think my grandparents had pictures of their house taken from a plane, but when you see it in a live action situation and what’s around it, like you said, if there’s a lake somewhere nearby or if there’s great woods and open land, I can’t imagine that does anything but help in real estate to see what you’re buying and what’s around you.

Jared Nolan: Even middle of Dallas or Fort Worth. You can get a picture with the house in the corner and you can show the shopping center that’s, you know, less than a mile away, or you can show, everything that it’s near. And it really saves, especially on the realtors end, it saves a lot of back end having to go into the description and explain everything.

So it adds a ton of value to realtors and even for ones that are selling just lots. It used to be you just show a survey and then you have some ground pictures, but now we can actually get up above it and show how big the lot is in relation, what’s all around it, what streets are around it.

So yeah, it helps out a ton.

Scott Pruim: And are, I know you said you train people, but I’m guessing you like getting out there and flying the drum.

Jared Nolan: I miss being a photographer a lot of the time. There’s lot of driving, but a lot of podcasts a lot of, you know, audio books and flying. We’ve seen some amazing houses.

Scott Pruim: Yeah, I’m sure you missed that, but this kinda leads me into my next question.

Entering the CEO role & future plans

Scott Pruim: Being the CEO, you might have some other things on your plate.

Jared Nolan: Oh yeah.

Scott Pruim: That are taking up some time. Where do you see Norman & Young going to the next five years? What are you looking forward to?

Jared Nolan: Next five years? So it’s been on my bucket list for a while. I think we’re probably gonna start expanding.

It’s just difficult, sending people out to train and, start maybe pushing a little bit more north into Oklahoma, push a little bit more east and then maybe even push closer to Austin. Just gotta set up the right structures for my trainers to get down there and be able to be down there long enough to train the photographers all the way through.

But yeah, definitely we’re thinking about growing, adding services. We’ve some big things in the works right now that I can’t talk about yet, but, [laughs yeah, we got some things coming that we’re super excited for. Just expanding kind of our arsenal of things. We try to be a one stop shop for realtors.

Scott Pruim: Fantastic. Yeah, so is the website. So I’ll throw that out there. Now the really fun part, this is where I get to ask you a couple off the wall kind of questions. And I’ll give you a choice cuz don’t wanna pigeonhole anybody.

So I guess the first one for you would be, and it’s only who knows when, this will come out in the next few weeks, but it’s a Wednesday.

But any big plans for the weekend? What do you like to do on the weekends?

Jared Nolan: I have a four month old, so when we can do –

Scott Pruim: So, okay.

Jared Nolan: We like to go to the zoo or just, go to the park, keep the kids entertained, get them tired and watch some TV shows. We just finished Better Call Saul, which was super sad.

Scott Pruim: Perfect.

Jared Nolan: Yeah, mostly relaxed. Me and my wife were opposite. She stays at home with the kids, so on the weekend she’s ready to go out and do stuff, and I’m at work, so I’m ready to go home and chill. So we do a nice balance of both. Maybe go to the zoo and then come home watching TV and read.

Scott Pruim: We appreciate the time and thank you very much for letting us know a little bit about you. And then more about Norman & Young and what you’re doing.

I find every time I do one of these, it’s fascinating cuz there’s just so much out there. So it’s incredible and best of luck with everything in the future and where you all go. But we very much appreciate the time and thank you for joining us.

Jared Nolan: Thanks for having me. It’s been fun.

Scott Pruim: All right. Have a great rest of your week and weekend.

Jared Nolan: You too.

Scott Pruim: Thank you, sir.

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