Houston Office Space of the Month: Ranchland Network

When Boxer completed renovations at 1322 Space Park in Houston, the new Boxer Work style co working executive suites began to swiftly fill up with tenants. We were eager to find out who these new tenants were! Trey Bonner of Ranchland Network , a United Country Real Estate company, has more in common with us than being a tenant. Ranchland is a thriving real estate brokerage for ranchers, with a savvy marketing and sales strategy to set Trey up for success in his new Houston office .

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As a real estate broker, Trey understands the relevance of our Workstyle spaces. These executive suites with shared common areas, such as conference rooms, are a great way to meet with prospects in affiliate cities like Dallas where his boots-on-the-ground agents are located. The suites are a more private, professional and relaxing location for a client meeting than a restaurant or coffee shop.

Office Amenities Wanted!

What were the needs and amenities that you looked for when finding your office space, and what was the hardest part about relocating?

RL: We leased this space in the end of June 2014, which was the first time that it was available. I had been looking for new space. I used to be on the south side of Clear Lake . But with my new franchise affiliation, United Country Real Estate, I bought the rights for Harris County. So I needed to move across the river. I stopped by randomly one day. Marie showed me around and it was very nice. I asked the girls if they minded holding it for me for a week while I went to a franchise class in Missouri, and they said it wouldn’t be a problem. At the time there were six new suites in the front of the building, and none of them were leased out.

I had to get approval from my franchise, so I took pictures and went up for my mandatory class. When I got back here, every single space was leased out! It was crazy. I knew I had to sign a lease really quickly or I would regret it.

Most of the time I prop my door open so I can hear a little background noise. It’s great having a glass door to the front of the suite.

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What is United Country Real Estate?

RL: United Country is a rural brokerage company that has been around since 1922. They have over 400 offices in the United States, offices in China coming on board, as well as offices in Australia and Costa Rica. They do a phenomenal job marketing ranches through the internet. Their Google placement is on the first page for pretty much any term related to buying ranches in Texas. They are a huge support group for small ranch brokerage companies. They have 25 people in their office who do nothing but help us market properties, help us with our Google Analytics, and non-stop support. They also have a handful of tech people in Austin to help support the program. United Country operates over 3,500 websites.

United Country does a great job. The guys who bought them in 2006 were successful tech guys. They thought the future of United Country would be online through Google Analytics, so over the past 8 years they built the company around tech. Eight out of ten ranch buyers shop on the internet for their ranch before they ever call a ranch broker. So if we can reach out and find them first on the internet, then we have a better chance of them calling us.

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Ranchland’s Story of Success

What’s the story behind your business?

RL: Ranchland is a ranch brokerage company based out of Houston, TX. We have boots on the ground agents spread out around Texas. We cover all of Texas and we like being headquartered in Houston because there are a lot of our clients here. I reach out, make connections, give them to our agents out in the field, and then we sell ranches. We operate under RLN Properties, and have a gentleman in the office here named Peyton Lumpkin who does all of our commercial brokerage. The majority of our ranch buyers are business people here in town with commercial properties and businesses. Most of the time we will also get some business from them selling a trucking yard or building, or represent them on leased space.

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How many field agents do you have? Do you go out to meet them, or do they come in to meet you in your space, or is it all remote?

RL: We have six agents across Texas now from Dallas, Austin, South Texas, and Mason. We do everything over the telephone. The agents are all mobile. I’m really interested in your virtual executive corporate office program because if my agent in West Texas goes to San Antonio or Austin to meet with someone, he can go to the Boxer Workstyle virtual office . That gives us a presence in these markets and makes us more professional to have a place to meet other than a coffee shop or a restaurant, which is really loud and aggravating. I’ve done it a million times, but it’s really uncomfortable. Neither you nor the client ever appears to be relaxed.

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What did you do before you worked at Ranchland? How did you get into the ranching business?

RL: I’ve always been a sportsman and an outdoors guy. I’ve spent a lot of time with the Texas Wildlife Association. We’re working on an organization that is built to defend and support private landowner rights in Texas. We spend time at the Capitol lobbying with our state representatives on specific bills that defend private landowner rights like water, air, or the big wind turbines that you see. We’re a voice for the private landowner.

I was very interested in the outdoors and real estate, and land in general. I wanted to figure out how to make a living out of it without being a cattle rancher or a farmer. This is a great way for me to do that because I’m a people person. I love the landowners – the people who own legacy ranches that have been in the family for hundreds of years. I’m actually part of a family ranch in Callahan County, which is close to Abilene Texas. It’s been in our family since 1877. During your generation, you get to be the land steward of your ranch. You take care of it, and you get to make any improvements to it that you can. My specific interest is white tailed deer. We raise a few white tailed deer and sell them for deer hunts, and we do a few dove hunts and Rio Grande turkey hunts. I’m actually on my way to Abilene today – we have 8 hunters who will be meeting with us to hunt this weekend.

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Ranchland Office’s Daily Workflow

How does the daily workflow of your business inform the way you use your office? When you meet with your clients, do you ever meet with them in your space?

RL: Not very often do clients come in here, but when they do they are very impressed that we have a storefront with signage and a real vehicle, rather than just being some guy working out of the back of his truck. Having that storefront is very, very important.

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How is your company evolving in the office space? What changes have been happening lately, or are around the corner?

RL: I’m looking to expand into the Woodlands and McKenzie area. I have a couple of agents in those areas that we are talking with to come on board, and it would be great to have a location in the Woodlands where I didn’t have to have a full office with Wi-Fi and phones, where they could just have a good quiet professional place to meet.

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I just came back from an auction school. In the Midwest and East Coast, a lot of the ranch land is sold through auction. In Texas an auction has always been a scary word. People think that’s a foreclosure. In the Midwest though, they have proven that when you have buyers sitting at the fence line looking at your property, you can get them off the fence and competing by putting on an auction.

United Country has an auction franchise program. They are encouraging all of their agents to be licensed for auctions. I went to the school, and now we are being licensed to sell ranch land and farms here in Texas. In the farm business, if a farmer retires his retirement plan is selling out. He has a real genuine estate sale where all of his neighbors come out. They sell pickups, tractors, horses, cattle, the homestead, ranch and farm property. It takes about 90 days to market an auction, put it on, and you immediately get funded.

What inspires you?

RL: As a kid I worked at a gas station. I learned through that, that customer service is the most important thing. Communicating with the customer is the most important. Through that I was inspired to be in the outdoors, provide the best customer service that I could, and make enough money to support my family and my habits.

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