A close-knit group of real estate agents and staff is the Ivan Savant Team’s secret to success.
By Alexandra McCray
Ask most business owners what their No. 1 goal is, and they’ll likely say “growth.” For Ivan Savant, founder, and Jessica Savant, operations manager, of the Ivan Savant Team — in one very important way, that’s not the case.
For their real estate team, the husband-and-wife pair favor a small, carefully curated group of agents and administrative support. “So, we can keep the level of service,” explains Ivan. And that high level of service is for the agents as much as it is for the team’s clients. A member of the Atlanta REALTORS® Association Multi-Million Dollar Sales Club, winner of multiple awards, and a certified condominium and relocation specialist, Ivan is committed to personally training and guiding each agent the team brings on. “They join the team for who the team lead is, for whatever the value proposition is that we bring to the table, and this way we’re able to give them that one-on-one attention and help them navigate the hurdles that they come across, versus a larger team,” he says.
The five-person (plus a transaction coordinator and a few consultants) team currently has two buyers’ agents with Ivan overseeing sales and acting as sales manager. “If we hire more agents, I don’t see us having more than four additional agents at a time. So, two more would probably be the max for us,” says Jessica. “Ultimately, we always want to stay small,” she explains. “A small SEAL team,” says Ivan.
The varied backgrounds and traits of the Ivan Savant Team’s agents also already allow it to serve a range of customers. The newest addition to the group, Shawn Nixon is adept at using his transaction management and analytical skills to assist cautious buyers. Brought on in fall 2022, he’s also experienced in providing superior customer service (courtesy of time with The Hertz Corporation) and has been in sales and marketing for nearly two decades. Jessica notes that Shawn’s motivational speaking also is powerful for making buyers feel comfortable.
Janet Abbazia, a sociable event company founder and executive with real estate roots in her family, offers tenacity and a process with steadfast ease to competitive buyers. She joined the team in January 2020 and has flourished despite the circumstances of the past few years. “I think in event planning specifically you have to really understand multitasking and how behind the scenes everything might be imploding, but it’s your job to make sure that everything works out really well — especially on the surface — and that everybody’s still comfortable,” says Jessica, who’s also familiar with event planning. The operations manager previously organized weddings and large parties for the acclaimed Ray’s Restaurants. “So, Janet manages exceptionally well,” she says.
The team’s namesake, Ivan, has 15 years of experience in the fine jewelry business. The former general manager has become an expert at working with people while they’re making some of the most personal and expensive investments of their lives.
The kind of growth the Ivan Savant Team is focused on is what Jessica calls “diving deeper, not wider.” It’s a continuation of what the couple has done since Jessica joined Ivan in his real estate venture in 2016 — further refining and perfecting the team’s systems and processes to provide clients with a five-star experience and to increase efficiency.
Laying the Right Foundation
An emphasis on back-end organization heightened a few years ago when the pair realized, thanks to help from a business coach, that instead of Jessica working alongside Ivan as another agent, it’d be wiser to put her bachelor’s degree in business management to use and have her at the helm of operations. The call made perfect sense. It also led to future growth that was methodical and intensely prepared for. “You shouldn’t hire when you have no time and you’re so busy; your business is booming. You should be planning for it way ahead of time. You want to see where you’re going and hire for that,” says Ivan.
The couple has done just that, starting with hiring a transaction coordinator around the beginning of 2019. “When we made that decision, that was huge in terms of really stepping into the next level because it allowed us both to step back and be involved in things beyond the paperwork,” explains Jessica. Shortly after, Nadiyah Jett came on board as listing and team coordinator, lending her writing skills from time as a business and finance editor to crafting compelling listing descriptions. Her communications and management savvy are applied to marketing work as well, which the team also partially outsources. Nadiyah also is key for administrative support.
Marketing-wise, the Savants have leaned into video as a promotional tool. This comes as part of a wider effort to maximize the potential reach of social media and the internet. A staff videographer is even in the works.
Going Above and Beyond for Clients
With a well-organized team in place, Ivan and Jessica have been able to increase their focus on big-picture visions and making them realities. Most importantly, they can dedicate more time to seeking solutions to the obstacles faced by clients who want to buy or sell a home. “I feel like it’s really our job to make sure that they understand what opportunities are there for them,” says Jessica. She explains that without this knowledge, buyers and sellers oftentimes can’t see their situations from different angles and comprehend the paths forward that are available.
One message the team has been communicating heavily is the fact that rising interest rates have flipped the market, turning it into one that favors buyers. “You’re actually in a better position to buy right now even though the interest rates are high,” Jessica says. “So, we’re really trying to tell people that now is a better time to buy rather than staying away to wait for the rates to go down,” she explains. “Because when the rates go down, then it’s going to turn back into a seller’s market for all of the people who were waiting for the rates to go down. And you can always re-finance.”
The Savants also understand the financial concerns on the other end of the spectrum, the seller’s side. For those interested in selling but unable to afford necessary repairs and improvements, Compass Concierge, offered through the Savants’ brokerage, is an almost-too-good-to-be-true solution. Ivan says, “If you’re a seller in this market, and you want to sell your home and you know that your home requires some extensive repairs, but your money’s tied up in the equity of the home, what Compass does is, we will credit you the money up to $25,000 interest-free with no hidden fees. That allows the homeowner to do necessary repairs, remodeling, whatever’s needed to bring the home up to market standards and Compass will simply collect the money at closing.”
Great consideration for clients continues throughout the buying and selling process with meticulous service and thoughtful gifts like a box of Heidi’s Heavenly Cookies delivered with a congratulatory note once buyers and sellers pass the due diligence period. The results of inspections, appraisals, and more make it a particularly nerve-wracking time for buyers and the sweet treat is a small way to celebrate the milestone, notes Jessica.
Even before that, the team aims to make its efficiency and dedication to quality customer service evident. “When someone goes under contract, we always send a thank-you email and congratulations, and that email is going to have a rundown of all the dates affiliated with the transaction moving forward. It gives people a timeline and a visualization, per se, of how it’s going to unfold,” Jessica explains. Of course, a closing gift also is always in order. The team prefers to source all its presents from local vendors, with Mud Creek Market in Marietta being the current favorite for closing items.
Past and potential clients also receive a monthly newsletter. Within the email, alongside current events and homes the team has listed, is information on current interest rates. Those who’ve already worked with the Ivan Savant Team and still have a home locally get a bonus email each month providing them with the updated value of their home. “People can plug in their loan information, and it also shows them what they could do with the equity that they have in their home. They could buy a rental property, Airbnb it, all of that,” says Ivan.
Another important way the Savants stay connected with buyers and sellers is through events. They recognize and value the relationships they have with past clients and want to continue to nurture them. Ivan says about five small gatherings with six to seven couples are hosted over the course of the year. The team also is refining its processes around open houses, which it hosts for each of its sellers’ homes the weekend they launch on the market. Making sure listings receive maximum exposure and that every prospective buyer is diligently followed up with are top priorities.
Without superb back-end structure, defined roles, and the unique characteristics each member brings, the experience the Ivan Savant Team prides itself on providing wouldn’t be possible. And that’s what Jessica says makes the team so important. “We’re all kind of in it together, that’s the good part about having a team. You know, whether it’s a PTO day or a vacation, your clients are taken care of because you have the team to fall back on and people are always going to be there,” she explains. That kind of reassurance coupled with continual, clear communication from team members also is comforting to buyers and sellers who know they’ll always be taken care of.
Staying True to Team Values
Whether Ivan and Jessica will bring on additional agents anytime soon is still up in the air. Most likely, a showing agent will be in the mix in the future to guarantee to clients that they can see a house within 24 hours of it landing on the market. Regardless of when they hire, one thing is certain, it’ll have to be the right fit.
Jessica says that no matter where a potential team member lead comes from, even a best friend’s recommendation, there’s no skirting their established hiring process. A DiSC® profile assessment (an accepted, professional tool used by millions of employers and individuals each year) is uesd to see if personalities are a match is a crucial initial piece, followed by an interview to further get to know the person and make sure they’re committed to being a part of a team. Finally, shadowing one to two open houses provides additional insight on both sides. Ivan and Jessica also ask for Janet’s input during the process to further gauge whether it’s a fit.
Though a willingness to get out and connect with people, internal drive, and the ability to think creatively are all musts, a commitment to the team’s values comes above all else. “Our values are to maintain integrity, exude passion, deliver quality, and embrace innovation,” says Jessica. “Those are the four cores of who we are and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Depth will always come before width for the Ivan Savant Team.