(brace yourself, this is a long one)
I remember at the beginning of my real estate career when I said, I’ll sell a house. Any house. I was hungry, I had bills to pay and was ready to burn my tires all over the city to get to it. And that’s just what happened. I sold many different types of houses. Some over 75 miles aways in Beaumont Texas, some that were foreclosures and in neighborhoods ridden with crime, and some that were with trouble clients who didn’t know what they wanted or wanted more than they could afford. My “business” was a mess.
For me, it seems the word “entrepreneur” is synonymous with uncertainly. I’ve experienced my share of ups and downs and have clear lessons of when my decisions, lack of decision, or missing confidence, has directly impacted my income.
I’ve been in every type of financial situation possible, especially while starting and growing my real estate practice in Houston, Texas.
Some weeks, after 2 months of no deals, I’d have a closing and feel like I was rich. But after the short celebration, I realized that I was 2 months in the hole and once I paid all of my current and back bills….. sometimes I was only about $500 up…. the hustle continues.
All this time, I am totally ignoring the top agents in my office who “specialized” in a real estate niche and also those who had some type of coach. I truly believed that specializing or in my mind-cutting off business, was the absolute dumbest idea in the world. I was a jane of all trades in real estate. Sometimes I sold condos, sometimes really cheap condos, or houses in no specific area, which had me traveling, and driving all over the city at all times of the night. Because I didn’t do one particular type of house, or one particular neighborhood, I never seemed to be up on the latest news, the new shopping center that is to be built, or how to really loop in the buyers who would seek out certain neighborhoods.
I always seemed to be playing catch up trying to grab the straggler buyers and I was NEVER ahead on the trends or even in control of any part of my business.
The only thing I really had going for me, was that I was in it fulltime. I was a fulltime realtor, and the money I made was all I had to pay my bills and at one time, grad school. Me having my back against the wall made me hustle. Sometimes hustling backwards, but I did hustle. So while hustling, I was always seeking education and trainings.
I happened upon a training where a lady, Monique, spoke and gave us tons of advice and tips on how to run our business efficiently. She was also offering “Real Estate Career Consulting”.
What I had before me, was a stalled career, some free advice, but an offer for some specific “paid” advice. I had read all the suggested books for our industry, exhausted all of the free courses offered, and had taken ALL of the real estate classes available in the best real estate school in Houston, ( yep, I’ve taken EVERY single real estate course in Champions School of Real Estate in Houston) soooo, obviously, I needed to do something new.
I went home, gathered one of my printers ( I mean, why did I even have 2?) and a brown and gold Gucci bag…. and hit Craigslist. SOLD. Before I could even find another bill for the money I’d just made, I went to Monique’s office and plopped down every dollar.
We had our first consulting session 2 days later. Monique is a tall, slim, very pretty, white lady, with such a light voice which surprisingly, carried a foul tongue…. She cut me not an ounce of slack, but I loved it.
The first thing she had me do was to specialize. I mean, like how in the hell did I expect to get to where I wanted to go without knowing exactly who I wanted it from and aiming for them directly? It made so much sense, and I was ready to make a change.
Because of our sessions, and her forcing me to clarify, I found out EXACTLY why I was getting the type of clients that I didn’t want, what my average sale was, and why I was working so dang hard but making very little money and always unorganized. I left meeting one with:
a clear purpose
and a deadline
We made specific goals, charted a plan for our next 6 months ( I only had the money to pay her for 1 session) and we hit it.
I left my session knowing:
how many days I needed to work a week to reach my goals
how many people I needed meet ( only quality networking/connecting counted)
then, how many of those connections needed to be turned into meetings
What types of functions I needed to attend, their dates, and the cost for entry and had them scheduled on my calendar
When we really broke it down, some of the deals that I was doing were paying so low in relation to how much time it took to do, that I was actually working minimum for wage after I paid my:
real estate fees( fees to the state of Texas and to Houston)
expenses including ( gas, car maintenance, yard signs, door locks, marketing software)
agent fees ( desk fee, fax, conference room rental fee, newspaper marketing fee)
etc. etc. etc.
When we really broke it down like that, I was totally shocked to say the least. I’m breaking my neck to say yes to all deals- sales where I make about 2000k and doing leases where I’m getting paid $500, have to pay my fees that I mentioned above, AND about 30% off sales and $200 from leases. I’d spend 3 weeks or approximately 30 hours of computer and car time looking for them an apartment or house….to make pennies (yep divide that $300/30)
When we really put pen to paper, I realized that after ALL of the hours spent, for some deals, I actually lost money or in essence, paid to the client to help them.
What if I had never broken it down? What if I had not hired Monique….she paid for herself in session one.
I truly felt like a veil was lifted even though Monique gave me not one single answer. Monique’s job, was to ask the right questions to pull the answers from me.
My running around the city going to several networking events a week decreased substantially. I had 25 cards in my pocket on all my workdays and knew that I needed to make those connections. No matter what, before I went home, all 25 of those cards had to be given out AND I had to have their contact information back in my pocket.
Just FYI, when we started building my real estate database, I had 11 people TOTAL. So you can start from anywhere and grow up….
I started saying no to the deals that would take me a ton of work but paid me almost minimum wage. I started saying no to deals that would take me way out of the city AND to hard to deal with clients.
I started saying no, and when I started saying no, I started making more money.
When Monique and I reviewed year 1, I had not reached my goal- I had surpassed it. Because we were connecting and meeting each month, we tracked my client calls, meetings and conversions with some easy questions and created a system of determining where my best clients came from.
Year 2’s goal was even higher and hyper focused. I was now loaded with detailed information from year 1 that would make me even more efficient.
I had a year of learning where my best client came from. Then I went to even less events and networking and Monique and I upped our meetings from once a month to twice a month- I saw her every other Monday. Yes, it cost me more, but I was FINALLY making money and didn’t even notice her bill. Year 2, I paid for the first 6 months in advance, whereas year one, I had to sell some stuff just to get to the first session. Things had changed.
Year 2, you guessed it. I killed that goal. I was soooooo excited and felt powerful and strong and focused, but also, a little scared.
I had reached as far as my mind had allowed me to think I had deserved. I had reached what I thought was the top in my career. Honestly, I had never expected to reach that point and had not thought of anything higher. Amazingly, reaching success, what was planned, carefully thought through success, was scaring me.
But Monique pushed. Kristi, what’s next? My true answer, “ Well, shit Monique, I guess I’m going to aim for 500,000 dollar homes and above and get my broker’s license. I read about this lady in New York who did it, and was uber successful when there were mostly men in the business ( yep, I was talking about this Barbara Corcoran lady)”. Honestly though, I answered her ask if I were asking a question. I didn’t sound strong, and I think I was leaving the door open for her to say, “ Kristi, that’s too high, stay realistic”.
She said nothing of the sort. Monique and I begin to chart the course of me narrowing and breaking down my niche to the peach meat, and I added something new…. I started teaching, speaking, and hosting events and no longer did I do simple networking, I was now schmoozing.
I really begin to go to the places where 500k buyers hung out, and Monique helped me to identify:
the best organizations to join,
types of events to create and host
best practices on how to convert my meetings to actual clients
how to load my pitches so that I’d for sure get a yes. ( I still do that to this day, I create my proposals in a way that makes them REALLY powerful and I have a very high rate of getting a yes.
Hiring a coach was a leap. When I did it, I was broke, and didn’t really know if it would work, or if I could afford her, but, what I did know, is that what I had been doing previously wasn’t working. At least not successfully. I did have all of the raw talent on my own, but my first coach, she
was kind, but was UBER strict
absolutely made me be specific
stayed on my ass consistently in a tough love way
got me on the path to making more money than I grew up thinking was possible for me
Monique was the launching pad, and I am now a true believer in coaches. Not quite a year after starting Women CEO Project in 2010, I hired my next coach who was soooooo instrumental in bringing this women’s business something into a very doable, global mission. She really did see my vision and helped me with some remaining hangups I had.
But as with anything else, you go up and you grow up and I’ve now gotten my 3rd coach. Her bill shah…….let’s just say, I am no longer only thinking of success, I am fully expecting to yield some high results and surpass my goals once again.
What I want to share with you is that, it’s no secret that Kobe, Michael Jordan, or Gabrielle Douglas had raw talent. You can’t give someone that kind talent. But you can teach them skills. You can refine their jump. You can reduce their steps. You can show them a focused path. You can definitely teach them what you’ve learned. What these super talents had in common- that they all had coaches who where there to help remove the trees, to clean up the clutter and help them focus what they already had.
That is what my first 2 coaches have done for me and I have no doubt my current coach won’t help take me even higher.
You may feel you cannot afford it, but at this point in your business, can you afford not to?
When I see the look in my client’s eyes, I almost want to dance. To see them have clarity and fully knowing how wonderful it feels to have such clarity, every time I see it, I am satisfied.
CEOs, take a look at your business. Take a look at where you want to go. Listen closely to see whose voice, whose message and whose skills speak to you and reach out to them. Figure out a way to get started and just do it. If my voice speaks to you, reach out to me here and we’ll see if my talent and your needs are a match. But even if it’s not me, and you’ve been at this for a while, make a decision to get someone in your corner through a mastermind group, a consultant, or a coach.
Just make a decision and learn how to focus your jumpshot….