How I Spend My Budget | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

Money, money, money – it’s a personal topic, but an important one. We chatted with a few Top Producers about how they invest their hard-earned dollars, in both business and life.

AMANDA McMILLAN, @properties

What’s the most effective way you spend money to build your business?

The best way to generate more business is to constantly work on becoming better at what we do. Investing in yourself through education — seminars, webinars, books and coaching — is one of the more profitable ways to spend your money.

What’s the most effective way you spend money to grow your leads?

My success in this business has been based on a well-oiled referral business model. Therefore, lead generation is most effective through keeping our clients engaged, educated and aware of our continued successes in the industry. We do this with an in-depth Client Appreciation Program. One of the highlights of this program is several client appreciation parties. They are great events that typically have super engagement and result in an outgrowth of leads.

What’s your favorite splurge, outside of the real estate industry?

Personal time can be hard to come by, between a busy work schedule and active family. I have remained dedicated to my guilty pleasure of owning and competing show horses at the national level. While it is a pricey industry to partake in, I remain committed to it and know that the horses help me to continue striving for the best version of myself in business and, more importantly, in life.

What’s something you’re planning on directing more dollars to, in order to grow your business in 2020?

There are always lots of “shiny” new things to invest in. I try to make very calculated and sensible decisions. In 2020, our primary goal is the redesign of our website, ChicagoHomePartner.com. Despite winning website of the year by Chicago Agent a few years ago, we must stay up on the trends to keep with this fast-paced industry!

 

 

MARIO DILORENZO, Keller Williams Chicago – O’Hare

What’s the most effective way you spend money to build your business?

Without a doubt, it’s on education and training. Today, more than ever, it’s so important to be learning-based in your business. Each year, I attend two out-of-state conferences, an annual business boot camp and numerous training opportunities inside and outside my company. I also invest in a business coach, who offers lots of tips and pointers and helps add accountability and awareness to my business.

What’s the most effective way you spend money to grow your leads?

Since about 85 percent of my business in 2018 came from my database, I spend most of my money on just that. I already have an amazing CRM through my company, so most dollars go towards my 36 Touch Plan, which is a system strategically designed to touch everyone in your database 36 times a year. These touches include anything from a video email to a client appreciation event.

What’s your favorite splurge, outside of the real estate industry?

I love splurging on my wife and kids. We like to travel. We have a trip to Disney World planned this fall. I love taking golf trips and going to Chicago Bears games. This year, we’re going to away games in Philadelphia and Denver.

What’s something you’re planning on directing more dollars to, in order to grow your business in 2020?

I’m planning on growing my team from three to five, so that’s what I would like to direct more dollars towards. This will become additional leverage so I can continue to provide an exceptional client experience and still grow my business.

 

GRACE GORO KAAGE, @properties

What’s the most effective way you spend money to build your business?

I work primarily by referral, so I like to spend money giving back to my clients. I host five client events each year, ranging from a rooftop cocktail party to a Cubs outing, Pilates classes and more. I love sending little gifts to show my clients I’m thinking about them, and I value their support. Word of mouth has been more effective for me than any billboard or bus bench, so I work very hard to show my clients how much I appreciate them!

What’s the most effective way you spend money to grow your leads?

I use Adwerx digital ad campaigns to advertise directly to my database. That’s been super effective. I then direct clicks on those ads to my website where I have an IDX platform set up to capture those leads. I’ve also found farming in my neighborhood to be a great lead gen source for me. I use traditional postcards sent via snail mail for that!

What’s your favorite splurge, outside of the real estate industry?

I love to splurge on hosting parties or barbecues for my friends. I actually don’t really like to shop, so I tend to splurge more on dining, hosting parties and traveling with my husband — the fun stuff!

What’s something you’re planning on directing more dollars to, in order to grow your business in 2020?

Growth! I’ll be looking to fill an administrative role on my team to help me stay ahead. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and as I continue to grow, I need a quarterback to help me stay organized!

 

 

BRITTANY BUSSELL and ANNIE BAUER, @properties

What’s the most effective way you spend money to build your business?

Anything related to spending time with our clients and our annual client event. Unique and individualized client closing gifts. Taking the time for personal development to continue to learn and be a source of knowledge for our clients. But mostly, using automated marketing options such as Adwerx to be certain we are staying in front of our clients consistently, with very little maintenance or effort.

What’s the most effective way you spend money to grow your leads?

Marketing. We differentiate by creating collateral that may help sell a property, but also creates exposure for our brand. We use our listings as content to showcase how we create exposure and success for our clients. We also have a unique social media presence and billboard marketing.

What’s your favorite splurge, outside of the real estate industry?

Travel and shopping. A friend who understands the industry once told us, “Rather than rewarding yourself after a closing, reward yourself when a deal falls apart.”

What’s something you’re planning on directing more dollars to, in order to grow your business in 2020?

Hiring someone to manage our social media account as well as a transaction manager in order to scale our business and focus on income-producing activities. We want to focus solely on our clients and referral sources, building those relationships and continuing to grow our business.

 

 

SANINA ELLISON, Chicago Homes Realty Group

What’s the most effective way you spend money to build your business?

I spend on administrative help, marketing and tools to increase efficiency.

What’s the most effective way you spend money to grow your leads?

One of the most effective ways I increase our leads is by sponsoring events hosted by small businesses.

What’s your favorite splurge, outside of the real estate industry?

Food, shopping and travel. I love to travel. I plan to travel to at least one or two new countries a year. I work between vacations – four breaks a year is a must.

What’s something you’re planning on directing more dollars to, in order to grow your business in 2020?

I plan to direct more dollars and effort towards professional video. Video is great way to market your brand and personality to attract like-minded individuals.

 

 

MARTY WALSH and HEIDI ZIOMEK, Dream Town Realty

What’s the most effective way you spend money to build your business?

Digging deeper into our sphere of influence and past clients. We like to reward the people and relationships that grow our business. We have found that blanket farming, print media and online lead generation don’t provide anywhere near the ROI that fostering stronger and more meaningful relationships with our sphere does.

What’s the most effective way you spend money to grow your leads?

Video and creating community-relevant content for social media. We run highly targeted social media campaigns. Also, anything that builds a relationship: coffee, lunch, a pop-by.

What’s your favorite splurge, outside of the real estate industry?

Neither of us really splurge but we both like to travel. We spend so much time taking care of others, we tend to forget we need to take care of ourselves. Getting out of town and having a chance to completely disconnect (no emails, no calls) really gives us the opportunity to recharge and be more engaged in our business when we return. If you’re in town, you rarely completely disconnect. Therefore, we try to get away. Focusing on a little “me time” is a healthy thing to do.

What’s something you’re planning on directing more dollars to, in order to grow your business in 2020?

Client engagement events. We are planning a couple of new events we hope will bring people together and remind them we care about them and our relationship over the long haul, and that we continue to provide service long after the transaction. We hope this will translate into more goodwill and referrals.

 

 

DEVONTAE BROOKS, Guaranteed Rate

What’s the most effective way you spend money to build your business?

I find it’s most effective to spend money on fun activities or events my partners and clients will enjoy. Life is all about new experiences — learn to say yes and countless doors of opportunity will open up. We have an important role in our clients’ lives, and we need to make sure we take time to smile and enjoy all the city has to offer.

What’s the most effective way you spend money to grow your leads?

Investing money into things I’m passionate about has been the most successful for me. I receive at least ten calls a week from companies trying to sell me leads. I don’t believe in paying for leads because the conversion is so low; it’s more effective to build real relationships with people and the leads will follow.

What’s your favorite splurge, outside of the real estate industry?

I enjoy traveling and new experiences.

What’s something you’re planning on directing more dollars to, in order to grow your business in 2020?

I plan on directing more money toward self-development in 2020. It’s important to invest in yourself and continually develop transferrable skills. Albert Einstein said it best, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

 

 

JIM PSYHOGIOS, Baird & Warner

What’s the most effective way you spend money to build your business?

As a managing broker, the most important part of my job is recruiting talented brokers. While it requires a lot of time, it doesn’t require the biggest budget, but it’s definitely the most important part of building the office.

What’s the most effective way you spend money to grow your leads?

The brokers in the office do a really great job on social media. They publish a lot of original content, but they also spend money on paid, targeted ads on different social media channels.

What’s your favorite splurge, personally/outside of the real estate industry?

Traveling is always my favorite way to splurge.

What’s something you’re planning on directing more dollars to, in order to grow your business in 2020?

We’re going to continue putting money toward market awareness for the brand.