YPN Breakfast: February 2019 Top Producer Panel | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

On February 27, 2019, at our monthly YPN Breakfast, we heard from a panel of Top Producers, who shared their best advice, tips and tricks for a successful career. You can check out photos from the event on the YPN Facebook!

This month’s panelists included:

Listen to What We Learned:

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Watch Quick Tips from Our Panelists:


Read Key Takeaways

“Clarity is power” in Tough Convos with Your Clients.

At times, your clients will ask some tough questions about the market and homebuying process, especially if they’ve seen negative trends in news headlines. All three panelists encouraged absolute transparency when faced with these tough conversations.

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” Karen said. Instead of fearing the real answer may scare away a client, face that fear, be transparent in your answer and bill it in a way that maintains your client’s confidence.

Bari echoed that sentiment and reminded us, “Everyone needs a home…so people are going to buy and they’re always going to sell, whether the market is good, bad or whatnot.”

Joe’s team also approaches tough questions about the market with the mindset that “clarity is power.” He said looking at the client’s goals and confidently using your knowledge of the market, you’ll find the answer and solution to get the client what they want and need.

What you do in your downtime matters.

In Bari’s downtime, even if she doesn’t go to the office, she makes sure she doesn’t stay home. “As long as you’re in front of people, you’re creating opportunities – even in a down market,” she said.

Karen’s office focuses on organization and improving processes. While this is part of the daily routine, using slower periods to clean up files and streamline operations helps make the busy days a lot more enjoyable. Consumers, she said, expect the Amazon experience. This means making everything as quick and easy-to-use as possible.

Joe stressed the importance of reading. From daily industry news to books on leadership and building a business, never stop reading and learning about new ideas, advancements and policies in our industry and beyond.

Follow-Ups to Past Clients Should be Frequent and Personal.

Get new clients, but keep the old. Mistakes often made by real estate professionals include not staying touch with past clients, following up too infrequently and not communicating in a personable way.

Karen urges all REALTORS® to be intentional about setting aside time “to connect with people in a real way.”

Joe’s advice is to find a system that works best for you and “just do it.” Just like working out, he said, there are plenty of exercises out there. You just need to find the one that you can do to get the results you need. Clients, he said, should hear from you at least once a quarter, but, more ideally, once a month.

In these communications, Bari said authenticity matters. If you have a client who’s renting, check in with them after a month to see how they’re settling into their new digs. Your communication shouldn’t always be sales-related, but more like checking in “with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile.”

When it comes to lead generation, opportunities are everywhere.

“You need to lead generate every day, and it needs to be a compound effect,” Joe said. Every morning, no matter what else is planned for the day, he sits down to write personal notes, while his colleagues work on emails, text messages, phone calls and social media. Approaching people in unique and personal ways is a sure way to grow your business. While it can be difficult, lead generation is necessary. If you struggle with a developing a process for lead generation, consider taking a course or finding a coach.

Bari and Karen stressed the importance of open houses, and being an expert on the property. This positions you as a leader for the new faces that come through the door. Being approachable and knowledgeable helps you to earn the trust, and potentially the business, of visitors.

Whether it’s a networking event, coffee shop or local bar, the more you speak to people, the more you will grow your business. “Be engaged and not dismissive,” Karen said. You never know who your next client will be.

There are opportunities everywhere,” Karen and Bari affirmed.

Growing Your Team Can Be Scary, But It May Be Necessary.

The panel agreed on one thing: There’s more than one way to grow your team.

In his studies, Joe learned a single agent can handle 24 to 36 transactions by themselves. When your workload exceeds that, it’s probably time to look for assistant. He warned us not to fall into the trap that you need to hire someone who’s just like you. Instead, look for someone with a different skill set, who can do the work you need the most help completing.

When growing her team, Karen took a risk. She took a pay cut so her new hires could take ownership of some of her responsibilities and feel empowered. While this can be a difficult adjustment, risks such as these are actually investments in yourself and in your career.

Both Karen and Joe recognized the hiring and on-boarding process isn’t always easy. You may not find the right fit right away. They recommended you make the job description as detailed and specific as possible, hold new employees accountable from day one and adjust and readjust as much as needed to maintain your reputation and grow your business.

Find your “why.”

Just like any other industry, the real estate industry isn’t always easy. It’s important you identify your reason for being REALTOR® and keep that at the center of everything you do, even on your toughest days.

Our REALTORS® are known for giving back. Joe Zimmerman and his team, for example, have committed to donating $500 per transaction to Children’s Home & Aid, with the goal of donating $125,000. Giving back and helping others is Joe’s motivation for waking up at 4:30 AM and doing his best.

Your motivation doesn’t have to be the same as Joe’s or anyone else’s. Find what feels authentic to you, and use it as fuel on your journey to becoming a Top Producer.

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