Cristina Coppola – Contributing to the American Dream

Cristina Coppola is a dedicated Realtor serving Massachusetts and New Hampshire. As a member of the Lamacchia Realty’s President’s Club and a top-producing local agent, Cristina has the experience that yields success in today’s market. Learn more about her here. 

Show Notes

Welcome to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast where you’ll hear the good, the bad and the ugly of how real estate agents overcame challenges and grew their business. Check out the Episode Notes at CrushItinRE.com/podcast. Here’s your host, Lindsay Favazza.

Announcer: As a real estate agent, you know that the industry can be tough to navigate, with constant challenges and obstacles to overcome. That’s why we created the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast, where top-performing agents share their insights and strategies for success. Join us as we dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of growing a thriving real estate business. Your host, Lindsay Favazza, will be your guide on this journey. Sit back, relax, and get ready to learn from the best in the business.

Lindsay Favazza: Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast. I’m your host, Lindsay Favazza, and today I have a truly inspiring guest with me. In a short span of time, she has made waves in the real estate industry and has shown us all what dedication and hustle truly look like. I’m talking about none other than the remarkable Cristina Coppola. Cristina recently qualified for the 2023 Lamacchia Realty President’s Club, and this is her first time reaching this prestigious milestone after only being in the biz for three years.

Just to give you an idea of her dedication, she surpassed a whopping $16 million in sales volume this year alone. If that wasn’t impressive enough, she’s trilingual. Fluent in Italian and English and conversational in Spanish. Cristina, bienvenida, my friend.

Cristina Coppola: Gracias, Lindsay.

[laughter]

Lindsay: I only know a few words, so there you go. [laughs]

Cristina: That’s okay.

Lindsay: Cristina, why don’t you start off by telling our audience exactly what your journey getting into real estate looked like? If you have to start even before that, what were you doing before? What got you to this point?

Cristina: Yes, absolutely. Before I got my real estate license, I was working in a department store at a beauty counter, and I’d been the counter manager for a few different makeup brands through my time there. Then COVID hit. Everything got shut down. We were home, quarantined, and I’d always had a real passion for sales and decided that this would be my time to take the class. I figured it’s all online. What else am I doing? I took that time, really liked the material, even how “boring” it can be.

It was easy for me to get through, and then I just spent the rest of my time studying. Then I ended up going back to work because everything opened back up and got also licensed. In my first year licensed, I was working full-time still at the department store, and I was able to eventually leave and go full-time, which was great, but I was doing both. I never said I was a part-time agent, a full-time agent with a full-time job.

Lindsay: With a full-time job. Dual career is how I hear people say it.

Cristina: I still had bills, and so I had to work through weaning off one and transitioning to the other. It’s been great since.

Lindsay: I think a lot of people, that will resonate with them because they probably are thinking, “I don’t have the money to just dive in.” Why don’t you take us back to that a little bit and talk about how you made that transition, how you were able to press the gas on the real estate thing and pull back. What was the final moment that you went, “Okay, I’m ready to commit to this full-time.” Take us back through that.

Cristina: I actually remember it pretty vividly. It wasn’t even too long ago. When I got back to work, I had been back to work for a few months, and then I ended up getting my license in August of 2020, joined Lamacchia. At first, it was just easy to do both because when you first start out, you’re just going through the trainings. You’re trying to absorb as much information as possible. I had a plan in mind on my exit strategy right from the beginning.

Once I had made that commitment, “Okay, now I’m not only taking the class. Now I’m joining the brokerage. I’m paying to take the test.” I’m in at this point, so I’ve got to make it worth my while. I knew it was going to be hard because that was a lot of the feedback that I had gotten that it’s not easy. The real hard part is getting the leads. This was before we really knew what COVID was going to take us for. How hard that layer of it was going to be. I knew the hardest part was going to be to get clients and so on and so forth and also to differentiate myself.

I’m no longer selling you lipsticks or perfume. I’m selling you something a little bit more serious. My exit strategy was like, “Well, at first, I’m definitely going to need to keep paying my bills. I’m going to have to keep going to work, but let me do everything else to prepare myself for the next step.” That was attending the trainings. I watched all of the Crush It trainings with Anthony, all of the playbooks before I started the Crush It basics course. That way I already knew, I had a grasp of what I was selling, what that process was going to look like.

I just went through the checklist, got myself on all the platforms, Zillow, Google, Realtor.com, just streamlined all of my digital profile, cleaned out my Facebook, my Instagram, made a new one. Just did all of that “desk stuff” and learning while I was still at work. My job, what did that look like? It was retail. I would either work a 12:00 to 8:00, a 9:00 to 5:00, a 2:00 to 9:00. At the time, my son was in the first grade and going to private school, so I’d be driving. It was crazy.

When I went through that phase of just absorbing all information and hitting that checklist, making sure that was all set, then it was time to get on leads. That was one of the main reasons why I joined Lamacchia. I needed to, first, be able to convince myself that I knew what I was doing before I could convince my family, who really saw me as new to the business, a makeup artist. I worked in a department store. I sold lipstick. I wanted to gain credibility. Really, I feel like the fastest way to do that and gain the experience was to just take the leads.

I did all of the stuff to get on the leads. Then once I got on the leads, for me, it felt like a lot of leads that I was getting. I feel like I was getting a lot of leads compared to a lot of what other brokerages. Even the bad ones, even if there was just a few good ones in there, that was okay with me because I had a full other job. I had an hour break. Depending on my shift, if I was going in at 12:00, I dropped my son off at school and then I would be dedicating until eleven o’clock, that time block to call or whatnot. I’d go on my break. I’d be in my car. I’d be doing the follow-ups, calling. I was the worst employee. Endless bathroom breaks. Just like, “I’m sorry. I got caught up over here.” I would just disappear but I knew that I just needed to keep my [unintelligible 00:07:37]

Lindsay: You were working towards that goal.

Cristina: Yes. If I got fired, that was fate. I thankfully had been at that job for long enough that I could rest on my previous. People wouldn’t notice if I was gone because they thought I was just doing something in the other part of the store. It’s a large store, so you hide.

Lindsay: Hopefully none of them listen to this. [laughs]

Cristina: They knew. It was obvious. I was the worst. I had my head in cabinets making calls, hiding, crouching. If anybody goes into that Nordstrom, I show you all the hiding spots. Then when I started to book clients, it was like, “Okay, my shift on Saturday is 1:00 to 9:00. Let’s do showings starting at 9:30.” It was manageable at first because I didn’t have a ton of clients, but then I started to close and I started to see, “Okay, I’m getting the hang of it but I’m still not comfortable relying on this.”

Lindsay: Cutting off that income.

Cristina: Yes, you don’t know. Then I kept telling myself when I get to a point where I feel like I’m missing out on real opportunities and real money because of my W2 job, then that’s when I’ll have to make a severe decision on whether I’m able to sustain this. Eventually, it just got to the point where it was like, “Okay, I have to.”

Lindsay: Like I said before, I think it’s super important for people to hear that because there’s definitely a lot of people out there that are probably listening to this and they’re hearing the fact that it’s doable and it’s going to take some hustle. Like I said in your intro, no one has shown more hustle than you. That’s like going out on your lunch break. Instead of just taking a lunch break and relaxing and then maybe at night picking it up, you really got to put your time and energy into this if it’s something that you want. Then recognize when it’s time for it to be switched over.

Cristina: Absolutely. I was really exhausted, frankly. It was really hard. It was even hard once I quit to switch my mind out of 24/7 work. It was draining me but I’m still learning. Not only am I learning how to get clients, I’m learning transactions, how to manage them, how to manage my stress level, and things that seemed like disasters are now just commonplace happening. I’ve had to adjust to like, “Okay, is this normal?” Then also to the market and the seasonality of it, learning not to panic. I just try to train as much as I can and keep as grounded as possible to manage that because I went through a time period where I was like, “Okay, I quit my other job but now I feel like I don’t have enough time in the day to work in real estate. How is that possible?”

Lindsay: How is that possible?

Cristina: I just gained so much time.

Lindsay: It’s funny that you mentioned that because what I also think is really impressive, I know you now and I know that you’re very humble too. You’re not a braggy person by any means so I’m going to brag for you. I know that getting in around 2020, obviously, we weren’t sure, like you said, what was going to happen with the market and how things were going to go. It was really challenging in some ways and then other ways things got really hot.

There’s a lot of deals getting put under and stuff like that. This year for a lot of even really experienced agents has been one of their worst years. This has been your best year and you’ve made president’s club. That’s something that you should feel really proud of because you didn’t just scale your business. You scaled it to a point where this year, not a lot of people are getting to that level. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, yes, you’re stressing and you’re like, “How the heck am I going to do this?” but at the same time, you’re there, you’re at that high level now and so quickly. It’s really been awesome to watch.

Cristina: Thanks. I appreciate that. I definitely suffer from imposter syndrome but in a sense, I feel like that’s also what drives me. Despite the market, to me, it’s a consideration but I’m not concerned by it. Anthony says all the time, there’s deals closing every day so you just got to work harder. [laughs]

Lindsay: You just got to work. You just got to work and keep your eyes set on it. The imposter syndrome is just you getting in your own head and making any doubting yourself. You can’t do that anymore. You’re there. You made it. [laughs] Why don’t you tell the audience being trilingual and being able to communicate with multiple groups of people, what has that done for you and for real estate? Have you used that angle? Have you been able to help people because of that ability or not yet? What’s your outlook on that?

Cristina: Absolutely. I have so many Spanish-speaking clients. I’m not a native Spanish speaker. I’m fluent that I can understand anything that somebody is speaking to me in Spanish. Then my speech, I sound a little silly, but I can definitely hold a conversation and make myself understood and understand the other side. I would say all of those leads that people were like, “This one speaks Spanish. Who can help?” Me. A lot of the times too, with a lot of Spanish-speaking clients, I’ve noticed that they’re not very educated on what the possibilities are and they’re more than qualified to purchase too, which is a shame.

It’s about teaching that initial part. In 2020 especially too, it was so easy to get approved. It was so nice to really be able to help almost anybody that came across. Spanish has helped. Then Italian too, I’ve been able to make some connections with American Italians just genuinely and then have that translated into real estate.

Lindsay: That’s great. What about your marketing? How do you market yourself? Where are your leads coming from now? Are you still heavily relying on company leads? Have you seen that change in your sphere where more and more of your friends and family are now referring you? Where are those leads coming from for you?

Cristina: I would say my bread and butter is definitely company-provided leads. That spirals into branches. Some of those company leads that I originally received are coming back or maybe company leads will refer. That spirals too. Then once people start seeing you close deals, when you start posting about it and whatnot, I have gotten a lot more referral business. Also, a lot of some lenders have been really good to me as well in referring clients to me which has been really helpful too.

I would say it’s a pretty even split. I don’t plan on– Now, I actually buy my own leads, but I’m still on the company ones. I have specific ones that I buy for myself that I like to receive extra of that specific source and I’m still on the company leads and I don’t really plan on getting off unless they kick me off. I took a little break.

Lindsay: The way you’re converting them, I don’t think people are going to kick you off at this point. [laughs]

Cristina: Anything’s possible. I took a little break but I think it’s always good to be on them.

Lindsay: It just gives you more opportunities, especially where even though you’re doing such a great job, you are still new to the business. You just got to have those at bats and what is awesome about those company leads that you get is that after they’ve closed, they’re now yours. They’re now on your split. They refer, they come back, that’s yours. It gives you an at bat is what we always say and then after that, you get to just build your business from there, otherwise you might not have that stepping stone.

I love that, but they also wouldn’t come back if you weren’t doing a kick-ass job. That’s on you. [laughs] What strategies do you think have been instrumental in getting you to where you are right now? Is there a specific thing that you’re like, “Wow, I always do this or I always say this and it always makes people feel comfortable?” What is something that you can share that you do that is something you’ll never give up doing?

Cristina: I feel like I really pulled a lot from my past experience working in retail. Just to touch a little bit further on what I used to do, I was a counter girl at the makeup counter. First, it was a makeup counter where people would come and I would essentially sit them down and sell them products. Then I moved to a more luxury brand where I would sell them like $600 perfumes. I operated on the basis of clienteling. When you’re a counter girl at those counters, you’re a counter manager. You’re upheld to goals. You have to cold call your lists. You get your walk-up traffic. You sit them down, you make a connection, they buy something, you call them later, they become your clients. You build a business.

Literally, although the subject matter is different–

Lindsay: The process is the same.

Cristina: -client telling is the same. I’m just not in a store pulling people or walking up to people or having people walk up to me. The leads is my walk-up traffic at my store. Then I talked to him about something different. Just working in retail for so many years, having so much face time with so many different people all the time and being able to sell to them has been just so helpful to me too. Just recognizing when someone’s ready to spend their money and not messing it up, that skill is really helpful. Then just the ability to chat with on a professional, friendly, warm, but not overly warm level, just the practice of having that conversation with strangers [unintelligible 00:18:31]

Lindsay: Building rapport.

Cristina: Yes. Then just that process of clientele and following up.

Lindsay: I love that. Let’s take it to this place now. What apps or tools do you use every day, real estate related that you’re like, “I will never get this off my phone or I could never lose this piece of thing?” What is it that you check every day, use every day? What is it?

Cristina: I’m the worst with technology.

[laughter]

Lindsay: You’re like, “They can all go away.” [laugh]

Cristina: Yes. I’ll handwrite everything.

Lindsay: Oh my God, you’re so funny.

Cristina: Outlook email.

Lindsay: Of course.

Cristina: Mandatory. Honestly, I’m not too techie. Converting a PDF, showing time. I’ve got the MLS.

Lindsay: Your Instagram too, your Instagram because you’re constantly doing stuff on social.

Cristina: Instagram, Facebook. You want to put yourself out there. Then while I was working at the store, I didn’t have a laptop to do all the stuff. I can write an offer from my cell phone super easy. I can do all of that type of stuff like PDF converter.

Lindsay: I love it. What is your key to balancing now? Do you feel like you’re still not in balance or do you feel like you’re getting better at it? You have your son. How old now is he, like third grade?

Cristina: He’s 10, fourth grade, yes.

Lindsay: My goodness gracious. You have a 10-year-old son, you have your husband, you have your adorable dog that we just met. How do you balance that with the strenuous schedule of being a realtor?

Cristina: There’s always room for improvement. I definitely try to– Actually, I’m pretty good at setting boundaries with clients as far as I’m not going to– Unless it’s a super new client or unless it’s a super emergency, not going to reply to you at night. Sometimes I purposely won’t reply right away, just because sometimes I’m driving or I need a second. Setting those boundaries with clients, I’ve learned to differentiate emergencies versus not.

Sometimes I do find myself detaching from what’s going on around me and sinking into the phone, more so not because it’s an emergency, but because I’m looking to just get ahead on all of those things, multitask. I think I’m working on being more present with the phone, if it’s family time, it’s family time.

Lindsay: I love that.

Cristina: I leverage field services a lot. That’s super helpful, so helpful. Even if I don’t have anything to do, but I need to spend time doing computer stuff or emails, it just frees up a lot of my mental peace too.

Lindsay: If there’s stuff that you don’t have to do, for those of you that are listening that are unaware, at our company, we have a team called field services. Cristina can have a showing, and if she has two showings at the same time, she can send someone from field services to do one of them so that she can still get it done, but she doesn’t have to be in two places at once. We always were calling it Uber. It’s like the Uber of real estate. It’s great.

Again, maybe it’s not that you have two showings, maybe it’s that your son has a soccer game. You should be able to multitask your time, and if that showing isn’t necessarily going to be where you need to be at that moment, that allows you to have that. That’s great that you take advantage of it, and I know those people are really awesome to have around, so they do a great job. What would you consider to be the most rewarding part of being in real estate for you now and at this stage in your career?

Cristina: I definitely feel like I’m contributing positivity to people’s financial future and creating homeownership, and that’s super rewarding for me. The American dream is real and alive, and I love it. I was born in the US, but I moved here when I was eight years old. Just to be able to be a part of that, it’s really cool. I really love that, and I really like being financially independent and be able to provide for my family and having a flexible schedule to a certain extent. That’s really great. I never really thought I’d see the day where I wouldn’t have to ask for a vacation. I hate to be controlled or ask for permission and be on other people’s schedules. It’s super great where I literally just have to ask myself if I can manage it. That’s also great.

Lindsay: I love that. Tell me a funny story that you’ve had in real estate so far. There’s got to be something, some client situation that happened or something that happened to you. What’s the funny story that comes to your mind?

Cristina: Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m going to think of them all after we’re done.

Lindsay: You definitely are. [laughs]

Cristina: I’m trying to think.

Lindsay: We’ll type them into the show notes. I’ll give you another question, and you can keep that one in the back of your mind. What is the one thing that you wish you had known now that you’re in real estate? What is the one thing that you wish you had known back when you started?

Cristina: Before I started?

Lindsay: Yes, before you started or right when you started, what’s the one thing that you wish you had known?

Cristina: I wish I had known how high rates were going to go up. I could have quit sooner and stacked more leads when everybody and their mother could get a pre-approval letter because I would have tripled my first year if I had just known that. I would have quit sooner.

Lindsay: Hindsight. [laughs] You weren’t ready at the time, and no one could have guessed that things would have turned out the way that they did. Everything happens for a reason. What’s next for you? What are your goals now, now that you’ve hit President’s Club? I’m assuming that was a goal for you in the first place. Now that you’ve done that, what is it that’s on the horizon for you that you’re shooting for?

Cristina: Honestly, just more of the same, bigger and better. Maybe President’s Club Elite, but really I just want to focus on perfecting “my craft” portion of it. Now that I’m not going a million miles a minute, I can put processes into place, make it easier on myself, make it more streamlined, make it more organized, just make it a better experience for my clients, and then find more innovative ways to lead generate. I don’t know if I’m the type that will eventually want to ever start a team. That’s something that I’ve thought about. I don’t really know if I want to go manage people anymore. That might be one thing, but definitely my goal has always been to sell bigger and more expensive things.

Lindsay: To increase your price point, that’s a good goal.

Cristina: Yes, I’d love that. That would be awesome.

Lindsay: That’s amazing. I love that. You and I can talk. Maybe I can help you and we can brainstorm that.

Cristina: A little luxury marketing.

Lindsay: A little luxury marketing. I like it. If you were not in real estate today, what do you think you would be doing? Do you think you would still be at Nordstrom? Do you think you would have gone down some other sales path? What do you think?

Cristina: I thought you said if I hadn’t been– I was going to say I’d be a criminal defense attorney, but that ship sailed. I didn’t finish college, but I’d love to argue like a trial attorney. No, if I was still at Nordstrom, honestly, I don’t know. I might still have been at Nordstrom. I probably would have gotten sick of it. I definitely would be in sales, medical sales, or some sort of high-price point sale or luxury retail.

Lindsay: You’re really good at it.

Cristina: Thank you.

Lindsay: My friend, unless you can’t think– Can you think of a funny story? You can just tell us later.

Cristina: Let me just think real quick. I know I can’t say it.

[laughter]

It’s funny but I actually don’t think I could say it.

Lindsay: [laughs] It’s done. We’re going to leave that part in just to make everyone die and want to know exactly what it is. They’ll have to call you on the side.

Cristina: I can’t say it.

Lindsay: What we always like to say is that and I always try to point to the right spot. Oh, look, I did it. Those are her Instagram and her Facebook handles. Please feel free to reach out to her. She’s a wealth of knowledge and someone who I’m sure would provide some advice to other people that are out there and trying to make it in this business. You have so much knowledge to give now, and I just want to make sure that people can reach out and find you. We will put all the information about you in the show notes and everything too. Any parting words for our audience today? Any advice for realtors out there trying to get to the level that you’ve made it to?

Cristina: Just be honest with yourself about if you want to do this and how much work it will take and actually do it. Don’t just say you’re going to call 10 people, call them.

Lindsay: Make those dials. I like it.

Cristina: Just do it.

Lindsay: You just do it. Nike. We’re just going to do it. Awesome, Cristina, thank you so much. This was an absolute pleasure. I really appreciated getting to know you more too just because we’ve hung out before but this was really eye-opening for me and you’ve done such an incredible job, so it was really great to hear that. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you to our listeners for tuning in to another episode of the Agents Who Crush It in Real Estate podcast. We will see you on the next one. Have a good one, everybody.

Thanks for joining us on the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast. We hope you’ve learned some valuable takeaways. Be sure to take action and grow your business. You can check out the Episode Notes and more content from the show at CrushitinRE.com/podcast. And if you’d like this episode, and you’d like to hear more stories, please share with others, post on social media or leave a rating or review. To catch all the latest from Anthony you can follow him on Instagram at Crush It In Real Estate on Facebook and YouTube. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time.