Focus On Your Client, The Rest Comes

Show Notes

maura allard - focus on your client podcast photo

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.

Lindsay Favazza: Welcome back to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate Podcast. I am here today with Maura Allard. She has a team with KW in Beverly, Massachusetts. It is the Maura Allard and company team. Welcome, Maura, to the podcast.

Maura Allard: Thank you, Lindsay. I’m honored to be here.

Lindsay: I am so excited that you said yes because I have obviously known you for a little while now. We’ve actually done some business together as well way back and I just wanted to have you on because I’ve watched and known you for the last four or five years or so and I’ve just been very impressed with how much business you’ve done and how you’ve changed your business over the year. We’re going to definitely get into that a little bit. It’s funny, when I usually start these, I talk about transaction numbers and I was just asking Maura, “Okay, give me an idea about where your business started and where you’re at”, and she had no numbers to give me. Explain, Maura, why you haven’t made it a huge priority to really focus in on what the numbers were?

Maura: Fair enough. I’ve been in the business as she said, eight years. When I started, it was a huge decision to leave my corporate America job that I had had all my life. I had two boys that were going to college. I wanted to be a realtor. I actually hired a business coach and said, “I want to be a realtor,” and she’s like, “You need a plan B, besides getting your license.” I got my license and I started a virtual assistant business. I was doing that and I was starting to grow my real estate business by joining a team at Century 21 and I was working side by side with a realtor there and learning the business. I was so engrossed in learning the business and getting to know customers and trying to connect with them to find out how I could make a sale, whether it was purchasing or listing that I really never looked at the sale.

I actually never even really looked at my commission checks. I really just focused on the client. At the end of my second year on the team, I was at the award ceremony and the gentleman behind me kicked my seat and said, “Hey, look, your name is up on that screen.” I’m like, “What?” It was like I had sold $75,000 in business, closed business, and was on the Ruby level at Century 21 Northeast at the time. I was just flabbergasted. That was just made me like, yes, I could do this. It’s working. From there, I never lost focus. I still don’t lose focus of that.

Lindsay: A lot of people that we’ve talked to on this podcast, they focus on the numbers to grow their business but what you’ve done is you focused on your clients to grow your business. Then what’s come of that is bonus in a way. Talk to me about how you over the years have put your time and energy into your clients and what you do for them that gets you so many referrals from that group.

Maura: One thing I started in, and I guess I’ll back up a little is I started in rentals. A lot of that was very customer-focused as my clients would hire me to do rentals and then I stayed in touch with the tenants. It’s one thing I want to tell all new agents is that, don’t shy away. Get rental-certified but touching those tenants over and over again and providing exceptional service when they’re renting their first place or second place or third place, that can grow to buyers in the future and then sellers. That business has actually just consistently moved over the years as well.

When I work with a client besides having the obvious first connections and sitting down in person or Zoom nowadays, I really want to talk about what is really important to them. What does this house look like or what does this sale look like? I want to know about them more than I want to know about the house from the beginning. From the start to the end, it’s always going to be about them. We got to keep it in the moment. When the sale is over or the purchase is over, we’re friends. That’s what I want. Not every transaction of course but we’re friends.

Then you touch them and you continually touch them, whether it’s a shout-out on social media, whether it’s, “Hey, show me your pictures? What did you do to your house?” I have people tag me like, “Maura, look, I did my dining room.” Congratulating them on that. Just even painting the room. I have invested in Reminder Media, which is a magazine that goes out quarterly to all my clients. I am constantly writing handwritten notes to this day. I’m a Brian Buffini believer in the handwritten note. After every meeting with a buyer or seller, in goes that little card in the mailbox before I’ve done anything else. Everybody that buys a house with me this year and every year gets cupcakes delivered to their house. I actually have some at the car right now.

Lindsay: They’re so cute too.

Maura: I love doing that. It’s also a time to reconnect with the clients. I did a food drive which again, I go to the houses and pick up the food. Again, another time to touch a client that wants to be involved in the community. I do personal cards at Thanksgiving, I do personal cards at Christmas, I do some end of the year, a little keep in touch gift with all my clients, I do my newsletter that goes out monthly, and I take the time to write it myself and highlight a client if I can or an experience. I just really always stay in touch. I don’t forget about people and I think that’s because I get referrals from the people. They keep coming back. I very rarely do I look and see a house go back on the market that they didn’t buy with me. That has to be because I’m touching base with them.

Lindsay: That’s such a kicker for agents if they see that happen. To not have that happen means that you really are investing so much time in those clients and that’s just a huge win for you. You touched on social media. I want to definitely talk about this. I feel like I ad nauseam talk about this with agents and they don’t seem to truly get it. The majority don’t seem to truly get it. Talk to me about your social media strategy and how it’s helped your business grow.

Maura: I talked to my team about this ad nauseam too. It was the one thing I did from day one and I still do it to this day. I will say now I’m in a place and I’m grateful to be in a place that I hire someone to do it for me but I still am involved in it a little. In the beginning and for the first six years, it was always me. I would literally go on Pinterest on Sunday night and scroll and look at stuff and be like, “Oh, I like that living room. Oh, this house on a mountain looks cool. Oh, this dog bed looks adorable.” I would literally pick five posts a week that I would just create on a Sunday night and I would use Hootsuite for free and I would schedule them all and then I would see what actually resonated because usually something was going to resonate. Usually seemed to be dogs or cats. Puppies, babies.

Lindsay: Puppies, kitties.

Maura: There is this nice little dog house. That was what really resonated with people and then I would play to that but it was always me and I was religious and it really took me 15 minutes. The other thing I did on social–

Lindsay: Once a week, 15 minutes?

Maura: Once a week, 15 minutes, Sunday night. It was on my calendar blocked out. Just like going to the gym. It was just something I did, I never thought about it and I’ve never strayed from that but the other thing I did and I know Lindsay knows this, is I started eating ice cream, well I always eat ice cream. I started posting that I ate ice cream.

Lindsay: I was going to say that didn’t start. That’s been a lifelong obsession.

Maura: It’s been a lifelong thing but I started posting, I don’t know, years, maybe five years ago on social media on Friday nights that I was eating ice cream and I never thought it would blow up to be the thing it’s blown up to be.

Lindsay: You’re like the ice cream-loving realtor.

Maura: Well, people call me. Basically, I became known and I have had direct referrals is you’re the realtor who sells a lot of houses and eats a lot of ice cream. I only really eat a kitty.

Lindsay: A long as they remember you.

Maura: They remember me and it’s doing the same thing over and over again. I used to go to the same place. It’s usually Treadwells. Tom from Treadwells thinks I’m like Beyonce. When I walk in, I’m the Beyonce of Treadwells.

Lindsay: You probably helped his business grow too.

Maura: He’s called me on the phone driving by my signs. I can tag him, he can tag me. It’s just been something I do that other people tag me when they’re eating ice cream or where am I if I’m not eating ice cream.

Lindsay: Or they try a new flavor and they’re like, “Oh, Maura, you got to try this or this new place.”

Maura: Or what you’re eating. I just feel like you just do something and you just do it over and over again.

Lindsay: It’s authentic to you. It’s truly something you enjoy. Whenever I do the social media trainings at our company and we do them at some of our training events and things like that, I always tell people, your business page should be 60% business and then 20% should be community and 20% should be personal. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a very personal post versus a very business post. You can mix and match all of them together but if you’re not talking about who you are and your own personality on your page, people aren’t going to necessarily want to work with a robotic business realtor only.

They want to see that you like ice cream or that you like to cook or that you have dogs or that you have kids or whatever these things are, that’s what really is going to connect with people.

Maura: You have to be real.

Lindsay: You have to be real.

Maura: They know you sell houses because they’re seeing that but you also have to have another part of you that they have to see. It doesn’t have to be all the time but you have to throw that in.

Lindsay: All the realtors sell houses. That’s what they all do. What makes you guys different is your personality. That’s whether or not they want to work with someone is going to be based on whether or not they have similar likes and dislikes and things like that. You can’t be everything to all people but at the same time, you’ll find your tribe.

Maura: You find your tribe.

Lindsay: Yours is an ice cream-eating tribe, I’m sure.

Maura: I’m thinking I’m going to do a client appreciation in winter actually this year and we’re going to do ice cream sundaes and we’re going to keep the theme going. Another thing that I do on social media when I can is I try to tell a story about the purchase of the sale. Not just I sold it. Who are these people? I don’t always name names, I don’t always tag people but this is what their story is because not all sales are happy. There’s some other times life events or moving on but I try to tell a story that’s kind and compassionate but also successful so that they can see, resonate like, “Oh, I’m going through a divorce or I just lost a family member, but Maura was able to guide them through that” and actually the end result was what they wanted.

Lindsay: What happens is someone is scrolling through their newsfeed and they see that story about how you got them to that end goal and you’re like the Mr. Miyagi at that point. “I’m in that same situation and Maura’s the one that’s going to get me there”.

Maura: Because it connects.

Lindsay: Exactly, and if you just say, “Oh look at this house I sold to my buyers, congratulations.” There’s no story. There’s no connection there. There’s no way for them to get to know what actually happened behind the scenes of that transaction. I think that that’s so important. You obviously do social media well, my friend, so keep it up.

Moderator: Let’s take a quick break and hear from the number one loan originator, Shant Banosian of Guaranteed Rate, as he gives us his monthly mortgage tip.

Shant: Hey realtors, it’s Shant from Guaranteed Rate with another quick business tip. It’s super, super important that you surround yourself with the best team. What I mean by that is you’re the quarterback of the transaction. You got to put your clients in position and work with the best lender, best attorney, best home inspector. Ultimately that’s all going to be a reflection of you. It’s going to help you grow your business if your clients have a really amazing client experience and have a super smooth transaction, it will lead to more referrals and more business in the future and more confidence for you so that you can go out and be an amazing realtor, not have to worry about babysitting a home inspector or a lender or an attorney or other vendors that are involved in the transaction.

Moderator: Thanks, Shant. Now let’s get back to the show

Lindsay: As far as your team, so take me back. I know over the last few years that I’ve known you, you were working on your own and then you were starting to think about growing a team. You were doubling for a little bit and now you have a robust team that’s doing really well. Tell me about that transition and how that worked out for you.

Maura: Painful.

Lindsay: I’m sure. Tell them the honest truth. It is a painful process.

Maura: You’re blessed when you get to the point in real estate where you have too much business and you realize that I’m a heavy listing agent and that people would refer me buyers and I was not able to keep up with the buyers and I felt I was doing a disservice when I just constantly couldn’t get there. I came to the point that I needed a team probably three years ago. I didn’t know how to grow a team. I really didn’t have any direction. I didn’t know where to go. I just did it myself and I hired a person and she was amazing but I just didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t have the guidance. I didn’t have the direction of fault to anybody, just didn’t know where to go.

COVID hit in 2020, I had moved over to Kelly Williams and I will say that they had team contracts, which I never had seen one of those so now I had a team contract. I knew how to structure, how to pay somebody which I didn’t even know. I was blindly making decisions right or wrong and I actually reached out to the team leader and said, “Do you have anybody that you think would be a good fit?”, and he did. I started interviewing some people and I brought on my first team member last July and my second team member last September. I had to create core values. I had to create team environment and I’m, actually like to work by myself.

Lindsay: You get used to being an independent agent and then all of a sudden now you’ve got these people that are looking to you for guidance. It’s stressful.

Maura: It’s stressful. Where do they go to get the training? Am I supposed to give the training? My core values which I spend a lot of time thinking about and I really feel my group embodies them now is accountability, integrity, impeccability, and exceptional customer service. I’ve always stood by it and you have to get people that believe in that and who will buy into that wholeheartedly because everything they do is reflection of me. Is it painful? Yes, because I’ve given over great leads and sometimes they don’t like working with that person and they walk away and I’m like, “Oh”, but it’s part of the growing process and it’s part of me getting feedback to figure out what I need to do to tweak.

Lindsay: It makes them better too, so it’s like all a part of the process of you getting them stronger and better at what they do.

Maura: That’s definitely been so then I actually let one team member go after a year and I brought two more on this year. I have a young team member who’s 23, which is great. I really wanted a younger person to do the TikTok and the things that I’m like, “Well, I don’t know.” I have Nate, my neighbor, is on my team and Chris, he’s got two kids and then I have Anne Gray, on my team who’s been with me for over a year. We’re all dynamic but we’re all together. I don’t highlight a salesperson of the year. We’re doing everything together. We are growing together, we are strong together and we’re all on board and in it together and I think that that, I feel good about us and I feel good about the team.

Lindsay: You have some numbers for the last couple of years now, now that you have a team maybe you have to start tracking the numbers a little closer but last year in 2020 with your team starting in July, you had 55 sides, 24 million in sold business. Then you had 60 sides this year so far and we’re recording this mid-November so the year is still– We still got time. 60 sides and 31 million, so you’ve definitely seen growth having a team. I think it seems like it’s going well for you which is great.

Maura: I’m happy I’ve done it. It alleviates me feeling that I could be potentially letting a customer down and being able to just tell them that we’re all here together. You’re benefiting from me having a team, we’re all on board and I even like tell them, we all meet every week. We all talk to each other all week long so you’ve got me with you but they’re great realtors and they are in good hands.

Lindsay: Absolutely. It makes you stronger having those people to help and be behind you and it makes them stronger in their business so that’s fantastic. I’m glad it’s worked out. Like I said, I know you were looking for some help before and then you were struggling with it but now it seems like this is–

Maura: It took me a while, and I think a lot of realtors who grow teams have all of those growing pains.

Lindsay: Absolutely. It’s a difficult thing to transition into. You got to think now as the leader and you’ve got to have money aspects in your brain, it’s not just about you anymore. It’s definitely more of a difficult thing to do. Tell me what advice you have for an agent who maybe is at that point where they’re like, “I think a team is the next step for me.” What advice would you give them? Where should they go first? What should they do?

Maura: I think you join brokerage that has a teams, first of all, not all brokerages have successful teams because I think for me I joined Century 21 Northeast and I got on a team immediately. That was invaluable to me. I will always tell a new agent to get on a team if they can. I was able to sit in probably 24 or more deals. I learned what betterments were in 60s, things I would not have a clue just because I was on a team. I was able to sit in a listing presentations and buyer presentations and really get a feel for what it’s like to do a deal.

Not just sit in a class, just be right by somebody’s side and learning that experience. You’re probably going to get leads on a team and given opportunities on a team that may take you a long time to self-generate and you can learn how to self-generate on a team. Get on a team that has values that you believe in, has a strategy that you believe in because that’s what’s really important is that you’ll stay on the team if you believe in the team leader and the team values. You join a brokerage that has successful teams. Aain, I can’t stress, I’ve looked at other brokerages and they don’t have teams or they have one team.

Lindsay: Tell me a little bit about what advice you would give to just an agent maybe that’s starting out even because you’ve been in the business for eight years now so you’re separated from that time but what would be the number one thing you would say focus on?

Maura: Find your niche and my niche, I haven’t talked about here, but is what I started out probably year three was getting my senior designation in real estate. I got my SRES designation and I actually now advertise in the sale of news about downsizing and I get leads from that. That being said, I went physically to every assisted living and nursing home in the area. The first year I got that designation I sat down with every sales and marketing department and I introduced myself and I told them what I believed in and that I wanted to help seniors.

I then started on my own the National Association of Senior Advocacy on the north shore and I recruited other like-minded individuals who wanted to work with seniors. Estate planners, financial advisors, and even contractors. A local contractor who is aging in place. Then we started going to the local community at the senior center levels and before COVID hit, and talking about from my perspective from real estate, do not sell your house to rebuy ugly houses unless it’s a last resort. Do not sell your house to Johnny next door or a family member unless you know the value of your house. Once you know the value of your house, you can sell it to anybody you want but most of the times, listing your home will get you the most money and putting it on the market.

That was my niche. That’s something I pigeonholed probably three years into the business and have stayed strong with that and it still refers me a lot of business every year. I didn’t shy away from rentals. My first rent deal ever was a rental and that person has singlehandedly bought 19 properties with me to date. I manage all of her rentals still. She has referred me more business than anything and I literally didn’t, got rental certified and didn’t even know what I was doing at that point but able to grow that spear. What else did I do? If your company offers company leads, you do take a hit but I ran a lot of them.

Some money is better than no money. Another opportunity that I didn’t pass up on and I marketed to that business so maybe the commission check wasn’t huge but at the end of the day, I established a relationship and I worked that relationship and when it comes back the second time, you don’t owe anybody any money.

Lindsay: Exactly. It’s, they’re what we call in our company are… You’re getting a chance to take a swing and learn. Any chance you have at any leads, take them and then they’ll pay dividends in the end.

Maura: Absolutely. That’s them with rentals. You don’t make a lot of money on that rental, but again, that can pay dividends. For an example, I went to a rental listing that I had and the neighbor came over and said, “Can we rent this and you sell our condo?” It was one day. I went over, I checked out her apartment, it was squeaky clean. Moved her over there, sold her condo, then sold her house. Her brother then listed, went bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, there it goes. You don’t know what one transaction, how it will spiral out.

Lindsay: Yes, a lot of the times I think agents will look and say, “Oh, that house is this much,” and they might pre-judge, but you don’t have a clue of what’s coming after that.

Maura: You don’t know.

Lindsay: You never know.

Maura: You don’t know who knows who.

Lindsay: Absolutely. Maura, is there anything else that you would want our audience to know? Any last closing thoughts? This has been absolutely wonderful and I think that everyone’s going to learn a lot from what you’ve provided today. Is there anything else that you want them to know about you or about advice or anything like that?

Maura: Focus on your client. Focus on your client, the rest comes.

Lindsay: Well, that might be the title of the podcast today. Maura, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it.

Maura: Thank you.

Lindsay: Yes, absolutely. Thanks, everybody for listening.

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.