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Archive for September, 2010

9 Questions with Jenny Stevenson

I’m working to evolve the blog here at hartografie so that it becomes a resource to agents in more than just the photography arena.  Future updates will include ways in which agents can use technology to automate parts of their job or just help to streamline processes.  Of course, there will always be photography tips and updates on some of my more interesting shoots.

Let’s get started with my first new idea, which is the “9 Questions with [Agent]” interview series.  I’ll be speaking with successful agents in Atlanta to help bring you insights and ideas that can help make your business prosper.  Plus, you might just get to know something new about a colleague.

My first victim interviewee is Jenny Stevenson, an agent with Keller Williams – Sandy Springs, which is part of The Rawls Group, operated by Shaun Rawls.  Though she grew up in Maryland, Jenny found her way to Georgia as quickly as possible, and arrived in grand style by attending the University of Georgia in Athens.  She’s been in the industry for six years now, is a member of the Associate Leadership Council at Keller Williams, is a representative on the Keller Williams Board of Education, and is a Life Member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors Million Dollar Club.

1. How did you first decide to get into real estate and how do you land at Keller Williams?

Initially, I was helping my old boyfriend build houses, mostly by assisting him with the design and architectural portions of his projects.  Though that experience, I really got hooked on the industry.

After I made the decision to become an agent, I looked at various companies and while others were really big, I felt that Keller Williams was warmer. I came in early before the strong recent growth of the company – at the time, we had Shaun Rawls as our team leader in one office; he’s grown the group to twelve offices now.  Everybody made me feel great about coming on board.  They were all genuine and cared about me as an individual and as someone coming to join their team.

2. In breaking into the industry, what was the greatest piece of advice you ever received?  From whom?

Be positive.  Especially in this economy.  I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve won, merely because I was the most positive person at a listing appointment.  Aside from the fact that they like my marketing materials, 90% of the time, clients say they chose me because I came in with a positive energy.  That’s huge.

3. What personality traits do you think make you and others successful in this business?

First of all, be genuine.  If you truly care about everyone and treat them the way you would want to be treated, even if means extra work on your part, if you treat everyone the way you’d like to be treated, you’ll have a high level of success in this business.

Also, being smart about what you’re doing.  You need to pay attention to the little details and keep in mind a lot of information.  You need to be able to know that if a client likes a given area of town, but can’t necessarily afford to be there, you need to know of two additional neighborhoods that are comparable to that one, so that you can get them into a home in which they’ll be happy.

4. What tip would you give to new agents getting started in the field?

Remember that selling or buying a home is not about you, it’s about your client.  As such, make sure that they feel important and that you are there to meet their needs.  This includes simple things like asking your client if they have any questions at the end of every meeting you have with them.

5. What mistakes have you seen others make along the way that have kept them from reaching greater levels of success?

Successful people will say, “Ready, aim, fire.”  The biggest mistake I see is a lot of “ready, aim, aim, aim, aim.”  New agents will go to a lot of courses and they’re not going out and meeting people and they’re not getting the business, they’re just learning.  It’s good to learn and educate yourself, but the best way to learn is to get out there.  Instead of going to 15 courses per week, go to two courses per week, and go out and implement some of the lead generation, one on one, and other things we teach.

The other thing I see is too much worrying about how much someone is going to make.  They focus too much on what they are going to make on each house, which gets in the way of a smart decision, like cutting their commission, which will help get a deal done.  I’ve seen so many agents burn deals, because they didn’t want to let go of a $1,000 in commission, and then they lose the whole deal. And the buyer went away because they’re fighting over whatever, a hot water heater or something.

It’s amazing to me how often helping your client in some way and not being petty will pay huge dividends down the road.  That client will never leave you, because they remember how you helped them and they’ll tell their friends about it.

6. How have you used technology to help you improve your customer service and improve your business?

I’m not a huge techie, but being able to do things like ship flyers from a website straight to my clients’ door is a huge time saver.  Technology often seems pricey when you break it down to monthly payments, but when you look at it annually, you see how much benefit you’ve received compared to what you’re taking home.   I’m not a huge social media person.  I’m not regularly mentioning on Facebook that I’m a Realtor, but I keep up with people a lot.  I stay friends with people that way.

I think people can’t live with out Blackberries because our culture has become so accustomed to the instant response.  If you don’t answer your phone or don’t get back on that email quickly, you’re going to lose that person to one of the other 10,000 agents in the city.

7. What do you know now that you didn’t know when you got started, but wish you had known?

Ask more of questions.  When you first get started, you just want to pour information onto people to show them how smart you are, but people just want someone that cares about them and what they want.  If all you ever did was ask people questions, you’d be quite successful.  So many people are just waiting to say the next thing, rather than genuinely listening to another person talk.  Just talk to people, don’t throw up real estate on them.

8. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a mistake?

Don’t ever recommend or schedule a contractor that you haven’t already been using for years.  Do not go out and find your own contractors and put your name behind anybody you don’t know.  I can’t tell you how much money I’ve wasted on crappy contractors because I wanted to impress clients and show them my value by finding them a good contractor who was not good at all.  Either use someone you’ve had for years or ask your favorite agents who they use.

9. What is your favorite thing to do outside of real estate?

Mostly just spend time with friends, family, and my chocolate lab Dixie.  I’m pretty active in sports leagues, which is a great way to release energy and stay connected with people.

Thanks Jenny!

For those interested in contacting Jenny, she can be reached via email at JennyStevenson@kw.com.  Also, you can check out her website for the latest listings and to find out additional information: http://www.jennyandcomp.com.

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