It’s funny where life takes you and how you get to the point at which you should be professionally. When I was growing up in Marshall, Texas, a 2-hour drive east of Dallas/Ft. Worth and 20 minutes west of the Louisiana border, I definitely didn’t see residential real estate in my future. And I couldn’t have imagined that one day I would be leading a team that last year closed $126 million in home sales. That level of production, which includes the sale of 211 homes, makes The Frankie Arthur Team the highest producing Coldwell Banker Apex agent in the D/FW Metroplex.
My story isn’t about creating the latest, high-tech gadget that will entertain and inform the masses. Or a video game that will take the country’s youth down an engaging, all-consuming path that has grown my company to record market caps. No, the tremendous growth of The Frankie Arthur Team is about finding families what is usually the largest investment they will ever incur: their home. And, as I’ll discuss, my track to success has really come from a single, simple mindset that companies often either forget or don’t acknowledge: the ability to listen to your customers.
My professional career began at AT&T, the largest telecommunications company in the world. My father had worked there for years, but not, unlike me, in sales. My position as an inside salesperson meant hours talking on the phone, usually to people who didn’t want to hear how they should switch to AT&T and enjoy better service and savings. But you take something positive with you from each experience, especially when you sell from an office cubicle, exclusively over the phone for 6 years.
A couple of my roommates were Dallas police officers, whose professional lives were seemingly the most far removed from my inside sales position as you could get. They would come home and talk about their work as police officers and share stories far different, and infinitely more exciting, than any I could relay after 8 hours dialing and smiling. Their careers and experiences were enticing. So, I decided to do something about it.
While still working at AT&T, I became a reserve police officer. It was an unpaid position, but, paycheck aside, it was no different than the work my roommates were experiencing. I went through extensive training, was fully licensed, carried a gun, and had full arrest powers. I loved it. After I would leave work as an inside salesperson on Friday, my weekend was spent doing something I loved and wanted to do full time. So, after 4 years as a reserve police officer, I began my law enforcement career with the Dallas Police Department.
After several years as a police officer, the events of September 11, 2001, diverted my law enforcement career and sent it down a completely different path. I became part of the 2nd class of air marshals in the United States. By November 2001, I began a 6-month training regimen in New Mexico. After that, I protected the airline personnel and passengers on both domestic and international flights. Aside from the fact that I had tripled my salary, that air marshal position was great. I got to see the world, all while keeping a close eye on the cockpit.
By this time, I had gotten married and had my first child. My wife admirably and successfully held down the fort, but my time spent away from home was preventing me from seeing my daughter grow up. I would spend long hours away and with a schedule that could, and often did, change overnight. So, after 5 years as an air marshal, it was time to do something professionally that would accommodate my family and cover the expenses.
You may think moving into a commission-only sales position doesn’t sound like the logical next step if handling expenses and costs related to raising a family is critically important. But I had done something back when I was a police officer that, at the time, would eventually morph into one of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex’s most successful residential real estate teams—I had gotten my real estate license.
My wife had been in interior design and knew people in residential real estate. I thought I might sell a house here and there, but didn’t imagine that getting my license would turn into a full-time job position at that time. Unfortunately, my full-time entry into residential real estate coincided with one of the worst markets in recent memory.
When I left the Federal Air Marshal Service, I was leaving behind a secure, highly paid job and starting out literally from scratch. When you have small mouths to feed—by this time my wife and I had welcomed a son—the pressure to get things going and bring in a steady income is immense. Thankfully, I entered a field that I immediately knew I had a passion for.
That’s not to say that growing my business and building a list of clientele was an easy venture. In fact, 90% of realtors don’t make it. However, I was committed 110%, which is highly important when beginning a company, whether it is growing a residential real estate business, creating the latest, cutting-edge application, or embarking on a writing career.
Along with that total, unwavering commitment, there are 3 additional things that need to be present to help ensure the success of your company or venture―learn the business, the industry, and start meeting people.
In real estate, learning the business goes well beyond finding listings, escorting clients to show them different homes and options, and ensuring that their overall purchasing decision goes as smoothly as possible. I made it my mission to learn about homes construction and which builders provided the best products and delivered the best service. For instance, there are builders that have wonderful architectural designs, but it becomes apparent when you visit a site where construction is taking place that they cut costs when possible. Maybe their studs are spread apart within code, but just barely. Or they have skimped on the air conditioning unit or the quality of cabinetry wood they have selected. This type of information is something that so few realtors take the time to study. I don’t want to recommend a home to somebody if I know there is a good chance they may have issues down the road. Also, I have made it a point to learn which builders provide the best, and worst, customer support.
Even if you think you are not a sales-minded profession, you need to understand something―everybody is in sales, like it or not. You have to sell yourself and the product or service you represent. If you shrink and cower at the thought of remotely believing you’re in sales, you need to get over that. You are.
But that doesn’t mean you need to engage in hard selling tactics or operate outside your comfort zone. In fact, I may be the least pushy person in the world. I certainly want to make sure that I am always available to help clients and answer questions when needed, but I will always give them time and room to make their own decisions. It also imparts a sense of confidence; nobody likes a pushy salesperson. It makes them look desperate, which translates into a feeling that they will do anything to get that sale. It’s also another way of saying that they will put their own needs ahead of yours. Again, this may be the largest investment a person ever makes in their lifetime. They deserve to be in the best home possible.
I started my own team in 2010 with an assistant and one agent after 4 terrific, highly productive years working on another team. I had achieved Platinum Status (earning over $1million/year) for several years before starting my own team. Today, The Frankie Arthur Team now includes 11 realtors and 3 office professionals who handle everything from payables and payroll to the coordination of listings and contract closings.
Also, I have hired real estate coaches in the past to help give me a lift, present fresh new ideas, and provide accountability to help ensure we are doing the most to grow our business and keep clients happy, return for repeat business, and refer our team to others who need to find their next home.
Hiring a real estate coach wasn’t something I decided was needed only when starting out, however. It is something I have done throughout my career, even during times when our business was thriving. It really comes down to education and the importance of seeing your business and how it operates through the eyes of a skilled professional who is entirely objective.
Many wonder why Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus used swing coaches throughout their careers, even though they combined for a staggering 33 major championships. They used swing coaches for the same reason I have used real estate coaches―when you are too close to something, and for long periods of time, there simply things you can’t see. You may have reached a level of success you couldn’t have imagined at one time, and others in the industry may dream of building a business like yours, but you must have a burning desire to ensure that you and your company are operating at optimum levels.
Like it or not, you can always be and do better. Complacency and the inability to recognize the need to get better are the reasons so many companies, large and small, aren’t around for the long haul. And I plan on having one of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex’s top agencies for a long time.
Even though I am in my 50’s, thoughts of retirement don’t enter my mind. In short, I love real estate. I can’t imagine a time when I am not doing this. Actually, it may not be as much about loving real estate than it is about helping clients find that perfect home, one in which memories will be created and their children raised. Nothing gives me more pleasure than knowing I have accomplished exactly that for a client. And my repeat business is phenomenal. Knowing that somebody has enjoyed the experience of working with The Frankie Arthur Team so much that they couldn’t imagine working with another realtor gives me immense satisfaction. Because, in short, that is what it really comes down to―helping the client. In fact, I couldn’t tell you right now how much money I made last year because it really isn’t about that. However, when you work hard to give customers the best experience possible, trust me, the money follows.