We at advantage80/20 truly believe that success doesn’t just happen. It’s built through powerful decisions and massive action. In the year 2022, you hear lots and lots about how to grow a business, to the point where entrepreneurial jargon can become like oxygen – you don’t notice it at all.
That’s why we’re on the hunt for the bits of wisdom you should be listening to from people that have been in the trenches, just like you. Our Monthly Masterclass is a deep dive into the sacrifices business owners make and the strengths that they find along the way to success – and for the Month of March we were proud to have the authentic, genuine Suzette Berkhalter share how she and her team revitalized their business.
For someone that is starting a team and breaking through to a bigger vision beyond just them – they need to quickly prioritize what works. Suzette began evaluating her business at the beginning of the pandemic. Shortly after, she had just brought on a new team member. She has dramatically moved her business forward in the last 2 years, and that journey has sharpened her eloquent, yet elegant business plan. Here’s some of the advice she has to offer those looking to reach new levels.
What are some of the challenges you faced last year that held you back?
Ultimately it narrowed down to my mindset being completely off. In 2020 I sold almost six million and then in 2021 I almost sold less than 3 million, after hiring an admin. It was one of the toughest financial positions I have ever been in while working in this business. With that being said, I think that I had a lot of challenges around my mindset with the introduction of COVID. My daughter’s school closed a few times, which caused me to have to stay at home. Finding a new routine with the children being home for multiple weeks caused me to lose track of my business. I lost seven deals out of nowhere, which kept me going into this dark hole. I just couldn’t get myself out of that. I started getting into a lot of these Real Estate social media groups that were very negative about the market, and that began to affect me because my business is very buyer heavy. I kept seeing, “It’s a horrible time for buyers to buy.” It became a snowball effect.
Was there a particular point where it clicked and you said this has to change?
When I hired Mandie on we had to have an open and honest conversation about her only being able to come on part time. I thought that I had enough coming in the pipeline to get her full time eventually. Then, all of that fell through. I kept her at part time a lot longer than I wanted to and I felt responsible for her. I don’t really have one defining moment that changed it all. Towards the end of the year, I decided that, without being really ready, I needed to be able to get Mandie on full-time and I needed to find the business to support that. In 2020, I needed to hire an assistant because I was so busy, but when Mandie came on board I wasn’t ready. I was very honest with her and she saw the vision. I am beyond blessed that she did, and she’s been a big part of pushing this forward.
Let’s fast forward to this year. Bring us to where you’re at compared to where you thought you would be.
I actually have, either under contract or sold, more than I sold last year. I have ten sold and we are at three and a half million in volume. My goal is ten million and thirty two units and we are well on our way.
Incredible! Let’s talk through the business plan that got you there. What were the key areas that you focused on?
The plan focuses on my database, my events (which include seminars, open houses, and now customer appreciation events), as well as social media. We reach out to our sphere. We have them all tagged and have them on the 36 to Convert campaign. The accountability of having no other option than to do the work allowed us to implement specific email campaigns that we wanted to do – that definitely helped. If I didn’t have Mandie, I may have found an excuse or a reason not to do what I needed to do.
You mentioned social media. How are you utilizing that and how it is coming back to you?
Social media has been incredible to me. I’m more focused on Instagram than I am on Facebook or TikTok. Just like anything else, I’m very consistent. I’m looking to see what the new trends are, what’s actually working for other agents in other markets, and then making it my all to be authentic and to be who I am. I’m very good at storytelling and I think that helps for people to resonate and realize that, “Hey, we’re kind of like this and maybe she can help us.”
One of the areas agents struggle with is hosting events. Talk about the sort of events that you do.
Obviously you’ll see me doing open houses, which are pretty direct. I’ve been consistent for three years doing first time homebuyer seminars. I used to do them in person, but when COVID hit I transitioned to doing them on Zoom, and now I’m going to start doing them in person again (and on zoom) to see what the turnout is. We have that down pat, and now we’re going to start looking into new construction seminars. Not a lot of people are doing them. The inventory is so low that it would provide me an opportunity to potentially get more listings and also get clients into new construction. Thankfully, since I brought Mandie on, I’ve been able to do customer appreciation events. Those have been amazing, and the other thing we’re doing is monthly offers for past clients where they can win raffles.
What were some of the things you’ve done to make your events better this year?
One thing that we started doing was sending out a video text message to remind people and let them know we’re looking forward to seeing them. That’s gotten a lot better of a response. We make sure to remind them the day of the event saying, “We are so excited to see you!” Another thing that works well is sending out an email after to let people know how good it was and to save the date for the next event. We calendared out the events that we want to do for the whole year, so that when the business begins to come, we’re not pushing that to the side.
For the seminars, we give people that attend a little bit of information. If we are doing it on zoom, I try to have everyone be on camera and turn on their microphones. I mention that this is very nontraditional and let them know they can ask questions at any time. I make sure to ask what they’re looking for specifically so that I know what I should touch on. Then I go through the lending process and home-buying process briefly and let them know I’ll be sending a Buyer’s Guide after. I help them understand that I know this is personal and that I will be following up to see specifically what it is I can do to help.
Finally, what made you raise the bar to push you forward, and what’s the big vision for this year?
What you focus on expands, and last year I was focusing on the negative times. There came a point in time when I decided that I was done, and that I would do whatever I needed to do to get to where we needed to be. Mandie and I said to ourselves multiple times that we were going to look back on 2022 and say that we made it. We threw ourselves into the plan, and we raised the bar together.
The goal now is to help 32 families, sell 10 million in volume, and just continue to raise the bar on our events, get more people there, and more interactions with our database. Mandie’s getting licensed and we’re very excited for that. Eventually, I want to be able to walk away from the everyday grind, so ultimately the big vision is to have a team and watch others shine. When you do good, you get good.
Suzette took massive action, and it turned her business around on a shoestring. When you think about other people rather than you, it’s actually easier to motivate yourself. You feel like you’re doing it for someone else rather than yourself – because in truth, you are. It doesn’t matter where accountability comes from. Whether someone imposes it or you impose it on yourself, having a bigger picture of why you’re doing what you’re doing actually helps you get consistency. If you believe in your plan, don’t change it. Just throw yourself into it 100 percent while always thinking, “How can I raise the bar?”
Did this blog get you fired up to revitalize your business? Want to see Suzette talk more about how she and Mandie have leveled up their business? See Suzette Berkhalter’s full interview on video!