I take you back to June of 2001 soon after 9/11. As allot of people were I was doing a bit of soul searching as well as searching for some extra income while the economy was in a bit of a slump. In searching an employee of mine, told me how he invests in real estate and how I should try it. Now I was working in one of Atlantic Cities casinos and although I was making great money for my age I didn't have a real savings to start investing. So my employee said, "You've got a great personality, why don't you sell real estate?" In fact he told me if I got my license he would buy and sell all his properties through me. Well in 2001 I did, and he kept his promise, by the end of that year he bought 5 properties through me as well as referred everyone in his community to me. By the end of my first full year in real estate I made almost $22,000 which doesn't sound like much but this was about half of what I was making in my full time job, so I saw potential.
Now its 2003 and I'm at my second real estate office, a small Century 21 that helped me reach a higher stage of my career. Now although I reached high limits and made more money, I always new there was a better way, I was unorganized at best. I was working haphazardly, long hours and all times. There were plenty of times I wouldn't see my family for days. I would put a suit on by 8am every morning sell real estate all day and then go right to work by six, come home by 2:30am and do the same thing again the next day. Now because I worked crazy hours so did my clients, so there would be times I was doing contracts or on the phone in the middle of the night. I couldn't do this forever so I reduced my hours at the casino and it now was my part time job to my full time real estate job. Now I thought this would solve my chaotic life....but it didn't. I just began working later for real estate. I drove my wife so crazy being on the phone so much she booked a cruise because she knew this would be the one place she could see me without having to surgically remove my cell phone from my ear. Don't get me wrong it was a great time in real estate and I was doing well. In fact I was the top selling agent in my office for 3 years. 2005 was my best year as it probably was for allot of agents, the difference with me was I knew I didn't know enough about the real estate business or business itself. I also saw the writing on the wall with the amount of inventory that was stacking up, and I had a feeling the good old days were over. In fact I was right by 1st quarter of 2006 my sales were down almost 20%! I really knew now there has to be a better way.
In the end of 2006 I ran into a highly respected Real Estate Broker from another local office. In our short conversation at Wawa he said, I may be opening a new real estate company in the area called Keller Williams Realty. It peaked my curiosity just slightly, because although there were no Keller Williams in my area, I had heard of the company when I went to Florida. It also interest me by who was telling me about, one of the most respected and knowledgeable real estate professionals in the area, that man was Bill Wagner.
In 2006 I did make the million dollar club although my business was down about 20% from 2005. At the awards dinner I saw Bill again and told me he was in the incubating stage of opening a Keller Williams. Of course very nervous of change and probably gave the typical, "I'm happy where I'm at, again I was definitely interested. He did not try and force Keller Williams Atlantic Shore on me, rather focused on how my business was doing and what was I doing to change it. He asked questions like, "do you have a database?' and" Are you focusing on your 20%? I don't remember my responses but they couldn't have been that well thought out cause I had no database and no idea what 20% of what he was talking about. He without telling him knew this and since it was a celebration and cocktail hour simple said, I'm going to drop a book off to your house tomorrow and I want you to read it and well talk after you've read some. Next morning early, shorting after 9am, I get a knock at the door, its Bill with a red book. Now known to me as the Millionaire Real Estate Agent, is the best business, not just real estate, business book I've ever read. Now honestly I only read about 40 pages before Bill called me, but when he called he asked me if we could sit down and talk more about my business, not Keller Williams, my business. I accepted, and my wife and I went out to dinner with Bill and his wife. During dinner Bill explained to me ways I could improve my downward sloping business, and not that it was all ground breaking stuff, but structured and it all made sense. For example, having a database that actually works with systems to help keep me in contact with my clients. DUH! Focusing on the tasks that actually make me the money in my career. How about making an actually schedule for myself, as if I was an employee for my own business!! DUH, DUH!! Not rocket science stuff, but things I just hadn't done. These were just some of the simple tasks we talked about, most of Bill's ideas were out of the box, again not rocket science just great ideas I had never thought of. Midway through the night we did speak about Keller Williams Realty and its mission statement, goals and training!! Training was a big deal for me, because I'm not one to be too proud to say, I don't know something, but if I don't I want to find out. The other aspect of Keller that really peaked me was KW Cares. This is Keller Williams Realty's charitable organization. Basically each market center was charged to raise $30,000 per year to give back to their local community. How great is that, this says a lot about a company, and not only do they give to local charities, they give back to their agents and their families in need, (ex; A KW agent is ill can't work and has a lot of medical bills, that market centers KW Cares committee applies for a grant through corporate. I've seen them give more than what was asked for, thousands more.) The culture of this company, from what I had read and what Bill was telling me, blew me away. To say the least, I got it! I felt this was the change, knowledge and structure I was looking for. That evening I told Bill, I would be coming to work at Keller Williams Realty, as well as invest in the company.
My first day at Keller Williams Realty was the 2nd Wednesday in March of 2007. I wasted no time getting my desk set up and organized. By midday I was on the phones calling every person I knew and had ever spoken to. Every number that was written on scraps of paper (this was my old database). As I was calling them I was entering them into my new database follow up program as well as asking them for referrals. When I was first told to this, I was uncomfortable, but after asking a few of my clients I realized they were happy to give them to me. (This remains today still one of my biggest sources of leads. Throughout the first 3 months of being at Keller Williams I had implemented a lot of the systems I was learned and read about in training. Guess what......it was working, I saw a difference in the amount of listings and sales, and in fact I ended 2007 up from 2006. Not by much, but it was slightly better, and saw the potential. In 2008, for the first time in my 7 years in real estate I wrote a business plan with the help from Bill and KW intranet online training. This is another powerful item I learned here, how do you know how to get somewhere if you don't know where you're going! DUH!! In fact as of October 2008 I am having my 2nd best year ever and possible could end of being my best year, in what most are calling a bad market. Trust this is not an accident; it's me being on purpose! It was one of the best things I've done this year in addition to time blocking everything. Yes I mean everything, especially family time. Gary Panter my team leader told me the story of when he first started working with Bill, and Bill told him open your planner and first schedule what time you're going to spend with your family and schedule everything else around that. This is the most important thing I've learned at Keller Williams.
You could say Keller Williams Realty changes lives but that wouldn't be believable to most. So what I will say is, Keller showed me how to build, "Careers Worth Having. Businesses Worth Owning and Lives Worth Living"
And of course always remember;
GOD, FAMILY then BUSINESS
Shawn M. O'Brien
Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Shore
200 Tilton RD, Northfield, NJ 08225