“This is a very rewarding career,” says Gilbert. “I love seeing our team grow and how we can operate at a high level with so few people. My lead agent does a great job of showing his appreciation, which is really crucial in this business.”
Elizabeth Gilbert is the COO at Ron Henderson & Associates | Keller Williams Realty.
Would you recommend this career to someone else? Why or why not?
This is a very rewarding career. I love seeing our team grow and how we can operate at a high level with so few people. My lead agent does a great job of showing his appreciation, which is really crucial in this business. It’s common to take things personally and have tough days, but when the boss says “thank you” on a regular basis, it just makes everything so much easier.
What has been the biggest change to your job over the past year?
We added a third agent to our team, and she works the St. Joseph market, which is the next major city to the north of Kansas City. St. Joseph has its own MLS and its own way of doing things, so I’ve had to learn some new things and implement new systems to accommodate that change.
What sets your brokerage apart? How do you differentiate yourself?
We are not a “set it and forget it” team. We are constantly finding new ways to market our listings and engage people. Our customer service and attention to detail during all stages of the listing or buying process just can’t be matched by other agents.
Whenever we encounter a difficulty, we analyze the problem and immediately implement systems if needed to prevent future errors. Our clients often say that working with us is very clean and easy, and they always know what’s happening next in the process.
If you were forced to work in any industry other than real estate, which would it be and why?
That’s a hard question. I’ve really found my calling in real estate and wouldn’t want to do anything else!
Are you involved in any technology investment decisions?
Our team recently bought a new custom website. My lead agent and I talked about it a bit before he pulled the trigger, but he had already made up his mind that we were doing it no matter what. Right now I’m in charge of making sure the website is working and managing the company we’ve hired to do some of our pay-per-click ads.
Have you ever managed an office outside the real estate industry? What kind? How did you make the transition to real estate?
No. I taught middle/high school English and did some apartment leasing before getting into real estate.
How many agents work out of the office you manage? How many brokers?
Our team has three full-time agents and two full-time admin.
How many listings does your office manage at any given time (estimate is OK)?
Three to 10: Listings in our market don’t stay active very long!
Describe your office. What is the floor plan like? What is the decor like?
Our office has no windows, but we recently painted all the walls a bright teal. We have an office suite where two large rooms are connected. For the most part, the agents work in one room and the admin in the other. We can shut the door between us if needed.
What CRM does your office use?
What email system does your office use?
Gmail for Business (through Keller Williams).
Do you have a live person answer your phones, a messaging service or some other way to manage phone calls?
We have one direct office phone number that rings to my desk. If I don’t answer, the voice mail gets emailed to myself and the lead agent, Ron Henderson. Both admins have Google Voice numbers, which is what we give to clients. These are great for clients who like to text!
Do you have any office manager assistants, or are you doing it all yourself? If so, how many and how do they support you?
As COO, I manage the admin side. I have one transaction coordinator under me who handles contract to close, including negotiating inspection resolutions. I handle all listings and team marketing.
Are you involved in the social media strategy? How so? If not, who manages social media for your brokerage?
Yes, I manage several Facebook pages, as well as Facebook marketing. Right now I am educating myself on how to make this marketing strategy work better for us.
Have you ever sold real estate? If not, do you have any interest in selling real estate yourself?
I have been working on the administrative side for 10 years now. One year (in the down market) I decided to try my hand at working buyers while doing minimal admin work on the side. It did not go well. My strengths lie in building and implementing systems on a 9-to-5 type of schedule. Working evenings and weekends just stressed me out.
Walk us through a day in your life. What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office and the last thing you do before you leave? What happens in between?
Lately I’ve been working from home in the morning. Being able to work from home allows me to focus intently on high-priority projects. I eat lunch at home and then go into the office around noon.
At the office, I get caught up on anything I might have missed and help put out fires if needed. Then I work on low-priority tasks like scanning listing documents and doing prelisting activities for upcoming listings that aren’t ready to go on the market. Before I leave I make sure I have everything I need to work from home again the next morning.
What’s your favorite part of your day? What’s your least favorite part?
My favorite part is finding and implementing new marketing. I get a rush every time we get a new lead from whatever marketing I’ve done. My least favorite part is covering for our transaction coordinator when she’s on vacation. I used to do everything before we got so busy that I had to hire help, and, of course, I hired someone to take on that part of the job because it’s very hands-on and reactive instead of creative and proactive like the marketing.
What does lunchtime look like for you — do you leave the office for lunch or eat a brown-bag at your desk?
I eat lunch at home before I go into the office. Before I made the switch to working from home in the morning, I would just eat lunch at my desk.
How do you support agents after hours and on weekends?
The agents on our team are very good about not asking for things at night or on the weekends. We set expections with our clients upfront that we work normal office hours, and for the most part they respect that and don’t ask for things outside of office hours.
Do agents rely too much on you to handle things?
Not at all. We have clearly defined job descriptions and we don’t deviate from that. In fact, we admin have to remind the agents to let us handle some things, such as answering questions for clients once they are under contract. All communication at that point goes through Courtney, our transaction coordinator. Having multiple hands in the pot can lead to confusion or misinformation. So as the admins, we want the responsibility of handling things!
To what extent do you help with closings?
Our transaction coordinator handles everything during the closing process. She sets up inspections and helps our buyers and sellers come to an agreement with the other party. She is in constant communication with the mortgage and title companies to make sure everything comes through to close on time.
What broker or agent habits drive you crazy?
It drives me nuts when they forget to pass on important information.
If you had a magic wand that would grant one wish related to your job, what would it be?
I wish we had more listings and closings!
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