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Inman is profiling independent brokers. Here’s Kelly Gitt, the broker/owner of Gitt Real Estate.

Why do you stay independent when there are so many great franchises to join?

I wanted to be a family-owned-and-operated local business owner, and 100-percent cash operated. I refused to go into debt. I was determined to build my company and name on a shoestring budget, and that is exactly what I’ve done.

I come from a family who knows the value of work and ethics. My mother taught me to speak up for myself and as far as I can think back I was working, stamping envelopes, cleaning, developing pride in my efforts.

Watching her growing up, she owned several businesses. I appreciated the time and care she took with her customers. Deep down, I wanted to make my mark on the industry and my community to set an example as a mother and female business owner.

When did you decide to launch your independent brokerage and why?

Gitt Real Estate opened in the spring of 2008 after the arrival of my twins. My main competitors are the larger offices that brand themselves on size and market share. I openly promoted that I was a “go getter” and worked around the clock to offer the personal attention my clients deserved.

What factored into that decision?

I felt that in the absence of an office that I felt best fit me, I decided to create my own culture of commitment to service and excellence.

Why did you think it was the right time and the right move for you?

The market was at the cusp of taking a major dive and it was either sink or swim. At that time, my children were very young and many years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would be there for my kids growing up. I didn’t want to be that parent that always said “no” to going to school to have lunch with their kids or missing their practices. I built my business around my schedule that fit the needs of my family.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting your brokerage off the ground?

Being patient and learning to master my business from the ground up as the broker, agent, photographer, custodian and an answering service until I was in a position to hire additional help.

What was the easiest part of getting your brokerage off the ground?

I love real estate and getting to be a part of such a big step in the lives of so many families has been a powerful motivator to me to never settle, never quit and always seek to be better.

What’s your approximate agent-to-staff ratio?

HAHA!!! One-to-one. :)

Are you part of an independent brokerage network?

Yes, I participate in a referral network primarily for my relocating clients. It’s an area of my business I would like to further develop.

What’s the quirkiest thing about your firm?

Me!

Describe your office. Where is it located? What does it look like?

We are conveniently located in a prime retail space in the Shops of Legacy in the heart of West Omaha.

What kind of floor plan do you use?

A vanilla box primarily used for a safe, professional hotspot for meeting clients. I own the gym next door, which allows my husband and I to be the face of our businesses.

How many agents and offices do you have?

One office and two agents, including me.

How do you recruit new agents?

Word of mouth, but I’m extremely selective about who would best represent my office.

Where and how do you market your brokerage?

Every opportunity I get I wear my name tag and share who I am and what I do. To be successful, you must not be a secret agent!

Do you have office parties? What are they like?

No. I currently don’t have the time and I’m actually quite shy in that sort of atmosphere.

What would you say are the biggest advantages to operating as an independent brokerage versus as a franchised firm? What are the biggest challenges?

The biggest advantage is taking pride in my own name and what it means to me. The biggest challenge are not having a full office staff at my disposal and conveniences of a larger office.

What sets your brokerage apart? What makes you different from your competition?

My primary focus is in residential real estate, and for me, this was a natural transition coming from new construction sales after college working with young families buying their first home. That developed into moving up those same families into the next stage of life. I am an Air Force vet and I believe that the discipline I learned has benefitted me throughout my career and differentiates me from my competition.

Anyone can offer “customer service,” anyone can get a real estate license, anyone can be an “order taker.” Selling and serving the public is a privilege and an art. I believe in striving to provide an exceptional customer experience and make every one of my clients feel valued and important. I want my clients to know by hiring me they are not just a number or a “deal.” They matter; so does their story and their “why” for buying/selling.

What’s the biggest business improvement you made last year? What’s the biggest improvement you have planned for this year?

I applied & was accepted as a Dave Ramsey ELP (Endorsed Local Provider) for real estate here in the Omaha metro area and I have invested in hiring a business coach to help me get really clear on my life’s work and purpose.

For 2016, my main focus is committing efforts towards educational opportunities and training. I’m laser-focused on polishing and streamlining my business, and I would like to achieve an increase in my sales by 10 percent.

Are you an independent broker who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.