Brokerage

Tim Harris: ‘We are all in real estate to be of service to others’

Why top agents redefine sales as service

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Tim Harris is the co-founder of Tim and Julie Harris Real Estate Coaching.

Age: 44
Degree, school: Ashland University, Otterbein University, Ohio State University. Majored in English and business.
Location: Austin, Texas
Social media: FacebookLinkedIn

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Tim and Julie Harris

What’s your favorite activity outside of work and why?

Had you asked me in 2013, it would have been travel. It was normal for Julie (my wife and coaching partner) and I to spend most of our summers in Europe or somewhere else overseas. But as of Jan. 1, 2014, that all changed when God blessed us with a little girl, Zoe Grace. Now we spend virtually all our time with her. We have never been happier!

Approximately how many real estate agents do you coach?

Actionize big data with predictive analytics to win listings

Julie and I both keep our personal coaching schedules to no more than 10 coaching clients per day.

How many real estate agents does your business coach?

Our coaching team manages well over 1,000.

Do you measure the average ROI of your clients? If so, what is it, and how exactly do you measure it?

I love this question. The return on the investment for anything an agent spends money on is the most important question.

Our answer is simple: If you aren’t bringing in at least five to seven times the amount of the investment that you are making with us, something is wrong. So $1 invested in our coaching should equal $5-$7 in ROI.

Keep in mind that not all agents are primarily concerned with increasing income. Maybe they are focused on building their brokerage, building smart teams, increasing sales skills or something else. We have seen a huge increase in new agents hiring us as their coaches from day one. Their goal is to get on the right path to long-term success as quickly as possible. A seasoned agent, though, might be looking for an exit plan.

It’s worth mentioning that a critical difference is that we don’t require contracts. We are accountable to our clients’ results, 24/7. If a client isn’t happy with our services, they can fire us at any time. Believe it or not, all our direct competitors don’t share this mindset, and they demand long-term contracts. Those contracts benefit the coach, not the client.

Do you think some holidays are kind of annoying?

I love the holidays; I wish there were more!  Maybe there should be a national “Love Your Realtor Day.”

Different people have different needs, but what specific business strategies do you seem to find yourself recommending most often to real estate agents?

We start every new client with an in-depth analysis of where their past transactions have come from. That is always an eye-opening experience for most agents. Often, they discover that the least-productive source of business is usually the thing they are spending the most money on. The easiest source of business is an agent’s professional and personal sphere of influence.

What are some common hangups or weaknesses that keep real estate agents from realizing their full potential?

At a core level, there is a foundational fracture in the real estate industry’s mindset about what it means to be a salesperson. Agents on the leading edge have recognized this problem and are taking action to be part of the new paradigm. Top producers start every conversation and every action with the mindset of service.

The old paradigm is that the real estate business is primarily a lead generation and numbers game. People are not people; they are just another deal or contact.  This insidious, ego-based, outdated way of thinking makes my teeth itch.

There is a fundamental disconnect between the real estate industry old guard and what both consumers and agents want. This mindset often puts agents in a state of confusion because that ancient approach to sales is out of step with their core beliefs about themselves and why they became agents. This almost evil mindset dilutes and deprives agents of their true core purpose: being of service to others.

The continued manifestation of this causes agents to be conflicted with their true desire. We are all in this industry to be of service to others. It’s a fact that the more people you help to accomplish their goals, the more of your own personal goals you will actually accomplish. A numbers-focused approach is in conflict with this mindset.

Agents who hire us to be their coaches quickly adopt this mindset: “Love what you do. It’s an honor to be a Realtor. Start by honoring your true desire to be of service and have faith that the money will follow.”

How do you address those hangups or weaknesses through coaching?

Once you help agents re-engage with their true desire to help others, they usually feel set free. That mindset shift is paramount for any true long-lasting success in the real estate business. (Or any business!)

How much does the average client pay your business for coaching every month?

$539. Weird number, right? It’s because our coaching programs range in price from $97 to $1,000 or more per month.

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in growing your business, and how have you tried to overcome it?

Julie and I have been coaching agents since the late ’90s. For a while in the early 2000s, we coached for other companies. We “relaunched” in 2007 and have had literally tens of thousands of agents participate in our programs.

Keeping up with the growth is the omnipresent challenge. Honestly, we are seriously considering capping the number of agents we will coach. We don’t want to become a big, impersonal coaching organization. We are at the point where we don’t desire more growth. Our focus is on results our clients are getting. Growth for growth’s sake is boring.

What do you do when you want to relax?

See the first question! Now that Julie and I are living in the World of Zoe, we love taking her (and our French bulldogs) on walks.

Granted, it’s not as exciting as jetting off to Europe to live in a villa on Lake Como, but we are having fun.

Do you think coaching is more popular in real estate than in other sales industries? If so, why? If not, why?

It’s hard for me to answer that question. With a few exceptions, we are primarily focused on the real estate business, agents and brokers.

When Julie and I started in the real estate business in our early 20s, there really weren’t many companies in the “selling stuff to agents” business. There was no Internet; there were no websites; there was no shared MLS. Stone age by comparison to today!

If we were just getting started in this industry, we would feel overwhelmed by all the noise. Now there are literally thousands of different companies selling stuff to agents. Buyer leads, seller leads, branding, direct mail, COI/PC systems, team systems — it’s understandably nearly impossible for most agents to know where they should focus their energies.

One of the first projects we do with any new client is culling the list of stuff they are paying for, as 99.9 percent of all agents and brokers don’t track their return on investment (ROI) on all the doodads they are paying for. In most cases, agents can massively reduce or completely cut what they are spending money on.

With that said, we do have coaching clients in other industries. Car sales, insurance sales — and our newest niche is the behavioral health industry.

Have you ever been a real estate agent?

Believe it or not, agents are hiring real estate coaches who never sold real estate or haven’t sold real estate for 40 years. If I wanted to learn how to play tennis, I would hire someone who has substantial experience playing tennis. If I wanted to be the best at tennis, I would hire someone who has worked their way to being one of the best tennis players in the world.

Julie and I have been in the real estate industry for more than 20 years and participated in more than 1,000 real estate transactions. We sold real estate in Ohio for nearly a decade. As a matter of fact, in our first year in the real estate business, we sold more than 100 homes. Julie also has a broker’s license, and we own many investment properties.

Do clients often begin coaching agents themselves? If so, why?

Informally, yes. Our coaching clients often become the top producers in their offices or towns, and other agents ask them how they did it. Often they refer those agents to us.

Do your coaches typically have coaches themselves? If not, why?

Julie and I personally coach all of our coaches. 

How should real estate agents measure success?

That really is a very personal question, isn’t it? Ask 100 agents that question, and you do get 101 different answers. We do stress to every client that profit is the key metric for measuring the health of their business.

Drilling down, for some agents success is paying off debt, for others it’s earning millions of dollars per year. Some agents want to be famous. We have a clients who are stars on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing.” Others benchmark their success by what they are able to give to their churches or to their favorite charities.

The bottom line? A client’s goals are our goals.

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