Marketing

Julie Harris: ‘My goal is to provide overwhelming value to my agents’

On tailored coaching programs and the intensely personal nature of success

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

Age: 43

Degree, school: Ohio State University, Otterbein College — majored in music performance and English

Location: Austin, Texas

Social media: Facebook, LinkedIn

Julie Harris with daughter Zoë.

Julie Harris with daughter Zoë

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

Definitely playing with our little daughter Zoë. Since everything is new to her, it’s wonderful to tune in to her sense of wonder and discovery. She is such a blessing. We spend every possible moment with her!

Approximately how many real estate agents do you coach? How many real estate agents does your business coach?

I personally coach eight to 10 agents daily. This allows me to get to know each of them and really invest in their personal and business growth. Through the entire company and our staff, we handle more than 1,000 clients.

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

This is a great question because it speaks to accountability and results. My personal goal is to always provide “overwhelming value” to the agents who have entrusted me to their education and growth of their business. It’s not unusual for my clients to double their production year over year. Sometimes that’s through an increase in transactions; sometimes we’re raising their average sale price; often we’re doing both.

ROI isn’t always judged by dollars exclusively, though. Sometimes my job is to take a “grizzled veteran” and help them find a level of time management that gets their life back in order. Other times, my job is to get a new agent on an immediate track to profitability, and more often than not, I’m taking an average agent and having them implement what’s necessary to create a 20 to 30 percent growth year over year. A “top producer” to us is someone who has specific goals, follows the plan and implements, and ultimately meets or exceeds those specific goals.

Do you think some holidays are kind of annoying? If so, why? If not, why?

I love the holidays because it’s time to reconnect with family and friends and time to recharge. Someone told me a long time ago that if you work when you’re supposed to be at work and you play when you’re supposed to play, you remove the gray area out of life and can be more present in all situations. I find this to be true personally, and I find it to be a valuable theme in coaching as well.

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

The strategies I recommend are tailored to each specific agent, taking into account that agent’s personality tendencies and marketplace. This happens only after an in-depth analysis. I think its coaching malpractice to pigeonhole agents into a specific, preordained program that isn’t necessarily right for them.

There are many ways to achieve a profitable and efficient real estate career. We coach prospectors, marketers, and most clients are becoming great at both. It’s the combination of lead-generation techniques that leads to predictable success, not just one specific “widget” or paid lead source. We teach our agents to be strong lead generators on their own so their net income is as high as possible.

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

There are three common weaknesses I see time and again. The first is the tendency to believe that it’s OK to “buy” business through paying for buyer leads. The second is the inability to track, follow up and close on leads already generated. The third is more of a mindset issue, addressing the belief that if you don’t “love” your job, you can’t be a rock star at it.

How do you address those hang-ups or weaknesses through coaching?

We work hard to recalibrate all three common weaknesses as well as any other hang-ups detected through our coaching relationship. Lead follow-up issues are the easiest to fix, which leads to more leads, listings and opportunities. That resolves the “buying leads” issue because our agents become great self-generators, and then suddenly they start to love the business a bit more. This is a specific process that we address as early on as possible with coaching, and we see it at all levels of production, not just among the newer agents.

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

You asked for the average, which is $539 per month. That’s the blended average of all clients. Our programs range from $97 to $1,000 per month.

We recognize that agents are at all different levels, so we offer a diversity of coaching possibilities. We also don’t use contracts, so our clients can tailor-make their own program.

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

It’s a blessing to have such growth in our organization, but also a challenge. We take very seriously our responsibility to provide the best coaching and training in the industry. We overcome this challenge by keeping our content updated, keeping our clients on track and doing what we promise. That keeps it pretty simple!

What do you do when you want to relax?

The answer used to be to travel someplace interesting, and we’re so lucky to have done a lot of that “PZ,” which stands for “pre-Zoë.” Now it’s pretty fantastic to spend an afternoon reading to her, going on walks with her, Tim and the French bulldogs. We also do occasional rescue missions for French Bulldog Rescue Network. That’s not always relaxing, but it is very fulfilling to see wayward dogs find better homes.

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

I can’t really speak to other industries, but it seems to be a very common thread that agents who are doing really well in real estate have a coach, and agents who are just getting by do not. Coaching is almost required to fill in the gaps that aren’t addressed in real estate school, and not every broker or office manager helps with this. They’re busy handling risk management on the files and not necessarily teaching agents how to handle a listing presentation, field objections and close properly.

Real estate does seem strangely unique in that you can become dangerous enough to sell property without much real-world education. Agents are often overwhelmed with companies selling them all sorts of things, from QR codes for their signs to buyer leads to postcard campaigns. It’s just faster and more efficient to hire a coach to help you sort out what’s worth the investment, what’s not and what to do next!

Have you ever been a real estate agent?

This is seriously the most important question any agent should ask before considering any business coach! Of course I’ve been a real estate agent. I say “of course” because I’d never remotely consider being a professional coach in a field I’d not been a professional in.

Tim and I have both been in the industry for over 20 years and have participated in well over 1,000 real estate transactions personally. We sold real estate in Ohio for just under a decade. Our first full year in business, we sold more than 100 homes. We’ve sold everything from first-time homes to luxury golf course homes to relocating executives to new construction, as well as short sales and vacation homes. We’ve sold in a distressed market as well as a hot market, high inventory and low. I also have a broker’s license and manage our own rental properties.

This is a critical question and I’m glad you asked it, because it affects all aspects of coaching our agents. We have walked in their shoes, so we understand the mindset challenges that can happen in growing a real estate practice. Our scripts are real-world scripts, updated constantly for the changing market. We address everything from how to handle low-inventory markets to price reductions to competitive listing strategies, and how to handle challenging clients. It’s also not unusual for us to coach our agents to actually “save” a deal going sideways when necessary. This is because we’ve done it all at a high level. I tease my agents that they better be ready because we really have an inability to coach agents to “just get by.” We like to raise superstars.

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

This is inevitable because once agents in their offices see the growth of our client’s real estate practice they wonder what’s happening and go to our agents for advice. Usually they refer those curious agents to us; sometimes they’ll adopt agents on to their own team if it’s appropriate.

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

Tim and I personally coach all of our coaches. All of our coaches are licensed, experienced agents or brokers. All of them are currently active in today’s market.

How should real estate agents measure success?

This is a very personal question. The success of any business is the profit that results from the service that is provided. Thus, the better an agent is at providing professional service, and the more people they serve, the more profitable their business is. That’s the financial answer.

The more personal answer is that our clients define success. We take very seriously their specific goals and spend time defining and refining those goals. Our clients range from Bravo and HGTV stars to agents who are doing real estate as a second job to pay for their kids’ college. I have clients who make well over $1 million in gross commission income and others who just want to close a deal a month to supplement their retirement income. Some are rebuilding what they lost during the recession. Most of my clients are somewhere in between, with specific goals centering on creating the life of their dreams. Real estate is unique because there’s no income cap, so if you can dream it, we’ll find a way for you to do it.

No one gets into real estate to “just get by.” Success to me as your coach means that you have spent time to think about what you want your life to look like, we’ve figured out what’s required to get you there and you’re systematically implementing the steps we have agreed to deploy. I’m so very proud of the success of all of my clients. The best part is seeing where their business will take them next year.

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