“Success is doing what you said you’d do, with clarity, knowing where you’re going and why,” says the Your Coaching Matters co-founder. “We work with a life’s intentions inventory and a standards of integrity exercise that help with that.”

Age: 52

Degree, school: Academy for Coaching Excellence, Sacramento, California

Location: We serve all of the U.S. and Canada, and we have had agents take our courses from Australia, Japan and other countries around the world. Since they are done via webinar and are recorded, time zones don’t matter.

Social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

Donna 5

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

Outside of my work, I spend time with family and friends. We have five children and two grandchildren who all live nearby and have developed some great new friends living in northwest Atlanta for eight years. Part of the reason we sold our real estate sales business in Hawaii and created a coaching business in Atlanta was so we could all live near each other and spend time together.

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

I personally coach 29 private coaching clients in addition to managing the company. Our business includes four other coaches servicing 58 agents in private coaching — plus another 25 in our new flexible coaching program, which we’re just launching and will expand to several hundred in that format over the next few months. We have provided coaching and training services for more than 2,500 agents in the U.S. and Canada through our Your Coaching Matters Courses on database mastery, for-sale-by-owners (FSBOs), expired listings, buyers, neurolinguistic programming, role-play and one called “Starting Up or Starting Over.” We’ll be adding several new courses in 2015, including one on building a team and another on working with absentee owners, which was one of our own personal secrets to our sales success before we moved into coaching — 50 to 60 percent of our business was from absentee owners.

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

Our coaching clients’ average commission income has improved every year since we started Your Coaching Matters in 2009. In 2015, that average pushed well over $300,000. Compared to the national average of about $39,000, we are pretty proud of that. Several clients who started with us a few years ago doing around $100,000 income have improved to over $600,000. I’d say adding $50,000 to $100,000 a year in income is normal in working with Your Coaching Matters on a private coaching contract. Since our cost for private coaching ranges from $4,000 to $11,000 a year, that’s a pretty good ROI. We also measure each agent’s activities and results with a patented online program. A lot of our clients now have data for more than five years of business.

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

I love celebrating, so I’d have to say no … holidays are never annoying! That said, we work most holidays other than the big ones like those lovely Monday ones for a long weekend, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

We believe when you work with clarity and focus during the days you’re supposed to, you can enjoy the times off guilt-free. Remembering that our work, as much as we may love it, can become driven if we don’t plan (and take) time off to do the things our work is earning money to support … with the people we care for.

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

Every agent is different. One of the great things about our coaching is there is no one cookie-cutter system to success. I have clients who never make a cold call, ever, who are earning over $500,000 a year … as well as those who do nearly 100 percent of their business from expired listing or FSBO cold calling.

My biggest recommendation and my own personal passion is creating a database. If you are new or in a new area, you must either invest in big ways to generate business to come to you … or you must be willing to go after business aggressively each day. Over time, we can take all those people we contact and create a detailed database of information, which I believe is a real estate agent’s most valuable asset. The public wants to work with agents they know and trust. It takes time and follow-through to create that trust. By building and working a database, over time, an agent can easily generate a 10 percent year after year return in repeat and referral business. If an agent has 1,000 contacts in a database to whom they reach out regularly with quality information and a service-minded approach, they can easily generate 100 transactions a year from it after working it for a few years. Some agents can do better than that, generating 200 or more transactions from that same-size database. Long term, a database is a salable asset. It’s an investment that really pays off. We also coach our clients that coming from a spirit of contribution goes a long way in an invitation to work with a client.

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

It’s nothing new: time management, shiny-object syndrome, looking for some new “magic bullet” that will drive strangers into doing business with them, and so on. All these things keep agents from reaching their full potential. What they need is focus and accountability to keep them on track and growing.

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

Success in this business can be very simple. Create a logical, detailed plan to get what you want; track your activities and results; get support; make adjustments as needed; and do what you say you will do. I see every agent as a hero on a hero’s journey. We know that we get more of what we focus on; therefore, our focus is on their strengths rather than any weaknesses. Hang-ups are simply “monkey mind” conversations, and we say to those thoughts, “Thank you for sharing, here’s a banana, go play,” and then get back to business of focusing on what we want. By creating a new conclusion that we are more interested in than the “hang-ups or weaknesses,” and working hard to continually bring the focus back to that, every agent can reach full potential. I absolutely believe that every single agent has the ability to earn a terrific living, and many have the ability to create phenomenal income, transforming a simple career in selling homes to something magnificent in their lives and in the lives of their families and employees.

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

We have two basic plans for private coaching. Both include two weekly group calls, a patented online numbers tracking system that includes goal-setting, a weekly newsletter, a private Facebook page for members only, a “YCMPedia” of tools and a history of all past group calls, and more. Twice-a-month coaching is $357 per month, and full-time coaching is $597 per month. We also offer an entry-level product for $97 per month and a premium product for clients who want or need more time with us weekly, or who have a team for us to coach, which is $897 per month. The coaches with Your Coaching Matters are paid a higher percentage than any of the other major companies, so we can afford to charge our clients less while still paying our coaches a fee that supports a good living for them. Clients can also buy courses and one live event a year separately at significant discounts.

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

Our biggest obstacle is time. To run the business, I can’t take on a lot of new clients each month and most of our clients remain with us on a month-to-month basis, virtually forever after their initial six-month contract. To reach more agents with the time that we have, we’ve launched a flexible coaching product for $97 per month that includes everything except private coaching calls. A private call is available for $147 per session on an as-needed and as-available basis. We each keep a few openings in our schedule to accommodate those single coaching calls, and we can still give a lot of value to agents with that program. I am also actively looking for coaches to add to our company — however, we have a very unusual and very high standard. All coaches who work as contractors for Your Coaching Matters must be, or be willing to become, an ACC (Associate Certified Coach) with an approved coaching school within two years and then join the ICF (International Coach Federation). The accreditation program is a huge time and financial commitment, yet we believe that to serve our agent clients with the best coaching services, this was a step we needed to take.

What do you do when you want to relax?

My favorite relaxation technique is to get a massage. At least monthly, I go let someone just pamper me for 90 minutes. It’s the most relaxing thing I do. I also have coffee one morning a week with a good friend where we can just chat and not think about anything else for an hour. I also enjoy reading, movies and really good television series (though I never watch them when they are on but use Amazon Prime or Netflix to watch when I want to). My husband gives a really good foot massage, too. :)

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

This is a great question, and it’s one I spent a lot of time thinking about before becoming a coach. As I see it, coaching was a natural result of a changing real estate industry.

For many decades, real estate agents became licensed and joined a brokerage, large or small, that had broker-managers who supported those agents in big ways. They trained agents in groups and individually. They went with agents on listing appointments and showings, teaching them how to present and sell and write contracts. They helped agents through the transaction and taught them what was normal, helping with the stress and “monkey mind” that came up from all the parties involved from buyer to seller to co-op agent, lender, and so on. They were support for goal-setting and analyzing their businesses, and were cheerleaders and moral support. And for this service, agents paid the brokerages anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of the commissions earned on sales. Maybe, as they grew more independent, up to 25 or 30 percent. Most of those offices had no more than a dozen or so agents (max) serving a limited geographic area. The rare huge office at that time might have 50 to 75 agents, with most of those being very experienced and independent … and still keeping only 60 to 75 percent of the commissions.

In the 1980s and ’90s the business model changed with the increase of 100 percent companies. No longer could a broker-owner afford to be (or to hire) a great manager. They had to begin competing with their own agents to make a living because the agent splits were much much higher. They could no longer be an expert because the office now served a much larger geographic area while they grew to hundreds of agents, many of whom worked from home. There was no way to spend time with each agent. Many companies went out of business until a new standard came along that capped the 100 percent agents to at least a minimum payment to the brokerage. But agents still needed that support. Hence, the birth of coaching in the early 1990s. It was simply a need being filled.

Coaching is a relatively inexpensive way to cover those services once given by a broker-manager by a professional who knows what they are doing. You can’t fire your broker-manager without leaving your office where you’ve hopefully gained some consumer recognition with your name … but you can fire a coach and hire another one if it’s not a good fit without leaving your office. An agent earning 80 to 100 percent at a great office can hire a coach for much less than it would cost to pay another 10 to 30 percent of their income to a broker. It’s a great investment.

Have you ever been a real estate agent?

Yes, I’ve had an active license since I was 24 in 1986. I sold alone for several years, earning “top salesperson” in my office my first full year in the business with a whopping 12 sales. That income was still more than I’d ever earned before, and I could see it being just the beginning. I doubled it the next year and so on until my mentor and manager opened her own office and asked me to become her manager. Within a short time, we’d put together an office of 50 agents (huge at that time). I spent all my time training, goal-setting, motivating and helping our agents succeed. By the time I was 29, we were a top-50 office in all of the ERA franchise. In 1992, I moved to Hawaii and became a broker, selling again and helping to manage the Stott Team. By 2005, we peaked at over 180 sales and nearly $2.7 million in gross commission income with our small team. Today, I am acting broker of a small property management firm that is run primarily by my daughter-in-law, and we do a few sales per year as well to keep me sharp in the market.

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

One of our coaches was a client before becoming a coach, and three of the five coaches with Your Coaching Matters still sell homes, including her. I’d say a few of our coaching clients do some education and training for others in their office or area, but most are focused entirely on having the business they want in sales.

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

Yes, we actually also employ a coach for the company. All of our coaches have private coaches in addition to the company coach, who also acts as my personal private coach. We believe in coaching, and we all pay for it ourselves. I’ve paid for a coach since about 1994. There is no end date in my mind until and unless I retire … and then I’d probably have a retirement coach! :)

How should real estate agents measure success?

Success is doing what you said you’d do, with clarity, knowing where you’re going and why. We work with a life’s intentions inventory and a standards of integrity exercise that help with that.

Success comes with focus, getting absolutely clear on what you want, to the exclusion of seeing anything else. And success comes with ease rather than with angst and upset. This doesn’t mean it’s “easy,” but that the work can be done with ease. And success comes with grace, being grateful for the opportunity we have with this career.

For most of my clients, that means growing each year, though I also help some agents to make more money with fewer transactions or in less time. I may coach others as they prepare to sell their business. I don’t define their success. They do.

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