Marketing

Brian Buffini: ‘Most people we encounter fear success, not failure’

Buffini & Company chairman and founder talks about coming to America and pursuing his dreams

Age: 47

Location: Carlsbad, California

Social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

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Brian Buffini onstage at an event.

 

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

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There’s a different season for everything … and today, much of my personal time is spent with my family. We home-school, and my kids are very involved in sports, so my bride, Beverly, and I spend a great deal of time at games and functions connected to their education.

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

We have 11,006 members, and the majority are real estate agents. We also coach lenders and other small-business professionals.

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

We measure the average gross commission income, and 97 percent of our members (clients) maintain a profit and loss statement while managing their expenses. The average coached sales agent made over $250,000 this year, as compared to the average sales agent income of $35,000 (according to a National Association of Realtors report).

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

As an immigrant who came to America with $92 to my name, and after 17 years of living here, I am today a citizen by choice. And I think my favorite holiday has become Thanksgiving. It’s unique to North America, and the whole concept of a family gathering built on the principle of gratitude is a powerful reflection of how I feel about my career and life since moving to America.

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

In today’s high-tech real estate world, there are so many choices, so many ways to spend money. But, ultimately, so many ways to lose focus. The fundamentals of lead generation, building relationships, turning those relationships into customers and staying in contact with those customers will never change. Intuitively, we all know this, but it’s so easy to become distracted. Helping agents analyze their fundamentals, and then put daily disciplines in place to execute on these fundamentals is typically how we can turn around almost anyone’s business in 18 months.

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

We all have a narrative running in our head. Some of that narrative is based on things we’ve been told about ourselves that simply are not true. One of the things our business coaches do is provide a step-by-step action plan to tap into that potential. Strangely enough, the majority of people we encounter have a fear of success rather than a fear of failure. Helping agents blow past those fears and embrace their full potential is kind of our specialty.

How do you address those hangups or weaknesses through coaching?

We have a proprietary process called the heritage profile. It was a company I acquired many years ago that completes an in-depth analysis of a person’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s not some online test but an analysis with our trained specialists, who use a scientific method developed by the Gallup Organization in the 1970s.

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

We’ve been coaching people for almost 20 years. I was a practicing agent and came from the industry, so I know how affordability is a big issue. That’s why we have the most affordable program in the industry. Our coaching is almost half the cost of our competitors, yet our clients tell us that we provide a service that is twice that of anyone else.

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

Like everyone, it’s probably myself. The obstacle grew at those times when I stopped seeking help from others, didn’t look for counsel from mentors, or neglected the lessons history has to share.

What do you do when you want to relax?

Our family has a special place in Hawaii where we regularly go to relax, recharge and rejuvenate.

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

Realtors are in business for themselves in a way many are not. This puts them in a unique spot where they don’t always have the foundational elements they need in the form of training, accountability or support. This makes a systemized coaching solution very attractive. We like to take the self out of self-employed, so that even in real estate you have a team to support you. We also encourage our clients to lean into the Buffini & Company community across the United States and Canada. Our members meet regularly to share ideas, exchange referrals and discuss best practices. There’s nothing like having a community of professionals to talk to and mindshare with when you’re facing challenges. The same is true for the thousands of brokers we work with across North America, helping them implement training and systems to build a business they can rely on.

Have you ever been a real estate agent?

Yes. I sold real estate for seven years, working for ERA Advantage, Re/Max and finally formed my own company called Buffini Real Estate. During a time with double-digit interest rates, I averaged 87 transactions per year. That’s a lot of discussions with buyers and sellers across kitchen tables! At the end of the day, I’m a real estate guy. I love real estate!

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

Our business coaches go through months of extensive training to be qualified to coach our clients. If our clients are talking with other agents about their success, we encourage them to refer those agents and we’ll take great care of them. Our goal in coaching clients is to increase their production. Once they get rolling, they don’t have time to be coaching on the side — they leave that to the professionals!

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

Our coaching department has ongoing in-house training and development training here at our main facility. One of the reasons we don’t believe in outsourcing coaching is that the coaches then lose the support and accountability. We also have a director of internal training dedicated to training our coaches and all of our staff on a regular basis.

How should real estate agents measure success?

Success is often measured by comparing ourselves to others. I believe the true measure is when we compare ourselves with the gifts we’ve been given, and our own potential. But we exist to help others succeed. And the numbers bear that out: Our top 15 percent to 20 percent of clients earn over $600,000 on average.