Karen Briscoe’s worst year in real estate was 2008. Not only was the market crashing around her, but her long-term mentor and 50-50 business partner succumbed to a battle with cancer at 64 years old. But from that year, she can teach you how to take your business into your own hands.
With thoughts of a business ruined popping in and out of her mind, Briscoe chose to make her fallen partner proud and make the business better and stronger than ever before. In her partner’s honor, she even kept her name on the partnership she uses to this day.
I spoke with Briscoe recently to find out how she bounced back and sold 99 homes last year with a volume of $70 million.
Briscoe reluctantly admits that her one big mistake in her career was not going “where the puck is going to be,” quoting Wayne Gretzky (the famous Canadian hockey player who still holds over 60 NHL records that he racked up in his 20 years as a pro).
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” -Wayne Gretzky
In 2008, while her world was crumbling around her, Briscoe tried to make things better through simply hoping and believing that the crash was very temporary. This, of course, proved wrong, and things continued to slow down in her market as they did all over the world.
I remember that time quite well myself, and I can tell you firsthand that I too believed for over a year that sales and activity would naturally return to its peak levels if I simply waited one more month.
I can’t imagine going through that time as Briscoe did with the illness and eventual death of her business partner happening simultaneously. I don’t think I would have continued. Briscoe did.
Wake up and start moving
Briscoe began to discover that activity breeds activity. Some agents will be quick to tell you that previewing listings of other agents is a waste of time and not productive behavior. Briscoe found that the activity itself made her creative and got the blood flowing in her mind and body.
She found herself picking up the phone and warm-calling other people who she knew lived near the houses she previewed simply to tell them about it. Suddenly, her voice picked up, and she felt excited.
People began to offer referral after referral. She became their area expert, not afraid to call the same person each time a house came up for sale near them. People were more apt to be curious about how it compared to theirs than they were to be offended. Her business took off.
‘Too much prepping, not enough doing’
When meeting someone at a party, most people ask, “What do you do?” I tend to ask, “Where do you live?”
Briscoe has the same habit.
If our business is homes, neighborhoods and the people that live in them, then it’s only natural that we are more interested in where than what. Maybe if we were head hunters, it would make sense to ask about their occupation, but as agents — I think not.
I once heard someone ask the question “When do you know you should fire an employee?” And the bold answer was “The first time you think about it.”
Briscoe uses a similar philosophy with her warm calls. When is the best time to call someone? Answer: the first time you think about it or immediately.
She travels to do her previews weekly, and as soon as she is done looking at a house, she will look in her database for people she might know who live nearby.
Before she even gets to the next preview or back to the office, she’s on the phone telling someone about it while it’s still fresh in her memory and her excitement level is high.
I have always been a big believer in the “aim, fire, ready” philosophy. Sometimes I think as agents we spend too much time prepping and not enough time doing. I find that the agents who succeed are the ones that act.
I believe it so much, I dedicated an entire chapter of my book to that one word: act. If it’s 3 p.m. and you’re feeling sleepy from that high-calorie lunch, do 10 jumping jacks. Action will create more action. Motion will create motion.
The same is true with the body of our real estate business. If you want to break a slump, go out there and shake 20 hands, hand out 20 business cards, knock on 20 doors or preview 20 houses (and call people nearby immediately). Always remember what Briscoe has taught us — you are the master of your own defibrillator.
Listen to the interview with Karen Briscoe of Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group, Keller Williams Mclean in Great Falls, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Pat Hiban is the author of NYT best selling book “6 steps to 7 figures – A Real Estate Professional’s Guide to Building Wealth and Creating Your Destiny” and the Host of Pat Hiban Interviews Real Estate Rockstars an Agent to Agent Real Estate Radio Podcast with Hiban Digital. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter.