We’ve all heard the greasy car salesman jokes, read aggressively sale-sy bench ads, and at some point, questioned whether one salesperson or another was truly looking out for our best interests.
Although the vast majority of real estate agents work hard to do right by their clients, we continue to fight to overcome a negative reputation that puts us just barely above politicians and used car salesman (according to a professional reputation survey by Insight West).
So, you can imagine how I felt, as president of Zolo Realty, when one of our young, vibrant agents decided to audition for Big Brother Canada Season 6 — as a villain, no less.
When Michael Jakobczak’s video went live on Global Television and voting opened to determine his fate as a reality TV star, we all wondered if he made the right decision.
Being cast as a “devilish rogue” only seemed to support the public’s notion that real estate agents are smarmy, egotistical salespeople, who are not to be trusted. But Jakobczak didn’t feel that way.
He never thought the move would jeopardize his career as an agent. In fact, he walked away with a few lessons on how to be a better agent to his clients and build a lifelong career from himself as an agent.
I spoke to Jakobczak to find out what he learned. Here’s what he had to say.
1. Always be yourself
It was pretty much guaranteed that Jakobzcak was going to be typecast as a villian — how could he not when, in his audition tape, he wore a flashy checkered suit in front of a screen that displayed fiery red flames. Using this video, viewers had to decide between Jakobzcak and the “angel” competitor Merron Haile.
“It was an hour-long interview, and the show producers clipped the video into a short reel [of the] pieces they loved,” Jakobczak said. “Turns out, many of the voters didn’t love my straightforward approach and blunt way of speaking.”
Despite losing out on the reality TV show spot, Jackobzcak feels good.
“I don’t hide who I am,” Jakobczak said. “A client knows when you’re putting on a show. It’s better to be genuine because these types of client-agent relationships require trust.”
2. Social media is a powerful tool
As an agent who works with many first-time homebuyers and younger homesellers, Jakobczak is pretty comfortable using a variety of communication tools.
Although he continues to rely on emails, text message and phone calls to stay in touch with current clients, he also invests time and energy into creating a social media profile, using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube videos.
“It’s a chance to show people who I am and how I operate,” Jakobczak said. “And this helps them feel more comfortable and confident with my ability to help them find their next home or sell their current home.”
3. Don’t be discouraged
It was relatively easy for Jakobczak to put together an audition reel — he is already accustomed to creating YouTube videos. But he didn’t realize that the audition process would actually help him better prepare for client interviews.
Once the producers of the show had selected him as a potential candidate, Jakobczak had to go through interview after interview, while being subjected to a multitude of evaluations.
About halfway through, he realized the process was just an extreme version of meeting a client for a first-time.
Whether it’s a chat about buying a first home or sitting down to demonstrate your listing presentation, each agent must put their best foot forward, provide relevant information, show the client that you are reliable and trustworthy and up to the task at hand, without overwhelming the person (or people) with too many choices or too much information.
It’s a balancing act that must be practiced and improved-upon, and the first step is not to get discouraged, Jakobczak said.
“I’m the type of person who doesn’t give up on anything. I always put 120 percent to whatever I’m doing, and I believe that successful people have this characteristic of disciplined perseverance.”
It’s this characteristic that keeps Jakobczak from falling victim to discouraging setbacks.
“To me, there’s no easy formula for success. It’s all about pounding the pavement, shaking hands, learning and asking questions. That’s how you get places in life,” he said.
4. The only limit is you
It’s obvious that Jakobczak works hard at his chosen career. He is constantly brushing up on his negotiation tactics and always looking for ways to help his clients achieve their homeownership dreams, which is why he felt Big Brother would be a great experience.
Not only would he get to practice his negotiation skills, but attract new, untapped clients to his agent-brand.
“Marketing is all about exposure, and there’s nothing better than TV for broad, national exposure,” Jakobczak said.
Early on, Jakobczak realized “there is no ceiling in direct sales. It’s endless growth, and it’s a new challenge every single day.” This is important for this hard-working, driven agent.
After spending more than 10 years flipping houses and investing in international real estate, Jakobczak decided to pursue his passion and become a licensed real estate agent. Since joining his brokerage a few years ago, Jakobczak’s passion for properties has only grown.
“Sure, you need a little luck in everything you do, but there’s nothing wrong with working hard to make that luck happen,” Jakobczak said.