Albuquerque’s Kellie Tinnin has a passion for raising the bar on professional growth in the real estate industry. After becoming a top-producing broker, Tinnin began using her experiences to teach agents in her brokerage how to improve their own real estate businesses.

In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.

Albuquerque’s Kellie Tinnin has a passion for raising the bar on professional growth in the real estate industry.

After becoming a top-producing broker, Tinnin began using her experiences to teach agents in her brokerage how to improve their own real estate businesses.

This led her to expand her outreach as a trainer for the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors (GAAR) where she currently serves as training administrator.

How long have you been in the business?

I have been licensed since 2008. At the time, I was dealing with a lot of transition in my life. My dad had died two years prior, and I had closed down the business I had helped him get off the ground.

I was working for a construction company, and while the people were great, I hated the job. I don’t remember an exact “eureka” moment when deciding to get licensed. I just know I was looking for a challenge and a career change.

My career has since come full circle. I sold real estate until 2016. In 2016, I started training for a local brokerage here in Albuquerque. In 2017, I took a position as the trainer for our local association.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to partner more with local brokerages in our state to develop more comprehensive training programs. I would love to take part in creating a well-rounded, “apprentice” style onboarding program for new agents.

The barriers to enter the real estate profession are low. Although it’s a start, raising the bar is far more than stricter licensing requirements.

Real estate is not about selling homes. The process of buying or selling a home is someone’s financial livelihood. Training also needs to teach brokers how to run a business and how to professionally and ethically serve the public.

When I started in real estate, I had minimal training, at best. I had to learn on my own, and a lot of things I learned the hard way, by making mistakes. That should be the exception, not the norm in our industry. Agents deserve a chance to succeed, and the public deserves a chance to be served by well-trained agents.

What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?

Spend your money wisely and in the right places.

How did you learn it?

When you’re in the business every day, I think it can be hard to see the big picture and keep your finger on so many different things. I realized that I was spending too much money on marketing when I started looking at my tax returns and looking at the difference between my expenses and what my gross income was.

The numbers were huge. I started talking to friends who owned small businesses about their marketing expenses and started to realize that I was spending too much for what I was getting in return.

Real estate is expensive. I spent money on the wrong things or at the wrong time. I’ve bought leads and paid for services I didn’t need. I’ve paid for marketing I didn’t need. Much of it was a waste of money because I did not have the right systems in place to manage that piece of business.

I think overall I made mistakes that a lot of people make, real estate or not.

I made decisions about where to spend my money before having a plan. I think if I would have had a plan in mind for what I wanted to achieve before making investments in buying leads or paying for assistance with social media marketing, I would have known my goal for what I was expecting out of the investment and would have been able to better measure my results to know if it was really worth it.

Bottom line, spending is no replacement for hard work, consistency and getting out of bed every day.

What advice would you give to new agents?

I wish there was a class that was called “what you need to know before getting your real estate license.” All joking aside, many agents are at a disadvantage when they get licensed because they are not prepared to run a small business and the financial burden that comes with getting a new business off the ground.

It is equally as important for agents to know how to operate a business as it is for them to know how to read contracts and professionally serve a client. Agents should take advantage of every opportunity they can to learn about the business.

Attend Realtor tours, talk to other brokers, ask questions. Take time each week to look at homes and study the market. Take advantage of the training your brokerage offers and training that your association provides.

Get involved and network with agents at your association. You can learn a lot about the business simply by asking questions and listening to what other agents have to say.

Treat your business like a business. Be consistent with your marketing, and do a few things well rather than a bunch of things just average. Don’t feel like you have to be all things to all people.

Get out of bed every day. Do something. Even if you go look at homes or study market statistics, take a business or marketing class. Do something to learn and make your business better every day.

Are you an agent with a story everyone can learn something from? Reach out to us (contributors@Inman.com). We look forward to featuring more of our best agents and brokers in a future edition of “Lesson learned.”

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook or Twitter

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