Each week, we talk to agents across the country about what they’ve learned along the way (and what they wish they had known as new agents). This week, find out how New York City broker Michael J. Franco learned the importance of getting in front of potential clients and having the systems to stay there.
In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
With a background in law and a foothold in some of the most desirable residential markets in the county, Michael J. Franco understands the complexities of marketing, innovation and negotiation.
However, his experience has taught him that it’s the little things that make all the difference in staying top-of-mind when you’re launching — and growing — your real estate empire.
How long have you been in the business?
I have been in the business for 11 years. Prior to this I was practicing law, specializing in trusts and estates — and doing real estate closings. By investing in real estate personally, I realized that I wanted to be on the broker side of the business.
I shut down a lucrative law practice and went into residential real estate in July 2008 — a rough time to start out but a great way to get trained right away to work in a challenging market.
When I went into real estate sales, I found that it had more to do with psychology and counseling, in many cases, than real estate. I love that side of it and am constantly trying to expand my emotional intelligence. Being able to counsel people made my legal background really relevant.
You have to know the inventory and the market inside and out, of course, but you really need to know how to work with the clients — there is so much emotion involved.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Working at Compass with my excellent team closing hundreds of deals every year and hundreds of millions in volume. I haven’t done a lot of new development — I want to continue growing my resale business, which I love.
The best thing about the real estate business is that I can keep growing and helping my team grow their businesses until I wake up and am not excited about it anymore — which I don’t see happening.
The industry is changing, and I love continuing to learn and [going] to conferences and [staying] on top of the technology that’s evolving and impacting the business.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
You have to stay in touch with everyone.
How did you learn it?
When I was first starting out, I was mentored by a top-producing real estate agent in NYC. I had done work with him and had done closings for his clients. I’ll never forget one day, as he was driving away he said, “Oh, make sure you stay in touch with everyone.”
At the time, I thought it was rather simplistic advice. Fast forward five years later, and I realized it was the best piece of advice I ever got.
In my law practice, I sent out holiday cards once a year and thought that was marketing. In real estate, it doesn’t work that way.
Most people know at least two or more real estate agents, and whomever is on their radar screen at the time they plan to buy or sell, that agent is going to get the business — not the agent who hasn’t kept in touch.
When I was about two or three years into the business, I decided it was time to really organize my database and did so by updating contact information for everyone I knew (where possible). I had envelopes full of contact info and piles of business cards.
I spent hours each night working on my spreadsheet. During this exercise, I found out that several had bought and sold properties without me and that I only had myself to blame for not keeping in touch with them.
I thought to myself, “This is what my mentor meant and this is never going to happen again.”
What advice would you give to new agents?
Organize your contacts from the beginning when you have the luxury of time to do so. Set up systems, and get organized right from the start, so that when your business explodes you will have the infrastructure to support it.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagr