In a time where “bigger is better” seems to be the motto for many real estate teams, it’s easy to believe that success can only come with an expansive leadership team and hoards of agents spread across multiple offices.
In this two-part series, we’ll explore what some of the top duos in the country have to say about choosing the right partner, splitting responsibilities, handling conflict and creating a brand able to stand the test of time.
Successfully mixing business and pleasure: Glenn and Doris Phillips
Five years into their marriage, Glenn and Doris Phillips decided to take another monumental step — they’d expand their relationship beyond husband and wife to CEO and COO of Lake Homes Realty.
One of the brokerage’s original investors approached the couple about taking the helm, citing Glenn’s background in technology and Doris’ experience in real estate title insurance and closings.
“We spent months thinking about the business opportunity and how it might impact our relationship,” Glenn explained. “In the end, we felt this type of real estate brokerage had too many unique market advantages for us to not be part of the business.”
“In other words, this was a rare opportunity, and we knew we had to seize it, and it only worked if we did this together,” he added.
The couple spent 15 months planning how the brokerage would run, how they’d leverage their existing teams and resources, how to split responsibilities, and how they’d maintain the delicate balance between home and work.
“When we started, we tried to keep work and home more separate,” Doris said. “But we have no children at home (just rescue dogs and their half-tailed cat), so this allowed us some freedom of focus.”
“In the end, though, we are very deliberate that ‘us’ takes priority,” she added. “Building a national real estate company is what we get to do together, and we both have a passion for not only this opportunity, but also it’s very important that it’s something that we do get to do together.”
The couple says their “us-first” approach includes transparency, trust, candid feedback and always keeping their goal of maintaining a successful household and business in mind.
“We can point out issues without keeping score and without making it personal,” Glenn said. “Our goal is not to be right — our goal is to be successful.”
“When that is the case, being wrong is OK if together we can succeed,” he concluded. “This requires a super high level of both intellectual and emotional trust, and that takes mindful attention every day.”
Better together: Marie Hoffman and Susan Murphy
Marie Hoffman and Susan Murphy first met in 1990 as agents looking to establish themselves in California’s vibrant and ultra-competitive real estate market.
Hoffman quickly took notice of Murphy’s incredible work ethic since both women were often the first ones in and the last ones out of the office.
“Susan was staying late and coming in early, and we had a chance to get to know each other,” Hoffman said. “I immediately knew she was a person I wanted in my life.”
“Although we are different, we both valued loyalty, hard work, education, family, friends, teamwork,” she added. “Sue went to Keller Williams, and I followed. We both decided we were better together than apart.”
Hoffman and Murphy said their transition to becoming a duo was smooth because both women were already familiar with each other’s working habits, strengths and weaknesses, and they shared similar business and life goals.
Hoffman became the frontman of the company and led seminars, attended speaking engagements, handled fundraising and created marketing plans.
“I have been interested in a lot of outward things,” she noted. “I like to be out front and center.”
Meanwhile, Murphy handled the planning and logistics and never missed a detail.
“I always say that I might have the idea to climb Mount Everest, but Sue will make sure we get there and don’t die,” Hoffman said.
Both women say trust and friendship are at the core of their success and will continue to propel them as they begin planning for joint retirement.
“We have different strengths that complement each other, and we have total trust that the other has our best interest at heart,” Murphy said.
“Putting a plan together with the right people in place and [being] able to step out of the team yet continue to have a thriving business is our priority over the next few years.”
“We have a big business and many people to provide for, making the plan for every team member to thrive and achieve what they want in life is our ongoing challenge and goal,” she added.
Family first: Rob and Beth Mahoney
Two years ago, Rob and Beth Mahoney were both working for Sibcy Cline Real Estate with Rob as a sales manager and Beth as a real estate agent.
As Beth’s client roster began to grow, the 11-year real estate veteran struggled to keep pace. That’s when Rob decided to leave his managerial position and start a team with Beth.
“With a family to raise and increased sales, we decided joining as a team would allow us to provide the best service to our clients,” Rob said. “Our mantra has always been ‘family comes first,’ and when we realized that Beth working solo wasn’t meeting that goal, it was time for a change.”
Because the couple already worked for the same brokerage and were familiar with the front and back end, the most daunting task was figuring out how to split responsibilities.
“For example, we always try and go on listing appointments and buyer meetings together for the initial introduction,” Beth explained. “People typically tend to gravitate toward one member after the initial meeting, so we let our roles change organically with each client.”
“Therefore, our responsibility in each transaction changes with each client,” she added. “We’re both seasoned agents and trust each other’s work.”
Although the couple has mastered the transaction process, they admit they’re still figuring out how to balance home and work.
“In the two years we have worked together as a team, both our number of transactions and average sales price has increased,” Rob said. “However, balancing the work life and home life has been by far the hardest aspect of the transition, since real estate isn’t just a 9-to-5 job, but more of a 24/7 job.”
“You have to be incredibly flexible, and having two people to share the load has been a blessing, where as before, everything was falling on just Beth’s shoulders,” he added.
Beth said the couple always schedules a time to be “off the clock,” and the key to success as a duo is sharing the same goals and ethics.
Seize the moment: Tania Isacoff Friedland and Allison Chiaramonte
For Tania Isacoff Friedland and Allison Chiaramonte, there is no perfect moment to create a team. Both women began their real estate careers at the same brokerage and kept a professional and personal relationship as they went on to work with other brands.
Their professional paths crossed once again when Isacoff Friedland began working at Warburg Realty, where Chiaramonte had quickly become one of the brokerage’s top producers.
“I was so impressed by the quick successes Alli had utilizing the firm’s impressive marketing and PR efforts,” Isacoff Friedland said. “We both thought we would eventually work together in some capacity at Warburg, but we never expected to join forces so quickly.”
Likewise, Chiaramonte noticed Isacoff Friedland’s tenacity and thought they’d create a formidable duo. So when the opportunity to collaborate presented itself, Chiaramonte didn’t hesitate.
“There is never a right time,” Chiaramonte said. “After we each had established our individual businesses, we realized we could accomplish more together.”
“We actually ended up collaborating together sooner than we had expected as it just made sense when Isacoff Friedland joined Warburg and we were both working at the same company,” she added. “For us, it was not so much about timing per se, but when the right partner person/opportunity presented itself.”
One of the first things the duo did was create a system of checks and balances where they could keep each other accountable and on track.
“We collaborate on almost everything,” Iscacoff Friedman noted. “While we do have systems in place as checks and balances, we consult one another all the time (we call each other more than our husbands or moms).”
“Of course, if a buyer or seller is a contact of one of ours, that person is more the point person on the deal, but we keep each other looped in so that we can always step in for the other if needed at a moment’s notice,” she added. “We are constantly reminding each other to follow up with a client or check in with a prospective client.”
Furthermore, both women say they’re comfortable taking on a leading or supportive role, depending on what their clients need.
“It is a give and take like any relationship, and knowing how to compromise is key,” Chiaramonte said. “At certain points or on certain deals, one of us may be calling more of the shots and another may play more of a supporting role, but that is constantly switching.”
This ebb and flow also applies to their business goals, where one woman might outproduce the other on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis.
“We have dissected our combined business and our own business to come up with realistic goals for each of us as individuals and as a team for the coming year,” Chiaramonte noted. “We also have been doing this long enough to know that business ebbs and flows and that some years one of us may be a bigger producer, but that will change from year to year.”
“Right now, we are aiming to grow our blended average, but we know that goal and percentage will evolve.”
Beyond flexibility, Isacoff Friedman and Chiaramonte say their success is due to constant communication, shared ambition and offering moral support.
“We have different life schedules, but we make it work via constant communication,” Chiaramonte said. “The key is that we both have equally strong work ethics/ambition and take our work very personally.”
“There is a second person to check for mistakes, to bounce ideas off of and to offer moral support or tough love when it’s needed,” she added.
“We are exponentially more successful together,” Isacoff Friedland concluded.
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.
Who did we miss? Please call out the duos who inspire you most in the comments section below.