Staying connected and encouraging others are just some of the key strategies that have helped Tina Hernandez, broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Omni Group, and Julie Dudum Del Santo, broker-owner of Dudum Real Estate Group, prosper during the economic downturn.

Staying connected and encouraging others are just some of the key strategies that have helped Tina Hernandez, broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Omni Group, and Julie Dudum Del Santo, broker-owner of Dudum Real Estate Group, prosper during times of economic crisis, like the one the U.S. has faced over the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julie Del Santo

“It’s not just a cliche … it truly is having such a strong company culture,” Del Santo said during a panel at the California Association of Realtor’s WomanUP! virtual event on Thursday. “And what contributes to that … is leadership and staying connected in a disconnected world.”

To keep her brokerage operating at its full potential during the pandemic, Del Santo said her core leadership team was vigilant about keeping in touch with staff, agents and clients to make sure they were doing OK and felt supported.

“Each member of our company would get a call each week from a different staffer,” Del Santo said.

They also gave out small gifts to agents and hosted various distance or virtual activities.

“Different things to say: We are here for you; you are not alone,” Del Santo said.

With support and encouragement, some of Del Santo’s agents have had an amazing year so far.

“If we put the systems and connection and accountability in the right place, they can have an explosive year,” she said.

Hernandez, who ended up forging a new partnership with a global brand during the pandemic, Coldwell Banker, said thriving in a business is all about taking advantage of an opportunity when the time is right for you personally, despite whatever else might be going on in the world.

Tina Hernandez

“When then opportunity came to us, it was just a no-brainer,” Hernandez said. “People say, ‘Oh my God, it was a pandemic,’ I don’t think about that … in 2020, during all of this, it just seemed like it was the right move. Everything aligned … the agents that I’m speaking to now, they need that.”

Both speakers agreed that any time is a good time to take a business risk, as long as you’re personally ready for it.

“It’s just kind of [like] Nike, ‘Just do it,'” Del Santo said. “Yes, are there considerations? Absolutely … brainstorm, and get the action plan going and execute.”

Like many other things in life, however, Hernandez said there’s no shame in leaning on others for help.

“It takes a tribe to raise children, and it also takes a tribe to create a business,” Hernandez said. “So don’t do everything yourself … write it down, sit there, visualize it, see what it feels like.”

Del Santo also noted that it’s OK to take time to grow.

“Slow to grow is OK,” Del Santo said. “I quickly realized … you want to be selective about who’s coming on board.”

Overall, the speakers emphasized staying connected to others, to help each other thrive during difficult times.

“Early on … somebody told me if you change the ‘I’ of illness to ‘we,’ it turns into wellness,” Del Santo said. “So I knew from Day 1 in the pandemic, we needed to lean on each other … it’s not just coronavirus sick … it’s affected everyone in terms of lifestyle as well.”

Email Lillian Dickerson

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