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Wendy Papasan, the co-founder of Papasan Properties Group, has a lot of irons in the fire.
In addition to running the Keller Williams-affiliated team she founded in 2009 with her husband Jay, Papasan is a real estate investor, the founder and CEO of home maintenance company Papasan Home Services and chairs a leadership organization for women, HerBestLife LLC.
For the past three years, she’s also co-hosted the Empire Building Podcast, which promises “unapologetic, authentic and unfiltered conversations” hosted by Papasan and four other influential women in real estate (Seychelle Van Poole, Sarah Reynolds, Kymber Lovett-Menkiti and Tiffany Fykes).
Papasan says that from the beginning, her strategy for finding enough hours in the day has been leverage. Not in the sense that the word is often used in business — to make acquisitions by taking on debt — but to leverage herself by hiring others and tapping her network to grow her businesses.
Papasan will appear onstage at Inman Connect Las Vegas, which will take place Aug. 8-10. She recently took the time to speak to Inman about insights she’s gleaned from her businesses and how she’s managing the scarcity of listings in many housing markets. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Inman: You have your hand in a lot of businesses. How did you get started?
Papasan: When I started my real estate career my kids were young — they were 3 and 5. And at the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to stay a present mom and be a great wife. And so I really leveraged right away.
I think a lot of Realtors don’t start their career in that way. When they start their careers, they have a lot of time and I just didn’t. I knew that the only way that I could be successful and also achieve my goals in terms of being a wife and mother was to really leverage myself.
So right away, I hired a transaction coordinator. I hired an assistant way before anybody said I should. I just learned the gifts of leverage. And so that was a big gift.
How are your businesses related to each other?
I believe that if you can run one business successfully, you can run another one. That’s just what I’ve done with this idea of leverage, I’ve got other people in my world who helped me run those businesses with my partners.
So my real estate team is really at the epicenter of everything. And I think that you can use your influence as a Realtor and your past client list and leverage that to create opportunity realms. I have a contracting and handyman business, serving a lot of our clients and also lots of other people. We work with commercial businesses in town. But that’s been a great jumping-off point, because we were able to leverage our clients who need home repairs and that was the stepping stone for something larger.
Then I have my Her Best Life business, which helps women and helps amplify the lives and voices of women’s businesses, primarily Realtors. So I leveraged relationships around the world and we were able to scale that events and coaching company very quickly. We booked almost a million dollars profit in our first full year in that business, which I never would have managed to do without leveraging my relationships with Realtors around the country.
Given that you’ve already got so many things going, how did you get into podcasting? Does it help you with recruiting, or is it a way to raise your profile? Or do you just enjoy sharing your expertise with other folks?
My podcast isn’t really business, but it is geared toward Realtors, so again leveraging my relationships in the real estate world. We don’t make any money off of that, but we do benefit from agent referrals. So a huge part of my business is agent referrals. I made $860,000 in commission checks last year directly from agent referrals. And so that’s a part of it.
It’s mainly Realtors who listen to that and you know, I get complete strangers that come up to me at Inman, for example, and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve been listening to your podcast. I feel like I know you.’ So whenever they are looking for someone in Austin to help a friend of theirs buy or sell, they think of me because they feel like they know me. And definitely recruiting too.
Papasan Properties Group operates in several markets, including Austin, Dallas, Houston and Minneapolis. How is your team doing, and do you have any advice for folks who are just trying to get through this period of scarce listings?
The Austin market especially was hit really hard. We had a fantastic six months the first six months in 2022. In fact, I had the best month I ever had in June of 2022. And then we fell off the cliff in July of 2022, and I had the worst year I’ve had in five years. And we really struggled.
You know, all you can do is control what you do every day. You can’t control anything else. You can’t control the market. You can’t control whether your buyers are gonna buy or sellers are gonna sell. So our team got to work and we just kind of abandoned the idea of having goals around closings and hit our goals around connections and appointments and consults. So we just really ramped that up and it really paid off. We’ve got 30 coming soons, which is great in Austin.
That’s an interesting way to keep people motivated. If some of the usual metrics are just kind of impossible to meet, you come up with new ones to keep people focused?
Everybody wants to win, especially salespeople. When our business kind of fell down we also looked at our operations team, like how can they contribute to our overall goals. So we got really intentional about getting reviews. Now our ops teams is crushing it, because they wanna win too.
It’s creating a system around keeping everybody busy, because nobody wants to be sitting around bored.