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In a recent interview, realtor Tookie Nemchak from Keller Williams Clemson opens up about her journey into the world of real estate and shares intimate details of how she has found success as a new agent in a new market. Keller Williams Clemson is a brokerage firm located in Clemson, South Carolina, and in 2020, the team successfully closed on 54 transactions.
Today, in one of the most competitive real estate markets in history, Tookie and her team continue to drive business and improve their platform. They have not experienced a slowdown despite the shift in market trends due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a decline in interest rates, and a decrease in the number of prospective sellers. Instead, they have used their effective business model to continue building relationships and promoting transaction velocity in their market.
Let’s dive deeper into how Tookie leverages her customer relationship management (CRM) system to drive this success.
An Unexpected Beginning: Tookie Goes from Retirement to Real Estate
Life doesn’t always take you on a linear path – this has been especially true for Tookie Nemchak.
Tookie joined the real estate community after a long career in human resources. She served as HR director for Timber Line Electric and Control Group in Jefferson County, Colorado, until entering early retirement. At that time, Tookie and her husband decided they would pursue a new life of tranquility and solitude and moved to the mountains. However, they encountered an unexpected surprise – the quiet life provided by the serene atmosphere led to boredom, and the couple felt the need to find a new passion.
Without any idea about which adventure to pursue next, Tookie and her husband decided to take a trip to South Carolina, vacationing in Clemson, a town nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains that provides a unique blend of great outdoor experiences with suburban living. And then the unexpected happened again: they fell in love with the area and decided to uproot their life in Colorado and move to Clemson. Once there, Tookie met a woman named Susan, who helped them purchase a new home.
It was Susan who then prompted Tookie to consider a second career in real estate – a move that Tookie had never contemplated before.
“[Susan] said, you really need to be in real estate. So, she pushed and pushed. And, finally, I took an aptitude test, and it said, yeah, real estate is where you need to be. So, I jumped in, and it has been great.”
Tookie started her career as a real estate agent in the fall of 2016 and has loved her journey ever since. In 2017, her first full year working as a real estate agent, Tookie closed 14 transactions and was named Rookie of the Year. She continued to navigate the Clemson market and build transaction velocity. In 2020, she made the move to create her own team and successfully closed 54 transactions that year.
Although many would hesitate to start a new career while already in retirement, Tookie moved forward with no pausing. She developed an effective business model that focuses on her sphere of influence and referrals and is now a well-respected agent in Clemson.
How a Routine Can Positively Impact Your Business
Productivity is not necessarily tied to the amount of work you complete during the day; instead, it often relies on a healthy work-life balance. For Tookie, this work-life balance means implementing a constructive morning routine that helps her prepare for the day.
“I get up at 5:00 in the morning, and the first thing I do is meditate. [The] second thing I do is grab a cup of coffee, and then I read for 30 minutes. [Next] I work out. I do that for 30 minutes, and then I get cleaned up, make my bed, have another cup of coffee, and do [my] affirmations. Then I get busy. I’m usually at my computer by 8:00 in the morning, and I feel like I’ve gotten quite a bit done for myself.”
Once Tookie arrives at work, she never starts the day with email! “I purposefully do not read my email until about 10:30 or 11:00 because otherwise, I might go off on a bunny trail.” She stresses that although this habit is difficult to establish, once you can limit email checking throughout the day, you will “be surprised [by] how much you can get done.”
Tookie’s day now has structure, which helps ensure that she effectively completes tasks before the end of the day. She wakes up, conducts her morning routine, checks the Cloze Agenda, reads email in the late morning, and then ventures off to appointments in the afternoon.
Tookie has structured her life even more by creating an evening ritual that sets her up for a successful next day. At the end of the day, she tracks how many calls she has made and how many text messages she has sent. This helps her assess where she’s at in her business. “I’ve got my program set up so much right now that there’s not a whole lot of thinking about the next day. It just happens.”
Recent introspection led Tookie to realize that her life revolved around work, so she created this routine to help her build new habits. According to her, a new habit takes 66 days to establish, and she is paving the road to a healthier, more productive lifestyle. She reflects, “Right now, my goal is to find some balance in my life, and so that’s why I’ve Incorporated this program.”
Building Business from Your Sphere of Influence
In addition to a daily routine, Tookie relies on her sphere of influence to build her business. Sphere of influence refers to individuals in your professional network who provide the highest probability of generating business. This sphere includes clients who have some sway. It can also include people with whom you have transacted, those who have provided referrals, and those who rely on you for your expertise, to name a few.
Tookie reports that most of her real estate business comes from her sphere of influence – an amazing story from someone who joined the industry less than five years ago.
“Most of the listings I have had have been sphere-of-influence referrals from past clients … that has made a big difference. It was interesting because when I got here in 2016, of course, I knew nobody. So, I had to work really hard to create my own sphere of influence, and I did that through networking and joined a local newcomers’ club, which opened up the world [for me], and I did a lot of door-knocking back then.”
Not only has Tookie’s sphere of influence been her primary source of referrals in the past, but it has continued to be a source of business flow throughout the pandemic – a time when connecting with new clients and networking has been quite challenging.
“It’s been a mixed blessing because it has forced us to change the way we operate. We haven’t been able to do the events that we enjoy so much. But, at the same time, it has given us a reason to check in with people and … ask them how they’re doing or if there’s anything they need. That’s probably one of the few good things to have come out of it.”
Generating Business Through Creative Marketing
Real estate agents must rely on more than one marketing platform. They must identify the specific needs of their prospective clients and create platforms that are suited to meet their demands. Tookie recognized this immediately and developed an innovative marketing technique unique to her team members. Once they sign a new listing, one of their first action items is to host an exclusive neighbors-only open house.
“When we have a new listing … we invite all the neighbors over because they’ve always wanted to see the house, as you know. So, we invite them over, and we serve wine and cheese and make it all about them. That has been really great because we always hear them say, ‘My agent never did that for me.'”
The theory is that the best referrals often live next door. Neighbors who know of a friend, relative, or coworker looking to sell or buy can provide the best word-of-mouth marketing. By hosting such experiences, Tookie has created close, personal relationships with members of her community and increased her referral business exponentially.
Leveraging Technology to Streamline Workflow: Tookie and Cloze
Today’s real estate agents also rely on technology to leverage their business. Indeed, streamlining business through technology is essential for remaining competitive. However, identifying and adopting the right platform can be challenging.
Before Cloze, Tookie had reviewed multiple CRM options and found that Cloze offered all the services needed to manage her real estate business. Today, she often recommends Cloze to other agents and even introduces the platform in her real estate education courses. Tookie reports, “I recommend Cloze a lot!”
Effectively Managing the Transaction Process in Cloze Next Steps
To help improve efficiency and focus on relationship building, Tookie relies on one of Cloze’s most popular features: Next Steps.
Next Steps is an exclusive feature of Cloze that allows users to create a repeatable checklist to help them track what they have done and what they have left to do – it ensures agents don’t miss a step in their communication and transaction processes. Next Steps can be added to each Relationship Segment and customized for Lead, Potential, Active, Inactive (Past), and Lost Stages. When a Next Step comes due, you see an Action Item to follow up on.
“When I have a property that [needs] listing, I can create a prospective deal and then [take] the next step. I know exactly what I’m going to do, when I’m going to send them a card, [and] how often I have to follow up with them. I mean, it’s all right there.”
Tookie uses Next Steps from the beginning of her sales process, which helps to reduce redundancy in her daily activities and improves her overall workflow.
“I designed my process one time, and now I just follow the steps. I don’t have to recreate it, so that’s fabulous for deals. It’s fabulous for prospects. You get a client under contract on a purchase, and all you have to do is go through the next steps. Every time, I’ve already got my email templates put together [and] I’ve got my steps put together. That’s been an incredible time saver.”
Tookie Recalls How Next Steps Helped Her Win a Deal
Timely monitoring of deals is essential for not only getting a listing but also ensuring a closing. Tookie shares an exciting experience and delves into how Cloze helped her deal across the finish line.
Tookie was working with two professors who were moving to the area – the woman came from Colombia; the man was coming from Florida. They found a home that had been on the market for some time and went under contract.
“We found them a fabulous house in Clemson. It was an older home that needed some work, but it was a Frank Lloyd Wright-type of a house, and it was very, very cool. They loved it.”
While under contract, the man worked in China, which made communication difficult between Tookie and the couple. The sellers were aware of the situation and decided to pursue backup offers. To their surprise, they received an offer above the asking price. Eager to accept, the sellers were looking for an opportunity to cut Tookie’s buyers out of the deal. However, thanks to Cloze, Tookie was able to keep them in the game and get them into their new home!
“We had to watch every deadline; we had to make sure every T was crossed and every I was dotted. And, of course, Cloze helped me with that because I had everything I needed in the sequence of things that had to happen. That was what ended up happening … we made it through … and didn’t miss a beat … Now they’re in that fabulous home, and they’ve done a lot of remodeling.”
Meeting Clients Where They Are with Cloze Automatic Call and Text Tracking
The real estate industry used to be filled with door-knocking and phone calls. And although phone calls are still common among agents, many have had to adopt new technologies to remain competitive within their markets. Tookie understands this trend and has leaned heavily on the technology offered by Cloze – specifically the Automatic Call and Text Tracking feature.
The Call and Text Sync App for iOS automatically tracks iPhone calls and text messages. It creates an encrypted iPhone backup on your computer and syncs with it to automatically log your phone calls and text messages. This Cloze feature automatically logs iPhone messages (SMS and iMessage), WhatsApp messages and calls, and phone calls made with your iPhone.
With Cloze CRM you never have log client activitiy manually — it is all automatic.
“It’s amazing because when you’re out in the field, you [often] don’t … have the app right in front of you when someone calls … you might be driving, but you can … log all of it just by using a text. I think it’s a great tool.”
The Importance of Staying Connected: Using the Cloze Agenda
Staying busy is not a problem for real estate agents – a task always needs to be completed, a lead always needs to be followed up with, and a new prospect always needs to be identified. However, navigating these activities can be challenging. If not done correctly, agents can waste much time managing them. To ensure productivity and stay connected, Tookie relies on the Cloze Agenda: “Cloze [Agenda] … [reminds us] to reach out to different people.”
Among the features of Cloze Agenda is the ability to schedule keep-in-touch reminders. Cloze automatically reminds you when to reach out to key people like clients. In addition, Cloze reminds you about contacts that used to be important to you but that you may have recently lost touch with. You can use these reminders to rekindle old relationships.
Tookie reminds new agents that staying connected doesn’t simply mean sending emails and making phone calls. She encourages them to meet clients where they are. She says that many of her customers avoid email and phone calls and can be best reached via Facebook Messenger (or another social media platform). “If they’re on Facebook, then that’s where we’re going to find them. Many people don’t want to mess with email and don’t pick up the phone, but they’re on Facebook, so you can find them on Messenger.”
Lastly, staying connected involves keeping things personal, which means sending handwritten note cards to clients. However, Tookie has recognized the challenge with handwritten cards: “I have finally realized that if I hand-write a note, it sits on my desk for a week before I end up getting it in the mail.” Therefore, she has turned to new solutions, specifically sending cards through platforms such as Ink. Ink provides the ability to create a card online and then send it to the recipient’s home. Although there is one challenge to leveraging this service – the card is postmarked outside of Tookie’s primary market – it allows her to get the task done.
“It gets done! That’s the secret to it. And you have to find ways to get things done,” she notes.
Tookie’s Other Favorite Cloze Features
In addition to those mentioned above, Cloze offers features that help Tookie manage her business and maintain effective relationships. Here are the features she appreciates most:
- The ability to customize! Cloze allows users to customize their workflow and email to ensure they pay proper attention to each individual client.
- Email templates! Pre-written email templates allow users to maintain maximum communication while reducing the time they spend on such activities. Reminders keep communication flowing and prompt an email when the time is right.
- Email analytics! Cloze allows users to find out whether emails have been opened, how many times they have been opened, and whether they have been searched. This gives them leverage in negotiations.
“I think that’s really helpful. Since [I’ve been] with Cloze from the beginning, I feel like I’ve grown up with it, and I’ve seen it morph. I’ve seen [how it] creates so much more value [for my business]. I know it would have been a whole heck of a lot harder … [in] those early years without it, that’s for sure.”
Don’t Lose Sight of the Value of Vendors
Tookie reminds us that real estate agents must build relationships beyond those with buyers and sellers; they must connect with vendors as well. Vendors bring referrals to agents and provide credibility when discussing resources with their clients. Tookie shares a recent encounter with one of her inspectors and explains how their relationship helped her save money.
“I have a really great relationship with an inspector … he met me the other day to look at a potential listing. … We had a cup of coffee and looked at the house, and I didn’t even get an invoice.” The inspection didn’t cost Tookie a thing, which demonstrates why it’s essential to keep your vendors in your Cloze database as well.
“You’re so busy that you don’t have time to constantly look for the next … mortgage person to recommend you … You have those relationships; you nurture those relationships and keep track of them. Cloze is a great way to do that.”
Sharing Tips on How New Agents Can Drive Their Business
To end, Tookie shares tips for real estate agents who are just starting. As a new agent commencing her career in 2016, she found true organic growth thanks to her effective business platform and her creative use of technology. Here are three tips to help new agents drive their business.
Tip #1: Always answer your phone.
“In the world of voicemail, if a client or potential client is calling you and you don’t answer your phone, they’re [going to move] onto the next person.”
Tip#2: When a great listing hits the market, visit it.
“[When a new listing appears], I go and spend some time at the place because I [can meet] clients who saw it hit the market. They went out to look at the property and [they] don’t even have an agent … I happened to meet them there and [was able to] establish a relationship [with them], and [that’s how] I got more than one purchase in the beginning.”
Tip #3: Work for your business … it will not fall into your lap!
“[You] can’t think business is going to come to [you] because it’s just not. You really have to work hard for it, and you have to continue to [work for it], especially in the beginning.”
This is excellent advice from someone who knows what they’re doing in today’s real estate market. Take it from Tookie, and you, too, could experience a 35% increase in transaction velocity over the next three years.
We’d love to hear your story, too. If you’d like to participate, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll arrange an interview.