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Shop Talk - The Real Estate Agent Podcast

Real Estate Agent Podcast 53: Jennifer Seeno Tucker

53: Jennifer Seeno Tucker
October 7, 2020

Jennifer used her education background to build out a robust training program to better retain new real estate agents.

If now our numbers are shifting to not 80-90% leaving, they’re more in the range of 30-40%, something must be right, and this training we’re doing must be clicking with agents as well.

Jennifer Seeno Tucker

About This Episode

Jennifer came to real estate from an education background, and quickly built a successful brokerage in New York. When she noticed that many agents left the brokerage early, she invested in a training program, eventually creating The 7 Saturdays Training Program.

Download Jennifer’s book, Become a Rockstar Real Estate Agent: 7 Steps to Make $100k a Year, here.

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Episode Transcript

JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha and on this episode I’m joined by Jennifer Seeno Tucker, Associate Broker and Vice President of Business Development of Exit Realty United in Nassau County, New York.

JON: All right, Jennifer. Thank you for joining me.

JENNIFER: You bet, Jon, thank you for having me on as a guest. So I'm, I'm, I'm happy to be here and lucky to share some of my knowledge with your audience.

JON: Awesome. Okay. So let's start with how you got into real estate.

JENNIFER: Yeah, it was kind of by fluke. My background, I have a master's degree in education and I started my own children's fitness business cause I was a physical education teacher for K through 12. And as an entrepreneur, I've ventured into that, that sphere. I was sitting with my mom who has been in real estate for 30 years at the time and asked her, you know, what do I need to do to prospect? How do I get, you know, grow our business? At that time when she was kinda mentoring me and giving me like the old, you know talk, I should say, I a lead came in from her secretary for a rental property. She looked at it, crumbled it up on a piece of paper and, and literally tossed it in the trash can. And I was like, what are you doing? Like that is a potential lead which could lead to potentially, you know, closing the deal. I don't understand. She goes, I don't have time for rentals. I'm too busy working with buyers and sellers at the time. And a light bulb just clicked literally at that moment. I said, I have the time I literally picked up the phone and enrolled in the class right there. So it was just a matter of making it happen and the timing was right.

JON: Wow. Okay. So how long did it take after you had that first lead to really, you know, get yourself growing?

JENNIFER: Well, the first year in the business, I strictly did the rentals that, cause I did have a part time job at the time, you know, I had to hold onto the paycheck and I was, I was a single parent, so I needed that paycheck in order to put macaroni and cheese on the table at the time. Cause that's all I could afford. So I strictly worked with renters and that was my, just my, my thing, my go to thing. I ventured out since I had the part time job. My first sale was with a friend that I worked with. So that kind of started me in the business and dabbling into it. And when I realized how much more money I could make working with buyers that's where I became my mother's buyer's agent and I strictly worked for her. So we worked a team, a small team, just her and I, and I did all the running around, you know, mom, like I said, mom was in the business 30 years and I just felt like I could boost her business up more if I just ran all these buyers. And that's what we did. We doubled her production in the first year that I was the buyer's agent.

JON: Wow. Wow. So your mom had been in the business for awhile before you.

JENNIFER: Yeah. And she was a top producer by her own right. You know, she would close somewhere about, about 30 deals, I would say a year at that time. And you know, in that first year to 18 months, I'd say, yeah, we closed about 60 to 62 deals.

JON: That's impressive. What do you say to people who aim to be a part time agent?

JENNIFER: It's a good start. You got to start somewhere. You know, real estate is definitely a means to financial freedom. And we all got to start somewhere and I just talk about it in the book about it's okay to be that runner. It was okay to be, you know, the buyer's agent. It was okay to just work the renters at the time I did what I had to do and I'm an eternal learner. I love learning from the ground up. So I want to know everything that happens. Like I hung out with the home inspector. I hung out at the contract signing. I hung out at the closing cause I just wanted to hear and be around people who were in the business. So if you're starting out, it's okay to take. And I'll call them for lack of better words right now scraps mean, you know, from, from your broker or maybe a top producing agent in your office. I mean, I work a small team right now and you know, I have a target buyer price point wise that that's my goal. So anything that may fall below it, I'm willing to share it with with one of my buyer's agents.

JON: Hmm. How do you feel like your, you said you have a master's in education. How do you feel like that played into your career?

JENNIFER: Totally prepared me for it, you know, I'm, I'm definitely a proponent of utilizing your past experience and your past maybe jobs. Cause a lot of times real estate is a second career for a lot of people using that experience to your advantage. So how do I use education to my advantage was, you know, we talk about Bloom's taxonomy and education and how you have to ask the right questions in order to get higher level order thinking. I did exactly that. My questions were all w-h: who, what, where, when, why and how, right. So that's, those were all the questions I consistently asked of my buyers and sellers. Where are you going? What's your timeframe? What does it look like when you move? You know, things like that. Can you explain to me what that means? The second thing that I think I did and how education prepared me was I knew that teachers were important, right?

JENNIFER: Because they really give you the groundwork or the knowledge, and then you take it and put it into play. So reaching out for a coach was definitely my second best move I would say. You know, being with someone who could give me the words that I was missing and sales really helped guide me and, and boost me to the position that I think I am now. So yeah, so that, and I, and I saw it as an investment in my business and that was the other kind of mindset change where I'm not just this REALTOR®, this is a business, I'm an entrepreneur, I'm the CEO of my business and I'm not spending money on a coach, I'm investing money in my business. It was that kind of switch that really helped as well. And a lot of new agents don't see it, you know, they see it as putting money down on the credit card and it was, you know, at the time, yeah, it was hard to put that money down on the credit card, but I knew the long term goal was obviously to, you know, pay off that credit card at one point and it was going to be able to happen, but I had to make that investment in it at first.

JON: Hmm. And so you, you actually hired a coach.

JENNIFER: I did. I did. I hired a coach and he was not a real estate coach just a sales coach. And I followed Sandler Sam Sandler sales training. I'm a president member, a lifetime president member of the Sandler Club as well. So he really and my coach was his name was Mark, a local guy here. Part of the program. He really helps, you know, just kinda dive into things and you know, the biweekly by monthly meetings that we met and talked to other kind of salespeople, really. Yeah. He really kind of catapulted me to figure out a master plan as to how to tackle sales and work with buyers and sellers.

JON: Hmm. Yeah. That sounds really helpful for a lot of new agents. I feel like the sales side of it is the most difficult part, you know, there are plenty of people coming from applicable backgrounds like it sounds like yours was, but it's that, you know, having that sales mentality that I don't think comes as naturally.

JENNIFER: Yeah. I think you're right. I definitely agree with you that the sales mentality doesn't come natural. Like I'm working right now with an agent who was in sales, in like event planning. She didn't plan, but she would do the sales end of it. And she's having this kind of hard time bringing out her personality and I'm like, you have to utilize, you know, what you did in the event sales part of it just the same way, because people are going to be attracted to, obviously we all know this to those who are most like us, right? So be you in the position and you're going to attract those buyers or sellers who are going to want to work with you. The other coin on that is you have to be a chameleon in order to, to appeal to the masses. Right. So I talk lot and I really studied the DISC personality profiling. And I, I learned who I was and learned who I wasn't. But I'm still able to attract clients who are on the opposite spectrum than, than the personality that I am, because I know that the psychological, you know the psychological, I guess, background behind it, meaning I know how to change my tone, my speech pattern, and to mirror those who are on the opposite ends of me.

JON: Yeah. Yeah. I think that's definitely key. So you mentioned the book you wrote, you're the author of a book called Become a Rockstar Real Estate Agent: Seven Steps to make a Hundred Thousand Dollars a Year almost at a thousand. What inspired you to write that?

JENNIFER: I felt like the hundred K was a kind of a platform for newer agents. What inspired it really was mom and I opened our own brokerage about four years ago. And, you know, we were bringing in new agents and they had been brand new or, you know, somewhere under about five years. And we know that a lot of agents, I mean, statistics show that about 86% of new agents leads to business after two years. And we were staying on track with that in our own brokerage. Like we saw those numbers and it was like, what are, what are we not doing? And it really was. We weren't providing a training program at the time. And, you know, with the split of duties as a broker, obviously with my education background, it was my job or my responsibility to really come up with some type of training program that we collaborated on where we saw our numbers and retention rate of agents staying in the brokerage now that we had a consistent, you know, three days of training within the brokerage. And I figured, okay, if now our numbers are shifting to not 80%, 80 to 90% leaving, they're more in the range of 30 to 40. So three to four out of 10, something must be right. And this training that we're doing must be, you know, on point and clicking with agents as well. And it just then, it was another light bulb kind of moment where it was like, we got to get this to the masses. You know, it's not just here in New York for local agents. I had to like, get this out to other people. I mean, this is my system and this is what works. And I want them to be able to kind of share it with other people to, to let them know that this is a system that works and you can duplicate it. There's no, no need to reinvent the wheel here.

JON: Hmm. Wow. So you saw much higher retention rates and then I assume that's because your agents were so much more successful, right?

JENNIFER: Yeah, we, yeah, exactly. And they started producing and that was the other thing, obviously as a broker, right? You want your agents to start producing and closing deals. And that, that change in just this kind of training and providing and giving the strategies for agents to produce and how to overcome objections really became successful at it. And we continue it today with The Seven Saturdays Training Program with this kind of lockdown that we've, that we've had in these last 12 to 15 weeks here in New York, we've continued our training. There was no reason not to, it was just a change in going online and you know, any kind of video conferencing call with and that agents appreciate it. So yeah.

JON: So what kinds of systems do you suggest spending time on?

JENNIFER: Ah, systems and, you know, I, you know, I like to reverse engineer everything, so I think you got to know your numbers. Like, what's your goal, you know, money-wise like you have to know your numbers and then you can reverse engineer from that. So if I'm going to make a hundred K how many deals do I have to close, you know, annually? What does that look like monthly? And what do I need to be doing on a weekly and daily basis in order for me to hit those numbers? And that's what we do. So one of the things that I like to do with the agents is, you have to be doing on a daily basis, moneymaking activities. So those are all your prospecting writing cards like Darren Leavis talks about and Tom Ferry, right? Writing cards you know, contacting your past client lists your sphere of influence, just making those phone calls and sending emails are moneymaking activities. Now, another coach that I hired, he talked about 61 points of rhythm that's borough. Workman is really good, too. So verbal talks about these 61 points of rhythm where you're taking moneymaking activities and giving each of them a value. And your goal is to hit 61 points on a daily basis in order to, for you to hit the numbers that you want to hit.

JON: After the break, we talk about The 7 Saturdays Training Program, which Jennifer co-created.

JON: There are many agents across the country like Jennifer making their entrepreneurial dreams come true one transaction at a time. If you’re listening to Shop Talk thinking about how great it would be to be your own boss, name your own hours, and experience truly unlimited earning potential, then real estate might be just the place for you. Learn online with The CE Shop and get your license - or renew your already existing license - from the comfort of your home. Right now you can save 25% with the promo code SHOPTALK.

JON: So how do you take those kinds of systems and create a daily schedule? Because I think that is the downfall of a lot of new agents is figuring out what did I do today?

JENNIFER: You know, it's just like high school. You got to have a block plan. Like this is my really, that's what it came down to for me. It was, what am I doing from eight to nine in the morning, nine to 10, 10 to 11. And at times it was like, you know, just half hour increments. So my prospect, I love making cold calls. I just like it. I don't, I don't, I love getting the, no, tell me no and hang up on me. We're good. I'd rather you tell me no, as opposed to let me think it over or let me talk to my wife or my husband. Right? Like I, those wishy washy words, like I always try to like guide agents and say, no, we don't want to go for wishy washy words. We really want a yes or a no. And you'll have to ask, ask to get the yes or no, you can't just be like, Oh, it's okay.

JENNIFER: You know, really tie the prospect into it, but yeah. Block planning and I have everything on my phone now where it's like, okay, this is what you're doing each day at this time. I mean, everything is on my phone right now, but in the beginning it really was like high school where I had everything written out on a piece of paper. And this was my class that I was going to with. This was the client I was meeting at this time. And I try not to deviate from it. It's difficult as a single parent and bringing in, you know, the family aspect of it was also another, another way to kind of find a balance in life, I guess you want to say.

JON: Yeah. Yeah. And how many children do you have?

JENNIFER: I have one she's 14 going to high school. So she's been she's been really good with this because she knows mommy's schedule has been really flexible. I mean, I talk about it in the book as well. I mean, she was a latchkey kid. Mom was out working there's, you know, it was the time that I was trying to create something and, you know, she may have suffered some things where I was in home a lot of the time, but we made it work and I think the life that we have today, she's very grateful for. So no complaints on, on my end, you know, I could have chose as a single parent to stay at home and take care of her and go that route or to go into work and really, really make money. I did what I thought I was really good at, and it was going to work and making money and finding a way to nurture her through that way, as opposed to just being home.

JON: Yeah. Do you have any advice for single parents, you know, thinking about real estate or maybe just getting into it?

JENNIFER: Oh, go for it. It's totally, totally worth it. I mean, the flexibility is definitely there with your time, but really approach it. Like I said, as an entrepreneur and as your business, you are the rock star real estate agent of your community and utilize that, that right. One of my other systems is to network, right? Like networking is huge. It was huge in my career. I chose to go into a lot of different groups. I leveraged my, my daughter's school. Right. For, for, for parents and information and just letting them know. Right. Like, you know, they talk about, I talk about it in the book later, my mom did the same thing, again, not changing the wheel. She had her little name tag on consistently all the time. I'm not a big name tag person, but I let people know when I attended all the parent teacher conferences and spoke to a lot of people that were looking to you that obviously homeowners who lived in the community. So yeah.

JON: Yeah. We've written some content on, you know, using the PTA or things like it as a networking opportunity.

JENNIFER: Yeah. I mean, there are so many opportunities, I think out there, again, utilizing your experience or what groups that you belong to. A lot of my newer agents are in church groups at this time. And I'm like, you have to use that. That's like, that's like leverage and, and, you know bringing in your top 50 friends and family that are going to refer you business is another kind of networking strategy that I talk about. You know, the second day the new agent comes into our office. It's like, take out a sheet of paper, go through your phone list, write down 50 people who you think are gonna refer you business. And I want you to be in contact with them once a month. How are you doing, how are your children, what's going on in your life? Nothing real estate related.

JENNIFER: You don't, it's not, it doesn't have to be business, business, business all the time. You have to care about those people. And that was, that was another awakening moment for me was like I was doing really well closing deals, but I wanted to hit another level and I was feeling stuck and still and stagnant. And my numbers were up and down and kind of like this big roller coaster. And I'm like, what's not consistent. What am I not doing? And it was the realization as I'm sitting in front of a seller and I lost the listing that I realized I was so focused on the numbers and the transaction that the person in front of me, I didn't even know who they were nor what they wanted, or, you know, how could I service them? Losing that listing was an aha kind of moment for me that I need to focus on the relationship with the people, as opposed to focusing on the transaction. It's not about the numbers. And if you don't go into real estate for the numbers, there really is more of an internal, why am I doing this? For me, it was just accomplishing something and building relationships with people. I love building relationships and helping them out.

JON: That's great advice. I mean, that's, that's definitely how you get referrals is to make somebody feel like you actually care about the deal, but also them.

JENNIFER: Yeah, exactly. 70% of my business right now is a referral based. So it really is it's not a transaction. Transactions will happen every day. Closings will happen every day. But when you start to care about that person and want to help them, you know, then, then that's when the magic happens.

JON: Hmm. So this kind of goes back to what you were talking about with, you know, being a chameleon to be able to connect with everyone on some, but how do you manage that? I mean, say you have a client that really is just, you're not clicking for some reason.

JENNIFER: Well, that's why I work with a small team as well. You know? I choose to surround myself with people, not like me. I'm a strong, independent dominant type of personality, Jon. And I noticed that people who are, are more supportive and more of an analytical kind of personality, like that's just not my style. So I'll choose one of my agents who are more like that person to kind of go and feed them with. At this point I like to kinda sit back and negotiate the deals. And I do have a lot of agents who are out there running at this time.

JON: That's great. Yeah. So identifying the right audience can be enormously helpful, especially starting out. How do you advise for agents to define their ideal client?

JENNIFER: You know, that's a really good question. I don't, I, I don't know. My I'm trying to think who my ideal client is right now. And I would say in my market, it's a homeowner who has own their home five to seven years and is looking for something bigger with their family. How do you identify that? Hmm. I was willing to work with anyone who wanted to work with me, you know? So identifying those people I think is really most important. Who do you know, you know, that wants to work with you. And I think it becomes a matter of asking those right questions again. You know, does it make sense, like one thing that I always say that doesn't make sense for us to talk again, does it make sense for us to have a conversation? Those mini contract closes you'll find that by you setting the agenda consistently on those mini contract closes, you'll figure out the people and who your audience is and who wants to work with you.

JON: So what are some other undervalued marketing strategies that you've come across?

JENNIFER: Social media. For sure. Right. I'm not, I mean, I'm in that kind of I'm in social media, but I'm not, I could definitely be doing a lot more. I haven't taken advantage of it is, but I just like keeping things, I'm just more of a quiet personality, but I realize that social media is an untapped avenue that I need to dive a little bit more into as well. I've definitely grabbed some business from it. I mean, one of the investors I'm working with right now was a social media kind of click. He posted his house for sale. I called him and said, can I go see it? Let me go. We met and I've listed four of his houses right now. So it's worked out in that sense. I think a lot of those mom groups, again, really help out or any kind of real estate groups that are in Facebook.

JENNIFER: I choose, and I talk about in the book, I choose just to focus on one, like for me to be spread out in five different social media platforms would drive me a little crazy and I don't have that attention span to be doing it. I know a lot of younger agents are capable of doing it. And if that works for you, by all means identify it and make it happen, but sticking to it and making it consistent and persistent in your 61 points in your rhythm and those money making activities, that's where agents need to focus in on, right? In the beginning, we don't have a lot of marketing money either so we have to leverage our time for money. So I chose, I mean, it wasn't social media that I chose in posting and what was going on. I liked getting out in the community.

JENNIFER: So door knocking for me as old school, as it was still kind of worked. It was the momentum that it created for me to kind of keep going and going and going, as opposed to sitting behind the desk, behind the computer and waiting for this kind of passive client to walk in, into the office or to come through Zillow. I wanted to be more of an active agent and get out there and let the community know what I was doing. Because I did work, live, work, and play in the community that I service. So, you know, my name and my brand were out there from other avenues. So this was just a means to, for people to see me more. By going door knocking.

JON: Yeah. For sure. You gotta be proactive, especially when starting out. Yeah, that we've written a lot about using social media and we say the same thing, you know, pick one platform, pick two don't don't do all of them because also something like Snapchat, probably never going to give you any leads, you know, it's just going to be a waste of time.

JENNIFER: Yeah. I just hired my daughter for my new TikTok management. I don't even know what I'm doing, you know, I'm like, Jayden, just, just tell me what to do. Let's go in this house and help me out. She's like, okay, let's go. I'll just post on your page, whatever it is. I don't even know what it is. Just, just go TikTok. I tell her.

JON: So how do you think with COVID-19 and all the changes that are happening right now, but I'm sure what we'll continue to see. How do you think that's going to change a lot of that, that proactive door knocking?

JENNIFER: Oh, that's it. That's a good question. You know, I think I, you know, everyone's like, Oh, real estate's going to change. It's going to be the old transactional base on online and everything. I'm like, no way. There's no way that, that, that, you know, 75% of the people are going to buy houses online by not seeing them. That'll never, that'll never change. No. Right. I mean, you know, pictures can be Photoshopped, you know, you don't know what you're actually looking at. So I think what COVID actually did was one, I believe it weeded out some agents. I believe those strong agents who could overcome the situation are still going to be able to move their business. I felt like I was one of those agents and during some of our sales meetings with my brokerage, with the brokers and agents you know, I saw a lot of agents struggling about like what to do and how to overcome.

JENNIFER: It just became a matter of, you know, talking to your clients via video conference or on the phone. I mean, I have a listing right now that I listed during COVID it's currently on the contract. I met them on a phone call. I never even saw the house except a FaceTime call. I've never even been in the house. So, so I think what COVID has done is kind of, again, weed out some agents, but it has boosted my market. To be honest with you. I don't know what life is like in your area, but, you know, especially being in New York, people in this city are looking to flight and get out of the city. So being on Long Island, my market has really exploded. I typically typically don't work with a lot of buyers, maybe one or one to three, I'm working with like seven right now. One because the inventory is so low when there aren't a lot of sellers still selling, it's still keeping our prices really high at this time. But I wanted to overcome, I knew the buyers were going to come out to long Island, so I had to be available for them. So this was a way, instead of getting listings that I could work with buyers and really still take advantage of the market that we're in.

JON: I'm actually about to move. I close on a house next week. So I'm looking, I guess I was looking like a month or two ago, but it was, it was strange. It was strange during COVID. I mean, there's, you know, masks and then no open houses or anything, but still there were one house had 19 offers on it. So, I mean, it's still crazy.

JENNIFER: I just put in an offer yesterday on a listing. They're like, oh, we have much higher. We have much higher, you know, it's like, okay. I bought a house during COVID. I think I got a little bit of, I don't think I got a great deal, but I got a little bit of a deal. I think the market's shifted slightly down. There's a slight downturn, but I, but again, I, it didn't stop me. I knew there weren't many people going out there buying houses, which was why I made the offer that I did on my purchase.

JON: Yeah. Hmm. Okay. So you mentioned it before, but you are the co-creator of The Seven Saturdays Training Program. Can you tell us about what that is?

JENNIFER: Yeah. The Seven Saturdays Training Program is really just as seven Saturdays. So we outline and I do. And then the book, obviously we outline the best practices for new, newer, real estate agents to obtain in order for them to be successful. Really. I mean, we talk, we reverse engineer, we talk about their numbers. We go into prospecting and what that looks like and how it meant the many ways that you can do it as well as giving some role play sessions about what kind of words and, and how do you overcome objections? You know, dealing with buyers and sellers, we identify the DISC personality profiling as well, so that they know who they are and how they can become the chameleon as well. And it becomes more of this holistic approach to business, right? That's always been kind of like my mantra. We really need to treat our business with a mind, body, and soul approach because it's, again, money is just you know, a subset of what you do, why you do it. When you go in and dive deep and you realize why, and you're able to obtain this kind of euphoria, I want to say about the business and you love getting up in the morning and servicing your clients. It really is very mindful and becomes all about, you know, giving thanks to a higher power as well.

JON: Hmm. That's great. Okay. This question is one I ask of all of my guests and it is, if you could go back to the beginning of your career and change one thing, what would it be?

JENNIFER: I would have started earlier real estate. Yeah, I would have began instead of you know, fighting my mom about going into the business. I would have dove head in. If I would have known that I knew it was a financially freeing opportunity because she raised us as a single mom herself. And she did a fabulous job, but we never went without while she was doing her career. If I would've known that I could have been as successful as I am now, I would have started sooner. I would have skipped college.

JENNIFER: Tell that to my daughter now. When you're getting your real estate license, like, why do you understand that? Right. And she's fighting me just like any, any daughter does, right. Their mother, you know, that objection. You don't understand. You're either going, you're going into real estate or, or I don't know what we're going to do, but we'll figure it out.

JON: Okay, Jennifer. Well, thank you for coming on the show. If somebody wants to learn more about you or to find your book, where can they go?

JENNIFER: No. Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me on as a guest there, Jon, this has been a great conversation as I'd love to give all your guests a free download of my book. So if they go to, they can download my book for free and learn more about the book and who I am.

JON: Excellent. All right. Well, thank you so much.

JON: That’s it for this episode, thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the talk, you can subscribe to us and leave a magnificent glowing review on your podcast player of choice. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.