Caryn Prall oversees 800 brokers at Keller Williams, many of them top producers. She has incredible access to the most successful brokers in the Chicagoland area and today she’s sharing this wisdom with you. In our conversation Caryn talks about what separates the heavy hitters from brokers who struggle, including running a P&L statement and setting up an S Corp!
D.J. Paris 0:15
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real. The only podcasts made by Chicago real estate agents and brokers for Chicago real estate agents and brokers. My name is DJ Paris, I am your host through the show. And couple of quick announcements before we get on to our interview with Karen prom. So a couple of things. First of all, we are nearing our 50th episode, and we could not be more thankful that you are listening. Because when I started this, which was about I don’t know, maybe six months ago, I thought it was a good idea. I thought, boy, if I was out there producing as a broker, I would want to know what the top producers are doing. And that was, it was really that simple. And then thankfully, not only did top producers want to talk to us, but then people wanted to listen to what they had to say. So we are going strong, we have about five episodes recorded in the last week that we need to push out. So we should be pretty busy. But again, the best way you can support us is to continue to listen, of course, let us know what we can do to improve the show. And I’m going to mention a couple of great suggestions in a moment that led to some really cool announcements that I need to share with you guys. But those came from our listeners. And then of course, share this with a friend, there’s 42,000 realtors in the Chicagoland area. And we would love to have all of them listen to an episode, we’re not selling anything. There’s no promotion here, we are literally just showcasing top producers and what they do best, and it’s really a lot of fun. So let other brokers know in your office or that you meet out there that that if this has been helpful for you. So I had a great suggestion from a broker who listen to the show. And it took us about a month to get this going. And I can’t completely announce it fully. But I’ll give you the gist of what’s coming. We are in the final stages of working with a coaching company to have one of their master trainers do a monthly episode. Let me back up a moment. So many of the people that we’ve interviewed these top one percenters have coaches in you’ve probably heard that if you’ve been listening, they hire these professional real estate coaches. And there’s several great training companies in this country. Well, one of them, one of our brokers, sorry, one of the listeners reached out and said, Boy, you know, listening to these top producers is great. But I would really love to know what these coaches are telling them to do. You know, so we thought, Oh, that’s a really good idea. So we reached out to several of these training companies. And we found and we partner found when we could really partner with so once a month, starting in the next week or two, we’re going to have a one of their master coaches come on the episode and do a full episode of what they tell top producers. And we’re going to do that monthly. So what a great suggestion didn’t occur to me. And as soon as it came through our email, I was like That is brilliant, right? So any time you guys have ideas like that, and by the way, here’s some other ideas that we’ve made into monthly episodes. We have the Monday market minute with Carrie McCormick, which is one of our highest listen to episodes where she shares what’s happened in the market in the past month, what’s going on in the future. From a top producer, we have our investor insights, which is a monthly pod monthly episode for investors with Eric Workman, which is awesome as well, for people that are brokers that want to work with with investors. How do you do that? Right? We’re going to now enter this coaching episode, which we haven’t titled yet, but we’ll come up with a fun name. And then lastly, we’re going to have a lender come on every single month and talk about what brokers need to know about what’s going on in the mortgage world lending rates products. So you can stay abreast and keep your clients in the loop. Okay, that was a really long intro, and I apologize if I bored you to death. But we’re really excited about this, this little show that now has 1000s and 1000s of listeners. And today is a great example of sometimes we we go we do a little bit of a different type of show. And this one, I think is so great, because we have Karen PRALE on and we’re about to introduce her in a moment. But Karen is really interesting. She’s great in and of herself. But what we love why we’re so lucky to have her on the show is that Karen actually oversees over 800 Realtors for Keller Williams out in the western suburbs. So Karen works not she isn’t just a top producer. She works with most of the top producers out there, because so many of them work at Keller Williams so she has so much insight and just knowledge and wisdom about what they’re doing. So I couldn’t be more grateful to have her on the show. We’re about ready to get to her. So again, thanks again for listening. Thanks for indulging me in this long intro. Hopefully I didn’t bore you too much. But it is I wanted to share with you guys some of the things that are going on in the show and again 98% Of all the stuff we do is because you tell us hey talk to this person or How about this idea? So thanks again keep those suggestions coming share this podcast with a friend and onto our interview with Karen ball.
Okay, today on the show, we have Karen PRALE. From Keller Williams and Karen has been in the real estate business for 22 years. They started as an assistant and she went to to be a buyer’s agent. And from there to a team, to an individual agent to a leader with Keller Williams, she and her partner now lead over 800 agents. And we repeat that 800 agents and staff in four offices in the western suburbs of Chicago. Thank you, Karen, so much for being on the show.
Caryn Prall 5:51
Well, thank you DJ, so much.
D.J. Paris 5:54
So tell us how you got involved in started in real estate.
Caryn Prall 6:00
I got started in real estate, I was a receptionist at a REMAX office when I was 1516 years old. And I realized I love real estate because my mother has been a realtor. She’s on her 42nd year in wheaton Glen Island area. And my sister’s an agent and my grandmother, her mother was also a realtor broker.
D.J. Paris 6:19
It’s in your blood,
Caryn Prall 6:20
it’s how can I not do it. And I as I was going to college in Ohio, and I was in a restaurant business, and I loved opening restaurants. And I’d go and it was like being an orchestra conductor. And it was really exciting and fast moving and multitasking. And I loved it. And I realized one day no judgment against restaurant people because I was one. I didn’t want to be a bartender at 40. Right? That seemed painful for me. And I thought, Well, I’m just gonna go focus full time on real estate. So I did that about 18 years ago, and had not looked back.
D.J. Paris 6:59
And you know, and now you have such a massive organization behind I mean, you’re with Keller Williams, but you have 800 agents, you know, sort of under your umbrella to talk about, tell us a little bit about, you know, why you decided to switch to to more of the, you know, helping the broker side versus, you know, working directly with clients.
Caryn Prall 7:22
I realized that I love leadership, and I love developing people and seeing someone succeed or hearing their story or watching their life change, because the work that they did, fulfills me. And honestly, I cry probably every day to hear an amazing story and just being able to impact the most amount of people. And it wasn’t for me, the money was better honestly, buying and selling real estate. I mean, I would guess 30% of my agents make more money, at least that I do. It was the leadership opportunity and to grow people. And I just have a passion for that way more than ever showing a house again.
D.J. Paris 8:02
Yeah, let’s, let’s talk about that. You know, I’m a huge, huge fan of Gary Keller’s Millionaire Real Estate Agent, of course, it’s the seminal work. It’s, you know, if you if any broker out there is listening and really wants to, if you only had to read one book, that’s probably the book to read. There’s lots of others. But that’s that’s the one. And it’s recently been updated. And a Millionaire Real Estate Agent. And he’s got other books as well. But talk a little bit about, you know, what you’ve seen from some of the top producers like you and I were talking offline about some of some of the top people at Keller that we both know, here in Chicago in the Chicagoland area, you know, what are some of you we were talking about treating it like a business, you know, treating your practice as a business? Can you talk a little bit about that?
Caryn Prall 8:49
I think that Realtors naturally are entrepreneurial, because they want to be their own business. That’s why they choose real estate. And they also don’t know how to run a business. So I relate it to doctors who joined large organizations, like, you know, to page Medical Group or other companies is that the doctors want to go practice medicine, they don’t want to operate the business. So I think there’s two types of people out there selling houses. There’s realtors, and there’s business owners. And I found that it is no longer how long you’ve been selling real estate. It’s how many units you’re, you’re pushing. So you and I talked about that gentleman from properties that had closed 73 transactions. That’s amazing. We had someone that close 41 in their first year and her experience and knowledge is decades above an agent who’s selling two to three homes a year that’s been doing it a long time. It’s just a very different mindset. So it’s about a business, a profit and loss statement. overhead costs, expenses, and netting the most profit for what you want out of life, which is probably providing for yourself and your family.
D.J. Paris 9:54
Yeah, I mean, what do you tell new brokers when they’re just getting started? Obviously Lee, they’re trying to get the word out, you know, I, you know, I’ve always subscribed to like the Brian Buffini model, which is just paying meet two to five new people every day, tell them what you do and stay in touch with them. Which is, which is not easy to do, but is a pretty good idea. And I was just curious on some other techniques or strategies that you recommend to the brokers who are really trying to take it to the next level,
Caryn Prall 10:27
I think when you’re getting started, don’t be a secret agent. Everybody I knew was a was a potential customer for me when I first got into real estate, and I sold houses to all my friends. And I did it because I cared about them. And today, they’re selling those houses, making hundreds of 1000s of dollars to put down on a dream home. And so we really can affect and change someone’s life by selling houses. But like just you said, Buffini is a good program. And when you’re meeting people, my goal is I had to add nine people to my database every day. And that’s I love that. And that is the MRA. So you’re right, I was given that book, I wasn’t always with Keller Williams, I’ve been with other companies that are good companies. And, and I was given that book. And to me honestly, it read like a technical manual. Like I am not a reader. I’m a listener. And so they didn’t have podcasts back then like yours. And so I had to read it about six, seven times to really understand what they’re talking about. And we are in the people business. And it’s a statistic. And for every 10 people that you know, you should be able to create one transaction out of it or two now. And it’s changed so much with the internet and the availability of information. And we no longer the keepers of all the information that’s out there for buyers and sellers. So we just have to show our value proposition all the time. It’s a constant struggle.
D.J. Paris 11:49
Yeah. 100%. And I I’ll tell you, I have two great Keller Williams stories from one from Nikko apostle. So if you’ve already listened to the eagle apostle episode, you can skip ahead, and then one from from an upcoming episode that has not yet aired. But would Niko did something very, very interesting. When he first started, I just want to share this in case someone’s listening who hadn’t yet heard this. heard this. That episode, he went around and he was young. Then he was a young man. And he said no. Yeah, super young. And even though his mother, of course, it has, you know, this legacy in real estate. He said he was none of my friends were buying or selling homes. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know what I was doing. And he said, but I wanted to know just stay busy. So I went up to and this is such a simple thing that really, most brokers could do at any firm. And most brokers will never do this. But he said he went over to brokers who had listings in his case, Lincoln Park was his where he grew up and where he wanted to specialize. So he went to brokers who had listings there. And he said, Hey, I will do an open house for you any day of the week. And you know, just because I want to appear busy, and I want to try to meet potential buyers. And not only did he do that, because that’s in and of itself, you know, not that unique, although it is certainly a good idea. And then the second but the second part of what he did to really drive it home is he said I knew nobody was going to show up because that because none of my friends were buying I didn’t know anybody. He said so I went an hour ahead of before the actual open house would start and I’d knock on every neighbor’s door and politely introduce myself and say, hey, just in case you ever wanted to come over and see I you know, I’m running an open house for so and so down the street. And you know, neighbors are nosy Of course, and he would go he would spend an hour ahead of time and he would drive traffic that way to the open house. And I thought that is so smart. And so simple. It takes a little bit of elbow grease. So I love that that was an he’s now with Keller
Caryn Prall 13:53
it is you know the art of door knocking is not lost. So we have agents that door knock every day. And I mean, Dan fixes was number one REMAX in Naperville. And he came over to Keller Williams about a year and a half ago. And he door knocks 15 doors a day still today. And he didn’t because he got his own way. He just kept hitting the ceiling of 25 million and he wasn’t growing and now he came over and his goal is 57 million and and seeing him getting back because while technology is amazing for the information that it gives us. Nothing replaces availability conversation. It just does it
D.J. Paris 14:30
100% And also, you know, I always say that the two things that are probably never going away, obviously, belly to belly, as you mentioned and also handwritten notes. Nobody does that. And you know, and the handwritten notes are so huge and it’s, it’s it’s another really great way to stay in touch.
Caryn Prall 14:49
He what he did is actually what Nico did was actually what Gary Keller did when he first got into real estate. Yeah, and that’s what he did is he sat open houses every day and lead generated from there And we encourage open houses and we have a unique agreement with Zillow that you can put it out early before it comes on the live the large MLS, you know, the public one. And so you can promote on we’re getting agents who are getting 100 people through their open houses, and selling them on the first day and creating such a stir. So it’s actually in a way, it’s old school and new school hybrid in one, because open houses started. Because we didn’t have the internet, it was the only way for the public to get in a home and see it. There were no pictures online. So that’s that’s where the idea came from. Same with burger tour. But now we have everything available online. But you have to see it, touch it, taste it, feel it, you know, to really know if it’s for you. So,
D.J. Paris 15:45
yeah, yeah. And the other thing Nico mentioned is once he got those people that came through, he said, I would just basically call them until they told me to stop calling. And not in an annoying way, but in a way where he said, I never wanted them to forget that I was a realtor. So exactly. Anything. Yeah. Yeah. Tell us a little bit more about, you know, how you sort of helm the ship and what your, how you educate agents and what you’re, what you’re teaching these days about how to build a successful practice,
Caryn Prall 16:20
really, it’s about agent financials and operating a business. We know there’s a threshold of when you should become a corporation or an LLC financially. So you don’t get killed was self employment tax. So we’re teaching on things like that. I’m not a tax professional. I have a very good CPA. But how I learned to treat it like a business was that was step one, to hiring talent and finding leverage. People feel that teams are negative, or there’s something. There’s this odd undercurrent of non supportive teams and what teams are they’re actually leverage. So it’s teaching like, we have an Agent Alice chin, I’m sure you’ve heard of her. She’s a top Agent in Naperville. She was tired, she was tired. And she joined and last, she has not worked a weekend since last May. So she’s been almost a year since she’s come over because she has the right leverage to do it for her. And we’re teaching agents how to get their time back and find what’s important to them. I met with a woman yesterday about $13 million from another company, great lady. She’s in a time of her life where finances are really important. So my focus with her is how do you net the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time and build a bigger business. She has goals she wants to pay off her mortgage and help her daughter buy a house. And when you get specific on people’s goals, you can impact a lot of change. And so in Naperville alone, where I work primarily out of we have 358 agents in that office. And we do masterminds all the time with our agents. We do training every day. And so that’s really important and our top agents are teaching our agents. So Amy kites coming in to do a listing presentation or Dan first or someone’s coming in to do a buyer presentation, Alice will call fizz bows and expireds in front of the class. Like no fear in that girl. She’s another one of those 30 Something year olds, no fear. And so we have, we have a training opportunity every day, whether it’s in our new office in downtown Geneva, Glen Ellyn or Downers Grove, we have someone teaching somewhere every single day. And that’s, that’s really moving people forward quickly.
D.J. Paris 18:34
Yeah, I know, I love all of that. And I also I do love the person that’s willing to pick up like me willing to pick up the phone and call the Fizbo the for sale by owner at the expired, because those are those can be very difficult. But it’s a great way to cut your teeth and just to, you know, deal with people that may have had poor experiences in the past or
Caryn Prall 18:57
Yeah, the second, the second listing, the second time list is always the best, you always get the price you want. They’re always the most willing to work with you because they don’t want to go through it again. So those are really the best listings to get.
D.J. Paris 19:11
I agree. But you’re right, this idea of treating it like a business you mentioned, you just met with this, this top producer, or rather a $13 million producer. And you know, she’s now in a position where she’s like, I got to start treating this like a business and I got to put together financial statements. I cannot tell you how many brokers even at our own firm, where they should be if they should have incorporated, they should talk to a CPA, they should figure out if it’s an S corp or a C Corp or whatever. And they just have it and it’s it’s there. Not only are they leaving money on the table, but it’s it’s again, it’s running a business. And I think you’re so right about that that all it’s been a common thread among pretty much all the brokers that have been featured on the show that has so graciously given given their time, is they really do too. treat it like a business and because it is. And yeah, I mean it start even starts with running a p&l profit and loss state,
Caryn Prall 20:07
we you know our financials, we’re an open book company, and any associate can see our financials. And so I basically run a really large team, because I run the exact same model in the MRA that we encourage our agents to run to. So when we open up our financials, like Naperville had a finance committee meeting today, they’re going through Keller Williams infinities profit and loss statement, and showing the expenses because we want them to model the behavior. And we also don’t carry any debt. And so that is Keller Williams, Avi, as a company doesn’t carry any debt. So we really want to walk the walk, which does not talk the talk.
D.J. Paris 20:47
Yeah, I mean, we at our firm are the same way. But it is it I’ve always been a huge proponent of Keller Williams, because, you know, for for a lot of reasons, I think you guys, some of the marketing you guys do is incredible. And the fact that, that the brokers can become, you know, part owners of offices is great, and they participate in some of the overflow is awesome. I mean, I just I really, really a big fan. And then of course, you know, having Gary Keller at the helm is, you know, not not a bad thing, either. What advice would you give a new broker or a broker who’s in their first or second year who’s struggling? What would you tell them to really focus on for the next year to help them build their business? Yeah,
Caryn Prall 21:29
that’s such a good question. And you’re probably gonna hate this answer. But it’s lead generation. And it’s the way whatever works for them. So this is how, if you don’t like open houses, don’t go do one, because it’s going to show up all over your face. If you don’t want to door knock, don’t door knock, it’s going to show up all over your body. And so you have to find what works for you and what it is you want. So I moved to Colorado, from Ohio. And because I figured if I was going to sell real estate, I’m doing the most beautiful state in the country. And I was with Coldwell Banker at the time and, and I realized, I love tennis, right? I love tennis. I, it’s a passion to me. And I so I decided I’m moving to Denver, and I’m going to Captain a USDA leak, not an easy to wow, that but that was my way. So that was my insert into my my sphere. And so that’s where I made my own sphere was for tenants. And then I became a USDA lead coordinator for the largest inner Mountain is the largest league in the in the country. And, and so that became my sphere too. And I actually just got a text from someone yesterday from my for my league and said, Hey, so and so needs to sell their house out of here who do you know, and the referral business that you can create is unbelievable. But just whatever it is that you want to do, just go do it and do it well. Because if you focus on what you’re not good at, that is such a waste of your energy. So if you’re great with people in person, go be with the people if you’re good on the phone, go be on the phone, like I had a coach tell me I’m terrible on the phone. So guess what I hate doing now? I do but I do it all the time because I have to. So just like you do and but I love getting in front of people if they like doing a homebuyer seminar, or a first time seller seminar, but whatever their passion is, there’s like 83 sources of lead generation, they just have to find one or
D.J. Paris 23:19
two. Yeah, I couldn’t, I could not agree more with you. I think that trying to be too well rounded is a bit of a misstep. It’s like pick the one or two or three things you really love to do and just hyper focus on that, because you’re right, you were at all. I’m also a tennis player I play to three times a week. And you know, if I was out there producing which, which I’m not, but if I was I would I would be focusing a lot on tennis and making sure everybody knew that that’s that that’s what I did. So that’s such great advice. And you let’s let’s talk also about you know, any potential pitfalls, anything you’ve see mistakes that brokers making their first
Caryn Prall 24:02
they try to have all the answers.
D.J. Paris 24:05
Ah, that’s such a great, you’re right to talk about
Caryn Prall 24:08
today. It’s it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the business, I don’t expect you to know the answer. I do expect you to be responsive. So you can be responsive, and not injure yourself legally. And say, you know, it’s like the Disney way. So the Disney way is I’m not sure let me find out we’ll get right back to you. And you still feel scared for but you don’t speak in something you you’re not an expert to speak on. And so that that is probably our biggest lesson is Be responsive but don’t know all the answers because you don’t I mean, I’m sure we still see transactions today that it’s shocking what happens and surprising and not in a bad way. And and I constantly have to ask other people for for answers. So I’m not the managing broker because I’m terrible at details. So I we have people that do that for us as leaders, but I still get asked a lot of questions and I do refer to him probably nine times out of 10. Just to make sure I’m on the right track. So no one no one knows the answers.
D.J. Paris 25:08
Yeah, I think that no, that is so well said, and I’m in similar sort of position. I’m not the managing broker at our firm either. And thank goodness, because I know that I wouldn’t be, I don’t think it’d be a very good one. But also, the reality of it is, is that oftentimes when somebody passes their their exam, and they come in, they sign up? And they’ll, they’ll say, Well, I’m really worried that I won’t know the answers to questions. And I’m, like, that’s normal. So so what you know what I recommend, and I don’t know that this necessarily is the best approach, but I think it’s a pretty good one is to sit down with your client ahead of time before it comes up and say, hey, just see, you know, Mr. or Mrs. Client. I have, I’m newly licensed Don’t worry, I work for, you know, if it was problems, for example, we could talk about how much support and training and you’ve got a team behind you, and you’ve got people to help you. And but, you know, in in our firm, we would say the same thing. But we basically were at the end of it, I would say just in case you ever ask a question, if I’m not 100%? On the answer, I’m going to double check with my team get right back to you within 24 hours or an hour or whatever your policy is. And is that okay? And that person, that client, that client will say yes, 10 times out of 10. And then now you’ve established a customer service policy, which is, hey, if I don’t know something, I will get right back to you. I promise that and and then it lets you off the hook to having
Caryn Prall 26:30
that’s true. And I agree, I’m going to take it old school too, for a second thing that agents their first year, they have to know their market. Previewing homes, yes, it doesn’t happen anymore. And it’s really disappointing that agents don’t go preview. But when I sold real estate, I would preview every home I would show because I had better know that I’m driving up and it’s right here up on the right. And I knew that already. Or wait till you see the kitchen or it’s a wonderful on second floor laundry or whatever it is that has but agents don’t preview anymore. And so getting back to that and knowing I said if your neighbor asks you what the market is doing, you better know your own neighborhood. And so start there, like you don’t have to know all of Naperville. We just closed 5000 homes a year in Naperville. Not we but neighborhood closes you know, over 5000 units happen a year so so it is it’s imperative that at least start with your own neighborhood. And then you you you morph out into bigger areas. Because if you don’t know your market or what’s happening or what’s selling, I relate it to if I go to Starbucks, I go every day against my husband’s greatest well, and I know whichever Starbucks I go to, I’m getting a consistent product, but what I know more is that they know how to make my drink because I can only imagine going to Starbucks and saying I’d like a venti coconut milk latte with an extra shot and what if they stood there and stared at me it silence and they have no idea what I’m talking about. That’s a realtor not knowledgeable about their market area same thing I’d be disappointed
D.J. Paris 28:01
I’d be disappointed too and I think your that it cannot be overstated what you just mentioned and it it for a broker who’s listening who’s like well how do I do that? It as Karen mentioned start in your neighborhood study the MLS 20 to 30 minutes a day know the know every single home that’s for sale at a certain radius or if you’re in the city here you know a certain neighborhood learn every home for sale what the average condo goes for a single family home etc rent prices all of it and just and within six months to a year you will have so much insane knowledge about that particular area you will be incredibly valuable to people for a
Caryn Prall 28:39
city agent know your building and the two on either side of you. And when it crossed the street like just start there.
D.J. Paris 28:46
I love it that so so simple and perfect and it works awesome. Well I think we’ve covered it we’ve covered a lot
Caryn Prall 28:55
probably exhausting in person.
D.J. Paris 28:59
Oh, you and I you and I exhausted yes we don’t we don’t exhaust each other. We you and I exhaust probably everybody around. But we obviously we love Karen and Karen. If anyone’s interested in learning more about Keller Williams, are you what’s the best way
Caryn Prall 29:15
they can call me or text me my cell phone? It’s 630-901-3454 because my name is spelled funny as you know. See?
D.J. Paris 29:25
Yeah, it’s like the it’s it’s like the seventh way you would have guessed. I know. It’s not the first or the second, third fourth. You know why?
Caryn Prall 29:34
My good Catholic parents Carol named my sisters Carol, Kathy, Christine and Cindy. So
D.J. Paris 29:40
it’s Yeah, so Karen is CA R Y and by the way prall And what’s the best?
Caryn Prall 29:46
My name? Var y NPR a firstname.lastname@example.org.
D.J. Paris 29:51
Okay, give that phone number one more
Caryn Prall 29:52
D.J. Paris 29:57
If you’re interested in learning more about what Keller Liam’s offers brokers definitely reach out to Karen. Karen, thank you so much. By the way, I want to reiterate Karen manages 800 brokers under the Keller Williams umbrella that is no small feat. And a lot of them are top top producers. So, you know, we are so grateful that she was on the show today. So thank you so much.
Caryn Prall 30:19
I really appreciate it was really nice talking to you and I know that you will continue to be successful in whatever it is that you do.