From Consulting To N.A.R. 30 Under 30 • Kelly Carlson

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Kelly Carlson talks about why she switched from a consulting career into a real estate career and discusses the challenges she faced when she made the jump from one career into the other. Kelly discuss the importance of open houses in the beginning of her career in real estate. Next, Kelly talks about social media and her marketing plan for 2024. Kelly also talks about the tours around suburbs of Chicago she organizes for her prospective clients. Last, Kelly describes what is she doing now that the market is down to keep busy.

If you’d prefer to watch this interview, click here to view on YouTube!

Kelly Carlson can be reached at 630.632.3908.

This episode is brought to you by Real Geeks.


D.J. Paris 0:00
Today we’re talking to a National Association of REALTORS 30 under 30 award winner about how she’s becoming a top producer in her 20s. Stay tuned. This episode of Keeping it real is brought to you by real geeks. How many homes are you going to sell this year? Do you have the right tools? Is your website turning soft leads and interested buyers? Are you spending money on leads that aren’t converting? Well real geeks is your solution. Find out why agents across the country choose real geeks as their technology partner. Real geeks was created by an agent for agents. They pride themselves on delivering a sales and marketing solutions so that you can easily generate more business. There agent websites are fast and built for lead conversion with a smooth search experience for your visitors. Real geeks also includes an easy to use agent CRM. So once a lead signs up on your website, you can track their interest and have great follow up conversations. Real geeks is loaded with a ton of marketing tools to nurture your leads and increase brand awareness visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod and find out why Realtors come to real geeks to generate more business again, visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod. And now on to our show.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real the largest podcast made by real estate agents and for real estate agents. My name is DJ Parris. I’m your guide, and host through the show and in just a moment, we’re going to be speaking with top producer, Kelly Carlson. But before we get to Kelly, just a heartfelt thank you from the entire podcast team here. We just recently crossed over 3.3 million downloads. That’s a very big deal to us. So thank you for continuing to support our show. The best way you can help us grow of course, tell a friend and also please support our sponsors. They pay the bills and we love our sponsors. And we only select those that actually have products and services to help you grow your business. So check them out, keep listening. We are so thankful and now let’s just get right to it my conversation with superstar Kelly Carlson.

Today on the show, our guest is Kelly Carlson with Kelly Carlson homes at properties Christie’s international real estate here in Chicago. Let’s tell you more about Kelly. Now Kelly Carlson is an award winning broker with add properties in Christie’s international real estate in their Western Springs office that’s a suburb of Chicago. Now after launching her real estate career in the city, and 2020 After four plus years and consulting Kelly was named angle and Volkers Chicago Rookie of the Year and more recently recognized as a member and this is such a big deal of the National Association of REALTORS 30, under 30 Class of 2023. Just to let people know what that is, every year, the National Association of REALTORS wants to find the agents who are in their 20s who are doing really exceptional things in the industry and having exceptional success as well and highlighting them and she was one of the award winners this year with a love of interior design historical homes and do it yourself updates. This career is the perfect blend of her passions and professional background. And she’s no longer doing the consultants Monday to Thursday fly out and then back on the weekend. So she gets to stay here in Chicago more often. Please visit Kelly at her website, which is Kelly Carlson homes.com. And follow her on Instagram, Kelly Carlson homes, Facebook as well. We will have links to both are all of her social media in our show notes. Kelly, welcome to the show.

Kelly Carlson 4:06
Thank you so much for having me, DJ, this is such a pinch me moment when I was in the process of getting my license. I was binging all of your old episodes in 2020. So very cool. full circle moment to be here.

D.J. Paris 4:19
Well, it is a it’s an honor to have one of our listeners on the show. And yeah, it’s excited to to chat. It’s always fun when when people find us or we find people. And I’m just so grateful that you’re here and you have done some really exceptional things. I am also curious. So I know you’re a University of Illinois grad, did you go straight into consulting right out of school? Was that kind of your path? Yes.

Kelly Carlson 4:47
And it was kind of one of those you get recruited in the fall of your senior year and then started in October after graduating so had a nice long summer vacation, and then it was really time to get to work.

D.J. Paris 5:01
Did you have that consultants life where you were traveling to clients during the week coming back on the weekends? Was that kind of how you started?

Kelly Carlson 5:09
I was not every Monday through Thursday. But my particular consulting group did have a lot of special projects. So it took me to a lot of remote locations across the US. So had great airline status at that point. And that is probably the one thing I missed. Yeah,

D.J. Paris 5:28
no, no more. No more first instant first class upgrades. My sister lost that as well. She’s now with a startup prior to that. She wasn’t a consultant, but but she used to travel for different jobs. And now she’s lost all of that. And she still occasionally gets an upgrade, but it is we laugh and go, Oh, great. You’re just like the rest of us now which. So why the switch from consulting to very few people, I think, get out of consulting, because it is such a really, it’s a wonderful career and track. It really, truly is. It’s not, of course, the travel stinks. But ultimately, a lot of people stay in it. So I’m curious what was so why did you get out and why real estate? Sure.

Kelly Carlson 6:10
Well, this story kind of goes back to, I want to say high school college because I had always had a love for architecture home, I took every CAD class at my high school went to a pre architecture camp at U of I. And ultimately, when I was kind of in that phase of applying to schools, it was still end of recession, residential architecture was not necessarily the place to find a job at the time. So I thought, well, I liked math and science, I’ll do civil engineering, which is a complementary fields to architecture. And so did that at U of I, great kind of versatile degree, I knew I didn’t want to do traditional design engineering. And so I started looking into consulting, which is a route that a lot of engineering graduates go into. So that seems to be a nice mix of getting to work with people client services, but also relevant to my degree. And so yeah, I did that for four years, starting at a big four firm and then moved on to a smaller boutique management consulting firm, I could not think of a better place to launch my career, it really taught me the value of exceptional client service, and how to be professional, how to manage a very demanding schedule and still meet deadlines. But it got to a point where I, you know, I’d been at two firms, I didn’t see myself in it for the long haul, and didn’t think that going to another company was going to, you know, solve what I felt like was missing. And so it kind of brought me back to that place of you know, I’ve always loved real estate architecture that is just always fascinated me. And the voice in my head previously had always been that you went to school for engineering, and you’re a consultant, and this is what you do. But I started to think about it differently. In terms of how could I leverage this experience in the corporate world, to differentiate myself as somebody, you know, I didn’t have a sales background, but I had a lot of transferable skills for a totally services business. And so I did it, I quit my job in October of 2020, got my license, and got hit the ground running in January of 2021.

D.J. Paris 8:33
Right, right smack dab in the middle of the pandemic,

Kelly Carlson 8:36
perfect timing.

D.J. Paris 8:40
That is incredible. And then for you to have enough success to catch the eye of the National Association of Realtors, for their 30 under 30 is quite a big deal. I know many, many people, friends of mine, who who have not made that list, and I’ve tried many times, a lot of my friends have made the list as well. But boy, it’s a big feather in your cap. So congratulations. I’m excited to learn more about maybe what they they see in you as well. And I think civil engineering too, is a really nice transferable skill. And I know again, that wasn’t really your career, but it was your your field of study and interest. Because civil engineers, you know, people don’t really know what that is. Just 111 thing that civil engineers do is they they’re really good at visualizing. So they can see like two points of land and they can visualize a bridge across or like if there’s a river in between or something they can they can visualize things that aren’t there and then they can bring those things to life. So I imagine even just that skill along with your architecture, knowledge and love of of homes, and interior design probably is pretty helpful when you’re maybe walking a client through a home saying I you can probably see things that maybe I wouldn’t be able to see for example, I’m just curious if that ever comes up where or maybe it’s a renovation, you’re able to maybe visual lies that more effectively than, you know somebody without those skills.

Kelly Carlson 10:03
Yes, that has definitely been helpful. The renovation friends, the home that we’re sitting in, I’m sitting in right now is actually the home that my husband and I just bought, and did not look like this a few months ago. And there was a lot of work to get into this place. And so something I was able to do for myself, but then also for my clients, who are maybe struggling in the current low inventory market, not able to find that move in ready home, or they’ve got to kind of grow into it, knowing what is in place, and what can be done. Over time. Yeah,

D.J. Paris 10:40
it’s funny, if you’re watching this, you’ll see you’re probably listening. So you won’t see this. But Kelly has an all white kitchen. I also, although you won’t see this on mine, because I’m at the office, but I have an all white kitchen. And we were talking to sort of laughing about that earlier. And I just I have all white everything white walls, white, you know, I’m like, really all white, white and black. And I’m thinking like in, it’ll be funny in like, 10 years, when people are like, Why were people doing all white? Like what you know, like, it’s cool now, but it won’t be cool forever. So it is kind of funny how styles evolve and change over time. But let’s talk about how you built your business? Because yes, I think the consulting background, every consultant, I know, in the Big Four, you know, professionalism, hard work, meeting deadlines, and just being of service, you talked about customer service are really sort of the main pillars. And being a good listener, think consultants are great listeners as well. But they you know, those are really important skills that obviously transfer over into real estate. But you still had to build your business people see you as I saw you as a consultant that was your your profession and a very well respected profession. And then you know that that was your path, and then all of a sudden, you’re pivoting. Was it challenging to, you know, introduce your sphere of influence to your new career or was like, what was that process like?

Kelly Carlson 12:02
Sure. So as you know, after I got licensed, I started interviewing at different brokerages and met Jennifer Eames, who is a Top Producing Chicago agent, also the licensed partner of angle and Volkers Chicago and Linkin Park. And her and I connected and she had had a previous career prior to real estate as well. And so once I did get my license, I was so excited to come over to her company. And, you know, unlike a lot of new agents, they start out on a team, and they learn from that team member and they help out and it’s a great way to get experience. But the unique thing about angle and Volkers at the time is there a boutique firm, and Jenny had told me she’s, you know, if you come over, you can be a solo agent, and we will help you, we will give you those tools. And so that was something that, you know, I was so grateful for her mentorship and being able to get started as a solo agent. But under, you know, having the experience of getting to cover open houses. And that was a huge part of building my business outside of, you know, making sure, and this was a big thing that I had been taught and don’t, don’t be a secret agent, like make sure that your sphere of influence knows you know that you are in real estate. And this is a full time serious career for you. So I think I took advantage of, you know, social media and a newsletter and just connecting with people, I now had more time to be able to call up friends and people I knew from college to go grab coffee because I wasn’t traveling. And so it was kind of a mix of just offering out all of my weekends to do open houses, for any agents in our office and then working with, you know, friends and friends of friends. Over time. You know, I say that first year was a lot more friends and family, open house buyers. And then over time it kind of, I think, you know, I had done a good job with those friends that they felt comfortable referring me to their friends and family. So over time, it’s become more referral based. But I’d say you know, if you’re a new agent, like don’t be afraid to let your people know that this is your career.

D.J. Paris 14:26
And letting you know you talked about open houses I feel like agents don’t do do or agents may not know depending on what firm they’re at or who their circle is that they know of other agents. But if you work in an office where there are agents with listings, and I you know not there are small firms with just a couple of brokers so this might not apply to everyone but if there is someone in your office with at least one listing, I would go and ask beg, plead and and do anything you can to get in their good graces if you’re a brand new agent to I sit in open house. Can you tell us? That’s my suggestion? What would you recommend? Do you agree? Or, you know, what is your experience with open houses?

Kelly Carlson 15:09
100% I actually my first buyer client was from the first open house that I’ve held. And that’s not how it goes every time, you know, there are gonna be times where you sit in an empty condo for two hours, and, you know, scroll your phone or check emails. But other times, you might connect really well with somebody and I’d say, just, you know, asking questions, trying to get to know a person, see what information you can learn about them. Because then when you are following up, you aren’t going to be like that false agent who is sending them the same email saying, Do you want to buy this kinda? Or do you want to work with me on something else, I think trying to create some kind of personal connection is, is, can can make a difference. And that was the case with my first buyer clients, they were so impressed by how much I remembered from our five minute conversation. So it goes back to that listening, I think, yeah,

D.J. Paris 16:09
I think you’re right. And that’s something to consider. So the first step, of course, is getting getting an open house when you don’t have a listing, which, you know, beg the people in your firm to help you do that. And then when you have people walking through the open house, Kelly, what I heard from you is pay very, very close attention to what they tell you and maybe even take notes after they leave. Because and I was thinking about this, as you were saying, I was like, why would you be the eighth person that maybe another real eight other realtors might be? And I go oh, because they’re going to other open houses? Like it just occurred to me? Oh, yeah, of course they are. And so of course, they’re going to get eight follow up messages from thanks for coming to my open house. And if you can add in, you know, whatever the conversation was, yeah, all of a sudden, now you’re, you’re you stand above everyone else.

Kelly Carlson 16:56
Definitely. But it’s a win win for the listing agents, too. Because, yeah, like you said, they’ve got maybe multiple listings, and they can’t be in two places at once. So it’s never good to ask,

D.J. Paris 17:06
it doesn’t hurt to ask. And also, in many cases, it really makes the seller look good to the or sorry, makes the selling agent look good to the seller, or the listing agent, I should say. Because I technically the selling agent is the one who buys anyway. I don’t know why they we do it that way. It’s too confusing. Buy side and sell side. Yeah, but anyway, I don’t make the rules. So sorry for the confusion there. But yeah, for anyone who, for anyone who, you know, is a listing agent, you know, we know that oftentimes by asking a listing agent, Hey, can I sit in open house for your property, they get to then say to the seller, hey, we’re going to do an open house. And of course, that just makes the seller think that the listing agents doing stuff. And that’s a good thing, too. So it really is a win win for everybody. Obviously, for the agent sitting the open house, if nobody shows up, you know, that is always a bummer. But it happens. But the important thing is, these are where people do come in to open houses. And I know that you know, we live in so much of a virtual world now. But I really encourage everyone if you’re if you’re if you’re not slammed with appointments these days, I would be asking every listing agent I knew in my office, can I please please, please come sit in open house? And okay, cool. So let’s talk I want to talk about social media. Because I’m 47. And I used to be I used to feel like I was a young guy, I’m not a young guy anymore. But I would you know, social media is just kind of a different animal for people who are in your case, you’re like about 20 years younger. Tell us a little bit about how you’ve built your business on social. I’m just curious on what’s worked for you. How do you think about content? You know, what, how are you in the you know, how are you posting? Tell us about that?

Kelly Carlson 18:46
Sure. You know, initially I had thought you know, you have to be on every single platform and just, you know, reach everybody from every direction and I started to learn that I think age is a big part of figuring out what your where your demographic is. And for me at 29 I save most of my fear and people my age are still on Instagram, Facebook, not so much tick tock I don’t have I probably should but I just am afraid I get too addicted. But that’s been kind of the biggest social media piece for me. I have a business account, but I like to mix in still some personal with that. i You will probably never see me post a just listed or just sold post.

D.J. Paris 19:39
Well, hold on. What why is that? Why do you not post those?

Kelly Carlson 19:43
Because you don’t I my kind of thought process as I’m deciding, you know, to put together some form of content. My question is, is this adding value to the consumer. And when I saw those, and when I see them, you know, it’s kind of as it doesn’t do much for me, however, if I see, you know, a picture of a couple in front of the house, and there’s a story behind it, I’m interested and it gives me more of the taste of you know, who that agent is, and how they work. And so I love, you know, on occasion to share clients stories in that way. And yes, sure, it’s showing that you are, you know, selling homes and you know, you’re successful and all that, but it’s not so in your face. So I think it goes back to the is it something that is adding value, as we are fixing up a 1920s tutor, I have been sharing some of our renovation journey. Because I personally love seeing before and afters, I think that’s content people generally enjoy. And what it’s kind of evolved into is going back to kind of helping people see what they can do with a space. And also, you know, doing things, depending on what your budget is, you know, here’s places to splurge, here’s places to save. So, I found that to be kind of complementary with, you know, posting normal real estate stuff, too. But I don’t have a great, you know, like talent or anything of what I do, I just, when I have the time, I, you know, come up with an idea and, and post away. I think

D.J. Paris 21:22
that’s really, really great advice. I’m not a fan of the just listed just sold stuff, either. I think it’s perfectly okay to do. It doesn’t do much for me, it doesn’t necessarily turn me off when I see it. But it doesn’t light me up either. Like when I see somebody do it. In this, I’m sort of not a good example, because I see all my friends having success, and I’m very excited to see them when they get there just listed just sold. But if I was just a consumer, not in this industry, I’d be like, I mean, it’s, it’d be like the equivalent of you know, somebody saying, I just got a, you know, I just got this big sale at the company I work at I close this big deal. It’s like we don’t do that, really, we might tell our friends and family and just close this big deal. But we don’t necessarily broadcast it, but Realtors do broadcast it. And that’s fine. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but it shouldn’t. I don’t think it should be the primary, I don’t think anyone would say that should be the primary driver for what your content is, I think people you write are more interested in the story. They’re more interested in learning about you, and kind of what you’re into. And also, if you want to see really cool DIY before and afters, I encourage everybody go to Reddit and subscribe to the DIY subreddit. It is awesome. And there’s like, I think there’s millions of people subscribed to it. And you get to see all sorts of projects in there. And there’s a reason why millions of people are in they’re not everyone’s a DIY er that’s in there, but they just love lurking and seeing. So if you are somebody who does projects, check out the DIY subreddit, whether it’s a home renovation or just something outside of real estate, you could document a lot of that stuff, put it in social and it just shows people that you have passion and interest, and that you’re kind of doing cool stuff. So I’m a big, big believer in that as well. So that’s interesting. So you’re you’re an Instagramer more than anything tick tock is not your thing. I stay away from tick tock, I post our videos there, but I don’t browse tick tock for the exact reason you mentioned is I’m way too, I have way too much of an addictive personality, and I would get lost in it and hours would go away. So but whatever social media platform that that, you know, I think somebody is on, it’s probably the one, the one that they liked the most is probably the one where where they should spend the most time. But let’s let’s talk about so you had this great apprenticeship, sort of, you know, mentorship with one of the top producers here in Chicago. And then you had to make a transition because you and your husband just bought this place out in the western suburbs, you’re not all that close to the city as you used to be right in the city. And was that a bit of a trends, a transition as well for your business was it was the majority of your business in the city prior? And how is that shifted as you’ve moved out west? Sure.

Kelly Carlson 24:04
You know, it’s interesting, because at my age, late 20s, a lot of my clients, I think COVID kind of said this up. We’re moving out of the city maybe earlier than they had would have been in the past. And so I having grown up in the western suburbs, Clarendon Hills, I already had a pretty good knowledge of many of the western suburbs so I was able to help several buyers and some sellers out that way. So for a good portion of my time in the city, I was splitting my time a bit between western suburbs and the city. So I’d say the transition wasn’t it hasn’t felt you know, crazy, but I am now in a very, you know, hyperlocal market where most of the agents who do the business here live in town and Part of that I started to learn very quickly, it’s how many of the deals are happening off market, they don’t even hit the private market, they are happening, you know, just because there’s word of mouth in town. And so it kind of got me thinking that I would want to find a more local brokerage, I had such an amazing experience that angle Volkers and have nothing but amazing things to say about Jenny and the whole team. But I quickly realized that, you know, being kind of the new girl in town and being with a brokerage that had a very strong local presence would be an important piece for establishing myself here long term. So I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s, it’s still somewhat new. But I’ve got a really great business plan for 2024. And Trisha, Roberto is the managing broker for at properties, Hinsdale and Western Springs. And she’s been so wonderful at getting me ready for this next year. So

D.J. Paris 25:59
yeah, let’s talk about this next year. So what’s what’s on the marketing plan? I am always interested on you know, and again, I know you talked about with social media, you don’t necessarily have a training calendar, or sorry, a content calendar. But I’m curious on what kind of marketing efforts you plan to do to to find additional buyers and sellers in 2024.

Kelly Carlson 26:21
Absolutely. So my kind of big marketing campaign for 2024, I’m calling it going west, buying your first home in the western suburbs. So you know, there’s a lot of, you know, Chicago residents, their homeowner, maybe they own their condo, or they’re renting, they’re ready for that move to the suburbs, but they don’t, they’re maybe not from the area. And so they don’t have that knowledge of you know, if schools are important, where you know how to navigate that commuting to downtown, if they’re still going to work in the city, how to make that as easy of a transition as possible, what, you know, what are the things they like to do in the city that they can still find some version of out this way. And so so my focus is going to be helping with those first time suburban buyers. And that’ll be, you know, through kind of educational content on Instagram featuring different suburbs, local businesses, etc. But then also, something I’ve started implementing is suburb tours, where I will take a client out privately, for a couple of hours, and we’ll toward maybe, you know, five or six suburbs will drive around, I will share, you know, kind of my take on how that local market is, things that are notable about that town. And I think it’s a great way to get to know somebody before you start looking at homes. But it’s also, I think, a better way to get somebody out here versus maybe trying to drag them to a happy hour at, you know, of downtown bar in Western Springs. So that’s, that’s a big part of me. And in addition to kind of my typical, you know, newsletter, you know, I like to do quarterly client events, at boutique fitness studios, or maybe a fun, local Happy Hour spots, things like that.

D.J. Paris 28:20
You just said something that really, really sort of piqued my interest, because I was trying to think, as you were saying it, just like we’ve done over 500 episodes, has anyone ever said this before? And I don’t think anyone has. So I want to go back to something that you mentioned about these tours. I think this is a brilliant idea. And I’ve we we did not I did not know you were going to talk about this. So I’m so excited. Because now I just got to collect my thoughts. Because here’s what I was thinking. I’ve never heard of anybody doing this. So typically, you know, you work with a realtor, when you’re ready to buy, you already know approximately where you know, the city, you know, maybe even the subdivision if you’re out in the suburbs, or the neighborhood, if you’re in the city, whatever, you have a general idea. And we all hate when we get those buyers who call and they go, I’m open anything and you’re like, Oh, now we got to pick this out. But what I love about what you’re doing is you’re helping people make a decision of where they want to live, not the home itself, which you’ll do step two, step one is probably the most challenging of the steps is where should we live? And people normally go on that journey themselves. They do not usually have a guide with them. Yeah, maybe they’re watching YouTube videos, learning about different suburbs, but they’re not necessarily even being driven around to different suburbs going well, here’s some cool things about this one. And here’s some, you know, maybe not so cool things. And here’s this suburb and I mean that in Chicago, we have kind of I don’t know how many suburbs like probably more than 50 Altogether, villages and suburbs. So it can be really I’ve lived here 21 years and I still don’t really understand the suburbs. And so that’s what that would be Incredibly helpful for me if I was going to move out in the suburbs, and I’m in this industry, and I don’t know, I don’t know if you know anything about the suburbs. And so that is such an important thing is really what here’s what I heard you do. You thought about what the need is, what is the need? Well, people who live in the city, a lot of them move out to the suburbs, because they want to start a family get more space, whatever, lots of reasons. People typically move from urban to rural, and so great. So she Kelly knows this happens. That’s where you grew up, as well. And she thought, well, what’s one of the challenges with that? Well, picking up picking a place picking a an area to live to move in, and there’s so many different options. So I’m going to do these tours, I am so impressed with that, because that is an incredible service to provide. And absolutely I would be I would be thrilled if I was living in Chicago. And I was like, Well, I gotta move out to the suburbs, I need more space. And then I have to go out and I gotta figure out, I gotta look at all the suburbs I got as a huge thing. And so for you to take somebody around or take a group of people around for a few hours. Amazing. I can’t imagine is I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that I’m sure other people do. But it’s got to be it’s not like a unique thing that you came up with.

Kelly Carlson 31:14
Yeah, I was, you know, I was really struggling to brainstorm, you know, how do I get that type of person? You know, they’re not going to take the train out here to come to an event of mine. But I think I think like you said, just kind of what is that need? And how can I steal that? Ensure you are spending upfront kind of a lot of time upfront with a person. But you know, I think when you invest in somebody like that, they’re more likely to want to invest in you. And it also I think, can save some time on the back end, because you aren’t spinning your wheels, touring 10 different areas, because they have no idea what they want.

D.J. Paris 31:54
Yeah. And if you even if you video, some of it, and not necessarily videoing the client you’re taking out but if you take some quick little shots, you can then put those together and create clips of like, hey, we did a tour today we toured these four suburbs, we showed, you know, we showed them the downtown’s and the schools, whatever. And you could actually make that into content as well. And I would think, you know, that’s a tremendous value that an agent can provide is, you know, this idea of being the gateway to the actual house, I think is devalued a little bit right now, because we have the ability as consumers to find properties on our own, we really don’t need a realtor for that. It’s good realtors are worth their weight in gold. But it’s for I think it’s for a lot of stuff like what you’re talking about, I think it’s really like, Hey, can you help me figure out where I should live? Like, that’s the really, that’s value. Anyone can search Zillow and find a property. So I love the fact that you do that I’m I’m sort of stepping on this point a little bit, because I want our agents to know like this is the way you should think about it is what are the needs that my clients have? What is something that maybe is a decision that they are going to have to make? That’s a challenging one? And how can I make it easier for them before they even know that they want to use me, because before you buy a home, you got to figure out what area you’re at. So you’re actually doing a step before they’re even thinking necessarily about calling a realtor. So I really want to give you kudos to that. Because that is really an impressive and impressive thing. Let’s talk about when the market is slower. So right now the market is slower. Interest rates are higher than anyone would like inventory is down. What are you doing to stay busy? Because and also, by the way, majority of your friends probably aren’t moving out to the suburbs, or I don’t know, you know, majority of your city friends are probably still in the city. And maybe they’re renting maybe they’re buying but I imagine you know, not a lot of 29 year olds are probably purchasing right now. So you know, your, your peers. So what are you doing to sort of stay active, stay busy in a down market?

Kelly Carlson 34:01
Sure. And one thing I do want to clarify is that I even though I live in the western suburbs now, I’m still working on my city business too. I’m sure that might change over time. But I think especially with having at properties be all over the city, I’ve got access to, you know, the River North office and the Western Springs one. So I’m still, you know, keeping somewhat busy with that, but it is a down market things are slower. And I think it’s easy for agents to immediately freak out and my brain has gone to those places too. But I really have tried to think of it as an opportunity of, you know, this is the gift of time that I don’t have in the spring market when I’m running around with like a chicken with their head cut off. No time to breathe, and all those projects that I wanted to do I now have the time to So an easy one. for this time of year is, you know, if you’re not sending out a holiday card, you absolutely have the time. You know, whether it’s handwritten, or it’s a cool, you know, personalized postcard, I’d say, spending the time and truly writing a nice note to your clients, your vendor partners, friends, family, etc. So that’s something I’m working on these next couple of weeks. But on top of that, I think just keeping up with my CRM, and I live and breathe by that. So that is my reminder system for reaching out to everybody from past clients. And just checking in and seeing how people are doing, inviting people to go get coffee and lunches again, it’s the stuff that I didn’t have the time for that I am doing now, in addition to just really fine tuning that business plan for next year.

D.J. Paris 35:54
Yeah, let’s

Kelly Carlson 35:56
broker tours to, you know, go yes. This is your time to do it. Yeah.

D.J. Paris 36:03
Agreed. And the reason why people should go to broker opens, there’s a lot of reasons. One is to learn inventory in the area, but also to build relationships. You know, we are, we are human apes. And we, we like connection, we’re interpersonally wired. So we’re wired for connection. We’re wired for also familiarity. So if you are going to broker opens, if you’re participating in the industry, if you’re making friends, if you’re going to events and you know doing Association stuff, you’re just going to meet a lot of other agents. And guess what happens when they receive an offer for one of their listings from your buyer, and they see your name. They’re like, Oh, I know Kelly Kelly’s awesome. Does that influence maybe their decision? Well, in a perfect world, it wouldn’t. But does it? Of course it does. Of course it does. So you want to make as many relationships as you can. With other realtors, obviously, you want to play nice in the sandbox. It is a cooperative commission. But let’s remember that these are little little ways that you can give yourself a slight psychological advantage you want when somebody sees your offer coming through, you want them to be like, Oh my god, I love Kelly, I’m so glad her buyer wants to buy this. Right. That’s, that’s the reaction you want from the listing agent. And I think you know, not enough is really said about that. And yes, obviously, the listing agent wants to do the very best for their seller. But it definitely doesn’t hurt to see a familiar face from that buyer’s agent. So guys, really great suggestion there, go to the broker opens, go to the open houses, go to the events, make friends, it might just help you win a deal that you don’t know, in that you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Especially if maybe you come in at the exact same price and conditions as some other agent they go. I don’t know the other agent. I know Kelly, right. So that might be just what ends up winning you the deal. So really great suggestion. Really great suggestion there. I also wanted to you mentioned your your you do newsletters and you do some time. Oh, I want to talk about your CRM. So I know what I I wanted to ask, I want to drill down just a little bit because pretty much every brokerage has, or at least you know most brokerages offer a CRM or you can go out and purchase one on your own. What is your How does your CRM tell you what to do? In other words, do you have it set up so that every one of your prospects or clients gets a certain you get a reminder to call them on a certain day? Or email tax? Like how does that work for you?

Kelly Carlson 38:34
Yeah, so I, and I’ve worked with a few different CRMs over the years, paid for one, you know, had one to end and now I’ve got one in app properties. And I think the what makes the most sense to me is, you know, first you categorize your different groups of people into maybe, you know, your A, B and C. And so those A’s are, I’m getting a reminder, at least monthly to reach out to them. If it’s, you know, a new Open House lead or new buyer referral, etc, they are getting much more frequent reminders like that, at least, you know, a couple of times a week during that first, you know, first month or so after the introduction. But then I’ve got you know, my VCs who maybe will work with, maybe not everybody is on my newsletter, so everybody will get that monthly, but those, you know, B and C’s, they’re getting, I’m getting reminders quarterly to reach out to them. So I think spending the time it does take some time to organize your CRM and that way I think has saved me so much time nowadays, because I’m not going through everyone individually and saying I don’t really need to reach out to that person. The system just does it for me. So it’s helped me prioritize the big ones. Yeah,

D.J. Paris 39:53
yeah. So you categorize you, you. You put each one into a particular group A, B, C, etc. And then you have a particular number of touches that you wish to do over the course of a certain period of time a year, whatever. And so every day you wake up and you have a list of to dues that’s kind of automatically generated for you to keep you on track. Is that my understanding?

Kelly Carlson 40:15
Yes. And yeah, so I don’t have it, like sending out emails for me, I, I don’t, I don’t like the automated stuff. But so it just, I can decide that if I want to text the person or call them depending on the relationship, or if I saw something on their social media recently that I want to congratulate them on. But it’s just a reminder, to have some kind of touchpoint.

D.J. Paris 40:39
Yeah, do something with so and so. And whether it’s comment on a social media post, pick up the phone and call them, write them a note, text them, whatever it is, almost doesn’t matter, just that you’re doing something that lets them know that you’re thinking about them in some way. And you know, as simple as this is, I think the vast majority of agents don’t set up their systems this way, where you don’t really want to wake up every morning and go, What should I do today, that’s just too much to the candle. It’s too much to try to figure out as a realtor, it’s, you got too many responsibilities, there’s too many just options. What you really want is somebody to hand you, you know, virtually a little thing that says, These are the 10 people you have to reach out to today. And then you go okay, I just have to do that. And it just chunking your life into that’s what a CRM for me is just can make life a lot easier for just says, All you got to do today is deal with these, these 1015 things and then you never have to worry about losing touch with somebody, you don’t have to go Oh, when’s the last time I called so and so because you will let you know, unless you fell behind on your CRM tasks, you will know exactly when the last time you chatted with that person and how that worked. And again, this is all kind of like customer service slash marketing 101. But it is also something that’s easy to forget to do. It’s you know, I call these like the push ups of real estate, it’s like, it’s really hard. It’s hard to do it. But it’s a really good idea. And it’s super simple, right? So it’s super simple to pick up the phone and go, Hey, I was thinking about you how you doing? I am on a couple of realtor friends of mine, a couple of I must be on a few of their CRMs, I get a call from a friend. Every single month, he calls me, and it’s the sweetest. And I’m not, I’m never gonna be a client of his I’m a realtor as well. He calls me once a month and goes, we’re not. I won’t mention his name. But we don’t go out socially. I mean, we have before but we’re not that close. Every single month, he calls me and he’s like, I was just thinking about you. And I’m sure it showed up on a CRM to call DJ today. But you know what, it makes me feel special, it really is a nice thing. And he’s a sweetheart for doing it. Because I’m never going to be his client. But he’s, he’s, he’s still putting me through that system. And, boy, I got a call last night from him. And I was like, God, I love that you do this, even though it’s not going to benefit you directly in your business. You’re just a good dude for doing it. And I’ll tell you, people, people know that stuff. So if you can just be somebody who’s, you know, a lot of a lot of my people, service professionals in my life, don’t contact me, outside of business stuff. And I you know, I think it’s a great idea. If you don’t have a CRM, as Kelly said, now’s the time to sort of put that together. You’re not as busy right now. Now’s the time. Kelly, what other suggestions would you have for somebody who’s in their 20s? Who got or 30s? Or it doesn’t matter? The age doesn’t matter newer to the business? And it’s going oh, my gosh, this is such a hard market? Like what do you would you recommend? If you had to start all over today and you knowing what you know, now, what might you suggest open houses? We talked about? Organizing your sphere of influence? Are you putting everybody you know, in, in your, in your database? Is it like, hey, even the dry cleaner? Who knows my name? Am I putting those people in? Like how detailed do you get with yours?

Kelly Carlson 43:51
I probably should be better at adding everybody under the sun. I know, I know everybody in it. So I, you know, have scrubbed it at one point. And I didn’t know, you know, a number of emails that like you know what, that’s just taking up room and space. So I’d say I know, of at least every person in there, but I probably should get better at just adding in because it’s so easy to add somebody to a newsletter drip campaign. If they unsubscribe, they unsubscribe and that’s okay. But you never know. They might read something that resonates with them. And that’s, you know, happened a few times where I’ve not even knowing that person was subscribed and they replied, You know, I wonder newsletter, blah, blah, blah, I have a question for you. So I think leaving those opportunities open is a good reason to have them in your CRM for sure. If

D.J. Paris 44:44
you didn’t have a big sphere of influence, and you’re a newer realtor, how might you expand that? How might you start to add people to your database? If you were what would you suggest to a new agent?

Kelly Carlson 44:55
Yeah, I mean, I’d say obviously open houses kind of keep going back to that. But I mean, you got to be diligent. And after that, you might get a list of names and sit down and organize them nicely into your CRM, that’s a great way for me to build my CRM over time. Sorry, I hope you can’t hear my dog in the background right now. And then also getting involved in various organizations for maybe join an intramural League, or, you know, whatever it is get involved in your condos, one of their committees, and I think it’s a great way, you know, you’re getting to know these people. So you’re not like spamming and stealing their email addresses. But chance opportunities, where you are getting to meet a lot of new people. And there’s a way to, you know, contact them, you have their information, I see no problem with adding them. And that’s a good way to build your CRM as well. Yeah, I always,

D.J. Paris 45:56
I always love it, Brian Buffini had said that he goes, if you really want to be successful as an agent, and you’re newer, he goes meet two to five people every single day, which is not an easy task. But if you can meet two to five people a day be like, Oh, by the way, I’m a realtor, oh, if you know, if you give me your email, I’ll stay in touch with you or something. If that’s all you did, and you just met two people a day, and you did that, let’s just say 200 days out of the year. So that’s adding 400 people to your database. Within a couple of years, you’re going to be flush with business.

Kelly Carlson 46:27
Absolutely. And yeah, and for those that are building, and it’s a smaller pool, like really cultivate that, and make those people feel, you know, important and connected and taking good care of that small group of people, they’ll naturally want to, you know, introduce you to their friends and family. So I think it kind of goes back to adding value to the consumer. Yeah.

D.J. Paris 46:58
Have you run into ever any issues where you know, and again, you’re, you’re a younger person, you have a youthful look, as well. So curious if that’s ever been a challenge for you, as you’ve been growing your business as it’s like, Oh, you look so young, you know, maybe too young to be a realtor, I’m not suggesting you look so young, too young to be a realtor. But has that ever come up? And is that ever a hurdle that you’ve had to had to work with? I

Kelly Carlson 47:23
get that all the time. Still, I am sure when I’m a little bit older, I will appreciate it. But it is a challenge when you’re younger agents, and you are competing against very established brokers who have been doing this for 20 plus years. So I’d say the first thing is being willing to learn. So if you don’t have that listing, yet, like offered to help, and learn every aspect of the listing process and the buying process, and once you have data that you can price, the experience, I think that is what speaks for itself. You know, obviously doing the research, if you are up for a listing, and really, you know, getting into the data and really proving yourself that way, I think that can be helpful, but I think experience is a big part of it. And it’s hard to get that experience when you are young. So I really think the best way is just offering to help even if it’s you’re getting paid to $25 to cover a showing or $50 for an inspection or whatever it is. It’ll just make you more confident when you are in the moment with a client’s. But it can also I think, help to demonstrate, you know, your value and, and your experience.

D.J. Paris 48:45
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more, just do as much as you can do as much activity as you can don’t worry about getting paid as much as getting experience. Really a great, great place to wrap up. I also want to remind all of our listeners if you have clients or you have friends that live in the city of Chicago, or the suburbs, but specifically if they’re in the city and thinking about making that move to the suburbs, but maybe you don’t work the suburbs, or maybe you’re not an agent in Chicago, maybe you’re an agent somewhere else, but you’re one of our listeners, Kelly is would be a great resource for those clients. I again, I just love the idea that she takes people on tours to help them figure out what suburb is the best fit, you’re going to such a cool thing. So if you have clients that you don’t may have that experience in any one to refer to Kelly or you have clients, you know you’re in a different state and they move here and they’re thinking about making that trip out west. Kelly B Kelly would love the opportunity to chat with you. So definitely reach out to her. And the best way to do that is you can find her she’s all over online but you go to our website Kelly Carlson, it’s Kelly, ke ll y Carlson homes.com. We will have a link to that in the show notes. Also follow her on Instagram I’m Kelly Carlson homes, you can see some of the cool, non bragging stuff that she does on there about about her projects that she works on in our interests. And also, we want I want to thank you, Kelly, on behalf of all of our listeners, for coming on our show. This is really exciting for us. I love chatting with younger realtors who are really making a huge splash. Not that’s not my opinion. That’s the National Association of REALTORS opinion about you. So I’m really grateful that you came on our show today because you really are somebody that agents should be following, even just to see what Kelly’s doing. So maybe you can get some good ideas and replicate some of that success for yourself. So follow her on Instagram, Kelly Carlson homes, go to our website. And if you think you might be a partner for Kelly, or guess what guys, people move out of the suburbs too. And they move to Florida and in Arizona and lots of places from Chicago. So maybe you’re in one of those markets. And he will say hey, Kelly, I want to know when one of your clients is looking to move, reach out to her, she would love the opportunity to chat and see if there’s a there’s a fit there. So, Kelly, on behalf of our audience, thank you, thank you so much for coming on. On behalf of Kelly and myself, the audience, we love you. We are so grateful that you stick around to the end of the episode, please tell a friend about our show. Think of one other realtor that could benefit send them a link. And also leave us a review that really really helps us with our cert with just being seen in the various podcast directories. So let us know what you think of the show. We take your suggestions very, very seriously to heart. We want to always make the show better for you. So tell a friend and leave us a review and we will see everybody on the next episode. Thanks Kelly. Thank

Kelly Carlson 51:44
you so much DJ, this is such a treat.

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