Hayley Westhoff is the co-founder of MacPherson Westhoff, one of @Properties top producing teams. In her own production Hayley is one of her firm’s top producers and she’s only in her sixth year! (…and @Properties has over 3,000 brokers!). In our conversation Hayley discusses how she started her business and the exact steps taken that built her practice. She also reveals how her team is structured and why she prefers a one-point-of-contact relationship with clients. Lastly she talks about her philosophy around client care – making each client feel as if they’re the most important client (because each client IS actually the most important client!).
D.J. Paris 0:14
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real. The only podcasts made by Chicago real estate brokers for Chicago real estate brokers. My name is DJ Parris. As always I am your host through the show. And before we get to our episode interview with Hayley West off of that properties, I just want to a couple of quick announcements. As always, thank you for listening. We really appreciate it. In the last few weeks, we’ve received the most I guess, I don’t like to use the word fan mail, because that sounds sounds sort of silly. But I guess we have been getting a lot of fan mail. So a lot of brokers have reached out and told us they appreciate the show. And we appreciate that as well. And also, we’ve been getting a lot of suggestions on people to interview. So thank you as well. If you’re new to the show, you can subscribe to our episodes on any podcast app, just typically, you know, do a search for keeping it real podcast. Or you can go right to our website, which has direct links to iTunes as well as Google Play. To be able to, you know, subscribe directly to the podcast, right at our website, keeping it real pod.com. You can also listen to every episode we’ve ever recorded right from that website as well. Again, keeping it real pod.com Find us on Facebook, we post all sorts of announcements, we post links to every episode, and we like to stay in touch with the listeners that way. So please find us on Facebook keeping it real pod or just search for keeping it real podcast. And that is all I have, again, appreciate the kind words that are coming in. And somebody actually gave me a couple of good suggestions of how I could improve so I appreciate that too. So if you have any suggestions, the how to make the show better or guests to have or just that it’s working for you. We appreciate it and we’ll keep making these episodes. So now on to our interview with Haley Weston.
Haley West off has been in real estate for six years and has already individually sold over 57 million. Collectively her team’s volume or team has the McPherson Weston group. They have their volume is over 120 million in a short amount of time Haley has been consistently named a top 1% producer by Chicago Association of Realtors has been recognized and featured as who’s who in Chicago real estate by Chicago agent magazine and is one of our properties top producing agents. She is the team leader of the McPherson Westhoff group, which is a team of 12 McPherson. Westhoff is a unique group that has presence in the city and the suburbs, and has an urban to suburban concierge service, which helps families moving from the city to the suburbs, sell their city property, navigate the suburbs, and seamlessly make that transition. She’s a Chicago native and currently resides in Roscoe village with her husband, two young daughters and a little dog, Nico. Welcome, Haley.
Haley Westhoff 3:07
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
D.J. Paris 3:09
Thanks for coming on. And I think what you guys are doing is so interesting. But let’s let’s really start with you tell us you know, how you’ve been in real estate in just six years, you’ve built this huge team, but let’s start at the beginning. Like how’d you get into real estate.
Haley Westhoff 3:25
So the truth is, as I, as even as a little girl, I always wanted to be in real estate, I was always fascinated with houses, and a lot of my family members are in real estate. So I kind of grew up in it. But after college, I was a little nervous to take that jump, just given my father was going to stop paying my bills, and I was a little worried, you know, not having a set salary. So I got into marketing, and then I got into teaching, I was a teacher for eight years. And then you know, I just couldn’t fight it anymore. I just, you know, it just kind of came over me and I took the plunge and never looked back.
D.J. Paris 4:05
Well, let’s talk about before you built the group and just starting out on your own was that difficult? Did you know what did you do? Obviously, you know, survive that first year or two?
Haley Westhoff 4:16
Yeah, it’s tough. You know, I never knew how competitive this business really was. I got my license, and I was ready to work. And I was, you know, like, Alright, where’s the business? And I realized, oh, my gosh, I have to bring this in myself. And it was, you know, a crazy feeling. So it was tough. My first two years. I busted my I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that. But and, you know, I, I was working really hard. And I did. I did do some transactions, but you know, I didn’t feel the reward of how hard I was working. Wasn’t until my third year that I really started to reap the benefits of of my hard work.
D.J. Paris 5:01
Yeah, that seems to be a pretty common story, even with, you know, top 1% producers like yourself, which is the first two to three years tend to be pretty rough, even for, you know, the very end up being at the very top of the mountain down the road. So how did you, you know, how did you build your business? What were what were you doing? And because I’m sure you’ve seen over the years, a lot of people come and go, some people become really successful others struggle, and some even leave the business, you know, what did you feel definitely like? What do you think you were doing that made the difference?
Haley Westhoff 5:33
Yeah, so I realized after I got into the business, there’s 40,000 brokers in Chicago, and it’s one of the most competitive cities, and I knew that I just could not be average, I have worked with a lot of realtors before in my past, real estate transactions, my personal ones, and I know that most, you know, I felt like, the transactions from my past are just very average. So I knew that I needed to be exceptional in every single way in order to make it in this business. Yeah, so I decided to just, you know, be absolutely exceptional and every single step of the process and be memorable and not forgettable. And, you know, have my clients be over the moon happy with me, and refer me to everybody? So that’s really what I did. I just, I built my business 100% from referrals, I never spent $1 on marketing until very recently, actually, I really, really just made my clients 100% happy. And, and they referred me and that’s kind of how my business got built. Yeah,
D.J. Paris 6:53
I think, I think that’s a good answer. And it’s obviously it’s, it’s the true answer. And it’s funny too, because oftentimes, on we’ve done, Gosh, 75 or six episodes, sometimes these, you know, it’s for top producers, it’s not that they have a secret or some special formula that works. It’s just that they’ve taken the job really seriously. And they treat their, their their clients as if every client’s the only client and clients of course, know that. And, you know, I think it’s, it’s really very, very important. And obviously, you you guys are doing that. And now, so when did you actually start building a team?
Haley Westhoff 7:34
So we started our team, roughly, I would say two years ago. And it was my partner is Pam McPherson, we actually have known each other since kindergarten. And we have similar she got into the business around a similar time, you know, as I did, and we were very similar brokers very like minded. So we just decided it was a good fit. And we started a team.
D.J. Paris 8:03
Well, it’s, it’s I know, you’re, you’re very humble about it, but it’s impressive, because you’re in your sixth year, you now have this team, there’s what 12 people that’s truly remarkable and very unusual. So it clearly means you guys are doing a lot of things. Right. Thank you. Yeah, well, I mean, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s You’re welcome. But it’s it’s so impressive. I mean, I assumed, you know that you’ve said, Oh, they must be in their 15th year, you know, that would make probably more logical sense for having a team that big, but it’s so impressive. They’ve done it so quickly. And what you know, what do you attribute the growth of your business? I know, you talked about, you know, making very memorable, actually, can you give us an examples, any examples that come to mind of how to make yourself memorable?
Haley Westhoff 8:48
So I, you know, I realized that I realized that real estate transactions are so different than any other kind of transactions. It’s a personal and emotional transaction. And that means that your clients need you in a different way than any other kind of business transaction. So I make it a very personal experience, I build relationships with my clients, I’m friends with my clients. And when something’s going wrong in a deal, it keeps me up at night. So I really, I really think that my clients feel that and know that, and they have a special kind of bond with me because of that. So I think it just is about the relationship that I build with them. And, you know, the fact that their experience is, you know, very positive, generally speaking, and I think they just really appreciate that. Yeah,
D.J. Paris 9:43
I think you’re right. And they what’s it’s like, some old expression of it’s never that crowded at the top of the mountain. And it’s, it’s, there’s room for everyone. And it’s funny to be because I think the brokers who I’ve talked to, at least on the show, very much like yourself, selves have that exact same mentality. It’s very consistent. And it’s not. I don’t know that it’s consistent among all realtors. But certainly the top 1% seem to share that this idea of being super passionate about making sure their clients or at least know what’s going on, but you know, in a way that makes them know that you care, every step of the process. And obviously, you guys, you guys must be doing a really good job of that. You know, I always have this question for for brokers that I interview, and I always forget to ask it. So I’ll ask you before I forget. So once a transaction is over, and obviously you’ve done a great job, and if anything comes up, where a friend of theirs may ask them, oh, who do you use? Obviously, they’re going to recommend you. Is there anything you’re doing, though? Because might be seven years in between the transaction with the same person? Is there anything you’re doing to stay in touch? You know, I always wonder what brokers do after the sale?
Haley Westhoff 10:57
Yeah, that’s a great question, especially as your book of business keeps growing, every year, it gets tougher and tougher. But, you know, I, I always keep a list of my past clients, and look at it periodically and reach out if I haven’t, you know, had some kind of communication with them. I reach out on their birthdays, I send holiday cards, we have a client appreciation event, each year that, you know, we invite all of our clients, and it’s really just, you know, in I make it so that it’s not a chore or an you know, a task it is because I want to reach out to them. So it just becomes kind of natural. And, you know, the truth is, is I really do build friendships with my clients. So, you know, I do, I’ve gone out to dinner with many clients and keep in touch over coffee. So it’s just, I try to make it as natural as possible, because I never want it to become a task.
D.J. Paris 11:57
Yeah, no, I think that I think that’s great. I’m just, I’m just going to focus on one of the one of the great ideas you just mentioned, which is so simple, but it’s I would bet realistically, 98%, maybe 99% of brokers don’t do it, which is at least knowing your clients birthdays, and then calling or doing something to let them know that, you know, some sending some sort of message, whether it’s a phone call, or an email, or whatever a card. But like even that is huge. I started thinking about this recently, because I have, you know, we all have these professionals in our life, you know, maybe we have a realtor or mortgage person, an attorney, financial advisor, you know, an accountant, etc. You may have some or all of those people. And I’m like I was thinking about this recently, like, not one of them contacts me for my birthday, and I’m not upset with their, they’re great. But like, none of them do that. I think like, it’s yeah, it’s true. But it’s like the simplest, easiest thing that anybody and it gives you a reason to call them where you’re not necessarily going like, Hey, make sure to tell everybody you know about me what you can always do, too. But it gives you like, a real reason to call them where you don’t have to feel uncomfortable about
Haley Westhoff 13:01
even a text message, a text message is so you know, it’s so easy and casual. And everybody appreciates it. So it’s
D.J. Paris 13:11
such a simple idea. And I’ll bet you most most people don’t do it. And so it’s like a huge takeaway, like, if that’s all you ever do. But yeah, throwing a client appreciation event on on the sort of opposite end a much bigger thing to do there. But boy, people love to get together and, you know, meet with each other, and then just, you know, catch up. And that’s always great, too. And I think a lot of brokers don’t probably should do more of that as well. We’ll tell it tell us a little bit about your team, because I think this is really interesting. So you’re, you started this team with your best friend from a friend of yours from kindergarten? And how did you guys which was she had a different company and you kind of met up? Are you guys at the same company? Like how did that work out?
Haley Westhoff 13:52
Yeah, so we actually both came from Jamestown, and we both went to add properties. And, you know, it was just kind of a small idea at first and it just kind of snowballed into this really great kind of concept that we have, which is you know, our urban to suburban concierge. So she had the the group in the suburbs, and I had the group in the city. And you know, we really saw a need for for clients that are selling in the city and moving to the suburbs, and these two transactions usually happen simultaneously. And you know, with you, they’re either getting one broker who’s not an expert in both areas, or they’re getting two separate brokers who are not, you know, don’t know each other and don’t communicate with each other and it just becomes messy. So we kind of saw this need and it was perfect that you know, I’m able to help them sell in the city and Pam and her team in the suburbs. able to, you know, first help identify a suburb that works for them. And then, you know, helps them find a home. And then we work on these two transactions together, we take them the client out who, who ends up becoming the middleman, we take them out, so it’s a lot less stress on them. And we work with the same attorney. And it’s just especially if they’re contingent on selling their home in the city, it’s so much cleaner, it makes so much more sense, we can come up with a timeline that really works for for them, you know, taking advantage of of the best market in each place. So it’s just really, really helpful. And it’s been really
D.J. Paris 15:38
great. It’s clearly working with your productions, obviously, very impressive that your individual production, your team production, the fact that you’ve grown this team, I mean, I really can’t even make a big enough deal about growing to 12 people in a few years. or so. Like, that’s really, really remarkable and very unusual. So it obviously means as as humble as you are, it’s like something for sure to brag about, oh, by the way, we should mentioned that people should follow your you on Instagram, which is Haley West off realtor, so find her on Instagram. And you can of course find Yeah, you can find me on Facebook as well, and also the McPherson Weston group, by searching around, but um, how have you found his social media helped your business in a significant way? Or have you found that it’s not that useful? I’m just out of curiosity, how that’s been working.
Haley Westhoff 16:30
You know, to be honest with you, I actually just started amping up my social media. In the last couple of months, it’s not you know, my generation isn’t as into social media as this generation. But I and now we’re in a slower market, I have the time to kind of work on this kind of stuff. So I haven’t really, I think it helps with your perception and presence. I think everybody, Google’s their realtor that they’re gonna work with, and they want to make sure that their realtor is, you know, in the know, and producing and knowledgeable. And I do think that it helps with that. I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten a client off of social media, but it does help with just your online presence in general.
D.J. Paris 17:21
Yeah, I find that that’s typically the answer we get from most brokers is hey, I use it I’m, I’m, I enjoy it. I don’t know how much it directly affects, you know, getting clients but it certainly isn’t hurting. So that’s, that’s, that’s very interesting, but and by the way, your website is is Mapquest real estate. So MACD West real estate.com, they have a very cool website as well. But, um, so if you had, and I’m sure you guys have happened, where maybe you’ve even brought on brokers onto your team that are new to the business, but, you know, what do you tell new brokers or people that you meet that are thinking about getting into the industry? You know, obviously, you guys have had a lot of success. What advice do you have for them?
Haley Westhoff 18:05
Yeah, um, tell them to run, trying to make a living and feeding themselves off this for the first year. I know, it’s important. You know, I just, ya know, I mean, it’s, it’s really tough the first couple years, but I just tell them, what I did just do a stellar job and be in front of your clients, and the referrals will will come, you know, I never really spent time and money on buying leads or cold calling, it was just never my style. I honestly just, I just worked really, really hard. And, you know, in the in the referrals followed and I think, you know, in terms of listings, because I think it’s different with buyers and sellers, in terms of listings, you do a really, really, really good job. And you know, your results say everything but the proof is in the pudding. So they say so, you know, I would with my listings my first I mean until now but I remember putting my heart and soul and sweat and tears and spending hours with staging Ed and contractors and it really paid off. I mean, I sold my listing so quickly and for you know full asking over asking I in my sellers were so happy and you know, then you bring that to the table like, look, look what I’ve done, and it just starts snowballing. So just do a really, really good job and you know, clients will follow that.
D.J. Paris 19:41
Yeah, I think I think that’s true. It’s funny too, because oftentimes when when we interview top one percenters it’s not always easily or exciting. Oftentimes they think oh, I was boring because I didn’t have some this great strategy, but the reality of it is, you know, it’s probably just a lot of fundamentals. And you know, obviously you hasn’t been doing that. But even something as simple as like learn the skill of staging, or hire a good staging company, that the data was really impressive around staging and what it does to, obviously, you know, time on market and then also the price.
Haley Westhoff 20:15
It’s incredible. And that is one thing that I that I do think sets me apart and truly actually my whole team, because we’re we all happen to be very knowledgeable and good at staging. And actually, we even have our own storage facility with some staging pieces in it, my whole garage is filled with accessories, I really spend so much time with my sellers to prepare their property. And sometimes that means professionally staging. But usually it just means using their stuff, and decluttering and bringing in a couple new pieces, I always accessorize, it makes a world of difference. And your sellers really appreciate it. So that is one thing that I think does set me and my team apart is that we really spend a lot of time preparing the property. And I think it shows and ours also
D.J. Paris 21:08
it shows a level of care and professionalism. And again, I don’t know what percentage of brokers are able to service their client in that way. But I’ll bet you it’s in the single digits. So it’s
Haley Westhoff 21:21
Oh, for sure. Yeah, well, that
D.J. Paris 21:22
you can learn or develop over time. And but it’s a pretty important one. And I know certainly would distinguish if if Haley was ever up against another realtor for a listing. And it was between the two I you know, I would think the one who can say, oh, I can make your place actually look prettier, which in fact will likely drive the price up is a pretty important skill to be able to, to to offer so and not one that I hear very often why interviewing even top one percenter so I think that’s huge. I just interviewed so this previous episode, which hasn’t gone live yet, it was Michael Rosenbloom from Berkshire Hathaway, and he’s all about staging. So he’s like, super passionate, just like you guys. And it’s he he was laughing on the show. He’s like, nobody else can do it. Like I can, you know, be really has this amazing skill. And obviously, you guys do too. And it like really separates you guys from from the pack. So
Haley Westhoff 22:14
yeah, it really does. And, you know, I always tell, you know, when when a seller is deciding between three different agents, go look at their last listings on the MLS, and see what the pictures look like, see what you know, I mean, that is so compelling, like, how much effort are these listing agents really putting into the properties and making them look, you know, making them shine and making them stand out amongst the other. So I think that that’s just a really compelling piece that a lot of people overlook.
D.J. Paris 22:45
Well, even just making sure you’re using a good photography to not everyone even does that. So it’s like, that’s a basic,
Haley Westhoff 22:52
yeah, I know. Yeah, there’s some pictures out there that are just embarrassing.
D.J. Paris 23:01
I’m sure you see it all the time. But again, that also separates you in your team from from all the other realtors who aren’t putting that sort of care into it. But um, let’s let’s so as far as building, as you know, when you guys have built this team, how, you know, how the team has been around for how many years now?
Haley Westhoff 23:20
D.J. Paris 23:21
that’s incredible to build a team that big that quickly is amazing. And, and at this point, you know, now, are you spending more? Are you still working as much individually with clients? Are you spending more time managing, you know, the, the existing team members?
Haley Westhoff 23:39
Oh, yeah, I so one thing that, you know, every team works very differently. And one thing that I said I would never give up is my time with clients. So that has not changed one iota. I don’t have a team where, you know, so and so does the contracts on so does the showings I am, I am my I am basically a one man show for my clients. I always say that I’d rather have 25 really, really happy clients than 50 somewhat happy clients. So you know, I really only if I really only take on a certain amount of business, and if I don’t have the bandwidth to do, so. I’ll refer to someone on my team. So that’s, that’s kind of one way that I, that we are different than other teams is that is that we work like that.
D.J. Paris 24:37
Yeah, I think that’s that’s great. And it is somewhat unusual, not unusual at all. It’s, it’s, it’s different. So, I think, you know, it’s funny, there’s arguments to be made on both sides about whether having enough you know, specialized people on the team to handle contracts, for example, is good, but at the end of the day, the client really just wants probably one relationship, right? And so yeah, Yeah, exactly. And they just want to know that you live, eat and breathe their transaction. And I think exactly, yeah, not that not that that other way. The other ways, probably more efficient in certain ways. But it may, there may be some potential downside in the client maybe not feeling as intimate or as close to
Haley Westhoff 25:18
Yeah, I mean, you know, I actually went through a transaction like that before I got into real estate. And it felt so robotic to me. And I thought, This is my personal home, I don’t want to feel like I’m getting passed along, you know, like a machine. You know, maybe maybe in the mortgage in the mortgage process. That’s different because that’s very transactional, but I want to be you know, there for my clients from the beginning till the end.
D.J. Paris 25:46
Awesome. Well, I think I think that is perfectly set in a great place for us to to conclude, because I think you’ve said it all. But we should talk about about but you guys and if anyone is listening who is a buyer, seller, investor or renter, whoever has a real estate need if they wanted to work with you directly, what’s the best way they should reach out?
Haley Westhoff 26:09
I am text friendly, call friendly, email friendly. My phone number is 773-729-0594. And my email is Hayley ha y le y at app properties.com.
D.J. Paris 26:22
You can also visit the Haley’s group and see all the team members and you know, contact Haley directly are also at their website, which is Mapquest. realestate.com you should follow Haley on Instagram, at Kaylee, West off realtor. And then also you can find their group and her on Facebook and check them out as well. So thank you on behalf of Haley who was gracious enough, and by the way, I can even attest for how responsive she is because I saw the email chain between our producer Jen and it was like, like Jen would reply, and then Haley would reply, like minutes later. So it’s
Haley Westhoff 26:59
very, I have a problem.
D.J. Paris 27:02
That’s a good problem. When it comes to
Haley Westhoff 27:05
a thing. It’s a good thing for my clients. And it’s a really terrible thing for me.
D.J. Paris 27:10
And also, I will say that you are the only guest I’ve ever had that showed up like 10 minutes early in the recording room. So again, early and you’re always early and always responsive. I’d say that’s a pretty couple of pretty good qualities for a broker. So anyway, on behalf of Haley and myself, thanks for listening, we again if there’s any other brokers that that are listening, and you know other brokers that might benefit from hearing from interviews with people like Haley definitely pass this podcast along and follow us on Facebook keeping it real pod, and we will see you next time. So Haley, thank you so much for your time.
Haley Westhoff 27:46
Thank you for having me. I’m flattered and I really appreciate your time.
D.J. Paris 27:51