Robin Phelps Hanson of The Phelps-Hanson Group has crossed over 20 million in annual production this year. However, she feels she could have done it much faster! We discuss her rise to being a top producer, challenges she faced, and what she wished she would have known back when she started. This is a perfect episode to check out if you’re interested in what a rising superstar in the real estate industry does on a daily basis to keep moving forward!
D.J. Paris 0:15
Hello and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real the only podcast made by Chicago real estate agents for Chicago real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris, I am your host through the show. And if this is your first time listening to the podcast this episode, what we do here is we interviewed top, actually the the very top producers in Chicago There are currently over 35,000 realtors in the Chicagoland area, we literally are only talking to the top 1%. And what we’re doing is asking them how they built their business. How did they become successful? What are they doing differently than other realtors out there and having them share that with you. So I think we’ve started this about three or four months ago, we already have about 30 episodes done and about 5000 of you are listening on a regular basis. So we’re really grateful for that. A couple of ways you can continue to support the show so we can keep providing this to you in the coming year. Tell a friend if you have any other brokers that you think could benefit from listening to these kinds of interviews, shoot shoot them our information, you can obviously subscribe on iTunes, Google Play any Podcast Directory out there, you can find us. Also send us your questions once a month, Carrie McCormack, and I do a show where an episode where we interview, or rather she talks about what’s going on in the market and answers your questions. And we’re also going to be instituting a new regular episode in the next year where we’re going to be doing an investment episode once a month. So send us your questions whether you want to hear from a top producer like Kerry McCormick, or a top investment producer, Eric workman is going to be our regular guest on that show. Send us your questions, and we will answer them live on the show you easiest way to do that you can visit our website, keeping it real pod.com Or visit us on Facebook keeping it real pot. And the other thing that’s really exciting. And I promise I’ll wrap this up in just a moment and get to our great interview with Robin Hanson is that we have our very first sponsor on this episode. So you’ll be hearing those short commercial in a moment right before we get to Robin. And if you are someone who would like to advertise on the show and get in front of 1000s of brokers, every couple, any particular episode, you can do that. So reach out to us and we will give you that information. So thank you so much. This has been really exciting 2017 We have a few more episodes before we finish out the year and we’ll go strong in 2018. And also lastly if you have any anybody that you think we should be talking to any really successful brokers out there who maybe we don’t know about or we haven’t reached out to shoot us that information. We get a lot of our interviews from you guys who give us those suggestions. So thanks so much really appreciate it and on to our interview
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Today on the show we
have Robin Phelps Harrison and Robin is a Chicagoland native and a broker with at properties. She is the founder of The Phelps Hanson group, a top producing real estate team. Robin has found her niche within the luxury single family market as of late, but equally enjoys working with first time condo buyers and sellers as well as investors. Robin lives in the north center area with her husband, their five year old daughter and 11 year old dog. Welcome Robin to the show.
Robin Hanson 4:22
Thank you so much.
D.J. Paris 4:24
My dog is also nearing that age so but she’s mine’s a little chihuahua. What type of dog do you have?
Robin Hanson 4:30
Okay, so ours is actually part Chihuahua and part rat terrier. So Oh, not unlike yours and she doesn’t have any teeth. She only has a couple of teeth. So we have a lot of challenges in that in that arena.
D.J. Paris 4:45
I do as well. So mine is nine and a half and she has had 13 teeth polled. She has none of all the important teeth are still there as of now but we’ll probably be going away at some point. People don’t realize that chihuahuas in particular, they have too many teeth or they’re live little mouth. So
Robin Hanson 5:01
I didn’t realize that either we’re over 20 Now extracted,
D.J. Paris 5:06
quickly catching up with you. Mine is sleeping underneath the desk here at the office. Okay, so but this isn’t about me and my dog. Let’s talk about you. How did you how did you get involved in real estate? Tell us your origin story.
Robin Hanson 5:19
Okay, so about 15 years ago, I worked at a tech startup company. And I was there a little bit over a year. And then they closed their doors. And they gave all of us a severance. I was single, late 20s. And I decided to take that money and take real estate classes. And I was lucky enough to live with my best friend, Heather, who owned a beautiful condo and said, you know, you can actually even use my car while you’re starting off with clients. Because I didn’t have a car. I took the L downtown to work every day. She had a really nice BMW. So for the first two years of my career, I drove around her in her BMW and everybody thought that was my car, my clients, other agents. Heather would ask to drive her own car. And I would be like, yeah, no, I’m sorry, I need it today. So we kind of, she was very happy when I was able to afford my own car, which was, you know, literally two years into the business. So I was Rookie of the Year, the first year at the habitat company, I literally loved it from day one, loved everything about it.
D.J. Paris 6:37
That’s amazing. And not only getting rookie of the year, but just back up that you have a friend that was willing to give you not her broken down Honda Civic, from 1997. But literally her nice BMW and you got to drive it around, I hope you have done at least sent her a nice bottle of wine
Robin Hanson 6:55
I have and I paid her back for the boot that she got on it for me not paying the tickets. So it was all good. But I, I ended up joining a team that was doing a lot of condo conversions, you know, vintage buildings that they were gutting and turning into these beautiful condos, and they were very affordable for first time buyers. So I was lucky enough to join this team. And literally, I was slipping a contract under the team leader store every weekend, and we were just we were killing it, you know, is 2005 for something like that three, maybe. And it was just an awesome experience learning how to choose the finishes and negotiate. And we were open both days every weekend. So we were meeting a lot of buyers. And I thought that was so valuable. But that was really, when I worked for the habitat company that was the beginning of learning how to pick up a buyer and an open house. You know, convert them to your own client, we were actually getting a lot of sellers out of these. So it was really an awesome opportunity that I was given from the start to join a team like that. And these guys, there were my mentors, and they’re still now there with our properties. And they’re still good friends.
D.J. Paris 8:11
So yeah, it’s amazing. And I know that was a bit of a different time back when there was a lot more development. And it was kind of a feast or famine, a situation if you were a broker and you got in with some of those developments. It was amazing. And then But then But then the market crashed. And how did you like pivot your business or adjust? You know, well due to them?
Robin Hanson 8:33
Yeah, I mean, that was rough. And I feel a connection to all of the brokers that have been in the business through that period, because you’re, you know, doing it if I’m doing a deal with one of them. And maybe I haven’t done a deal before we get to talking. It’s like, oh, gosh, that was such a hard time. I mean, I did a lot of rentals. Just because, you know, it wasn’t a source of income. And a lot of those renters were then converted into buyers later, which of course, is our hope. So, you know, it wasn’t easy, I think my I was lucky enough that my sphere of influence was built up in a way that I had enough people that were still buying and selling. But you know, there were so many foreclosures and so many short sales and and it was it was tough financially and also emotionally because, you know, a client would call me over to speak with them about their home and they’re telling you there underwater, you know, they’re about to go through a short sale, that bank is calling and you’re, you’re trying to be a good advocate for them and give them good advice and you really don’t even know what to say to get them through it. So that was a tough time. It’s it’s, it’s nice to work with clients. It’s nice to be in a market again where people are borrowing money and successfully and you know, putting 20% down or whatever. And, you know, there’s there’s I’m meeting with clients who I can actually come in and say, Wow, you have $150,000 equity, you know, this is going to be fun. So that’s that’s a much, you know, happier way to do business.
D.J. Paris 10:11
Yeah. And you’ve you’ve really had tremendous amount of success recently. You I know you’re closing the year at at a record high, which is awesome.
Robin Hanson 10:20
Yes, thank you. You know, I think so I’ve been doing this, like I said, about 15 years, I’ve been with the app properties for 10. I was always, you know, very comfortable around that seven, 8 million mark. And then, you know, I was lucky enough for two things, I started working with a builder who gave me a few opportunities that were really, you know, very important that I succeeded that I did a good job for them. And I did, and they, they were happy. And we continue to have this relationship, which I’m so grateful for. But, you know, I think that I took the confidence that I built in these situations with them, and, you know, met other sellers and buyers. And I started going into listing presentations, feeling like, I really believed that I was the best person for the job. And I shouldn’t say best, there are so many amazing brokers. But I went in maybe feeling better about myself as a broker. And I, the success just started coming to me. And of course, you know, it was fun and exciting. And I think that you always feel like you could be working harder. No matter how hard you’re working, you always feel like you could be working harder. And I still feel that way. And I think that’s also what’s keeping me going I am not, you know, everybody’s exhausted in this business. But I’m not finishing the day saying, Oh, my gosh, I’m done. I’m just kind of going well, let’s see what tomorrow brings. And that has, you know, changing my own mentality, I think has has helped. So I’m very grateful.
D.J. Paris 12:04
Yeah, one of the things you mentioned before we started recording, which I think is really very honest, and and also humbling, and I like it very much when people are able to say, you know, because I know your closing the year out really, really your high numbers. And you said I really should have got there a few years before? And can you talk a little bit about you know, the shift, and maybe why you think you could have done it sooner I would have done?
Robin Hanson 12:31
Yes, I I think that I am a very strong believer that social media is our best tool. And I started using Facebook for a lot of, you know, for posting listings, and for just kind of posting Hey, everybody, I’m out here, if you need me and me and my, my partner, Amber, we do a lot of just kind of post showing who we are and what we’re up to. And I’ve had people come into my open houses that said, Oh, it’s nice to meet you in person, your face is following me around the internet, which is because I’m using ad works. And I’m purposely following them around the internet. Sure. And all of these tools that are available to us, you know, they obviously they, they grow and they get better and better every year. But I feel like I’m just now sitting down almost daily and saying what’s available? What’s out there, I just attended the national shows, excuse me, National Association of Realtors Conference and McCormick Place. And me and my friend walked around, say, oh my gosh, look at this, look at this. And there’s so many awesome tools out there to help, you know, tell the public about you. And that you’re you’re here and you’re ready to help them. And I just really don’t think I was taking advantage of those like I should. And that’s huge for our business this year.
D.J. Paris 13:52
Yeah, I absolutely agree. There’s definitely ways to do it, I think two that are more effective than than others. I see. I see a lot of realtors maybe only posting hey, here’s my new listing, which I guess is better than doing nothing. But there’s a lot more ways you can engage the the audience. And so it sounds like you’re doing a lot of that. And that’s, that’s really interesting, you know, so we have a lot of people who listen Are you know, brokers who maybe they’re stuck at at their own production level, and they wish they could break out of that whatever ceiling they feel as sort of the is there? Or maybe they’re new to the business not sure what to do. And I know you have a very specific sort of thoughts about working with friends and family and could you share some wish you what you wish you would have known dealing with friends and family?
Robin Hanson 14:40
Oh, definitely. So I mean, your friends and your family are going to be your best referral source. And I was very fortunate to start at, I think I was 27 or 28 and some of my friends had just gotten like the good job, you know, I mean, they had started entry level out of college and they were starting to get the better jobs. and saying, Oh, I don’t want to rent anymore. And I mean, I think I sold eight condos in the first two months to people that were good friends of mine. And, you know, as we I’ve my business has grown, and quite frankly, the dollars amount amounts have gone up. I’ve noticed that, you know, working with your friends, is difficult sometimes because, you know, they’re expecting maybe a little bit more from you than they would from another agent. And maybe you’re in I’m expecting more from them, you know, give me the benefit of the doubt. Yes, yes, I’m doing that, of course, I’m doing that. And I have to stop and think, you know, they don’t know what I’m doing, I need to tell them, I need to tell them every week what I’m doing to sell their house, just like I’m telling Mr. Jones, with the listing down the street, you know, so I think that I have to stop even now and say, okay, you know, they are equally as important. And nothing that I do for another client, you know, I should be doing everything the same for them. And, you know, if you just do that, and you can hang out on the weekends and be social and not talk about work. But when it comes to selling a home for a good friend or family, it’s just I just kind of, you know, proceed like any other client. And I wish that somebody would have told me that it was going to be hard, because, you know, I think when I first started, I thought this is going to be great. I’m going to work with all my friends. And I’m, I continue to be very, very grateful to be able to do that. But it’s, I often have to take a deep breath. Because you you want to almost be offended if they’re asking you what are you doing to sell my house? So so and so sold this and you just want to say, Come on, it’s me, you don’t trust me. But you can’t do that, because it’s professional, and you have to stay professional.
D.J. Paris 16:45
Yeah, I just, you know, you said something really, really important in there as well that are that I thought was a real good takeaway for anyone listening, who’s got clients who are, who are trying to sell a home, or you’re starting to sell their home, which is let them know, every single week what you’re doing, regardless of what happens,
Robin Hanson 17:02
you know, my goal every week is for is to email them or to call them before they call me. And I feel like if they’re calling me and checking in, and I’ve, I’ve failed in that category, because I want to give them the information that I know that they you know, have the right to get before they come to me and say How was Saturday, and I overdo it. I mean, I shouldn’t say overdo it. But when I do a listing presentation, I tell the seller, you know, we’re going to be so close that when this is over, you know, you’re going to really miss me and we’re going to have to get coffee twice a week, because I’m going to tell you, I’m going to give you a lot of feedback. Every time I have a showing and I like to do that I like to report back almost immediately. I’m I probably sent 500 text messages a day. So and I you know, they never have to wonder what’s going on. Because they always know. I’d say
D.J. Paris 17:56
that is an amazing customer service policy. And the I know when when I bought my condo, which was like 2006. And I was in technology doing marketing for technology for I knew nothing about real estate, I still really don’t know too much, even today, but but back then I knew I knew literally knew nothing. And my friend, who was my broker, who is still my friend, he had a policy that I asked him after the fact I he said I never wanted a client to have to call me first. I always thought what a great policy. So it sounds like you have that same policy. So sure. But I was laughing earlier because when when we asked you some questions, which we do to everyone that we talked to we try to get a sense of what they’re all about, so we can bring it up on the show you this one is amazing. I can you please tell us about the sculpture story?
Robin Hanson 18:51
Oh, yes, absolutely. So this was maybe 10 years ago, I did a listing presentation for a family that was selling a home on the north side. And as she was giving me a tour, my eyes kept going to a certain part of the house, this bright white thing and I didn’t know what it was. And then she kind of walked me in and said, you know, my family made this. I know it’s a little odd. But you know, we made this together. And it was a sculpture that was I mean, gosh, the size of maybe a lion. I mean, we’re talking huge and it was made entirely of feminine sanitary products.
D.J. Paris 19:33
Robin Hanson 19:34
campaign specific. You set it up for ads. These are Yeah, yes. And, you know, it was you really couldn’t help but stare at it. And I said to her this is you know, don’t get me wrong. This is just
D.J. Paris 19:47
This is beautiful.
Robin Hanson 19:49
Yeah, I love it. Frankly. No, I mean, I just you know, but however, you know, and it was it just couldn’t be moved. It was on this big stand And so I said, Okay, well, you know, I’m not going to photograph it, but it’ll be here. So every showing I had so, and I thought about hanging Christmas lights on and just, you know, I thought maybe we should play this off, because it’s obviously not going to be missed at a showing. So anyway, any everybody who came through this house would say to me like, oh, Ken, do you mind if I take a couple pictures of the, you know, the crown molding, but I knew what they were taking pictures of show their friends. So, yeah, it was I definitely never had that one happened to me again, or, you know,
D.J. Paris 20:35
were they artists are just Oh,
Robin Hanson 20:37
yeah, they were artist. So and I’m sure at the studio, there were other things, but this was the one that they chose to bring home.
D.J. Paris 20:45
And chose it. Were they surprised when you said, you know, maybe, maybe everyone else’s sensibilities? Might Yeah,
Robin Hanson 20:53
you know, they were surprised just like a seller, if you tell them to take, you know, a picture, a nude picture down of some sort of painting of them topless or something, which of course has happened also. So
D.J. Paris 21:10
that’s, I guess, the same mind that would have that would create that sculpture is not the same mind is the same mind that would be like, What do you mean, why do it? Why would I have to move this? Right? So it’s not like, oh, yeah, we get it. It’s a little odd. Well,
Robin Hanson 21:23
and in this case, it was a hot market. And it was a really nice listing. And I knew that it was, you know, kind of this, I just kind of had a feeling that we could just make it fun. And the eventual buyers, you know, of course, joked about writing it in the contract and things like that. So luckily, we did not, you know, they were able to get to take it with them, because I’m sure they still have it to this day. Well, that’s
D.J. Paris 21:48
not something you throw in the garbage that No, I would say no, it’s it’s literally made of things you throw in the garbage. No, this is true. That’s all that is, that is amazing.
Robin Hanson 22:01
I actually have another one too. They, I had a very, very old home that I was selling. And in the attic, there was just one single rocking chair just sitting there. And it just gave me the creeps.
D.J. Paris 22:18
It was a beautiful start rocking on its own. Yes.
Robin Hanson 22:21
Every time I went up there, I pictured that. And I never ever told the seller that I was you know, creeped out by it. I you know, I never mentioned it. And, you know, he was a funny guy. And he started to kind of mess with me, and move it to different areas of the addict and what’s great. And then he would tell me, you know, I haven’t been up there in like a year. So it was in eventually I said, Okay, you’re gonna need to either come clean, or, you know, I’m not going up there anymore. So that was good.
D.J. Paris 22:54
That is funny. Um, what advice would you have have to brokers who are feeling stuck or stifled or not sure how to take their business to the next level? Is anything come to mind? Yeah,
Robin Hanson 23:07
definitely. I would advise them to get education to take advantage of what the association has to offer or you know, even at their independent brokerage at att properties, they do amazing training, I mean, you can, you can be a one year agent or a 30 year and sit in this training and walk out feeling motivated. But you know, as members of the association, you always have those options. And, I mean, I probably call my managing broker or one of my mentors, at least twice a week and say, Can I run this by you? And, you know, I would say, to try to have a meal with a new person at least three times a week, whether it’s a meal, or a cup of coffee, or something, and even if you sit down, and that person proceeds to tell you about their brother who’s a realtor, and you know, you think, oh, gosh, well I wanted to be their realtor, it really doesn’t hurt. You might learn something, they might tell you something about a piece of land that their brother is selling in their neighborhood and you go wait a minute, my my builder was looking for land over there and then suddenly you’re connecting so you know, it’s it is difficult. We all go through slow times. And the best thing to do is to just get to the office or wherever you feel comfortable working and prospect and you know, call people that you trust and say, you know, what do you do when this happens and everybody’s been through it? And I used to one of my old managing brokers used to say when things are slow go on a trip, and not an exotic trip but you know, go to Michigan or Lake Geneva or something for the weekend and and your phone will start ringing you just need to get your mind off of being slow.
D.J. Paris 24:50
Sure, yeah. Yeah, I have a suggestion for for people listening. One of the things that you can do in particular after you close A transaction with a client is that’s a good excuse a good reason to take them up to coffee or to a meal, just obviously, to thank them for their business. But what you can say, if you really enjoyed working with them, is you can say, hey, you were like the ideal client. I wish I had more clients, just like you have any suggestions for me about how I might get in front of more people just like you? Yeah. And it’s different from saying, Hey, do you know anyone else that’s looking for to buy or sell or, you know, which could be awkward or uncomfortable? Or it could be that they just don’t know anyone? But when you ask them for their advice, I’m like, gosh, if you were me, how would you get in front of more people like you? You know, people will tell you though, they’re flattered that you’re asking for their opinion, which is different from necessarily just asking for referrals, which you can do too. But I love the idea of just saying, Gosh, you know, I you know, I love to meet more buyers or sellers just like you. And if you had any suggestions of how I could, you know, get in front of more people that would really be helpful. And you’ll be shocked at how, especially if you had they had a good experience with you? Would you be the only reason to do this don’t don’t, you know, obviously Oh, for
Robin Hanson 26:06
sure. And to your point, you know, planning a meal after closing is a lot of fun. Because you can, you know, sit down and have a glass of wine. And I you know, I like to get to know, people, if I get any indication that somebody will tell me their deepest secrets than I usually go for it. I just like to really dig in. And I feel like that’s a great time to do that to say, hey, you know, your sister had stopped by that day, we were there. So like, you know, where you guys close growing up. And it’s just fun. Because we’ve closed it, we have some relief. And we can, you know, maybe go over some of the funny things that happened during negotiations, because now it’s done, and everybody knows it’s done. And that’s always a great time Exactly. Like you said, to just kind of say, it was really fun working with you. I wish all my clients were like you, you know, maybe you know some people.
D.J. Paris 26:56
And I wonder how many what percentage of buyers or sellers do not get that invitation from their broker after the transaction, even though just to have coffee, or some sort of, hey, thanks aside for maybe a gift you might send them I’ll bet you 90 Some percent of buyers and sellers do not get that invitation. So even just doing that alone will separate you from just about everyone else.
Robin Hanson 27:20
Definitely. And it doesn’t have to be a big expensive steak. You know, like you’ve said it could be a latte. And you could just say, I just wanted to, you know, say thanks. And you know, have a little time with you. So it goes a long way.
D.J. Paris 27:35
Awesome. Well, Robin, this has been a really fun conversation and not just because of your growth story. But no, but let’s talk about if there are buyers or sellers or investors or renters even who are interested in working with you, what’s the best way that someone can reach out to you?
Robin Hanson 27:53
Oh, yeah, definitely. My email is Robin Phelps. All one word pH. E. LPs, like the swimmer email@example.com and my phone number is 773-469-5423.
D.J. Paris 28:11
Fantastic. Well, Robin, thank you so much for your time. And you know, best of luck with good and continued success. Your by the way. We should mention Robin is a top 1% producer. I forgot that I forgot. I forgot to mention that in Chicago. And so she is she’s killing it very humbly killing it. But she is she is a big deal. She wouldn’t say that but I’ll say. Anyway, thank you so much for being on the show.
Robin Hanson 28:33
Thank you. This was so fun. I appreciate it.