The Wisdom Of A Third Generation Real Estate Agent • Amanda McMillan

Play episode

Amanda McMillan with @properties Christie’s International Bucktown shares her story on how she got into real estate and describes what’s it like being a third generation realtor. Amanda discusses how she grew her business to become the top producing agent in her market. Amanda also talks about the importance of training and also learning how to trusting your intuition.

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

Amanda McMillan can be reached at 773.537.1300.

This episode is brought to you by Real Geeks.


D.J. Paris 0:00
Today we’re going to be talking to not just the top 1% agent, but literally the top agent in her local market and do a deep dive into how she got there and how you can do the same. 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 in 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 solution so that you can easily generate more business. Their 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. I’m your host, and I have a few quick announcements. We’re gonna be speaking in just a few moments with Amanda Mc Millan a top top top producer. But before we get to Amanda, just a couple of ways you can help us and we’ll help the show. Best way is two things. Two things. First is to tell a friend think of another agent that doesn’t yet know about our show probably somebody in your office or another agent you meet out there who would like to learn from top 1% producers tell them about the show. The second way to check out our sponsors they are the reason we can keep paying our bills and producing episodes we love our sponsors and the services and products they provide are truly amazing we vet them thoroughly to make sure that we only present you with services and products that would actually help you build your business okay guys, help us out those two ways thank you in advance and let’s get to the main event my conversation with Amanda McMillan.

Hey, today on the show we have Amanda McMillan from Chicago home partner here in Chicago with at properties Christie’s international real estate. Let me tell you more about Amanda. Now Amanda McMillan is the CEO of Chicago home partner which is an intimate group consistently ranking in the top 50 City agents for both number of transactions and volume. And I’m going to pause in reading Amanda’s bio here because there’s 46,000 Real estate agents in the Chicagoland area. So this is a very very big, amazing statistic that she is in the top 50. They have been the number one team in the app properties Bucktown location, which is also one of the very top Buck add properties locations for the last eight years and as close over 58 million in 2022. Now over the past two decades, Amanda has operated one of the most profitable real estate teams in Chicago, accumulating hundreds of outstanding reviews from raving fans across Google, Zillow, LinkedIn and Yelp, successfully navigating to financial crises, crises, one worldwide pandemic, the birth of two children hosting a BA he hosts a biweekly podcast at Chicago real talk.com. While remaining a social introvert at heart and maintaining a 95% referral based business. I would like everyone to visit Chicago, real talk.com And that’s going to redirect you to Amanda’s YouTube page. And I’m going to encourage you even if you’re not a Chicago realtor, most of you listening are not the reason I want you to subscribe is I want you to pay special attention to hear how Amanda talks about the real estate market. How she informs her clients. This Her videos are amazing. And she is just a wizard at this. So please go subscribe Chicago real talk.com. We will have a link to that in our show notes. Amanda, welcome to the show.

Amanda McMillan 4:47
Well, thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

D.J. Paris 4:51
I’m excited to have you actually Amanda works very close to where I live. So we were just chatting about are sort of similar neighborhoods, but I am I’ve not met you before. So I’m so excited. Usually, I talk to people who live like far distances, and you’re actually about as close of a distance, but yet we haven’t met. So I’m super excited to have you on the show. And I think because you describe yourself as an introvert, you know, you’re not, you don’t make your presence quite as known as some of the other agents here locally, which I actually respect a lot, because I think that is the inclination of agents is to, you know, sort of yell it from the mountaintops, how great they we are, and I feel like you just you show don’t tell, which I think is even more impressive. So I just wanted to honor you for being you know, less in your face, I think, which I always respect agents that are a little bit more subtle. And you certainly fall into that category. I hope, I hope that comes off as a compliment. Cuz it’s like the best compliment I could think. I don’t know that I said it in the best possible way. But it is it is a compliment.

Amanda McMillan 5:57
No, absolutely. It’s been it’s been a heck of a ride. And yes, I, I will now say 21 years later, I tell people that I’m an extroverted introvert, because I’ve had 21 years in this business in which I’ve had to train myself to be a little bit more extroverted but, but I absolutely will be the person to say that the personality type that the media really shows out there doesn’t necessarily all always go hand in hand with a top producer.

D.J. Paris 6:21
Absolutely. And I would love to, you know, I think too, you know, ever since the pandemic started, and this is not in any positive thing about the pandemic. But one thing that did change is I think introverts in particular, people got used to working more remote, you know, doing zoom meetings. And I think for introverts that probably was like, so wonderful, because it allowed introverts to be in their sort of native environment, where they’re most comfortable, their energy is not being depleted, as much as and so I just think, like, never been a better time to be an introverted realtor and the fact that introverts are kind of people are learning more about that and learning more about what they need and how they process information differently. So I think that is super cool. I always, there’s so many times where I’ve talked to people wanting to become realtors, and they go, Well, I’m introverted. I don’t know if it’s a good fit. I’m like, oh, no, it’s a good fit. You just have to learn how to do things, you know, maybe differently than somebody who’s, you know, really out there. And, you know, being being super, super social. Not that you’re not of course, I’m sure you are.

Amanda McMillan 7:24
I’ve always actually said I think most consumers on the outside would be surprised to learn how many top producers are actually more introverted in their personality style than than the other.

D.J. Paris 7:36
I agree. That’s almost been not every I would say more than half of the top producers that I’ve interviewed, I suspect would identify that way. We were talking about Carrie McCormack, somebody who works at your firm who comes on our show a lot. She definitely considers herself that way as well. So I think there is something to it. That is again, very exciting for for anybody listening, who might think gosh, I’m not quite I don’t get as much juice out of, you know, being extroverted as I do introverted. So but I want to start at the very, very beginning of of how you got into real estate, why real estate? And can you walk us through that journey?

Amanda McMillan 8:12
Absolutely. It’s been a heck of a journey. That’s a great word for it. I am first and foremost, a third generation realtor. So I was born into it. It was in my blood. I will tell most people my first experiences with it was when I was working. My mom’s open houses and broker opens when I was a teenager, she would essentially pay me $50, which was a tremendous amount of money. Money said, you can’t answer any questions. You sit there. And if anybody says anything, you give them my card. So I wasn’t doing anything unethical or wrong or anything like that. But that was my introduction. As I moved into my young adult years, I absolutely will say that I think the backing behind why I ended up in this industry is because when we were around the dinner table, and we were talking about life aspirations, my parents would continually say to me, to myself, and my sister, they said, Girls, when you grow up, you can be anything you want. You want to be a movie star, you want to be president you want to be doctor, you can be anything you want. What do you want to be sidenote, you can’t go into real estate. Now, the reason they said that is that my mother sold residential real estate for 30 plus years, my father was in commercial real estate for almost as long. You know, as I like to tell people, it’s not that they didn’t think it was a wonderful industry. It’s just that at that time when I was growing up in the 80s, it just was looked at as a different type of industry. And it was it, it wasn’t necessarily where you wanted to end up. It’s kind of what you fell into a little bit more. And with that being said, they told me that at a very, very young age. Now, anybody that knows me and knows me, well says that I probably hit that in the back of my psyche, that somebody told me not to do something so that when the time came to be I said, Wait a second. You told me I shouldn’t do that. I’m going to do it and I’m going to show you how I knock it out of the park when I do it. So well. Long story short, it was in my blood, I was kind of told to stay away from it. And therefore I ran out in full force.

D.J. Paris 10:06
I love that you rebelled by going, I’m going to do exactly what you did mom and dad and maybe Grandpa, grandpa, grandma. No, no, but I love that. And it makes perfect sense. Because obviously, you you just were exposed to it at such a young age you you you didn’t have the same experience of somebody graduating college going, Gosh, what do I do now? And then maybe, like you said, maybe falling into real estate when, you know, maybe they went to school for marketing or some other purpose and maybe didn’t, you know, couldn’t find a foothold in that career. And then some people fall back on real estate, but I love the fact that it was it’s clearly in your in your genes. And, and you didn’t ignore that even though your parents were like we want we want you to do other things.

Amanda McMillan 10:49
Well, I didn’t say there’s one little interesting tidbit to it, because there was a side venture before I before I decided to come back to my one of my degrees actually, I had a double major in college and one of my degrees is actually in equestrian studies. For those that don’t know, that is the study of horses. I actually rode professionally, horses have always been a part of my life. They still are to this day, I wrote professionally out of college and I did that thing where I followed one of my absolute passions. And it’s one of those things that when you follow one of your absolute passions into life and into profession, sometimes it loses some of the passion and you realize that maybe it wasn’t the right idea. Yeah, so I did have an interesting side endeavor, but it was pretty quick. I actually got back into the real estate world by the time I was 24.

D.J. Paris 11:32
Are you are you still riding today?

Amanda McMillan 11:34
I am for better for worse. Sometimes people say I’m a little nuts and a little crazy. I do still ride and I still ride on a pretty competitive level.

D.J. Paris 11:42
And then do you ride Okay, I’m gonna ask you the one question I know about equestrian which is do you ride dressage? Or? That’s the only thing I know right? Is that is that the right word?

Amanda McMillan 11:50
That is the right word very good discharges the flat work a little bit art artistry, a little bit like dancing. That’s not what I do. I do jumping so I like big jumps and I like to jump in metastasis I can.

D.J. Paris 11:59
Amazing and where do you do so? Do you live in the city? I know your office is here. Are you out? Just out of curiosity because now I’m fascinated about where the horses

Amanda McMillan 12:07
so I’m our primary residence is in the city. Our horses live out near Libertyville. So they’re not far from the city. We do have a farm as well in Northwest Illinois. That’s the I always joke and say that I’m I love the city. I love everything about it. But I’m not always a city person so that we have a little bit of ability to get a 24 hour escape when we need to.

D.J. Paris 12:28
Well, I will tell you, I did I went to Mira vol, which is this like, sort of new agey fancy place in in Tucson with my mom years ago to, to kind of where like, wealthy people go to chill out and relax and find themselves but but I, my mum on the strip there. And so we went and we got to, to to really spend time with with horses and learn, learn about how to clean them and groom them. And it was part of a therapeutic process of, of getting in connection. And it was actually quite relaxing and peaceful. And yeah, so that’s awesome. I didn’t mean to get caught up on on on your equestrian stuff. But it’s it’s very cool. Especially for people who live in the city. Super cool. So So you got into real estate. You know, your parents said No, you said yes. And then what what you know, you’ve seen, gosh, hundreds, if not 1000s of agents come and go, I’m sure. in that timeframe. What do you think made the difference for you in terms of success? Like you’ve seen people make it you’ve seen people who don’t make it? What do you think was what were some of the reasons why you did better? And obviously having you know, families where you probably were more more attuned to it. But what do you think made the difference for you?

Amanda McMillan 13:44
I wish I could say that there was some sort of special pill or some sort of magic thing that I did. The reality is, is I worked my ass off. I mean, there’s no candy coating that is that, you know, it’s funny, I try I talked to him, I mentor a lot of younger agents and stuff like that. And the reality is, the first market I ever stepped into was just post September 11. I joined the industry in 2002. So that was that was my introduction. Now I didn’t know any different, so it was fine. But the reality is, is I entered the market at a time of complete crisis. Now in hindsight, 21 years later, and three crisis later. I think that that probably shaped a lot of the way that I work with my clients. But I came in from the start and I am always one of those believers that we are in charge of, of our own destiny, so to say, and that if I want to succeed in something, I know the odds are stacked against me. What am I going to do? I’m going to work incredibly hard to get there now. I think the hardest part for a newer agent is you don’t always know what to work harder on. You know, I think that that’s one of the question marks is okay, sure. I can show up and say I’m gonna work hard, but a lot of times it’s the question is the what where, why how when? So for me when I first got into the industry, I knew While I needed one thing, I needed training, right? That is all I needed. This was not an era in which there were teams or anything like that somebody that would take me under their wing. So I, at the time look for the company that I didn’t know if I’d stay with them long term. But I looked for the company that in my opinion, had the absolute best training possible. And I joined them, because I knew 1,000% At that point in time, I needed that. So if somebody was going to give me the training, and then somebody was going to put it back on me to execute all of those pieces, well, then I was at least setting myself up for better success.

D.J. Paris 15:31
It’s actually really a really rational and sort of logical approach that I think a lot of newer agents don’t know how critical the training Well, it’s tough. I you know, I think about this a lot, because you get your you pass the exam, you get your license, you join a firm, and every firm’s calling you at the same time. So you’re getting all of these, at least here in Illinois, they, everyone’s data gets sold to every brokerage. So we’re all calling at the same time going, please join our firm, and everybody says they have great training. That’s the other thing, too, is then trying to figure out which firms actually do a good job of that not all firms do at properties where you are, is absolutely known for having exceptional training, and always has ever since I’ve been in this industry. So you certainly you certainly are at a good firm. And I don’t know if you started there, but but you’re at a firm now that absolutely is well known for that. So you know is that something that you recommend when you talk to newer agents is like, hey, if when you’re choosing a firm, you know, think about what the training options are? And how just out of curiosity, how might you? If you are new today, how might you start to figure out which firms do a better job of that than others is? Do you Would you have any suggestions for agents that maybe this year are thinking maybe I should switch firms or look at other options? You know, because everyone does say after training?

Amanda McMillan 16:49
No, absolutely, absolutely, I think it takes definitely a lot of due diligence upfront, because the reality is, as you said, if when you get your license, anybody’s gonna give you a shot, right? The reality is, is it’s it’s not illegal to work anywhere, special, anybody will hire you. So the fact that so and so’s calling you and so and so is calling you, it may feel great. But it really doesn’t mean much. In terms of finding out the training, obviously, you want to sit down, you know, with the managing brokers, you want to hear what they have to say. But the reality is, is most managing brokers are accomplished agents that at some point in time decided to take a step back and doing it another way. So that’s a salesperson that’s trying to sell you on the training. And they should probably be pretty good, especially if they got put into that role to help coach agents in that capacity. So that’s a good starting point. Because I think there’s certain companies that a just when you go in and you meet with people, I think you’re gonna connect on certain levels, and you’re not going to feel right. So first and foremost, trust your gut trust what you feel in that connection, did you Did it feel appropriate sitting down? Did it feel like the office and everything like that had what you were looking for? Or did it feel often anyways, the next thing I would do is I would absolutely ask to talk to a couple of agents in that office. If you don’t know on yourself, ask them to broker say, Hey, I’d love to talk to an agent, I’d like to talk to somebody very, very experienced. And I’d like to talk to somebody that maybe has been newer in your program in the last six to 12 months, because then you can ask them what it is they have gone through and how it has come to be from that perspective. So I think that, you know, doing a little bit more due diligence, don’t be afraid to ask I think a lot of people when they join this industry, especially if they are are younger, and it’s a first industry, right, they have less confidence to push back. But I think you need to understand that that company wants you as well. And so with that being said, doing that due diligence, really making sure it’s a great fit for you is really something that I would encourage you to do. The other thing that this wasn’t a thing in my day and age, but I think the concept of teams is a great learning capacity. Now, that being said, I think there’s two types of teams, I think there are teams that are built to basically basically prioritize the team lead and manage their business. And then I think that there are teams that are built to basically try and create a winning environment for the team people in there. And there’s a big difference between that too. But in my experience, even once agents learn what they need to learn, the biggest thing holding them back in success is confidence or lack thereof. I have agents that I’ve worked with that are so smart at what they do, but they’re so afraid of getting asked a question that they can’t answer and being caught in that situation, that they don’t feel as competent to go and go out after the business because they’re afraid to get asked something they don’t. So like, for example, the way our team is structured is that when we do have newer agents on it, I want to put them in the scenarios very safely and protectively, where they’re doing things that they couldn’t necessarily do unless they had more business. I want them to do more showings. I want them to meet the contractors. I want them to sit through inspections, all these things with your ears open to your absorbing, you know from all these different pieces so that when you do get that client and you are working through a transaction, you know what an inspection is? Like, you know what meeting contractors are like, you know, all of these different pieces. And you also know, you’ve got a very strong backbone backbone to come and ask questions to so the team concept in my mind is something like, Gosh, I wish it was around when I when I came in. It was I was asking a lot of questions to my managing broker, I was very, very fortunate that at the time, I had a couple of great people in the office that would let me bang on their door and all the time asking for advice. But I know that a lot of people and especially in this day and age aren’t always as comfortable to go up to a senior agent and say, Hey, can you help me in this? And that’s where I think the team environment definitely would be something that I would at least explore if I was getting into the business now.

D.J. Paris 20:38
That’s all such amazing advice. I just had a few thoughts while you were saying that and to my one thought that I wanted to man to get your your reaction to specially for newer agents, you know, this would be this idea of being afraid of what you don’t know. Yes, of course, you are, like totally normal, rational, reasonable, don’t beat yourself up for being afraid of being asked a question. You don’t know. Yes, it’s scary, because you don’t want to look, you know, like you don’t know what you’re doing, of course, but there are, that’s just going to happen. So anyone who’s practiced long enough, probably still gets questions that they don’t have an immediate answer to, but certainly new agents. And so I encourage all of the new agents who join us. And we have, well, two things First, whatever firm you’re at, ask them let’s say I’m at a showing it’s three o’clock on a on a Tuesday, and a client asks a question, and I don’t know the answer, you know, I’m going to step away, and then I’m going to, you know, how can I reach out to the firm? And what would be a reasonable expectation of how quickly I could get an answer back, just so I could then communicate that to my clients, hey, I’m going to double check with my team, I’ll get back to you tomorrow or whatever, or in an hour, whatever is reasonable. So have that process mapped out already in your mind? And then say to the client, boy, that’s an amazing question. I’m going to double check with my team, because I want to give you a really good answer. And I just want to double check something, you know, you could even make it sound like you’re thinking about it, and you can act out that you have an answer, but you want to double check on it. But making sure you have that locked and loaded, I think is really helpful. And I think most people are completely understanding of, oh, I want to go check with my team and make sure that makes sense. I’m curious what your thoughts are

Amanda McMillan 22:14
1,000%. In fact, I always tell my team when we’re talking about this and doing some role playing. There are questions that I’m gonna get asked, I’m 21 years in, and I’ve done a tremendous amount of business. And I get questions asked all the time that I’m like, I’m not a Rolodex, like, I know a lot. But there’s certain things that I’d say the number one question that we get asked all the time is, somebody’s gonna say we’re gonna walk through a property, they’re gonna say, hey, what do you think this is worth? Number one question, we sure. And the reality is, is that we cover a very large area in the city, right? We do predominantly from the South Loop, North Rogers Park, and everything in between. And so with that, there can be a lot of different property types that come up. There’s no one in the world that can tell you if they walk in a property in that span, and come out to say, is it priced exactly right. Now I can give you a gut, I can say, hey, sure. It’s it’s, I don’t think it’s out of line. But I want to check a few things to make sure that it’s right. I can say, Gosh, that really feels overpriced. But like, so that’s something that I tell all the team, I said, You know what I say in that instance, I say it’s just that, hey, you know, what my gut is, is that it’s fairly appropriate. But I want to check what a couple of closings just finished up that I didn’t see what they finalized that and that will have impact. Let me get back to you later today. Just like that, I always say have had these certain sayings have some reason to be comfortable to go back to say, this is something that that we want more information on, just so that I can provide you the most recent most exact thing Hey, I want to I want to just touch base with my team leader. I have a good idea on this. But I know she thinks about it a little bit differently than I would love to provide you kind of with something a little bit more well, well rounded, anything like that. People don’t think twice on that’s going to come across way better to a consumer than giving them a made up answer that probably isn’t right.

D.J. Paris 24:03
Yeah, there used to be some weird statistic and I don’t remember it exactly. But it was something that that was popular for a while and I really encourage people to not take this advice which is more people are more willing to accept a wrong answer fast than the right answer slow, make the right answer slow. I think that is that is the way better but tell them say I need to do is crunch some numbers. I need to talk to somebody I want. Yeah, so I am right with you on that one. And by the way, I want to also just re promote I want everyone to visit Chicago real talk.com As you’ve noticed how Amanda has been communicating with us thus far. You know, she is has just a lot of information, a lot of wisdom. And I want you to really emulate some of the ways in which she communicates so by by subscribing to our podcast on YouTube again, if you go to Chicago, real talk.com It’ll take you there subscribe and notice which the way that she communicates to clients because she is a master communicator and Um, this is really something that that I want you whether you’re Chicago or not to just get an awareness of how she does it, because almost all of her business is referral 95%. So let’s talk about that, you know, Leads Leads are everything right? People want leads, they they want to figure out, you know, how to have have more business. And this is the year where everyone’s struggling a little bit more maybe than then in the last couple of years. So I’m curious on what you are telling your team to focus on right now for keeping leads generated, while interest rates are high. lending rates are high, rather. And of course, inventory is not as high as we would like it to be.

Amanda McMillan 25:39
Absolutely. You know, so it’s interesting when I first got into this business, and I I process things, I’m a processor, I’m very data driven, I overthink everything, if anything, I get my own way. Sometimes if my business because I’m, I’m trying to over strategize things. So when I decide something I can promise you, there’s a lot of thought process that goes into it. When I got into this business, I looked at it and said a couple of things. Number one, as I told you, I was already an introverted personality type. So that was one of the things that I really, really wanted to focus on to say, Okay, what type of what type of business model is best going to suit me? Is the idea of cold calling people going to be natural to me? Probably not. It’s the idea of door knocking, right? We’re going back 21 years people did door knock, is that going to come across naturally, even open houses I wasn’t very good at right. Of course, I’ve done all these things in my career. And I’ve tried to over the years get better at these things. But really, when I looked at how I had thrived in some of my past accomplishments, and who I was, I really knew that a referral based business model was going to be right for me, because it came down to the fact that first and foremost, it’s the most client centric model, right? For me to be successful, my clients have to be very happy with what I do, and very successful in what they do. So I knew that that was something that success is something that I could deliver, and something that I could control within who I was, because the reality is, is one on one with my clients. That’s my comfort zone, that is where I thrive. So the idea of creating this business model that essentially meant, if I leave all my clients as raving fans, that they’re gonna do that dirty work for me that I don’t necessarily think I’m good at, it was a no brainer to get to there. Now, the catch to this business model, here’s the catch, and it’s a big one, if you’re going to talk to talk, you have to be willing to walk the walk, if you’re going to run a referral based business model, you better be a heck of an agent to those clients. Because the only reason that they want to talk about you is because you left them feeling really good about what happened. And as I always tell people is that the success of a client doesn’t necessarily mean a closing, I’ve had a lot of referral sources that I have talked out of buying and selling time in and time out for years that they have never spent a commission dollar with me. But they’ve probably referred me dozens of clients. So you know, for me that rep, that model was always something that was good, because it was very controllable to me. And it also really highlighted my skill sets of where I thought I could thrive. Now we have over the years within the team, I don’t necessarily work online leads, we have worked them into our team structure for some of the team agents. But I’m also looking at it when I got into this business, I had a whole lot of nothing, right? I didn’t have a patent bank account, I didn’t have a huge network, I didn’t have all these things. So the idea of spending money on leads seemed not not realistic for me. So for me, it was the ability that if I can go out there if i could do great if I could really advise Well, right. And there were times that it was really hard because like I said, there wasn’t there wasn’t all the financial backing in what I was doing. But if you really do a great job and advise well and make sure that your clients know that what you’re telling them to do is absolutely in their best interest, then a referral based business model is something that can just thrive over the years.

D.J. Paris 28:58
You’ve just said something that I thought was super interesting. And I’d like to explore it a little bit because it really lit me up when you said this in just the best the best way which was talking, talking clients out of a transaction when it’s not in their best interest. This, this to me is where the the juice is of what most agents, you know, it’s not that it’s not that they want someone to make the wrong decision necessarily. They just maybe don’t want to get in the middle of the decision. And sort of be the reason somebody buys or doesn’t buy. I’m just sort of hypothesizing but I see most agents I think don’t do this. They don’t say this is a really good buy or a bad buy or a good set. You know, this is good for you. This is maybe not so good for you. I think realtors have have in their wanting to just sort of stay neutral have and maybe just fear of making the wrong suggestion. You know, oftentimes don’t give those recommendations. They’re like you want to put an offer and we can put an offer and I’ll give you some suggestions if you want to put it and offering, but should I put an offer in maybe is is a, it’s whatever it’s, at least for me, that’s all I want from any of my service providers in my life, I want them to say this is a good idea. And DJ, what we know about you, this is a bad idea. And I, that I will be with that person for the rest of my life if they do that. So I love the fact that you’re willing to say, you know, based on everything I know about you, this may or may not be a good idea. So just to

Amanda McMillan 30:27
kind of branch off on that I do like to clarify, I don’t make any of my clients decisions for them. And, of course, then I’m not going to make their decisions for them. That being said, People ask me all the time, let me know, what was what was the point in which your business really took off? What did you do what happened? And I will honestly go back to during the financial crisis, right? 2009 to 2011. Yeah, during that time, I and this has been my mantra since the very beginning, but I think it became much more easy to vocalize and broadcast. During that time, I will tell you exactly what I think is in your best interest, regardless of anything else, right. And so during that time, I was giving a lot of advice to say, I know you want to sell to buy this, or I know you want to do this. But here’s the things I need you to think about because realistically, I don’t think it gets you to your end goal. Now, that is absolutely talking myself out of business. Absolutely 1,000%, there’s no there was no calm about it. But what it did do is I did that time and time and time and time again during that time period. And people started to realize very, very quickly that if I give somebody advice was very real, it was very accurate. And it had absolutely nothing to do with my own personal benefit. And that is when my reputation took a giant leap forward. Because if you tell somebody not to do business, if you tell somebody to not employ you and not take a step forward on something, I will almost guarantee you, they will tell everybody that they know everybody how great the advice was that their real estate agent just gave them. And I have done more business off of telling people not to not to do things, if that’s what I thought then then the alternative because you build you build trust.

D.J. Paris 32:15
It’s it’s it’s like, it’s kind of like when you find a reputable auto mechanic or you just hold on to them for your dear life because you’re like, I don’t want to worry about whether you’re ripping me off or telling me I need to fix this thing in my car. I just You just want to trust somebody when they say you need to fix this and this in your car, you just go Okay, good. I don’t have to, I don’t have to worry about my mechanic anymore. Or my accountant or my attorney or my financial advisor or my realtor. I mean, just the idea of being able to go to somebody and say, Look, I know you can help me buy this home, I can I understand you can do that. But what in your you know, based on what you know about me, should I consider this will this get me to where I want to go? And that’s the part where I think realtors can really step up and like you said and differentiate themselves and be beat not just a hey, I’ve got a question about XY and Z be an actual source of wisdom. And I think that’s really what we’re talking about, as you were saying, I have some wisdom here. And this is my opinion about what is coming through in my wisdom. And that’s worth its weight in gold and everybody wants to be to receive wisdom. We don’t always listen. But But we love hearing it because we want an opinion from an expert. That’s really why, you know, realtors get paid so incredibly well to to help people buy and sell homes. I think it’s it’s a lot of it’s mechanical. And then a lot of it’s like, I like you were saying just telling people the actual truth. That way you see it, giving your opinion and, and then having them say, wow, my realtor really is looking out for me. My realtor obviously cares about me. And I think that’s really what you’re demonstrating, you’re demonstrating care, and everybody wants to be cared for. So I I applaud you for that. So if somebody doesn’t feel confident, confident, being able to, you know, maybe they’re new to the business, and they’re like, I don’t know, if some if this purchase, or the sale for my client is in their best interest, I truly just don’t have enough experience. That’s where you would then go to a trainer or coach or your managing broker and say, Can you help me figure out if this is you? If this looks like it may be in their best interest? Is that what you would suggest?

Amanda McMillan 34:21
1,000% Ask lots of questions. Ask questions to people that are have done it longer. I’ve done it differently. Whatever the case may be like I am a huge person that I believe collaboration is the way that we all move forward. Right? Even at my level, I’m constantly throwing ideas against people asking people ideas like this is how we grow as an industry. This is how we get better as an industry. We are not not a lone ship by any means. In fact, I read a book one of the books that I always say kind of changed my career. There’s a gentleman by the name of Tim Saunders. He back in the day right back 20 Some years ago, he was the chief solutions officer for Yahoo. He’s now taking And on his own role, he’s a fascinating and brilliant, brilliant businessman. I saw him speak when I was very early in the business. And he wrote a book. And what’s interesting about this book is it was very ahead of its time, and it’s called Love the killer app. Now, what’s interesting is this was back in I think the publishing date was either the late 90s, or the very early 2000s. We didn’t have apps at that time, right? But the whole mindset was just that is that he talked about the fact that we had to evolve, right? If we look at past times, especially in a sales based business, it was so much about the sharks in the barracudas, like, this is my business, I can’t share and collaborate with somebody else, because they’re my competition that there’s, they’re gonna take my business, it’s very fear based,

D.J. Paris 35:40
aggression based, like very, like, I need to beat you. And yeah,

Amanda McMillan 35:45
yeah. And he kind of brought up the idea and just said, Hey, guys, there’s enough business for all of us. What if what if we change that mindset? Why don’t we call us and he kind of termed as this, he coined this term love cats? And he said, What if we collaborate a little bit more? What if we go to our competitors? And say, How are you doing this? This is how I’m doing this. And what if we all get better together? Don’t we just create a better industry and that is something the book is phenomenal. The me watching him speak at one point in time was phenomenal, and it impacted the entire way I’ve done business over the last two years or two decades,

D.J. Paris 36:15
we thank you for that recommendation, we will put a link to is called Love is the killer app, how to win business and influence friends, you’re right 2003. And Tim Sanders is the guy is the author, and we will post a link to that great, great suggestion. Now, you know, it’s interesting, you talk about how you have really taken your business to the next level by thinking from a marketing perspective, I want raving fans, which means really, you’re focusing exclusively on the client or not exclusively, I’m sure you do some marketing, but the client experience. So what is the client experience? Like? How do you know if it’s a successful client experience? Because let’s just say that, let’s say every single time the transaction completes, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a great client experience. So what how do you define that was a good client experience versus that one? We missed it a little bit?

Amanda McMillan 37:06
Well, I’d like to think we haven’t missed it. No, it’s interesting when I was newer in the business, and I remember very, very clearly, Dave Hanna, who was a huge mentor and a huge impact on my life. He was one of the managing brokers at Prudential preferred properties when I started up, wait all those years ago, and he really took me under his wing because he knew I was inquisitive. And he knew I had a lot of a lot of things that I was trying to figure out. I remember at one point in time, he, he pulled me aside and he said to me, he goes Amina, here’s some advice I’m gonna give you, you’ve got to learn not to take everything so personally, is that you take it too, personally. And at some point, now it’s okay. But at some point, it’s going to burn out. And once again, I’m a processor. So I walked away from that conversation, very grateful that it happened. I processed it for the next two days. And then I went back to him and I said, Hey, I want to I want to revisit that conversation. Of course, he was so busy at the time, he’s like, what, what conversation is that? And I said, the one where you told me that I take things too, personally. And that that was going to burn me out. And I said, I appreciate what you had to say. And I think there’s absolutely some value in it. But I think one of the things that’s going to make me different than one of the things that’s really going to make me great is that I do take those things, personally, is that I literally get on that roller coaster ride with my clients, and I ride the highs and I ride the lows so that when we get off that ride, we are both at the same endeavor, for better or for worse. And yes, I think I think what he was trying to tell me at that point, but I wasn’t ready to hear was the fact that I needed to learn how to kind of turn the emotional part of it off. So stay that invested stay on that ride, but maybe learn to, to kind of not get myself so worked up in it, right. That’s the experience that we learn. But you know, that’s something that I really took forward in this business is that I think any one of my clients will tell you is that I am in, I’m in the transaction, I’m in the heat of it. And it doesn’t matter if you’re buying a $200,000 condo, or you’re selling a $3.5 million home, we treat every one of our clients the exact same because they deserve that from us. And we we limit the number of clients that will work with at one time, as I’ll tell any agents I don’t, you’re never gonna see me in the top 10 agents of Chicago, I have a ton of ton of respect for those that are. But the way that we run our business model with what we do with the level of service that we commit to people, we restrict the number of clients that we’re going to work with at one time because we literally commit so much to them. And we have structured our small, intimate team to really focusing on the level of service, I was told so many times as I grew up in this industry, that the service has to take a step back as the business grows. And that is something that I’ve refused to believe over the years and I truly believe that our our business is showing that if you go online, if you Google the team, if you look at all the reviews, you’re gonna struggle to find to find a negative one. In fact, I think the only real negative ones you find out there or typically from the other side that was a little angry that I that I enforced the situation that should needed to be enforced. So I truly believe we stay very connected. We’re connected with all of our clients throughout it. Sure, there’s absolutely things that happen that are outside of our control, of course, on the other side that can leave some bad taste. But I’m a full believer that communication is key in all of this stuff. So even when things are going wrong, we are trying to be right at the forefront of everything happening to make sure that at the end of the day, our clients, you know, what they may not have liked some of the things that happened, but they’re going to be happy with how we managed and how we dealt with some of the curveballs along the way.

D.J. Paris 40:25
And on the flip side, it’s even more dangerous to do a less than ideal did have a less than ideal performance with a client. Because, you know, the, you know, certain studies have shown that people are more likely to spread, you know, hey, my client, my agent wasn’t very good versus was good. So you really have to do it for two reasons. One, you want referrals, and you want to do a good job for your clients. So you want that reputation. But if you don’t, the downside is they’re not going to talk, either. They’re not going to talk about you at all to their friends, or they’re going to say, well, they were okay. But you know, I felt like, oh, maybe, maybe they could have done more or less, or more or, you know, listened more or been more proactive. So you focus so much on the client experience, because that becomes your marketing. That’s the result of that is all your marketing essentially is done for you. It doesn’t mean you have an easy life. Like, of course, it’s not easy to give an exceptional experience to every single client. But if you hyper focus on that, like you said, whether it’s 200,000 or a million million dollar properties, you are going to have people that go Wow. And you know, I think the wow factor in this industry is not as hard to achieve as people may think it certainly takes a ton of work, no question about it. But is it? It’s, it’s difficult, because it’s a lot of work. But going that extra mile is is really, every I’ve interviewed almost 500 top agents now. They all go the extra mile. And they all say that, and I hope that you know, what does the extra mile look like for you?

Amanda McMillan 42:00
Well, you know, it’s funny, you say that I am going to deviate a little bit from your question, because I think it’s a really important thing to note. I personally think that in our world, to be a good agent, is incredibly obtainable. Incredibly, to be a great agent takes another another level of that perspective. But if you want to make a good living, if you want to have a good business that you are very proud of, and a substantial income and everything like that, I truly believe that just like anybody can go out there and do it, because it’s literally about showing up doing the job knowing what’s expected of you delivering results. It’s literally, as I like to say the threshold is not that high, that it’s something that an elitist group can get it. Now, I do think that there’s an absolute large step to get into a level of greatness. And for me, that’s where a lot of strategy and sophistication comes from. Right. And and it’s the same thing that people tell me all the time, they say, Oh, are you? Are you afraid that your job that your industry is going to go away? Right, all the information is out there? The reality is all the information is out there right now, and people are still very reliant on what we do. I don’t think our careers as top agents are really threatened at all, because the reality is, is my value to my clients? Sure, I can find a property sure I can put together a strategy. But the reality is, is it’s everything that’s in here to help navigate what’s happening out there. It’s the plans that we’re putting into place, the strategies to get there. When we hit certain roadblocks. It’s knowing where to sidestep what built in condo buildings are run in a manner. It’s the stuff that they don’t, they can get the information, but they certainly don’t know how to digest it.

D.J. Paris 43:44
Absolutely. I’m curious to what are you doing in between transactions to keep your clients aware that you’re still out there practicing making sure they don’t forget your name, let’s say so, you know, maybe they buy or sell a home every five, seven years. So you have this large swath of time in between? How are you staying in communication with them so that they when they’re ready, again, that they’re like Amanda’s the person,

Amanda McMillan 44:10
or certain and that’s, I think the name of the game of where we really have to concentrate our efforts as somebody that runs a referral basis based business model. Because the reality is, is most of my clients aren’t in the market for so many years. And if I’m not in contact with them, they may not be as quick to be in a conversation to say, Oh, wait, I love my realtor. And I want them to put you in touch with her. You know that the methods have definitely changed over the years. But I also am a firm believer that it’s really about the basics. First and foremost, we need to keep in contact with them. Right. And that really depends on the individual. You know, I’d say 20 some odd years ago, we created a client appreciation program. Thanks to Brian Buffini for helping with the ideas. I didn’t spearheaded. I didn’t reinvent the coin. But we did personalize it so they do a great program. We started something like that where we set Send a snail mail, monthly mailing about something in Chicago most of it is not really relevant to real estate. Because right most people don’t want to hear too much. Maybe once or twice a year, we send some real estate stuff. But other things

D.J. Paris 45:11
are more like here’s cool events going on. Or here’s just something to know about Chicago or

Amanda McMillan 45:15
certain we do online. Yeah, we do an online digital March Madness pool, we do the top 10 wines under 10 bucks, our favorite Alfresco restaurants for the year we do a charity toy drive, I mean, just stuff to keep people involved, right. And hopefully things that are that are interesting to them on some level. So we do that as a snail mail, we obviously over the years and then move that into an email campaign as well. And that we do both people know that I’m a huge stickler for, for snail mail in general, right? When I started in this industry, we were all very excited about emails now we all get hundreds and hundreds a day. And we’re really excited about mail. I believe in keeping in touch with people, you know, and that’s different on who it is whether we’re calling them texting them, emailing them, trying to set up a coffee date or something, keeping in touch with people and doing it for the right reason. I do it because I genuinely care about those people, right? These are people that were important to me, yes, there’s a business aspect to it. But these are people that I have the had the ability to genuinely get involved in their life and care about what’s going on. And if you can bring that compassion forward, people get it, people understand it. So I would say for people that aren’t so compassionate, that’s a harder piece to emulate, it might not be the right business model for you. But for me, that was one of the things, we’ll do some client appreciation events throughout the year. One of our favorites is like around October, we do photos for professional photos for our clients so that they can send out holiday cards, we used to do a big event every year at Arlington racetrack. We were really sad when that went away. But we’ve done a lot of fun things over the city. So we try and do some events just to give back and thank them. You know, I’d say the, in the more recent years, obviously social media has become a big component of it. Right? I have a love hate relationship with social media. It’s an ask those everyone. But you know, I love it, and I tried to say really, really positive about it is that we have the ability to connect with people and stay connected on a higher level. So I think for a business perspective, it’s a huge advantage if you can really use it and use it correctly, in terms of just understanding where people are at what’s going on in their lives being supportive, even if it’s from afar, having a reason to reach out to them from that. So social media has kind of implemented that. As you mentioned before, we just we’re about 11 episodes into our podcast, which once again, that was just an idea that stemmed a little bit from the pandemic. But, you know, it’s kind of interesting is that, we found that there are so many question marks about the market, right? There’s so many things going on, especially during more turbulent times. And We have certainly been in turbulent times for the last three years. And it got to a point where it was almost a little difficult to try and reach everybody at one point in time. So we created the idea of the podcast under the idea that we have so much Intel and information we wanted to share with people. And that this was at least a platform that we could try and reach a larger base to tell our people, Hey, I can’t I may not be able to get, you know, 2000 people on the phone this month. But I can put these words out there so that they can understand what’s going on. And if everyone’s freaking out, because the media is on this kick to make everyone really scared that we’re on the brink of a housing crisis, well, then we can talk about that. And hopefully I can have a larger span. And it’s one of those things that we’ve been doing now for we’re coming on a year anniversary, it’s been a ton of fun for us. And it’s one of those things that it’s it’s really, we’ve got the momentum now. And we’re really excited to see how people are reacting to it. And I can tell them at times I see people and they’re like, Oh my God, thank you so much like, we didn’t, we didn’t want to reach out we didn’t want to bother you. We know how busy you are. But just kind of hearing what you had to say about it really helped us to this time. And once again, they all comes back to that that level of compassion and that ability to want to do right in this industry.

D.J. Paris 48:53
100% I really encourage everybody right now go visit Chicago real talk.com Subscribe. Notice how effortlessly and notice how much Amanda wants to communicate right? She has things to say she’s she is confident she has experience. She has wisdom. She’s been in this game 21 years, you want to, you really want to emulate what Amanda has become. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to watch the ways in which she communicates. So go to Chicago, real talk.com it’ll redirect you to YouTube, hit that subscribe button, watch the way in which she communicates. And again, this is a self described introvert with you know, we’re all kind of both introverted and extroverted but more introverted than extroverted. Amanda describes herself and notice how well and effectively she communicates. I think this is one of the softer skills. And really, I mean, I would love to have you back on our show because you are so process driven you are so you just have a lot of wisdom that I’d love to extrapolate more from so maybe we can talk offline about About even doing some some future episodes because this was really really exceptional for me. And for our audience, I know I’m speaking on their behalf. So I would like everybody again, visit Chicago real talk.com Hit that subscribe button. Notice emulate success. And Amanda is one of the one of the top agents here in Chicago. And she just has a lot of great ideas. So for all of our listeners out there, we want to actually perfect time to say thank you to Amanda for coming on our show. And I’m excited to see more of Amanda here locally, I excited to to see you more events and things and chat more with you and see if we can do some more cool stuff on the podcast. So on behalf of our audience, Amanda, thank you so much for some of this great wisdom. Oh, by the way, anyone who is listening, in addition to going to Chicago, real talk.com If you are an agent in the Chicagoland area, and maybe you’re on a team, or maybe you’re thinking of joining a team, or switching teams, or maybe you’re at a brokerage, where you don’t feel like you’re getting the attention that you deserve, or maybe there’s a greener pastures out there, reach out to Amanda and her team and see if maybe you guys could be a good fit for each other. The best way to do that is, you know, look her up, she is Chicago home partner, I believe it’s Chicago home partner.com, we will have a link to that in the show notes. But reach out if you’re looking to maybe join a team. Or maybe you can be a value to Amanda or maybe you’re in a different market. And you have clients that come that move in and out of Chicago, and you want a great referral relationship. Talk to Amanda. She has clients that move out of Chicago, and she has you know, and you might have clients that move in. So reach out to her maybe create a connection and a referral base there. So on behalf of our audience, Amanda, thank you so much for being on our show. I am. It’s so so exciting for me to speak with you. And I’m so glad that you’re a local person here. I’m excited to get to know you better. And on behalf of Amanda and myself, we want to say thank you to our audience, our lovely, loyal audience. Thank you for making it all the way to the end of our episode. Please support a couple of things support Amanda, go subscribe to her YouTube channel. She’s awesome, you’re gonna learn so much. Also support our sponsors we love our sponsors are the reason we can pay the bills. So please check out their services and products. And last tell a friend think of one other realtor that could benefit from listening to this great conversation with Amanda and send them a link to our to our website, I guess. Keeping it real pod.com Every episode can be streamed we have, I think almost 500 episodes now. Or just have them pull up a podcast app search for keeping it real. And hit that subscribe button so you get notified every new episode. Amanda, thank you so much for being on our show. You were wonderful guest. This was such a great conversation. And I thank you for your time and we’ll see everybody on the next episode.

Amanda McMillan 52:57
Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.

Share this episode!

More from this show

Never miss an episode!

We'll email you each time a new episode goes live.

You have Successfully Subscribed!