The Importance Of Systems & Processes • Jen McConnell

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Jen McConnell talks about how she got into real estate business. Jen emphasizes the importance systems and people and how these were the key to her success. Next, Jen talks about The McConnell Foundation and what’s that activity all about. Jen also talks about how they brought their services to the next level and the complimentary moving truck they offer to their clients and community. Last, Jen gives advise for new agents and describes what kind of content would she share in her social media if she was a new agent today.

Please check out The McConnell Foundation here.

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

Jen McConnell can be reached at (843) 300-7585.

This episode is brought to you by Real Geeks and FollowUpBoss.


Transcript

D.J. Paris 0:00
When Top realtors say that systems and processes are the most important part of their business, what exactly do they mean? Well, we’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned. This episode of Keeping it real is brought to you by real geeks. How many homes are you going to sell this year? Do you have the right tools? Is your website turning soft leads and interested buyers? Are you spending money on leads that aren’t converting? Well real geeks is your solution. Find out why agents across the country choose real geeks as their technology partner. Real geeks was created by an agent for agents. They pride themselves on delivering a sales and marketing solutions so that you can easily generate more business. There agent websites are fast and built for lead conversion with a smooth search experience for your visitors. Real geeks also includes an easy to use agent CRM. So once a lead signs up on your website, you can track their interest and have great follow up conversations. Real geeks is loaded with a ton of marketing tools to nurture your leads and increase brand awareness visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod and find out why Realtors come to real geeks to generate more business again, visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod. And now on to our show.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real, the largest podcast made by real estate agents and for real estate agents. My name is DJ Parris. I’m your guide and host through the show. And in just a moment, we’re going to be speaking with top producer Jen McConnell. But before we get to Jen, just a couple of quick reminders first, well, a reminder for me to thank you for listening to our show. We’re so grateful and appreciative that you’re listening right now and the best way you can help us continue to grow. And the only thing we ever ask is that you tell a friend think of one other realtor that needs to hear about systems and processes to take their business to the next level because Jen is going to tell you exactly how she did it, and does it and send them a link over to our website, keeping it real pod.com Every episode can be streamed right there. Or if you’re gonna send it to somebody that loves podcasts, just have them pull up their favorite podcast app search for keeping it real, and hit the subscribe button. We would appreciate it. Well that’s that’s really all I got today. So let’s get right to it my interview with Jen McConnell.

Today on the show, our guest is Jen McConnell from McConnell real estate partners in Charleston, South Carolina. Let me tell you more about Jen. Now Jen was fortunate enough to start her real estate career when she was just a junior in college. Now with over 17 years of experience in the industry she has she has particular expertise in luxury real estate and custom homebuilding. She is a certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist through the Institute for luxury home marketing, where she has been awarded the prestigious million dollar Guild Award. Jen has also earned the coveted realtor of distinction award achieving the highest rank possible as a Platinum Award winner through the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, the Platinum Award Jen places in the top 2% of agents in Charleston and in 2021, Jen and her husband Josh opened their own brokerage on the Isle of Palms in Charleston, South Carolina, and for McConnell real estate partners where she is the broker in charge. Also, they run a foundation which we’re going to be speaking about as well. To learn about everything Jen and McConnell real estate partners visit their website see H s estates Estates is plural ch s estates.com. There will be a link to that in the show notes. You can just go to our show notes. Click on CHS estates.com. And check out everything Jen and Josh. Jana, welcome to the show.

Jen McConnell 4:13
Thank you, thank you for having me.

D.J. Paris 4:16
I am so excited because Charleston is just one of those one of those places that I just feel like everybody who visits it, you know, that I know seems to come back saying Oh, I wish I were to live there and you were telling me off camera that you’re getting like 60 plus people a day move to the Charleston area, which is just incredible.

Jen McConnell 4:36
From elsewhere, but not only that, but there are so many people that come here to vacation and then literally they just stay there like someone will pack up my stuff. I’m just gonna hang here. Here. No big deal. They literally just haven’t say especially during COVID Oh my gosh, the whole state of New York just basically came here and they’re like, Oh, we’re just going to go home. We’re gonna stay here now. We’re gonna move here and buy

D.J. Paris 4:55
so which is obviously great for real estate agents. However, I imagine there’s a lot more real estate agents probably getting their license these days at Charleston, I assume that’s probably I bet the real estate, the realtor populations. I don’t know if it’s doubled, but there’s got to be more Realtors now. So it’s good. It’s good. And it’s also there’s a lot of competition, I’m guessing. Yeah,

Jen McConnell 5:16
I mean, we have close to 7000 licensed agents. But you know, the top like, 500 make up 98%.

D.J. Paris 5:22
Do it out? Yeah, yeah. It’s funny. We do that. In Chicago, here we have about 47,000 agents total and same sort of thing. It’s like the top 20% Do you know most of the, because there’s so many people that get their license as a part time thing, or they just do it to buy and sell their own properties. But what’s really cool about Charleston is you have you have like a lot of advantages, right? You have this beautiful, wonderful city, wonderful weather, you’re you have beaches, you also have vacation rentals, like there’s so Charleston, just in the rich history, but just so much going for it. It’s just so jealous.

Jen McConnell 5:59
There’s so much no matter what your lifestyle is. It’s here in Charleston, I guarantee you no matter if it’s the arts, if it’s, you know, golfing, I mean tennis, everything boating, like everything that you fishing, anything you want to do is here for sure.

D.J. Paris 6:12
I’m so jealous. And I’m a tennis and not as much of a golfer but my dad’s a golfer and, you know, he’s been golfing all over the Carolinas for the last 30 years, like three, four times a year. So we were lucky enough to go to Kiawah Island. Actually not together. I take it back. We didn’t go together. We went we went a different trips. I was thinking we did a father son thing, but we didn’t. But anyway, that’s also right near you as well. That’s amazing.

Jen McConnell 6:38
Yeah. And one of the most impressive courses on the east coast, the ocean

D.J. Paris 6:42
course. Oh, yeah. You know, it’s funny, I’ve not that our audience doesn’t care about my golfing. But I will say, if you if you’re a golfer, you need to have an experience once in your life where you have a caddy. And the first time I ever had an actual caddy, like walk would be through the course, which is very strange experience was was at the ocean course in Cuba. And I was like, thank God, because I was like, What do I do here? It’s like literally one of the hardest courses in the world. And I’m not okay, enough about that. Nobody’s nobody’s logging out to hear my golf stories. So how did you you started, you got into real estate when you were in college, which is not very common for the guests that I have on the show. So how did that happen? And why? Sure.

Jen McConnell 7:28
So when I was a junior in college, I was a marketing and finance major. And I didn’t have an internship. And I don’t know, I just always knew that I was gonna go into real estate somehow. And I don’t know what kind of led me in the new construction realm. But I knew that there was a homebuilder on highway 30, in Ashland, Ohio, which is where the college and where I grew up. And I knew that that sounds like a really cool job, and I can do those internships, and maybe they would pay me maybe they wouldn’t. So I just literally, like walked in, I had my resume. I’m like, 20 years old. And they were like, Oh, we were hiring, but we’re actually we just hired to fill the spot. And I was like, well, that’s just not gonna work. Like, I just need to talk to your manager. Like, that’s all like, I won’t, I promise I’m not here. Like, I just wanted like a job, job or internship, it’d be fine. Like, I just talked with him. And then like, eventually, like, edge my way in and let me talk to the manager and end up getting it for like a sales assistant position. I was like, Okay, well, this is cool. And then it was just I loved it. I loved it. It was custom construction at like, 20 years old, you’re designing these ridiculous houses. In Ohio. You know, they were like, you know, what you kind of see everywhere, like on a farm or, you know, some of the nice houses for sure. But then they opened, right when I was graduating, so a year later, and they’re like, you’re gonna go to Charleston, and we’re going to Wilmington, I was like, Well, you know, I’ve never been to Charleston. Let’s do that. Like, I’ve heard. It’s great. Let’s go there. So I moved down here and didn’t know a person at all isn’t up there for stuff going on location in Charleston. We’ve been down for ever since. And, you know that and I was 21. At that time designing like ridiculous beach houses, multimillion dollar beach houses, like, who gets that opportunity, right? Like it was just, it was wild. So that’s really how I got my start in new construction, and then new construction for 11 years. And then once I got married and started having kids, and I was like, I don’t really want to work six days a week, like, I want to kind of have more flexibility with my schedule. So then I got my general brokerage license in 2008. And then actually didn’t really start doing it full time until like 2016

D.J. Paris 9:22
Wow, because you weren’t you were busy doing mom’s stuff. And you were

Jen McConnell 9:26
really like I actually so I had my kids that I had my daughter when I was still working on new construction, but literally like on maternity leave, I was like, I can’t go back to six days a week. And we’re going you know, we’re just going to general brokerage at that point. That’s when we kind of came back because we’re all saying that on our palms and yeah, the financial protection sensor 2016 When I’ve been in general brokerage

D.J. Paris 9:46
Wow. Well, I you know, as as somebody who I don’t run our brokerage, but I know the work it takes as being part of the management staff at our brokerage and, you know, I almost wonder, are you working even more now now that you run your own brokerage? Are you able to have better balance? Because you have, you know, some of that flexibility.

Jen McConnell 10:08
You know, the work life balance is an interesting topic. And I’ve been in several masterminds about that. But I do feel very close to that balance. So I found that if you’re really stressed and running on fumes, there’s either to do one of two things, or both things missing either leverage or systems. And I was missing both, like in 2016, to like, 2019 it was really just running on fumes, you know, I was doing I was the EAA, I was the assistant, I was doing all the transaction paperwork, I was going to have your clothes and whatever home inspection I was selling, and listing. It’s impossible, right? Like, you can’t keep up with that stuff. And,

D.J. Paris 10:42
oh, by the way, you’re a mom, too. And I have like

Jen McConnell 10:45
a one and two year old. So it’s like, no, it’s not. And I have a marriage, like it’s not sustainable. So I found that really quickly, and we had a major life changed in 2018. That kind of shook our world. And that’s when everything kind of came in perspective, to be honest with you that it was like look like, it’s just not going to operate that way. Like we deserve a better life than that. And things just need to change because we need to savor every moment, we came with our children, our selves, our marriage, you know, everything. So just kind of worked itself out that way. And now I’m just very focused on if we have a pain somewhere in our business, it’s a system or a person that we’re missing. And that’s really what it comes down to, I think,

D.J. Paris 11:21
wow, that’s such a, that’s a really concise, and I was trying to sort of poke holes in it as I was thinking, Is it always systems or people and okay, maybe it’s not always that, but like, probably 95% of the time. So I was thinking, like, it’s true enough, you know, and, and I was, I was just reflecting in my own business, because, you know, whatever, my own struggles, and I was thinking, yeah, she’s right, it’s systems and people. So I think that is such a great point. And I always like to remind our audience too, if if you hear this, you go, well, easy for them. They’re top producers, and they have unlimited resources to be able to, to hire people. And it’s like, well, maybe, or maybe not. But the good news is, for anyone listening, who maybe as a solo practitioner, maybe is newer to the business and doesn’t have those resources, you can hire help from all over the world these days, you know, using like, upwork.com is a great place to look. And the point is, is you don’t if you you know, if you can’t afford someone local, and you can have tasks that can be done, you know, virtually, thank God, there’s so many options now, and people can afford to have, you know, more of that virtual assistant experience at a really nice price point.

Jen McConnell 12:30
Well, yeah, and I would honestly say like, even three years ago, I was not a top producer, like I was doing well, compared to everyone else in my office, I was at a big brokerage, but nothing compared to what I’m doing now. And it’s just because I think it’s more focused on those systems first, and then I heard people that can help with help showing help doing the EAA, work, help a personal assistant role, and really just allowing me to do what I’m good at, which is being in front of my clients, where it helping them get deals, you know, listing homes, I mean, that’s what I’m good at is in front of people not sitting here filling out a dotted box, right? Like, there’s people that can do that, and are way better than I am at that type of work. And I praise them for it, because they just, they know how to do way better, and I could never touch it. So why try.

D.J. Paris 13:12
I couldn’t agree with you more. And it’s, it’s I know, it’s hard to for a lot of our listeners, and even for me as well, I’m not a practicing agent, but I work amongst agents, and just this idea of of giving over part of your business to, you know, to someone else to be able to handle and it’s like, what if they screw it up? What if they make mistakes, and, and I understand the fear there. But was that challenging for you to be able to give up? Because, again, you know, I can’t do everything, but I’m used to doing everything. And if I give up my dotloop docs to someone else, whatever, you know, it was that a fear of yours that like things would just all fall apart?

Jen McConnell 13:47
Oh, 100% and it was so silly. Like I look back and I’m like, Oh, I like literally worked skin involved, like for years, like what was I think he’s like, No, someone will mess up a document and then like, I just it’s a better fit to do it myself. No, it’s not 100% it’s not, there is someone who is better with each skill set and you can figure out what your top 20% should be. And that’s what you should focus on 100% the other 80% that you’re doing that you’re not really that good at you need to leverage that out for sure. Because they’re gonna be there 20% Then

D.J. Paris 14:17
and even with documents like transaction management companies are plentiful, they are all over the charge I don’t know three 400 bucks a deal and you only pay if the deal closes and then that person you know you have to find a good person of course but like you just you know there’s a million ways to find good good people to help with that. It’s like for 400 bucks to never have to deal with paperwork again per deal. It seems like a pretty good deal to me. Yeah,

Jen McConnell 14:41
I mean, again, like I think that just staying in your lane, which I mean husband wife, you know we own our brokerage together. So stay in our lanes is very important. But staying in your lane with what you’re good at and knowing what you’re good at is like the first thing you should find out if you’re just becoming a real estate agent, like know what you’re really good at sometimes those ages It’s far better at the paperwork. And maybe they need to be like an EAA role and just a showing assistant. So when they get that interaction with people, but they can still do their work, which really they love to check those boxes, whereas like, I don’t want to see the box, I just want to talk and I just want to go and I want to go to the houses and lets them into the marketing videos, do the fun stuff, you know. So I think just always finding your role and saying you’re staying in your lane is super important, and knowing what your role is coming into new agent, for sure. But yeah, you definitely do everything started out 100%. And you do that until you’re too tired and worn out. And hopefully don’t get to that as far as I got when I was like every day was working on like, no breaks, you know, that’s just not fun. This is we’re here to live right and give back. And that’s what we I realized kind of just a few years ago, but like I said, like three years ago, you know, my I did like 8 million, like, that’s not really a lot in our market at all. You know. And so I think implementing those things, implementing leverage implementing people and implemented systems like that’s why we are where we are today. So for sure,

D.J. Paris 16:02
yeah, I agree. And I think it’s a good place to talk about your sort of your TrueNorth. And what like, because you, you and your husband have created a foundation, and I want to, you know, whatever you’re willing to share about that, I’d love to share that with our audience. Because I think you know, for somebody to find their why or true north is so critical, especially right now when the real estate market is changed. And people are realtors, a lot of them are struggling in most markets, because inventory is changed and rates have changed. So having that sort of why to be able to kind of keep you going through through some of the more challenging times I think is really important. Tell us tell us what your TrueNorth is and why that’s important to you.

Jen McConnell 16:48
So back in 2018, my son was well 2017 Actually, who was born in July, and it was five months old was diagnosed with cancer here at MUSC Children’s Hospital in downtown Charleston. So that obviously was very earth shattering for us. But that day that he was diagnosed, my I stopped, I did not talk to clients, my phone was off, emails were cut off, social media was cut off. I did nothing but focus on getting him cured. So you know, that’s scary for real estate agent especially I was I was just getting into general brokerage I had just gotten back in general brokerage 2017. So I was just getting back into it, you know, kind of getting a groove going and then you know, that hits and you stop. So we’re didn’t care about that at all. You know, I feel like everything worked out on the end. So he was cured. Fortunately, by his five month Ursu, the 10 month birthday, I guess if you want to call it so by 10 months old, he was cured of cancer, which was of course, like the best, you know, the best thing you could ever hear in your life, like and the fact that they could say cured we were like, wait, wait, did you say the C word like cure?

D.J. Paris 17:53
remission? remission, right?

Jen McConnell 17:54
Like, that’s what we were expecting? Just like no, you know, you’re he’s cure. And if you know that, for us was just, it’s everything, right? So that really propelled our business entirely and changed everything. So my husband left corporate America within six months of my son’s here simply because we just realized, like the grind and being responsible to a corporation who kind of really doesn’t care if you’re here or not sure what’s going on in your life, they want you to be there and be president, that really changed everything. So he came on board, six months later, left corporate America, once our son was able to go back to school, there’s kind of a lag once you’re cured, and when you can go back. I only worked you know, six months that year. And in that six months, I did $8 million. So that was my top here. You know, today that has been that was amazing. Six

D.J. Paris 18:41
months really? I with all of the stress of of what’s going on? Yes,

Jen McConnell 18:46
I did. My phone did not ring and that was kind of something in the middle that you’re thinking like, okay, like I thought I would have had like a call and know what my phone was dead silent. And I’m like, wow, okay, well, you have to start over. Like, it’s alright, I can do that I can start all over again. It’s fine. Like, whatever I got to do just get this boy here. And a week before my son go back to school, my friend said bring it again. Like it was just referrals coming in ages from other markets, sending referrals, repeat clients coming back, like it was a miracle. I mean, he’s a miracle for sure. But like, it was just that to me, I’m very I’m religious. That’s God, that’s nothing to do with me at all. So that that best year was definitely him. And then from there, we just kept doubling our business. And it really comes down to at that point where we realized like, I’m not going to grind 24/7 not see my family, not see my kids, that’s my husband. And then just you worn out like who wants to go through life like that. So we’re very intentional on where we spend our time. But then implementing those those systems and and the people that we really need to be able to run and run at a high rate. So you know, this year we’ll do 45 million. And that was three years ago where I did eight, you know, so

D.J. Paris 19:53
yeah, it’s amazing. And this idea of it’s almost like saving up for a rainy day in a sense because this idea Yeah, that you guys had your your, obviously your your child was struggling with a very serious illness and and that takes up all of your attention. And of course the business does have to go on pause. And then when he said when he come back, it’s like, oh boy, my clients, you know, they’ve sort of disappeared for a while, and maybe they won’t return maybe I do have to start over and this idea of building systems so that when, you know, really unfortunate things like that happen, you know, there’s there’s ways to keep the business to some degree chugging along. And so I imagine that’s probably was motivation for you to that should, should we, you know, should we want to spend more time, you know, at home or with the kids or whatever the the goals of the family are, you now have systems in place to support that.

Jen McConnell 20:47
Right. Well, I mean, I literally used to have my client, like, my, my database was an Excel spreadsheet, like, I mean, that was just three years ago. So it’s like, you have to start somewhere like to say that very humble beginnings. But you know, yeah, it’s just, it’s not sustainable again. So like, why I was running the grind because like, I have to make sure I hit all these people, right? How many times a day, how many different weeks and two weeks out throwing it out on an Excel spreadsheet, it’s not sustainable. So I’m sure most agents have something much more sophisticated than Now, thankfully. But really, what changed our business beyond just that is, is having that Northern Star like we were talking about earlier, and, and that for us is to be able to give back to boaties oncologist. So my son’s name is Bodhi, his oncologist is Dr. Jacqueline, Rebecca and USD and she has one of the only two gastric research labs in South Carolina for cancer. So you know, we Josh and I both had prayed to God, when we were in the hospital, once we found out he was diagnosed, and we were, we just said like, if he gets through this, like, we will do whatever we can, sorry.

D.J. Paris 21:45
Oh, okay. These are these are big things. So I appreciate I appreciate that the biggest things honestly, yeah. So I appreciate your appreciate your emotion.

Jen McConnell 21:57
Yeah. And we just thought we would do whatever we could to give back.

D.J. Paris 22:03
And so and so you started a foundation. And I, the foundation is tell us about actually tell us about the foundation? Well, yeah,

Jen McConnell 22:11
so the first thing that we did, actually, so 2018, he was cured 2019, what we decided to do with our brokerage was we started setting aside a portion of every commission, and donating that to pediatric cancer research. So 2019, we did 20 or $25,000. And then $50,000, the next year, this year, we’re already over 65,000. So I think we’ll be close to like 90,000. And we’ll donate just for the brokerage. So which is awesome, right, and we involve our clients like this is a very transactional business. And but on the buyer and seller side, like it’s a very relationship, relationship based business. And so what really came super clear to us once we knew that we wanted to kind of base our business around, giving back to to Doctor practice research, because we need to really involve them into what we’re doing. And so you know, every email, we update them on where we are with our musc goal for the year and we invite them to our fundraising events. And if we have client events, we’ll have like a donate portion. And you know, it was awesome, because our clients just they come through for us and they’re always so sweet. Like, before we had our foundation, they would literally just like hand us checks and be like, well here like, I want to I want to donate to your cause. And I’m like, Well, I know but I can’t take your your like donation from a brokerage. So it’s like, the way that like I but I knew what to do so much more to write so so we’ll always do you know, from our brokerage set aside that portion that will always give back to Dr. Becker’s research. And the awesome thing is for research to share on national level, by the way, like she shared it with St. Jude and all these wonderful, amazing hospitals across the country. So that’s the cool thing is not just here that her research is going. But then so basically, once clients kept paying that money, and we’re like, guys, like we can’t do it that way. We were like, You know what, we can do it bigger, we got to get bigger, and we just need to start our own foundation. So in 2021, we started our own foundation, the McConnell Foundation, and we had our very first gala last year in June. And we raised $45,000, for our first gala for Dr. Baca, which was like really cool. I know, like, I don’t have a gauge, because I’ve never done that before. But I mean, I had great mentors in the industry. And they were like, Jim, like, that’s really, really impressive. But like, okay, good. Like, I want to double it next year. I’m like, I know, like, I love it. So it’s cool. It’s cool. And we’ve done it with almost $120,000 in the last two years to musc pediatric cancer research. So it’s Yeah. We just Yeah, I mean, and again, like, that’s why like, I feel like I’ve been given the skills in what I do real estate that is helping me give this life to someone else, hopefully, you know, and, and provide that research. So that’s really our that’s our Northern Star like we were talking about earlier. And that’s why we do what we do when we are so clear focus on know what we need to do to be able to provide for the research for sure.

D.J. Paris 24:54
I mean, that’s such an interesting and important thing that you said and I want to make sure that our audience really We heard that because I suspect that when you when when you and your husband and look at your brokerage and come up with sort of ideas of what you want to do for 2023 and beyond, I imagine, you know, a big part of the conversation is, hey, we want to raise X amount of money for, or we want to donate and raise for, you know, this pediatric cancer research. And that becomes a huge motivator to keep the business growing and operating versus just, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with of course, you know, one’s own salary and one’s own own conditions. But it is, I imagine, because of, of how much it impacted your family, that becomes a huge motivator. So it’s so interesting, you said, we just want to be able to donate more. So in order to do that, we have to do more business and raise more money. And I think that is such a such a really a beautiful thing. And I really applaud you for finding that North Star. And, and then taking action, right and realizing that so many people, you know, you know, don’t don’t take that kind of action and not to judge them in a different way but but it’s really something that’s super admirable and and you get your entire community behind you as well. And everyone now is wanting, you know, wanting you to succeed so, so I applaud you for that, for sure. I want to pause for a moment to talk about our episode sponsor are one of my favorite companies out there follow up boss. Now after interviewing hundreds of top Realtors in the country for this podcast, do you know which CRM is used by more than any other by our guests. Of course, it is a follow up boss. And let’s face it, following up is the key to taking your business to the next level follow up boss will help you drive more leads in less time and with less effort. Do not take my word for it. Robert slack, who runs the number one team in the US uses follow up boss and he has built a one and a half billion dollar business in just six years. Follow up boss integrates with over 250 systems, so you can keep your current tools and lead sources. Also, the best part they have seven day a week support. So you’ll get the help that you need when you need it and get this follow up boss is so sure that you’re going to love their CRM that for a limited time, they’re offering keeping it real listeners a 30 day free trial, which is twice as much time as they give everyone else. And oh yeah, no credit card required. So you can try it risk free. But only if you use this special link visit follow up boss.com forward slash real that’s follow up boss.com forward slash real for your free 30 day trial. Follow up like a boss with follow up boss. And now back to our episode. Let’s talk a little bit more about systems. And you know, because you know you were talking about, and I’ve interviewed people on our show that that still work out of an Excel spreadsheet, and that works for them and great. But there are more sophisticated options. And so I’m just curious on like how you went from Excel spreadsheet to more automation, right? I obviously, yeah, let’s just tell me sort of what that journey was like for you.

Jen McConnell 28:08
So the top priority person involved with clients is to write the top tier level experience, like we kind of coined ourselves as a concierge level of real estate. And so we want to, I mean, I think my earbuds are dying, so I’m sorry, if you let me know, if you can’t hear me for some reason, I know you’re you sound great. So to provide that context of real estate, not only just, of course, being in front of them, but everything else. So before they need us, you know, what are they seen on our website? Or were they seen on our social media? So it comes down like for me, I’m the marketing kind of behind our brand. And so I look more at our how we’re presenting ourselves, we have a client moving truck, which is a 16 foot you know, fully branded, moving truck which our clients can use complimentary when they’re moving or even if they just buy something and you know, a new sofa, they want to go pick it up. So just taking kind of the experience to the next level. You know, whereas when we started in general brokerages in 2018, probably 75% of our business was bought leads whereas now I’m at 5% which really I’m not buying those are just major corporations that I pay a referral fee to to help their execs so I do consider that thought but so we’re at a 95% referral for you know, repeat clients base now so what we’ve done but our but our margins have not changed. So what we did we took that money that we were using when you were buying your clients and I put it into the customer experience and that client experience from you know, not just once they meet us all the way through years and years down the road. So that’s your client events but just elevating them and elevating everything that we do like our we have a magazine that we give out so instead of just like a a one page like I used to have like a one page double sided like here’s Jen McConnell and you know, like, I don’t know is nothing impressive, but like we have actual like magazines Like, Apple legit? Yeah, so like, this is the first thing, anyone who needs anyone on, you know, my husband or I or we have another event, you know, that’s the first thing that they see. And then just elevating everything from there. So like a closing book is a hard bound. I mean, this is like a legit book, you know. And so just fully, it’s everything from their inspections to like, if they had invoices from repairs, you know, coming from restrictions, if it’s new construction, we have their manual there. So just elevating everything that we’re doing to give that client experience so much more than they would ever expect. By like, that’s our whole goal is to be able to do that. And then we’re intertwining that with who we really are. So connecting on an emotional level that knew who we are, is we’re a family that’s supporting musc. And by you supporting our business, like we’re able to do that on such a better level. And then they want to get involved as well. So we’re just we’re intertwined. Like we’re it’s not a transaction at all. And it’s not just a buy or sell and or investor like these are people who are in our lives. That’s the best part about it, honestly.

D.J. Paris 31:01
Yeah. Yeah. It’s like you’re almost building a, you know, continuing to add to this giant family. That’s all helping each other. So that, you know, the greater good can be can be accomplished. You said so much here in the last few minutes. I want to just unpack a little bit. No, no, no, no, no, in the best possible ways that you said a lot. I’ve wanted to talk about the truck. Because this is it’s a simple idea, really. But I don’t know I’ve been doing this podcast five years, not one person has ever told me that they do this. I don’t think anyone I’ve ever interviewed does this. So you guys went out and acquired a smaller moving truck for or I couldn’t tell how big it is from from the picture. But it was really good sized truck that your clients can use sort of when they need it. So So what was the impetus for that? Just out of curiosity.

Jen McConnell 31:49
So moving is never fun, like no matter who you are? And like, yes, a lot of our clients definitely have the movers are moving company or relocation company doing the things. But we did find a lot of clients who were just like burning these U hauls, and they break down. And they’re not cute, which is like, you know what I love about ours. But like, you know, they’re just not a fun thing. And you have to go like, all the way across town to get it and can’t return it there. It’s just, it’s a pain. So we’re like, what is one concierge service we could provide that help them in this one issue like this one obstacle that they keep hitting? Well, let’s get him let’s get a movie trailer. Right. So we got this beautiful, like 16 foot brand new movie check. It has hardwood floors in the bed, because oh

D.J. Paris 32:36
my gosh, I didn’t realize it was that nice. Wow,

Jen McConnell 32:40
it’s so pretty. Like it has, you know, the Sand Ocean waves on the side like a sandcastle on the back. Like, it’s just such a cute truck. But the cool thing is, like, all of our clients love it, it’s easy to drive this newer, so it like turns normal, and we feel like there’s driving a big SUV. But we do give it to like the schools and our church whenever they need it. So it’s just a nice tool that we can still give back, you know, to purchase charities, whoever needs it at the time, and then our clients get the full benefit. They don’t have to worry about renting a truck and it’s it’s clean yet. It’s like a little dolly and there’s a ramp and like it’s just ready to go. Like it’s just simplifying their life. Like, that’s what our concierge level is, I would I expect and really requires that we just provide that next level service. So that was just one of the little things that we do.

D.J. Paris 33:21
I love that. And it’s really, really smart, also from a branding perspective, because of course, people get to see this truck driving around town that says, you know, hey, what will you use our truck if you if you use our services, I think that’s, you know, obviously, a constant source of, you know, exposure to the community. But it was interesting that you said sort of you were buying all almost all of your business, you know, three years ago, and it’s not, and now you’re you’re almost exclusively referral based, and it’s not that your margins have really changed, you’re just taking that money and investing it back into the client experience. versus, you know, the the just meeting new people, right, this idea of deepening the client relationship, I’m assuming the theory is that by deepening the client relationship and really going way above and beyond what the client might expect, even after the sale, then you know, they’re more likely to want to tell all their friends and family like oh, you got to support the McConnell real estate business because you know, look at how the all the cool stuff they’re doing for the community and beyond. I’m assuming that was kind of the the overall idea.

Jen McConnell 34:32
Yeah, I mean, we just like we love our clients and I know most agents say that they do like we have fun with our clients like we go to like what we’ve a baseball game, we rent out the mezzanine and like all their kids come like I love seeing their kids grow older and get bigger and it’s like oh my gosh, you know, it’s just it’s sweet are like the families who like moved here during COVID and they don’t have any families like we become their family right and so it’s just like we got to keep up with grandma, grandpa you got to keep up with like the kids and you got to just, you know, it’s just such a fun relationship business. And I think agents forget, like, they’re like, it’s just a transaction. It’s like once it closes like, Oh, here’s your, your card and you’re closing it and like, you know, hopefully you’ll keep my mind but like, what’s the statistics are like what 86%, I think is the set, like, they totally forget who you are, you’re their agent is when they close on the house, because you don’t follow up. And like, it’s not just your follow up, but like, you genuinely should be interested in like, your clients and what they have

D.J. Paris 35:23
going on. Well, you mentioned, you know, paying attention to kids and grandparents and, and all of these things, these require systems, right? Because of course, with hundreds of clients, it becomes more and more difficult to be like, oh, so and so’s child is entering first grade. And I should probably, like reach out than just say, hey, oh, good luck with your, you know, first grade or whatever. But how do you do that? How do you keep it all organized? Because that’s a lot

Jen McConnell 35:48
of work. So, you think about that, right? So if you look at your client base, and you figure out what pods they’re in, so we have the newlyweds, no kids, we have kids, young family with with young kids. We have families with older kids, you have you know, retirees so kind of break everyone up into your paws. And then you say, alright, well, I’m a young family. What do I or if I’m a young couple don’t have kids, I probably would only go to happy hour, right? So like, Alright, we’re gonna target that’d be happier. And we know that, that probably, Jen and Josh aren’t coming because they have been in Bodie at home because they can’t get evicted on a weekday. So like, we know that that’s just going to be our first time homebuyers, younger homebuyers, or maybe even empty nesters will come happy hour. But then we know like the baseball game, right, we know that the kids are going to payments with the kids are going to come to that right? Well, if we go to a brand new restaurant downtown with a water, we know that’s probably going to be more of our NPS. There’s like so look at your pods who your your client base is, and do those events, specifically for them. Like one thing that we do, for instance, for kids, like we were just saying about school, so every August, we take personalized cookie boxes to every single kid of our clients. And it has like three little cookies one’s like a pencil one is like an apple and one’s a chalkboard, it has their name or not. So it’s like, have a great first day of school, you know, Harrison, or whoever, and we deliver those to their house the first day of school. Like, that’s definitely I have to be like, okay, Jonathan has a kid, you may have to has a kid like, I make sure I reach out to them individually. No, they know that every August, they need to look their emails, and they can register for that cookie box. And it’s going to come to their inbox, you know, the first of August, we know that. So it’s just a guaranteed thing. And and that’s a system, right? And I just copy that eblasts for last August, and I changed it to say this year’s date and it’s coming out. So it’s just it’s super easy. So just things like that, like just really being intentional with your touches is something that we focus on. And then what do our clients really want to do? Like, they don’t want to come to my office and like have happy hour? No, I mean, they want to do that. And they want a cool place. Oh my god, I think both of my headphones are

D.J. Paris 37:43
dead, okay, you’re still sounding great. So keep going.

Jen McConnell 37:47
So just really again, like knowing your clients and and targeting your business. So we look at our calendar year, we started November, and we look at the whole next year, and every single month, we plan out exactly how we’re going to touch our clients and what we’re gonna do with them. Like if we’re going to meet up in person, if it’s on person, we’re gonna deliver the cookies, that’s not necessarily in person. And so you just kind of break up and make sure that you’re seeing them, you’re talking to them. And obviously, you’re touching them with your emails, if they’re not gonna, if there’s gonna annoy you with everything else, or at least getting your emails and if not, they’re gonna get your you know, your quarterly newsletter that we mail out, you know, so this will have updates, like, this is a personal letter from me always. We usually always have some, this is about our gala. And then we will say something about the kids and they’re like, this was our baseball. So they’re still keeping in touch with us. Like, even if they want to ignore us. That’s totally cool. But I know that they’re still getting you know, this in the mail. I know, they’re, they’re still getting our E newsletter. And you know, eventually they’ll come out and come play if they want to. And if not, then that’s fine, too. But at least that we’re in front of them.

D.J. Paris 38:42
Yeah, it is. It is interesting. I once interviewed one of the top Realtors here in Chicago, and I was asking her, you know, Hey, why do you think you’re so successful? And she was, she was like, I wish I had a better answer for this. But I reach out and call every single one of my clients every week and just give them an update on what’s going on. And I was like, Okay, and what else she was like well that that’s kind of it she’s like, I obviously I’m do a lot of a million other things. But she goes I actually think that’s the most important thing. And most agents don’t do that. I was thinking as you were saying that to you know, you were talking about sort of even after the sale, you know, doing Hey, every year we have the cookie thing for the kids and in the fall and we you know, we have all these fun events that people can attend and they’re gonna get notified and then they also get on my newsletter and, you know, other pieces of mail from time to time, but it seems like you’re really really are focused on just constantly engaging with your, with your client and your prospect list. And it really seems to be obviously very effective for you. And it’s interesting because you’re still spending the same capital you were before but you’re probably getting a better return I would assume now because you’re now you know now it’s people who who you know who are clients, they’re in love with you for what all that you guys do for them and for the you know, the Right or community, and then you know, they’re going to tell everybody they know. So it’s really, it’s really impressive. And so as a marketing person, what advice do you would you have for somebody who is an individual practitioner, you know, somebody who doesn’t have maybe, you know, a ton of resources, or a team? What might you suggest to them to sort of help make start to make the transition from doing everything to maybe working on some systems or hiring.

Jen McConnell 40:31
Starting out as a new agent so well, for marketing? Like, like you said, marketing? I think social media for sure it’s free. You just need your time, which as a new agent, you have plenty of that would be for sure. But then your systems I think, definitely have to have a good CRM, we use follow up boss, there’s a lot of really good ones out there. We’ve been we’ve been very happy with follow boss, and probably always be with them. But that’s

D.J. Paris 40:54
our one of our sponsors. We’d love follow.

Jen McConnell 40:59
Oh, good. Yeah. Okay, go to the follow up boss conference in November. Yeah, so you have really good CRM, like, even if you’re just starting now, it’s gonna cost you money, but you have to invest, be able to get money out. One book that I would definitely recommend as a new agent would be Profit First go by that like that is really can get you in trouble. If you are a new agent, and you’re just spending spending spending, I gotta have the best business card business yard signs, best Open House signs. And then you don’t even have a deal, like, do not go down that route, like definitely read profit first. But then once you get that money invested in that CRM, and it’s going to be several $1,000, you’re like, for real? Like, I don’t get any of that commission? No, it has to go back into your business, if you’re serious about it. So I think that and then there’s just so many templates and follow bosses, you know, that’ll get you on a good path, if you don’t have a good foundation with your brokerage that kind of says, like, here’s how you really do the transaction. And here’s what you should do for follow up. There’s wonderful templates in that CRM, as as many others I’m sure. That would be my first purchase as a new agent, for sure. And then like I said, social media, that’s how you’re gonna get your big business. If you don’t, if you literally know no one, and you don’t have a good sphere, where you are, and you can’t afford to buy your bit leads, then social media, for sure.

D.J. Paris 42:10
And if you if you were in that situation, I don’t know you’re not anymore. But if you were, what would you put post your marketing person? So I want to I want to press just a little bit and find out what kind of content would you post on social, would you? And again, there isn’t one, you know, right or wrong answer to this. But I’m curious on on if you were starting out what what type of because we, you know, we say that to our agents a lot here at our company, like, oh, you should, you know, really do a lot of branding and promoting on social. And finally, our agents were like, Yeah, that’s great. But like what content you know, and so we had to really just create a whole bunch of content that they could they could borrow and use. But not everyone has that. So I’m curious. And if you were starting out new nobody, and we’re like, Okay, I’m going to do something on social, what kind of content would would you work on.

Jen McConnell 42:57
So I would be the master of my market and your market be very much like where you live, like I live on Iowa palm. So I would be the master of Iowa palms not Charleston. Like, that’s just too broad. So I will be the master bio palms, I would have 100 videos of our palms, I would be doing open houses on our palms, even though they weren’t my listings, I would be going through go and shows and doing video tour. So even if they don’t know that I’m not with a client, they’re seeing I’m doing this $5 million listing over the water and this liquidity pool. And he’s ridiculous details. They don’t know that I’m not actually with clients, but I’m in the real estate world. And they’re going to know I’m in the real estate world by what I’m showing. So I would definitely be showing all of that on social media. But again, knowing your stats, so you need to know the stats for your market and be the expert. Oh yeah, two to three forest trail just sold sold for 2.2. That’s the highest one story that we’ve seen. So not off the ground in two years, like you need to know your stats. And once you become the market expert, and you’re showing that through videos, or reels, or stories, or even just your grid, you know, I think that you gain a lot of credibility that way. And people call on you real quick on Instagram, like oh my gosh, and they feel like they know you, especially if they see you I don’t put myself on my own Instagram a whole lot. Because I feel like I’m like on the truck. I’m like everywhere. So I don’t know, I’m worried about it. But I think that if I were a new agent I for sure would be if if I were just starting out.

D.J. Paris 44:19
I love that is providing content to the community in large about the community restaurants, school districts have, you know, fun things that going on in the area also knowing the market stats and the go and show is such a great idea. That’s so just just we’ll make this our final thing because I think you’ve given us so many amazing tips, but the go and show is so you would reach out to other realtors who have listings and say, hey, I want to promote your listing. May I come over and do a quick video tour or because you if you don’t have a client that actually wants to see it. Have you found that most listing agents are receptive to that do you get some pushback sometimes or are most

Jen McConnell 44:59
back So once you and you basically are showing time, you can actually just say, virtual showing, and you can just go through and video it and then you can add it to your own real or whatever later and you can give them credit which I think most agents appreciate on the left side. You just say like, oh, Jen, just listen to this awesome listing on waterway like they, if that goes far away, and then you get tagged on their, their page as well, which is, you know, good for your page. But no, I mean, I’ve never had pushback, I do a million dollar Monday, every Monday on my social media. And sometimes I’ll use other agents listings for that. And very rarely, there’s been like, three in like four years. I’m just kinda like, okay, that’s fine. If you don’t mean to help market your listing?

D.J. Paris 45:40
No, I guess I guess they won’t help give you exposure to sell. You know,

Jen McConnell 45:42
I know. They’re gonna give you full credit, of course, to whoever it is. So who knows? If I think I lost you.

D.J. Paris 45:58
Ask agents, firms to think up anyway. So we’ve been jet if you can, are you still here? You know, oh, no, no, no, it’s not you it’s Zoom is having an issue. So anyway, this is a great place to wrap up. So I want to mention just a couple of things about Jen. Number one, if you are a realtor, and you have clients that you know, vacation, out in Charleston area, or looking to maybe retire out there, obviously a lot of people do. Jen would love to connect with you. So Jen, what’s the best way or by the way, if there are any buyers, sellers, renters, who are listening to our show, who are you know, either in the Charleston area or moving there or want to explore different you know, home options there. What’s the best way someone should reach out to you.

Jen McConnell 46:48
They can call text directly, my number is 843-300-7585, or my website, definitely check out is CH s estates.com. And honestly, like, we get a ton of vacationers so even if agents are in town, and just to have a local, you know, like coffee session, I would love to meet people from out of town, we have a ton of people relocating here from other areas, you have to sell their home, you know where they are. So yeah, I’d love to have a coffee date with anyone.

D.J. Paris 47:14
Well, I that is the invitation is open. So anyone out there who has business in the Charleston area, or who just wants to have a referral so that if business comes up, you can now say, Hey, by the way, Mr. Mrs. Client, I know you’re looking at are looking to retire, maybe get a vacation home. You know, I know somebody out out in Charleston, who you know, who’s really good. So this is a great thing that you now can bring to your clients just by introducing yourself to Jen and getting connected that way. And vice versa, maybe she’ll have people that are moving to your area. And so you guys can swap leads. So Jen, thank you so much for your your service, in, of course, the foundation that that you guys run and support and the causes that are important to you, and also just being of service to this podcast, we are so grateful to have had you on the show, you’re you’re just a obviously a really honest and compassionate and vulnerable person. And I think that is that is always something that we can all aspire to be more of. So thank you on behalf of our audience, we thank you for coming on the show. And on behalf of Jen and myself, we want to thank our audience too, for sticking around to the end. And we ask that you do just a couple of oh, by the way, Jen, if anyone out there was touched by your story, if they want to help support your foundation, what’s the best way that they can do that?

Jen McConnell 48:36
They can go to the McConnell foundation.com Or there’s links on our regular website as well.

D.J. Paris 48:42
And we will post a link to the foundation in in our show notes as well. So please contribute donate time, money, or both to to this organization to the foundation rather and Jen. So on behalf of everyone, we thank you, we thank Jen we think our audience and we ask that you just do two quick things before signing off. Number one telephone I think of one other realtor that could benefit from hearing about systems people and Jen’s journey through real estate, send them a link to this episode. I mean, also, she talked about her true north, maybe there’s somebody out there who’s struggling trying to figure out their purpose. In real estate. This might just give them you know the incentive they need to keep going forward and finding their purpose. Send them a link to our website, keeping it real pod.com. We would appreciate it and also leave us a review. Let us know what you think of the show. Whatever podcast app, you might be listening to us, let us know. We take all of your comments very seriously because the only way we can get better is if we know what you like and not like or dislike so tell us how we can get better. I’m Jen, thank you so much and we will see everybody on the next episode.

Jen McConnell 49:45
Thank you DJ, appreciate it.

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