Virginia Munden has worked in the process of buying and selling real estate for 25 years. She has built a successful, profitable and sustainable career with her husband Wayne, the latter 5 with RE/MAX where her husband continues to grow his team. In 2011 Virginia began her Coaching, Keynote and Corporate Consulting career to help change the way Real Estate Associations, Corporations, Brokerages and Professionals Globally, approach and grow their business. Shifting your mindset from sales to entrepreneurship is key, all while maintaining a consistent commitment, a clear focus, on - going persistency and a passionate ambition to reach a new level of success. This business is about PEOPLE & SYSTEMS, the two most important elements to growing a profitable and sustainable Real Estate Career. It begins with being where people are.
If you know Virginia or follow her career you will inevitably be awestruck by her commitment to elevate the real estate industry. Virginia is a leader, she voices her opinion even if it means standing alone, she has a deep work ethic, is intelligent and deeply committed to her clients. Even though Virginia is very involved in social media, her spin on the state of the industry focuses on the importance of off-line relationship building which she refers to as "return on relationships" as well as the desperate need for leadership. Virginia's impeccable words made me pause on a professional level and ask myself if I can be better, do better and I hope this does the same for you.
What improvements would you like to see happen in the real estate industry?
#1 Once registered, Real Estate Professionals should commit to specific standards that meet criteria of excellence. I believe that 5% of the Agent population still performs 95% of the business, and that is not enough. Full time agents is a good place to start as well as signing a best practices and standards contract with a Brokerage - one error and you are out.
#2 On - going Broker/Manager Development and Commitments need to be offered. Too many Broker/Owners/Managers have a Landlord mentality which is the reason so many Agents fail. Sadly there is no REAL Leadership in this industry. Requirements for leadership levels need to be absolutely paramount. Accountability and Follow Up are as important as education, skills and development programs so agents can implement, execute and learn to build profitable and sustainable real estate careers. Many Broker/Owners/Managers are not present.
#3 Real Estate Boards need to amalgamate because having so many Boards offering little or no value is unacceptable especially with rising fees, discontinued education and lack of agent collaboration. This is killing our industry. ONE MLS would rule.
#4 Raising awareness of Canadian experts who can facilitate to our Canadian brands, brokerages and people is a key element I believe in. Seek out the best not just the Association or Brand favorites. Think of the people first. There are so many fascinating people in our Canadian Industry who care for the industry, for people and most importantly for consumers. I am a big supporter of Canadian talent and Canadian voices.
How would you suggest this could be done?
If I had a magic wand I would make the changes but unfortunately I do not. I have learned that it may be best to keep the mouth shut and maybe now is a good time. Again, in the 25 years I have done my part and will continue to do my part to be of service. I consider myself a contributor to helping Business Entrepreneurs, whether Realtors, Coaches, Brand Organizations and Associations shift their mindset. I know they pay close attention to me and I am flattered.
Is transparency in the industry important to you and why?
Yes, however, so is relevancy, competency and authenticity. We are experiencing an evolution of change, not a destruction, since the introduction of technology, social media, digital and mobile applications. However, they are not the golden ticket to creating opportunities, converting and closing deals. Technology and Social Media will only enhance the consumer experience if the communication wows the consumer. Many people are concerned with upgrading to a new iPhone or tablet as opposed to enhancing their communication strategies with people. As professional Real Estate Entrepreneurs we are sometimes tricked into believing what is important versus understanding what actually works in the building process.
Since the introduction of Social Media we have become social animals addicted with chatting through on - line spaces and building relationships on - line. Have we forgotten where our consumers live? We continue to hear about strategies to enhance ON – LINE CONTENT…well, this industry needs to worry about their OFF – LINE CONTENT and come up with a better plan. Agents are not present in their geographical niche farm locations yet they spend an awful lot of time on Facebook or chatting with one another on Twitter where cliques and groups hang out and actually talk to each other. I prefer private conference calls myself. If your clients are present on your FACEBOOK page, this works. If they are not, you are just chatting with yourself.
Social Media is exactly that, to be SOCIAL. It is not called Social Business for a reason. If people are social on – line and off – line, it drives engagement. Engagement usually drives trust. Trust drives loyalty to people. People are like a FAN CLUB and they will share you with the world based on your stellar reputation and impeccable results.
Josie: If I had to choose one character trait that will determine success, it is trustworthiness along with living by the 25 lessons we learned that define success. People have to feel they can rely on your character, to be honest, to place their interest above all else and to be effective. Without trust you will not build the reputation you need to sustain your business long term. Unfortunately, every day, I see agents behave as if that "one deal" is paramount. What they haven't realized is that it's how you're going to get tomorrow's deal that's important. That will happen through the trail you leave behind called your reputation. Since the day I entered this business I have been focused on the long term and every activity I perform, even after 25 years, is focused on tomorrow's business. So get into the habit of asking yourself "how is this action or decision I make today going to affect me tomorrow?"
What service could be implemented that could benefit consumers the most?
Service is about providing excellence through knowledge, however, sharing results is what people will remember and share. A true experience of value, care, don’t sell. It is part of your reputation. A solid reputation based on results creates loyalty. Loyalty creates more opportunities to convert. A referral business is the best business of all. Build a business that comes searching for you as opposed to you always searching for business. Imagine that. ROR is the new ROI. Return on Relationships not Return on Investment. I hate spending money, I prefer to keep it.
Also, the more you measure, the better your scripts. Scripts come from two applications:
#1 Being present in your geographical farm areas and truly understand your demographics inside out is paramount. Connecting, engaging and building upon PEOPLE is always a good strategy.
#2 Measuring your data and statistics of your results to consumers provides evidence you are converting and closing. Consumers don't care how shiny your flyer is or how big your brochure is, but they will surely appreciate your results.
Josie: I am a big believer of being out in the field and engaging with your client base and community face to face. Your business will not grow behind a desk. It will grow and thrive by walking down streets and shaking hands, giving back to the community by volunteering and sponsoring events, enriching people's lives and caring. Moving from me to we and selling with a heart.
Who do you admire most in this industry and why?
Hmmmm…good question. I don't have an answer just yet.
If I had to choose a mentor to help me build a profitable and sustainable Real Estate Career, I would probably fail. Most agents fall into the trap of corporate mentality and follow cliques, groups and crowds. I choose to stand alone. Perhaps it is why I have such a different view of the industry. For 25 years I have seen the pain of families when they have lost a loved one, a job, a home, have become ill or have experienced the sadness of divorce. Then these young kids enter the business, sell 2 to 4 homes, and all of a sudden they are teaching us how to sell Real Estate. Shocking really. Hype Marketing, Title Marketing is what I call it.
What we need in this industry is real Leadership and I can count the REAL leaders on my hands. My mentor is 80 years old. I chose to follow wisdom and not crowds. It helps me to stay grounded as a business woman and as a human who serves people.
Who are our mentors, who are our teachers, who are the real contributors to our success? Who? WE are. It's time to start thinking like a business, a CEO of our own corporate brand and build a career to be profitable and sustainable for years to come.
What disappoints me the most in this industry is the lack of true leadership. If we can just nail the Leadership role down, the industry would have hope.
Josie: Virginia, Barry Lebow and Melanie Piche have all expressed the need for more education and development programs for agents. I hope our leaders are listening. Nevertheless, more people on the ground like Virginia, Melanie and Barry have an opportunity and the perfect medium to educate the consumer to demand a higher standard from our industry. We can't make agents take pride in what they do nor can we instill moral character in people who don't have it. But collectively our voices can be louder, our efforts can be greater, our caring can be deeper. We can set the example and improve the consumer experience one transaction at a time.