Looking to Expand Into Another Market? Part 4

I’m super excited to continue my expansion team journey into another market with you. In my last article, I shared how having the systems and processes in place for not only my current team in West Michigan, but also for the expansion team in Charlotte, NC was imperative to my growth plan. Since our decision to pack up our belongs and move to Charlotte, NC to be our primary residence, it’s been tough. I promised you the good, bad, and the ugly, so here it goes. I had to know deep down that this plan wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows. There were plenty of challenges to face coming up too. I must admit that part of me (a lot of me) was nervous to announce to our clients and my sphere that we were expanding. Expanding and change overall is often met with resistance. Would our clients think we were “too busy” with our new market to service them? Would my sphere of influence (and/or any referrals from them) from being born and raised in West Michigan be jeopardized with Facebook posts of my family and I in Charlotte? These types of questions kept me up at night. On top of that, I’m also President of the local West Michigan Women’s Council of Realtors network. I had commitments made through the end of 2019 to fulfill – and if you know me at all – I never commit to something and not give it my all. So, telling my board of this upcoming change was really weighing on me.

Then, there was our family of course too. My husband works from home and travels frequently, so moving to a new city didn’t phase him much and probably would be easier with a larger airport nearby. Our kids were another story. We’ve always included them in our discussions regarding the move. In fact, I think our 7-year-old said it best when we asked him what he thought about possibly moving to a new state. His exact words were, “why not move? I’ve lived here my whole life.” To which, our 10-year-old daughter replied, “yea, well you’re only 7,” and he said, “exactly … I’ve been here my whole life.” The kids were on board! As a mom, my inner thoughts still questioned if they’d easily meet new friends, if they’d miss extended family to an extreme, and more as I’m sure you can imagine. So, at  this point, my husband and I began house hunting and also quickly prepared our current home to sell. It was already July and we had a lakefront home, so in Michigan that means selling now or waiting till next spring. Luckily, the day we found our new home in Charlotte and were on our flight home, we accepted an offer on the sale of our current house – and thus … the real work began. If you’re a Realtor and haven’t gone through selling and buying a house of your own, oh boy – you haven’t lived. What anxiety! And also, what a fantastic way to learn empathy for our clients. The North Carolina and Michigan markets are very different – not to mention one handles closings by attorneys and one handles closings by title companies. There are different contracts, MLS’s, laws, inspection processes, and even differing terminology. I was getting a world of education.

As a self-proclaimed OCD person, every bone in my body was planning each step of this move and expansion. I had checklists everywhere for everything. At the office, I was negotiating and coordinating with the RE/MAX Brokerage in both areas. We were obtaining logos to incorporate into our marketing – both for print and online for our websites and social media. I was developing a plan for my Client Care Coordinator to take over managing the day to day operations of the team. She was busily working on taking her pre-licensing course, studying, and getting licensed. She and I strategically planned how this was going to work as we all but promised to deliver a fool-proof plan to the team on how we were all going to work together to achieve success – in both teams. Did I mention I’m also super blessed to be a Real Estate Coach for Workman Success Systems as well? In this role, I was bound and determined not to skip a beat. My coaching clients depend on me and my decision to expand into another market was something I wanted to ensure didn’t change a thing for them – except for my physical location – which wouldn’t affect my coaching for them and their businesses.

Meanwhile, being the planner I am, I set out to find a new local vet for our dog, a new dentist, doctors, pediatricians, etc. for our move. Each one with their own stack of new client paperwork to complete. I contacted the kids’ new school (as they were starting after the beginning of the school year) and asked to be placed on their school update emails, Facebook groups, newsletters and everything/anything to get us “involved.” This led me to more to-do’s. We didn’t want the kids to skip a beat. Our daughter was big into Girls On the Run since she was old enough to join in 3rd grade. So, when I saw the sign-ups come available at the new school, there was no question on what to do. I had to contact the local coach and ask for special permission to have our daughter join the team a bit late once we got moved. Also, the school had school spirit days on Fridays where the students wear school pride attire. I didn’t want the kids to feel left out, so I contacted the PTO President to make special arrangements to pre-order shirts for the kids for us to pick up the first day of school Whew! I had it all covered.

Things were moving smoothly. What I haven’t mentioned yet is, while in this ‘planning mindset,’ our daughter was in the local theatre’s performance of “Joseph & The Technicolor Dreamcoat.” What an amazing show! However, that meant rehearsals, stage photography and more over the course of many, many nights. I truly gained a new respect for what those performers endure to put on a great show. Literally, we had our 10 year old at practice and/or a performance almost every single night from July 15th – September 22nd between 6 – 10 pm. My husband and I alternated nights driving her while the other one stayed home to pack boxes in preparation to move. Life was a bit crazy – and – I was still trying to sell houses too!

One thing I learned in each area I was trying to juggle is this – communication is key! I’m not saying I did anything perfect by any means. I’m a firm believer that there can never be too much communication. I communicated with my team and admins on their thoughts and feelings about things, with my Women’s Council Board, my current broker and the new one, we talked with our kids and our friends and families. There were lots of questions and uncertainty from others. I answered honestly and sometimes I didn’t have an answer, so I voiced that too.

One more key take away that I learned the hard way is you can never start on your real estate paperwork being processed in your new market too soon. You’ll learn about that in my next article along with so much more to come.