Bruce Elliott | Crain's Tampa Bay

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Bruce Elliott

Background:  

Bruce Elliott, a broker associate with Regal R.E. Professionals LLC, is the 2017 president of the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, which represents more than 12,500 real estate professions throughout Central Florida and is recognized as one of the most innovative local Realtor organizations in the country.

The Mistake:

I thought I knew the business before I got in the business.

My first transaction was a $7 million piece of land. I came into the business with [that] deal, which is sometimes the very top of people’s career. So when that deal closes, I'm like, “OK, now what?"

I’d spent 14 years in the finance industry. I grew up to own my own brokerage firm. I was doing well. Wall Street went dark and I rolled over here [into real estate] through some contacts in the finance industry. And someone says, “Hey I want to buy this parcel and begin to develop it.” So I put it all together, and it closes.

Then that client’s done. But after the euphoria – that took a month or two to die down – I went for nine months where I didn’t do anything. I was struggling. I would get in front of people and I wasn’t presenting properly, I was coming across too verbose. I was coming across like I knew it all and didn’t care about them – when it’s actually all about them.

I didn’t know how to solicit clients, how to market, etc. So all of a sudden, you’re looking into the abyss. How do you do direct mail? And someone would say, “You need to market yourself,” but I [didn’t] know what it entailed.

I’m literally a lost sheep in the field. I don’t know where my flock is. So I circled back to my association. I went and joined a committee at Orlando Regional Realtor Association. I endeavored for the next two years to take every single designation, every [type of] education I could possibly get. I began to accumulate this information that showed me how to become a professional Realtor. [Before that] I wasn’t a professional Realtor yet. I just had a license.

Anybody can take a test. But what are you going to do with what you learn?

The Lesson:

Anybody can take a test. But what are you going to do with what you learn? How do you take that and monetize it?

I share this [advice] now with new agents that are coming into the industry. A lot of [new Realtors] have successful backgrounds. They may know a little bit about the processes of real estate. They may even have bought or sold one or two homes of their own. But there’s a lot more idiosyncrasies of the real estate industry that we need to learn so we can have a thriving, successful real estate career.

Start with a big company that has an extensive amount of training. You need to get with a company that’s going to specifically show you steps from A to Z. Don’t worry about becoming a broker. Don’t worry about starting your own business. Go with a big company that has education [and] can show you apple-to-zebra the foundations.

Sometimes things will blow up and you have a lot of momentum and things are happening and you’re really successful. And then sometimes you’ll go in these deep ruts and you can’t figure out, “What have I done now that I wasn’t doing before?” And it’s those little things – the way we do our marketing, the way that we present ourselves and the way that we say things.

Go to the title company and watch the transactions. Then go to a home inspection and watch. What is he looking for? Now you get to learn. So often new licensees want to reinvent the wheel. The wheel was invented a long time ago, and now all you really have to do is learn.

Follow Orlando Regional Realtors Association on Twitter at @ORRAFL.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Elliott

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