2018 was a remarkable year for RE/MAX Property Pros broker/owners, Judy Barr and Julie Winter-Paez. With four offices and 33 agents throughout the Greater Northwoods region of Wisconsin, their area is well known for being a secondary home market – a lot of cabins and lake homes are listed and sold in their neck of the woods. But despite lower price points, their company set record sales last year and propelled them to be the #1 real estate company in their MLS.
“We are very proud of our accomplishments,” shares Julie. “We don’t sell the biggest and sexiest homes but we sell a lot of homes.”
Judy agrees, “Our average price point is not as high but we outsell on transactions three-to-four to one. We’re very proud to be #1 but we work hard. To us, every transaction is important, no matter its price point.”
Reaching #1 in their MLS was a goal they didn’t even see coming when they set out on their RE/MAX journey six years ago…
“We drafted our business plan based on just the two of us,” explains Judy Barr. She jokes, “We thought we’d never recruit another person, that we’d be all by ourselves forever!” Boy, were they in for a surprise, they ended up recruiting seven agents and outgrew their first building in their first year. It didn’t slow down much after that:
- Year two – acquired the RE/MAX office in Minocqua with nine agents.
- Year three – welcomed six agents from the RE/MAX office in Tomahawk.
- Year four – opened a satellite office in Boulder Junction.
Throughout the growth of their company, managing their personal real estate businesses (they’re both selling brokers), and the cyclical ebbs and flows of the market, they kept their wits about them and certainly made an impression. Perhaps it is their wit that made them so impressive!
If you’ve ever met these two, you know that Judy and Julie have a good time. There’s a lot of laughter and banter between the two. They radiate an energy; you can hear it in their voices, you can feel it in their presence, it draws you in. It may be what drew them together.
They both moved to Wisconsin within a year of each other, back in 1995/1996, but they didn’t meet until 2002. Judy was working in real estate. Julie was home with her kids during the day and bartending at night. The common denominator? Golf. They played on the same golf league and somewhere between the driving range and the putting green became friends.
“We were friends for years while my kids were little,” shares Julie. “It had nothing to do with business until I needed to go back to work and people told me I should get into real estate.” The timing was unfortunately fortunate. Judy was going through breast cancer treatment at time.
“I suggested that she get her license and work for me for a year,” explains Judy. “She could help me maintain my business. I could help her learn the ropes. It gave her time to see if she liked it.”
“I liked it alright,” laughs Julie. “After a year together I joined as an agent. We had so much fun together they moved us to the basement so they could have peace and quiet!”
Moving to the basement was quite possibly the best move they could’ve made. While “basement buddies” they talked about their plans of branching out on their own.
“I’m a big believer in education and training,” says Julie. “I’d go to conferences and listen to top trainers. I realized that the majority of the top trainers were RE/MAX agents. So when we talked about going out on our own, I was a huge proponent of RE/MAX. It was top of mind to me because it seemed that the best-of-the-best were at RE/MAX.”
“I was blown away by the resources RE/MAX had,” shares Judy. “During the recession, it seemed that our broker was pulling resources away while RE/MAX was offering more tools to help agents get through the recession. They invested in the agents and that was very important to us.”
Now, six years in, Judy and Julie have found their groove with their office and in their community. Like the old adage, you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, Judy and Julie have found a way to encourage their agents soak it up – and it’s paying off.
“As broker you believe you provide tools and resources agents need. But you don’t always know if it’s getting thru to them,” says Judy. “We’ve been hosting monthly meetings for years. There used to be one or two agents who’d show up. Now, we have a full house!”
The difference? “We ask them what they need for training,” says Julie. “If you give them what they want, they show up for it.”
But it does take a lot of organization, something Judy and Julie both agree they have – even though they joke it doesn’t appear so! Each fall they set their company goals and complete their ICAs. Every January they have a launch event where they sit down with each agent and go over marketing and advertising for the year. They’ve also implemented community event brainstorming sessions so they can hear agent’s ideas on how to get more involved in the communities they live and serve.
“We ask them what they want to do and the ideas that we hear are incredible. And the support we get is remarkable. They see their ideas coming to life and they’re excited to promote it and be a part of it,” shares Julie.
“Our new event this year to add American flags to all of our listings from Memorial Day to Labor Day and then advertise our support of Veterans and their families. This was a collective idea from a group of agents. We would have never thought of it, but are excited to get on board with it,” says Julie.
Their community involvement stretches beyond that and includes…
- Tri-county movie event offering free movies to their clients for a day
- Customer appreciation parties
- Golf outings
- Pig roasts
- Music in the Streets
- Boat races on Lake Minocqua
- Fourth of July parades (three in one day!)
“We focus on hiring good, hard-working agents that want to work in an environment that supports good, hard-working agents,” says Judy. “If one of our agents finds something that works, we encourage them to share it. Nothing is a secret here. The success of one person is the success of all people.”
Julie agrees, “We’re grinders here. We are one working unit. If I do well, you’ll do well. We support a culture of no drama. We have honest, ethical agents who want to put deals together. They work hard, they give back and they play hard.”
And it’s working. The leadership that Judy and Julie provide their four offices and 33 agents has helped them to achieve record sales and earn the title of #1 real estate company in their MLS, but it’s more than that. Their investment in their agents, their agents’ education and growth, and in their communities has made an impression in the market – and home buyers and sellers are taking note. They know the agents at RE/MAX Property Pros are hard working and will get the job done.
“We want them to think differently,” says Judy. “Our goal as their broker is not just to help them do well in our community, but to be competitive against agents in other cities, the cities, and beyond. We want them to perform at a level of any agent anywhere in the country, not just in their seasonal tourist area. We teach them to work hard all year long and are changing their mindset that this is a year-round business even if it’s a secondary home market.”
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