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TEXAS EDITION

How to Make Your Commute PRODUCTIVE Every Player is Valuable: HOW TO BOOST YOUR TEAM’S MORALE

5 Tips to Make New Hires a LONG-LASTING SUCCESS What the First Thing You Do After Work SAYS ABOUT YOU FEATURED AGENTS

COVER STORY

LAURA SWEARINGEN

SARAH CONWAY BRANDI KIRKEBY CHARLIE KRIEGEL JULIE SANDERS


TEXAS EDITION

BRANDI KIRKEBY

CHARLIE KRIEGEL

Brandi Kirkeby, of Keller Williams Realty Coastal is a Premier Agent. Among the many glowing top producers, and the key to that is thi Charlie Kriegel’s passion for real estate beganreviews on that site is thisbeone Bend in Corpus7Christi, Texas, has achieved Top perfectly 15 working in the insurance 19 20 outsidethat 23 the confidenc of the box,her: and having he was industry.encapsulates the experience Agent status through a winning when combination of of working with experience to be innovative when helping 15 years ago, when some friends from his college drive, determination, and vast resources of indus“Brandi really worked hard to get my house sold clients achieve their real football days wanted to buy investment properof theI market’s innermost facets. “I’mestate very goals.” proud to ha A&Mfashion. try knowledge. Coupled with her enthusiastic, After graduating from Texas in a timely recommend her to anybody Julie ties, Charlie got his license and towith his surprise, his designations under my belt,” she confesses. “EspeciS University a degree in Biomediintegrity-based approach, she hasbusiness been providing looking to buy or sell their Another home. Very upfront, area appraiser, in which Charlie team immediatelycaltook off. HeSarah was Conway recruited set out for comes to being eleven a certified it givesand mehis a speci Science, all of her many grateful buyers and sellersatinone The honest and dependable. Her knowledge of the frominthe rest is ways. with their comprehe to work of thea area’s premierepath brokerages, market specifics I’ve got a diff professional that would blend to look at theout Neil h Lone Star State with exceptional client service foryoungest agent ever at just 23.local area and what people are lookingtofor really their listings. “We approach marketing becoming their base that adds values when working her service-oriented attitude with her and knowledge years, well over two decades. out with sale of the house. She fought hard strategy that a 25-Point marketing has p Charlie was voted one of Houston’s “Up andhelp knack for detailTop work. When she earned ents.” to get my house sold at the price Iremarkably wanted.” effective. We do their to be a lot ofo Coming Realtors®, and is widely recognized as one her license in 2003, she expected to Brandi first ventured into the realofestate worldPremier at the home is listed, getting the home Houston’s Realinto Estate since heInstead, she As for listing before While properties, Sarah’s strategic approach run dive lifeMoguls as an agent. taking professional photos and hisworkown brokerage three years ago. the tender age of eighteen, whenopened she was Brandi utilizesShestate-of-the-art to istrativ applies theready, besttechnology practices of digital marketing to vide ensu became happily immersed in the world LAURA CONWAYwas a real BRANDI CHARLIE JULIE SANDERS then implementing a coming soon campai ingSWEARINGEN as a police dispatcher.SARAH “My stepmother estate KIRKEBY both market her drawn listings and toKRIEGEL maintain with all clients, enjoy widecontact exposure across the leading online the listing p of appraisals. “I was really to social media that gets buzz building.lea B WinHill Advisors-Kirby is quicklypast becoming one Social media, particularly agent,” she explains, “and her Broker advised me that I could and present. Facebook, plays a the leverages print med the thought processes and analytics of social media sites. Additionally, she time the home is potential officially buyers listed, we’ve built asevera real sen of theI most in-demand brokerages in the state of Texas. They make more money in real estate than ever could at that job. large role in getting her listings seen by as may local buzz using flyers, mailers, and ads in regional pub the industry,” Sarah remembers. She earned her appraisal certificato see the property, which drives a lotlead of traffic areand known for really specializing in SFR brokerage services the urgency ultimately became team as t She offered to pay for tion my license, it properties was amazing possible, andmastering alsoforfacilitates staying top-of-mind with herof isopen also able to tap a wide network area agents represe for residential and spent theas next few years houses.” Institutional and Individual investor. The company now has become that she offered to helpthe me.” Since that early indoctrination, customers, most of whom close friends. Professional grew. Now, more than a decade ins and50+ outsagents of property evaluations. In 2009, she own began taking on and sellers of their own. “I really enjoy being able to Charlie currently leads his teams, which Brandi has built a thriving business inand authenticity and photography and videography, drone videos, online intermy clients asand they find dream oragents sell t sales workdid insteeped residential properties, earningthem her broker’s established a steadfast reputation Charlie believes strongly in their giving back home and his over $75 million in salesultimately last year, making one of the help a dedication to helpinglicense every one of years her clients achieve their national marketing are also tools in her substantial arsenal. on their way to the next dream she explains. seven ago. It was then that her work in sales began to commissions tohome,” the charity of the most successful teams working in the Houston area. For the 5% of their net quality, communication, and concl“ real estate dreams. Don’t let her affable, relaxed approach fool part of that process and serving as a guide and a resa build momentum and she made the transition as a full-time agent. In severalreal localestate non-profits and are past six years, Charlie has been honored as the top luxury mar- choice. They support successful brokerage, you: Brandi is an expertthe negotiator whoSarah regularly gets top Harkening dolBrandi loves shethey does, and finds personal fulfilltruly know making thethe right decision they for T time since, has cemented her reputation as a consummate looking for morethey’re ways to support community keting agent in Houston. back truly to his start, what Charlie of professions their own, moved several lar for her sellers and professional the lowestprimarily price for herthebuyers. helping people achieve dreams. grewthat up he thattheir many have thatunwinding big time of an swiftly on rise, in“I’m command ofthrough a valuable skillset sent. When Charlie isn’t“Iworking, enjoys focuses on working withment investors including some of aren’t always concerned aboutthat saving my clients money,” sheinfor says, in ahaul. military so we person’s literally every two tion of three homes with sto future, and that’s a years. neat thing to be amany part of.” ensures clients’ successes long gym andmoved spending time with his family. theher largest hedge funds thethe country, focusing family, on ‘buy/hold’ “and I can do that because I haveand superior negotiating It feels good to help give ‘buy/flip’ properties.skills, But Charlie still enjoys working withsomeone a home, because growing To give and back, Sarah takes anAs avid in her loca Primarily serving the Montgomery County region, and I’m able to show them how I’ve saved them thousands of maintaining up all I Sarah wanted waswith to plant roots stay somewhere. Charlie would like totheir continue to see his business grow first-time buyers as well, always the works highest stanFrom office inrole Nederland, Ju through various charitable efforts. the aid of dards an administrative showing assistant. plans doubling their production the serves coming as yeaT of excellence,assistant integrity,and andaacommitment no matter whoto do dollars by using my services.” real estate agent, IThus get thison for others,” she says, her inShe the Southeast Texas region, in Families (BVF), organizatio far, she’s managed to generate ofWinHill her sincerity business based on repeat eventually Volunteer expanding to several otheran satellite loc he is working for. He 75% credits Advisors-Kirby’s diver- Bentwater obvious. County, Orange County, and dow throughout Texas. He’s also dedicated to building his in sity in the marketplace as being instrumental to their success. tates family volunteer projects with existing non-pro and referral clientele. In recounting her professional approach, Sarah A sure indicator of a successful agent is their rate of repeat and tional investor business andworks currently President-ele Meals ontoWheels. Likewise, she together is a the volunteer cites diligence, preparedness, integrityAsasfor thethe foremost drivers is preparing everyone and with is d referral business. For Brandi, that would be close toand 100%. future, Brandi begin growing aisteam FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation. “Real Charlie his job asonteam leader and broker seriously, and help Olympics, served on the board for the Bentwater Pr of Brandi, her success. “I takes pride myself doing the right and spending One reason for this, says “is my undying work ethic. to job support her, so she can even more buyers and sellers. clients with a high-standard, inte is an incredibly rewarding and exciting Every da and guides his to agents same that Association, and volunteers with thecareer. Montgomery time I’ll tomentors make sure we’re completing the research necessary I’ve negotiated a deal atthe 3 AM, do anything it takes get toall “Ifind justthe want to success continue myers momentum and grow.” There is and free efficiency. At brand new dayeffectiveness and I’m always learning something new.S he has. ”I spend time coaching andworking training. on Investing School Insets herfor remaining hours, Sarah each property,” she explains. “Whether conthe job done. I literallyfor work every single day, soa lot I’mofalways nowe’re doubt that Brandi will achieve anyDistrict. goal she herself, everything. Today, the team cons what I do.” in education is so important. I want all of my agents to also with her“There’s husbandtough and children, traveling, an tracts from the buyer’s perspective or preparing a listing for become the time there for them and readily available to guide them through the as her work ethic has herspent calling card. time transaction coordinator, wit with a good book. marketplace—to get ideal results, you need to put the time in and process.” The gratitude her clients feel for her is made evi- competition, and I’m a single mom,” she says, “ I’ve been learn everything you can. I dowhere plentyshe of research market “Every morning, we have a mee dent by her perfect five-star rating on Zillow.com, doingon this on mystatistics, own, and I’m still a Top Producer!” property factors, and neighborhood amenities. I’m diligent in mak- Looking ahead, Sarah has plans to continue growing ity, knows what’s going on and w ing sure a purchase is a good fit for my buyer, or that a seller has a in the years to come, with plans to add more team me achieve together, notinsepa endeavor develops. Now,success after a lengthy tenure real full understanding of the market before we list.” central to our operations.” rapidly growing record as an agent, Sarah reflects on he What’s more, Sarah’s firsthand experience as an appraiser gives her as businesswoman and leader. “We are very much abo reflects. “Our80% focusof isn’t on money. unique insight into a property’s true value and potential. This skillset right thing,” she These days, business is affords clients the fullest picture of their investment or sale. Like- right thing and treat others the way you’d like to be trea entele—the highest compliment wise, her licensing as a Broker underscores her deep understanding will follow.”

JUL

SARAH CONWAY

CONTENTS

4) 5 TIPS TO MAKE NEW HIRES A LONG-LASTING SUCCESS

17) HOW TO MAKE YOUR COMMUTE PRODUCTIVE

13) WHAT THE FIRST THING YOU DO AFTER WORK SAYS ABOUT YOU

21) EVERY PLAYER IS VALUABLE: HOW TO BOOST YOUR TEAM’S MORALE

To learn more about Charlie Kriegel and Winhill Estate,qu earn. Advisors Julie cites Real consistency,

Phone 888-461-3930 | Fax 310-751-7068 call 713.574.3141, email charlie@winhilladvisorskirby.com, tionships as the primary drivers

personable and make it point to f or visit winhilladvisors.com or tricities.homesellingnow.com mag@topagentmagazine.com | www.topagentmagazine.com For more information about Brandi Kirkeby www.

http:http:////

a transaction is complete,” Julie

No portion of this issue maycall be reproduced in any manneror whatsoever prior consent of the people publisher.we Top Agent please 361 - 658 - 3823 emailwithout brandik@kw.com work with. To us, t Top Agent Mag Magazine is published by Feature Publications GA, Inc. Although precautions are taken to ensure theclients accuracy ofCopyright published have confidence in us an materials, Top Agent Magazine cannot be held responsible for opinions expressed or facts supplied by its authors. notMagazine ours, and it’s not about u Copyright TopIt’s Agent To subscribe or change address, send inquiry to mag@topagentmagazine.com. real estate advocates, but also as https://www.facebook.com/PendletonAreaHomes/ Published in the U.S.

the extra mile. We know our cl

To learn more about Sarah Conway

visit SarahConwayProperties.com, email SConway@SarahConwayProperties.c Toppage Agent Magazine call (936) 494 – 9999, or visit herhttps://www.facebook.com/pg/SarahConwayProperties/post Facebook here. www.

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5 Tips to Make New Hires

a Long-lasting Success Bringing a new employee into the mix is process commonly known as onboarding. The idea behind onboarding is to make the transition from new hire to team member as efficient and pain-free as possible. However, polling shows that some 31% of entry-level and intermediate level hires leave their new posts within just six months of starting. The question is: why? The hiring and training process is time-intensive and doesn’t come cheap. This means that making 4

a good match for the long haul requires more than just assessments of skill and personality. To ensure a talented new hire sticks around and is truly positioned for success, the onboarding process must be executed with the same care applied during hiring. For a few ideas on how to make the most of the onboarding process, consider the tenets below as you guide your new hire toward long-lasting success within your company.

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1. Be honest about the scope of the role

2. Build in some perks

Let’s say you’re looking to add a new buyers agent or loan processor to your team. You write up the position’s responsibilities, but neglect to mention that you want the new hire to handle a host of administrative tasks, as well. Maybe it doesn’t seem important enough to outline in detail, as it’s the sort of thing the rest of your does. Miscommunications like these are a leading reason why new hires leave their roles. If there isn’t clarity and transparency about a position’s true responsibilities, then new hires may become quickly disillusioned and seek out greener pastures.

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While stocking the breakroom with bagels every Friday may seem like a small gesture, it’s often those little morale-boosting moves that build loyalty and comradery among the team. Bike-to-work incentives, subsidized gym memberships, and benefits that match the needs of your employees—all are ways to demonstrate appreciation and investment in your team. Likewise, the right candidate will return the favor and invest his or her energies into their new role.

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3. Get a sense of big-picture career plans

4. Keep the lines of communication open

Another reason new hires move on may have nothing to do with you or your office. In fact, many hires in entry-level or even intermediate roles have doubts about their long-term vision. That’s why it’s important to be upfront from the beginning regarding a candidate’s five-year plan and ultimate dream job. Maintain realistic expectations when asking these questions, but use it as an opportunity to gage a candidate’s seriousness about the real estate or mortgage industry. Why this line of work over another? Emphasizing industry longevity and career growth during the interview process can save you drama down the road.

Take a proactive approach in communicating with your new hire. Take time to check in regularly during the first six months of his or her addition. If you can, make time to train new hires yourself—if only for a part of the onboarding process. You’ll forge a deeper professional bond and create an avenue for further questions. All in all, make it clear that you’re personally invested in their presence and talents, and that you care what they have to say. That way, if any issues or doubts arise, you can stay on top of it and work out a solution, rather than lose a new employee.

5. Give new hires meaningful work to do It’s natural to keep the kid-gloves on with new hires, but don’t let that stop you from giving them a chance to shine. New team members will feel empowered and motivated if given meaningful projects to focus on. Don’t relegate their daily duties to busy work as they build experience. Instead, task new teammates with something challenging, or that draws on a specific skill you hired them for. You’ll instill confidence, demonstrate your commitment to their growth, and with any luck—keep them around for the long haul. 6

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LAURA SWEARINGEN Top Agent Magazine

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LAURA SWEARINGEN After her kids started school, Laura Swearingen was in search for a professional path that would feed her desire to serve others, while capitalizing on her prior experience in sales. Real estate had always appealed to her, and she felt called to uplift others as they aspired toward homeownership. “I wanted to help peoples’ dreams come true,” she remembers. That revelation came back in 1992 and twenty-six years later, Laura has established a sterling reputation for client-centric service, authenticity, and a grounding commitment to ethics. 8Copyright Top Agent Magazine

Based in Arlington, Texas and serving the greater Dallas-Fort Worth region—including the counties of Tarrant, Dallas, Parker, Hood, and Johnson—Laura spearheads her work alongside her husband and a full-time operations manager. Together, Laura and her team cultivate 80% of business through repeat and referral clientele. The secret to their success thus far? For Laura, it all comes back to transparency and an unrelenting work ethic. “I’m honest and I’m really there to service my clients Top Agent Magazine


before anything else,” she says. “I’d rather talk them out of buying a house than try to convince them into something they’re uncomfortable with. I try to account for all the possibilities and think through the challenges of what reselling that property would look like. That way, they understand all the details and dynamics before committing to a purchase.” What’s more, Laura’s extensive industry experience affords her an expert’s eye when it comes to spotting properties with potential or pitfalls. She guides clients with patience, honesty, and thoroughness. Combined, these traits inspire a sense of confidence and calm in those she serves. Top Agent Magazine

Ongoing education and empowerment also play major roles in Laura’s work. For her part, she continues to develop her professional knowledge, and even earned the coveted Master Certified Negotiating Expert designation—a major value-add for clients in today’s ultra-competitive market— as well as becoming a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Expert. As a believer in empowering others through information, she’s also devoted her time to mentoring and teaching. “There are always Copyright Top Agent Magazine9


new things to learn and to teach others,” she says. Plus, engaging in the real estate community through educational efforts is an excellent way to Copyright Top Agent Magazine Copyright 10

forge new bonds in the field. As for staying in touch with her vast network, Laura reaches out by phone and through mailers to stay up-to-date and top-of-mind with her clients. Likewise, she has annual client appreciation events that draw familiar faces back together. From photoshoots with Santa Claus around the holidays, to Easter Egg hunts and Valentine’s Day floral arrangements—Laura’s eye for detail extends to the gratitude she shows clients. When it comes to listing properties, Laura leaves no stone unturned. From classic Just Listed Top Agent Magazine


promotions to Facebook Live videos that draw up to 5,000 unique views, Laura blends the best of traditional and digital marketing. Likewise, her database of existing and prospective clients ensures that there is an extensive built-in audience for properties headed to market. All in all, Laura’s overall professional approach is proactive rather than passive. This dedication to thoroughness and follow-through is wellTop Agent Magazine

proven by her strong track record of success to date. “I’m a very, honest, loyal, and ethical agent,” she explains. “There are certain boundaries and standards I maintain to keep my morals intact. I’m also a very hard worker. My clients know they can reach me at any time, and that I’m always there for them. I’m responsive and very communicative. Service is paramount to me.” Copyright Top Agent Magazine 11


Outside the office, Laura enjoys quality time spent with her husband, family, friends, and loved ones. She also relishes the chance to travel, and to get out in the great outdoors for hiking and biking adventures. Looking toward the future, Laura has plans to continue mindfully growing her imprint, with hopes to forge even closer bonds with her network of past clients. She also has been building a formidable social media presence and

plans to continue interweaving technology to her professional strategies. Now, with close to three decades of dedicated service behind her, and an optimistic eye on the path ahead, Laura Swearingen considers what she enjoys most about her chosen field. “There’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone find their dream home and watching their eyes light up,” she reflects. “Seeing that excitement and facilitating that milestone—that’s the most gratifying thing about my work.”

To learn more about Laura Swearingen visit LauraSwearingen.com, html email laura@swearingenteam.com, call 817 – 233 – 1766, https://www.facebook.com/LauraSwearingenTeam/ or visit her Facebook page here. www.

https://www.remax.com/realestateagentoffice/kalispell-mt-59901-phillippaphillabuda-id29354317.

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What the First Thing You Do After Work Says About You We all have our routines. From that morning cup of coffee to a jog at the gym, it’s common to establish touchstones for our daily lives. But have you ever considered what these habits tell us about ourselves? Our actions reveal much about our motivations and emotional life, so taking a second look at your first move at the end of the day can be telling. With that in mind, see how you fare when it comes to post-workday habits... Top Agent Magazine

Break a Sweat After a long day of work, is your first instinct to strap on your sneakers and take off on a run? Do you stop off at the local yoga studio for an extended stretch? Maybe you head to the weight room to pump some iron. Whatever your exercise pick, if you’re inclined to sweat it out at the end of a long day, you’re likely a routine-oriented profes-

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sional who internalizes work-related stress. Of course, you’ve chosen a healthy release for all that pent-up tension, and you’ve discovered the power of endorphins. Once work hours are over, not everyone finds the motivation to stay active. This means you’re driven by routine, conscious of your emotional and physical health, and prefer to leave your cares at the gym, rather than bring them into your home oasis. However, it’s important to give your body a rest now and again, as recuperation time is not only beneficial for physical health, but can help prevent burnout for the long haul. Flexibility is a skill, and one just as important to cultivate as rigid commitment. If you find yourself out of sorts if you miss just one day of working out, you might want to pay some attention to your routines and motivations, and rebalance your commitments and fitness routine accordingly.

Round-the-Clock Hustle If you’re the type to bring work home with you, you aren’t alone. While your motivation to work nonstop is admirable, it’s also important to make the mental transition from workplace to home, establishing the time to hustle and the time to relax. Just like those that hit the gym without fail after a long day, sometimes you’ll need to practice saying no. If your work life is indistinguishable from your personal life, it’ll be hard to catch a break and recharge. This means burnout, frayed nerves, and missed details will soon be on the horizon. Of course, round-the-clock hustle is a strength, too. You’re passionate about your work, care deeply about doing things right, and failure is not an option. Just make sure that you establish some foundational boundaries so that you maintain an 14

appropriate, healthy balance between your time at work and your time at home with the loved ones and hobbies you cherish. If making way for downtime isn’t easy, try penciling it in the way you would a work engagement. Dinner with a friend, a date night with a significant other, or a solo movie fest can be readily added to your calendar, and thus built in to your regimented schedule.

Turn to Food If your first instinct after work is to eat, it can say a few different things about your routine. Perhaps you’ve been so on-the-go all the day that you haven’t had time for lunch. In this case, you might need to regiment your schedule with more purpose aimed towards downtime and self-care; food is fuel, after all. If you head home and gorge after an average day, you may be turning to food as a way to relieve stress. In this case, you may need to reassess some of your post-work habits and find a healthier balance and outlet for your tension. Taking a walk, grabbing fresh ingredients for dinner, hitting the gym, or decompressing by catching up with a friend or a good book—all are healthier, more balanced ways of executing the transition from the office to the home. Pay attention to your consumption post-work. Determine how hungry or satiated you really are before making a grab for the nearest sustenance. People decompress in all different ways after getting home from the office, but always remember that routines are telling. Don’t take your daily actions and impulses for granted. Examine the root behind your well-worn practices, and you may detect nuances at play beneath the surface that can you help you recalibrate for the better.

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SARAH CONWAY After graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in Biomedical Science, Sarah Conway set out for a professional path that would blend her service-oriented attitude with her knack for detail work. When she earned her license in 2003, she expected to dive into life as an agent. Instead, she became happily immersed in the world of appraisals. “I was really drawn to the thought processes and analytics of the industry,” Sarah remembers. She earned her appraisal certification for residential properties and spent the next few years mastering the ins and outs of property evaluations. In 2009, she began taking on sales work in residential properties, ultimately earning her broker’s license seven years ago. It was then that her work in sales began to build momentum and she made the transition as a full-time agent. In the time since, Sarah has cemented her reputation as a consummate professional swiftly on the rise, in command of a valuable skillset that ensures her clients’ successes for the long haul.

of the market’s innermost facets. “I’m very proud to have those two designations under my belt,” she confesses. “Especially when it comes to being a certified appraiser, it gives me a specialized ability to look at the market in specifics ways. I’ve got a different skillset and knowledge base that adds values when working with my clients.”

Primarily serving the Montgomery County region, Sarah works with the aid of an administrative assistant and a showing assistant. Thus far, she’s managed to generate 75% of her business based on repeat and referral clientele. In recounting her professional approach, Sarah cites diligence, preparedness, and integrity as the foremost drivers of her success. “I pride myself on doing the job right and spending the time to make sure we’re completing all the research necessary for each property,” she explains. “Whether we’re working on contracts from the buyer’s perspective or preparing a listing for the marketplace—to get ideal results, you need to put the time in and learn everything you can. I do plenty of research on market statistics, property factors, and neighborhood amenities. I’m diligent in making sure a purchase is a good fit for my buyer, or that a seller has a full understanding of the market before we list.”

To give back, Sarah takes an avid role in her local community through various charitable efforts. She serves as Treasurer for Bentwater Volunteer Families (BVF), an organization that facilitates family volunteer projects with existing non-profits, such as Meals on Wheels. Likewise, she is a volunteer with the Special Olympics, served on the board for the Bentwater Property Owners Association, and volunteers with the Montgomery Independent School District. In her remaining free hours, Sarah most enjoys time spent with her husband and children, traveling, and unwinding with a good book.

What’s more, Sarah’s firsthand experience as an appraiser gives her unique insight into a property’s true value and potential. This skillset affords clients the fullest picture of their investment or sale. Likewise, her licensing as a Broker underscores her deep understanding

As for listing properties, Sarah’s strategic approach runs the gamut. She applies the best practices of digital marketing to ensure properties enjoy wide exposure across the leading online listing platforms and social media sites. Additionally, she leverages print media to create a local buzz using flyers, mailers, and ads in regional publications. She is also able to tap a wide network of area agents representing buyers and sellers of their own. “I really enjoy being able to facilitate and help my clients as they find their dream home or sell their property on their way to the next dream home,” she explains. “I love being part of that process and serving as a guide and a resource so that they truly know they’re making the right decision for THEM. There aren’t that many professions that have that big of an impact on a person’s future, and that’s a neat thing to be a part of.”

Looking ahead, Sarah has plans to continue growing her business in the years to come, with plans to add more team members as her endeavor develops. Now, after a lengthy tenure in real estate and a rapidly growing record as an agent, Sarah reflects on her core values as businesswoman and leader. “We are very much about doing the right thing,” she reflects. “Our focus isn’t on money. If you do the right thing and treat others the way you’d like to be treated—success will follow.”

To learn more about Sarah Conway visit SarahConwayProperties.com, email SConway@SarahConwayProperties.com, call (936) 494 – 9999, or visit herhttps://www.facebook.com/pg/SarahConwayProperties/posts/ Facebook page here. www.

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How to Make Your Commute Productive The highest caliber business owners and entrepreneurs utilize every minute of their day. Though this may be a lofty goal, there are certainly ways to make our daily routines more efficient and productive. Consider the morning and evening commute—time blocks that are accounted for every day. For some of us, daily commutes may mean a lengthy drive through gridlock traffic, or perhaps just a quick fifteen-minute crosstown excursion. However short or long your commute may be, there are ways to maximize this component of your daily routine and reap the rewards. With that in mind, take a look at some ideas below to inject some energy and productivity into your daily commute. Top Agent Magazine

Listen to the latest industry-centric podcasts or audiobooks Whether you drive, bike, walk, or take public transportation, a commute is the perfect time to tune into an industry-oriented podcast or audiobook as a way of building your skills or getting into the zone for the day. Instead of letting your commute time be passive, you can process insights from leading industry professionals, or develop your skillset on a topic you haven’t yet made time for. Perhaps you’d like to develop your social media presence, or maybe you’d like to tap into the millennial homebuyer market—whatever the case may be, there is audio material out there suited to your interests. What’s more, podcasts are free and easy to incorporate on your smartphone or

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tablet, and there are ample audiobook subscription services out there that make regular listenership cost effective.

Create a mental to-do list to get a head-start on your day, or to prepare for tomorrow Getting your thoughts in order with a straightforward to-do list can help you dive in once you make it to your desk, or serve as a conclusive mental routine to end your work day. If you drive to and from work and don’t have your hands free, don’t fret. Speaking your to-do list aloud can help you detangle your thoughts and tasks by vocalizing them. You can also try breaking down your to-do list by verbalizing the day’s goals, the week’s goals, and the month’s goals as a way of structuring priorities. If your commute is hands-free, you can incorporate a variety of apps that serve as custom-made todo lists that’ll organizationally map your duties for the day. In either case, use your commute window to identify and name the tasks ahead of you, and you’ll be able to hit the ground running when the time comes to perform.

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Tend to your personal commitments and planning A productive commute can boost your professional performance, but it can also serve your personal growth and out-of-the-office responsibilities, as well. Perhaps you can think out and plan your meals for the week so that you don’t come home burnt out and with nothing in mind for dinner. Maybe you check in with a relative or partner and catch up for a spare twenty minutes. Not only does this eliminate a few items off of your personal to-do list, it can actually give you a more focused mind at the office. If your personal life is in good order, you’ll be able to devote your full attention to work tasks. As the old saying goes, there are only so many hours in a day. If you added up all the minutes spent commuting around town, how many hours would amount? Though the trek to and from the office is an engrained part of professional life, it doesn’t have to be a drag. Account for those spare commute windows in productive ways, and in only a month you’ll have devoted a significant portion of your time to bettering yourself as a person and a professional.

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BRANDI KIRKEBY Brandi Kirkeby, of Keller Williams Realty Coastal Bend in Corpus Christi, Texas, has achieved Top Agent status through a winning combination of drive, determination, and vast resources of industry knowledge. Coupled with her enthusiastic, integrity-based approach, she has been providing all of her many grateful buyers and sellers in The Lone Star State with exceptional client service for well over two decades. Brandi first ventured into the real estate world at the tender age of eighteen, when she was working as a police dispatcher. “My stepmother was a real estate agent,” she explains, “and her Broker advised me that I could make more money in real estate than I ever could at that job. She offered to pay for my license, and it was really amazing that she offered to help me.” Since that early indoctrination, Brandi has built a thriving business steeped in authenticity and a dedication to helping every one of her clients achieve their real estate dreams. Don’t let her affable, relaxed approach fool you: Brandi is an expert negotiator who regularly gets top dollar for her sellers and the lowest price for her buyers. “I’m always concerned about saving my clients money,” she says, “and I can do that because I have superior negotiating skills, and I’m able to show them how I’ve saved them thousands of dollars by using my services.” A sure indicator of a successful agent is their rate of repeat and referral business. For Brandi, that would be close to 100%. One reason for this, says Brandi, “is my undying work ethic. I’ve negotiated a deal at 3 AM, I’ll do anything it takes to get the job done. I literally work every single day, so I’m always there for them and readily available to guide them through the process.” The gratitude her clients feel for her is made evident by her perfect five-star rating on Zillow.com, where she

is a Premier Agent. Among the many glowing reviews on that site is this one that perfectly encapsulates the experience of working with her: “Brandi really worked hard to get my house sold in a timely fashion. I recommend her to anybody looking to buy or sell their home. Very upfront, honest and dependable. Her knowledge of the local area and what people are looking for really help out with sale of the house. She fought hard to get my house sold at the price I wanted.” Brandi utilizes state-of-the-art technology to both market her listings and to maintain contact with all clients, past and present. Social media, particularly Facebook, plays a large role in getting her listings seen by as may potential buyers as possible, and also facilitates staying top-of-mind with her customers, most of whom become close friends. Professional photography and videography, drone videos, and online international marketing are also tools in her substantial arsenal. Brandi truly loves what she does, and finds personal fulfillment through helping people achieve their dreams. “I grew up in a military family, so we literally moved every two years. It feels good to help give someone a home, because growing up all I wanted was to plant roots and stay somewhere. As a real estate agent, I get to do this for others,” she says, her sincerity obvious. As for the future, Brandi is preparing to begin growing a team to support her, so she can help even more buyers and sellers. “I just want to continue my momentum and grow.” There is no doubt that Brandi will achieve any goal she sets for herself, as her work ethic has become her calling card. “There’s tough competition, and I’m a single mom,” she says, “ I’ve been doing this on my own, and I’m still a Top Producer!”

For more information about Brandi Kirkeby please call 361 - 658 - 3823 or email brandik@kw.com Top Agent Magazine

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CHARLIE KRIEGEL Charlie Kriegel’s passion for real estate began when he was working in the insurance industry. 15 years ago, when some friends from his college football days wanted to buy investment properties, Charlie got his license and to his surprise, his business immediately took off. He was recruited to work at one of the area’s premiere brokerages, becoming their youngest agent ever at just 23. Charlie was voted one of Houston’s Top “Up and Coming Realtors®, and is widely recognized as one of Houston’s Premier Real Estate Moguls since he opened his own brokerage three years ago.

be top producers, and the key to that is thinking outside of the box, and having the confidence and experience to be innovative when helping your clients achieve their real estate goals.” Another area in which Charlie and his team stand out from the rest is with their comprehensive approach to marketing their listings. “We have a 25-Point marketing strategy that has proven to be remarkably effective. We do a lot of work before the home is listed, getting the home show ready, taking professional photos and video and then implementing a coming soon campaign on social media that gets the buzz building. By the time the home is officially listed, we’ve built a real sense of urgency to see the property, which drives a lot of traffic to our open houses.”

WinHill Advisors-Kirby is quickly becoming one of the most in-demand brokerages in the state of Texas. They are known for specializing in SFR brokerage services for the Institutional and Individual investor. The company now has 50+ agents and Charlie currently leads his own teams, which did over $75 million in sales last year, making them one of the most successful teams working in the Houston area. For the past six years, Charlie has been honored as the top luxury marketing agent in Houston. Harkening back to his start, Charlie primarily focuses on working with investors including some of the largest hedge funds in the country, focusing on ‘buy/hold’ and ‘buy/flip’ properties. But Charlie still enjoys working with first-time buyers as well, always maintaining the highest standards of excellence, integrity, and commitment no matter who he is working for. He credits WinHill Advisors-Kirby’s diversity in the marketplace as being instrumental to their success.

Charlie believes strongly in giving back and his agents give 5% of their net commissions to the charity of the client’s choice. They support several local non-profits and are always looking for more ways to support the community they represent. When Charlie isn’t working, he enjoys unwinding at the gym and spending time with his family. Charlie would like to continue to see his business grow and plans on doubling their production in the coming year, and eventually expanding to several other satellite locations throughout Texas. He’s also dedicated to building his international investor business and is currently the President-elect for FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation. “Real estate is an incredibly rewarding and exciting career. Every day is a brand new day and I’m always learning something new. I love what I do.”

Charlie takes his job as team leader and broker seriously, and mentors and guides his agents to find the same success that he has. ”I spend a lot of time coaching and training. Investing in education is so important. I want all of my agents to also

To learn more about Charlie Kriegel and Winhill Advisors Real Estate, call 713.574.3141, email charlie@winhilladvisorskirby.com, or visit winhilladvisors.com or tricities.homesellingnow.com www.

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Every Player is Valuable: How to Boost Your Team’s Morale In the fast-paced world of real estate, it can be easy to overlook the contributions of those lower-level employees who are instrumental in our success, yet are overlooked when it comes to recognizing the important roles they play in keeping our business operating smoothly. Even a task that seems simple, such as answering phones, can be overwhelming at Top Agent Magazine

times. Letting these employees know that they are appreciated is something that often goes overlooked at busier companies, and can often result in impaired morale overall, as employee dissatisfaction tends to be contagious. Here are some things that you can do to increase morale and productivity in your workplace: 21


While it’s important to point out when an employee is doing something wrong, it is equally – if not more – important to acknowledge when that employee is doing something right.

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While it’s important to point out when an employee is doing something wrong, and sometimes to reprimand, it is equally – if not more – important to acknowledge when that employee is doing something right. Even a simple compliment can go a long, long way towards building that employee’s morale, and therefore their willingness to go the extra mile for your team. An example: “Sally, I just heard you on the phone with that client. You sounded very professional and I really appreciate your representing our business that way.”

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Determine what all of your employee’s goals are, and what their expectations for growth might be. There may be lower level employees who are perfectly content doing what they’re doing, and who have absolutely no expectations for growth in your business. Others, however, may have an interest in moving up the ladder. Make it your business to determine this early on, and try to take a personal interest in your employee’s growth with your company. Knowing there is room to grow is an important factor in employee satisfaction, and knowing who wants to grow and who

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doesn’t is something you should be aware of. Groom from within, and your employees will be grateful and work harder.

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If your workplace is highly stratified, with multiple levels of employees (agents, senior agents, loan processers, assistants, etc.,) make an effort to ensure that everyone feels valued as part of the team regardless of what they earn. Various team building exercises that encourage trust and a sense of familiarity can go a long way towards fostering an environment that is less unnecessarily competitive and more productive and cooperative. A quick web search for “Trust Building Exercises” will help you locate many good ways to achieve a newfound level of camaraderie amongst your team. Many of them are quite a bit of fun, too. Hopefully these tips will assist you in creating a better-functioning, higher-achieving team of motivated, caring employees. Remember, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, so be sure to keep everyone feeling appreciated, supported and valued, and your company will only benefit. Top Agent Magazine


JULIE SANDERS Julie Sanders got her start in real estate eleven years ago. At the time, her husband Neil had already been in the business for years, and together they set out to open their own brokerage, SETX Properties. While Julie had only anticipated an administrative role in the business, she soon made the leap and earned her license, obtained several designations, became a broker, and ultimately became team lead as the years went by and their business grew. Now, more than a decade since her career launched, Julie has established a steadfast reputation for client-centric service steeped in quality, communication, and consistency. In addition to running their successful real estate brokerage, Julie and Neil have built two homes of their own, moved several times, and survived complete transformation of three homes with many stories they can laugh about now. From their office in Nederland, Julie and the team serve clients across the Southeast Texas region, including Jefferson County, Hardin County, Orange County, and down at the beach. At SETX Properties, everyone works together and is dedicated to the same ideals: serving clients with a high-standard, integrity, and with perfected systems for effectiveness and efficiency. At SETX Properties, quality of service is everything. Today, the team consists of a group of agents and a fulltime transaction coordinator, with room for continued growth ahead. “Every morning, we have a meeting to make sure everyone has clarity, knows what’s going on and what needs attention,” Julie says. “We achieve success together, not separately, and that’s why teamwork is so central to our operations.” These days, 80% of business is generated by repeat and referral clientele—the highest compliment that a real estate professional can earn. Julie cites consistency, quality service, and long-lasting relationships as the primary drivers of their success to date. “We’re very personable and make it point to follow up with our clients, even after a transaction is complete,” Julie explains. “We truly care about the people we work with. To us, the most important thing is that our clients have confidence in us and feel like the transaction is theirs. It’s not ours, and it’s not about us. We’re here as trusted professional real estate advocates, but also as their neighbors, and we always go the extra mile. We know our clients have so many choices, so we

really believe in giving clients our best for choosing us. Our clients deserve to have confidence and trust in our ability to provide service to them, so we have a strong commitment to on-going improvement in our professional and market knowledge.” All in all, the power of interpersonal relationships remains front and center in Julie’s professional philosophy. “We treat our clients with genuine care which reflects our values,” she says. To market listings, Julie and her team incorporate high-quality photography and video slideshows, along with enhanced and targeted ads online. From social media to the leading digital listing platforms, Julie ensures that every listing is optimized to receive maximum exposure online. Likewise, she and her team are natives to the area and only conduct business in regions they know and understand intimately—a trustworthy value-add for their clients. When it comes to giving back, Julie and her team extend their commitment to service to the community at large. The brokerage contributes a portion of all commissions to the Community Care and Prayer Center, which provides services and support to community members in need. Likewise, they contribute to Samaritan’s Purse and, as a Rotarian, Julie gives back through local club projects, as well. In her remaining free hours, Julie most enjoys spending time with her family and church, reading, and relishing the great outdoors. Looking forward, Julie has plans to continue growing her business consciously, adding likeminded team members along the way. “We want our business to grow, but I don’t want it to grow at the expense of quality,” she says. “We want our company culture and values to be consistent among our team as we develop.” Finally, thinking back over the course of her eleven-year career, Julie Sanders considers what she enjoys most about her daily work. “I love knowing that we can really help people by providing them the best representation, which is what they deserve,” she reflects. “It’s more than a job, it’s my passion. We take care of everything for our clients so they’re comfortable and understand their options while reaching their goal. No matter what the situation is, we work with our clients through everything—even if a transaction is difficult or emotional. A house is not just a house, and what I like most is being able to serve others in every situation and journey.”

To learn more about Julie Sanders visit SETXproperties.com, email julie@setxproperties.com, call (409) 729 -SETX ext. 2, or visit her Facebook page here. https://www.facebook.com/setxproperties www.

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