Broker Spotlight: Lois Malone
When Houston real estate veteran Lois Malone, ABR, CIPS, CRS, GRI, PMN, left a national franchise to start her own company, Lois Malone Realty, in 2007, she wanted to structure the business her way with her ideas and values. At the time, she didn’t imagine that just four years later she’d have 16 agents on board who also bought into her vision.
When Malone first started her business, it was with just herself and not other agents in mind. "I wanted to do business the way I needed to," she says. And her office blossomed when industry friends were also inspired by her vision and asked to join her. However, Malone doesn’t accept every agent who approaches her. She looks closely at what each agent can bring to the table.
"I knew I wanted a boutique office with only top-notch agents who would represent the business well," Malone says. Having hundreds of agents was not on her radar. "Without exception, a broker must be accountable to their agents," Malone says. And how can brokers be accountable when they don’t even know how many agents are in their office, she says.
Foremost, success comes from having a professional environment around you at all times, according to Malone. "This is a business, and agents need to understand that and to invest in that," she says. "Or else it's just you driving people around in your car." Ethics is key to Malone's business model, and, when recruiting, she and her agents look for other agents who follow all the rules and standards during each transaction.
"During transactions, I watch the agent's behavior throughout," she says. "There are some who ask to come on board with us, and I decline if I disagree with something they've done during the transaction. You have to follow every rule. I don't want to be pulled into somebody else's problem. People who care about their industry and who we know will represent us well, this is who I hire."
Keeping in touch is also a huge strategic issue for Malone, who reports that 80 percent of her business is referral-based. She makes a point to get in touch multiple times a year with her network of clients and industry friends.
For example, "in our system, during the closing, we have clients fill out a page with kids' names and birthdays and anniversaries," Malone says. "We record the anniversary of the home purchase. We have a folder for each client. Next year's card is already written a year in advance. We immediately create their Christmas card at that time, as well as the thank-you note for the other agent. You can't function in this business without strong systems in place.
"The latter part of our week, we focus on getting out cards and information to clients we haven't seen or talked to in a while. We do different types of touches. I'm big into having many touches with every single person you have done business with."
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