Leading Women - Rebecca Thomson, PMN
When a friend’s father suggested Rebecca Thomson consider a career in real estate, he thought it would leverage her interest in sales. He was right. Little more than a decade later, Thomson is Vice President of Agent Development with @properties, the largest independent brokerage in Illinois and one of the top 12 residential brokers in the U.S.
In 2005, Thomson graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in education. “Real estate nicely marries the two with the energy of a sales environment,” she says.
After graduating, Thomson started her career with a Chicago RE/MAX franchise where she was named Rookie of the Year. At the time, Chicago had a booming new construction market so Thomson started hosting trolley tours for buyers to explore and purchase at premiere developments in different neighborhoods. As these gained traction, Thomson co-founded a boutique firm specializing in new construction buyer representation and educational events.
When the market shifted, Thomson made the move to Jameson Sotheby’s where she began her journey into management. In addition to serving her growing network of clients, she was asked to manage operations of a satellite location in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. When the leading firm in Chicago, @properties, came calling, she was ready to make the move.
Thomson now oversees @properties training and coaching where she and her team are responsible for creating and implementing training and business development initiatives for @properties’ 1900+ agents. “Our company is so innovative,” Thomson says. “I enjoy the challenge of always staying a few steps ahead.”
Several attributes have been key to Thomson’s success. One has been understanding herself and her brand. Before making each move, Thomson considered two things; first, that the caliber of marketing and services would enhance her business and second, that the values of the company and management team aligned with hers. “That was why [@properties] was the perfect fit; it is a company committed to excellence and integrity and that means pushing ourselves to raise the bar every day.”
Paying attention to details has also played a role in her success. Thomson recognized she was selling clients a lifestyle, and not just a home. She hired luxury cars to chauffeur her clients during showings. “I wanted them to enjoy the experience and feel comfortable trusting that I was here to sweat the details for them.”
Hard work has also been key to Thomson’s rise. She started at RE/MAX with no clients, and got her first few deals by cold-calling FSBOs. “It was tough but worth it,” she says. “Usually they would hang up, but you keep going and pushing yourself. Hard works pays off so have a plan and work the plan,” Thomson says.
“The challenge,” Thomson cautions, “is to avoid getting caught up putting out fires. It is easy to be a poptart agent – consumed with whatever email or phone-call pops up. Great agents develop and execute on a business plan – you need to be proactive.”
In real estate, building and maintaining relationships with clients is critical. “It doesn’t mean simply asking for someone’s business; it comes down to being a good person and balancing that with a high level of expertise and market knowledge,” Thomson says.
Thomson knows first-hand how it hurts to learn a friend or past client worked with someone else. “I had to shift my mindset from a sense of entitlement to one of earning people’s business. Sometimes it is as simple as staying in touch and being purposeful in those efforts. The best agents aren’t accidental – they operate with a purpose.”
Along with a demanding work schedule, Thomson serves as the incoming President-Elect for the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, and on the Board of Regents for REALTOR® University. Most recently, Thomson served on the board for the Union League Club of Chicago. “Part of being a leader is raising your hand, getting involved, and making a difference,” she says.
Thomson also served as Women’s Council of REALTORS® Chicago local President and currently serves as the Women’s Council Illinois Governor, on the National Executive Committee, and is an incoming Regional Vice-President. “I love the direction the Council is going; I’ve seen such an evolution and growth that is benefiting our members as leaders and business owners,” Thomson says. “I’m passionate about where we’re going and excited to be a part of it.”
Moreover, the organization “Has helped shape who I am,” Thomson says. She recalls attending her first May conference and listening to her fellow members advocate for legislative changes at the Capitol. Based on the advocacy of the Women’s Council members, that Congressman changed his stance.
“It was a powerful 'aha' moment,” Thomson says. “I used to think politics took care of itself. I saw how we can and need to shape and change opinions.”
Rebecca Thomson will be teaching an upcoming Webinar: "Mastering Multiple Offers" on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. Central (2:00 p.m EDT, 12:00 p.m. MDT, 11:00 a.m. PDT). Click here to register.
Karen M. Kroll is a freelance writer from Chanhassen, MN.
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