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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, June 7, 2019

Right team has Cochran in the pink


Crew finds success following bouncing ‘pingpong ball’



It’s 6 a.m. on a weekday, which means Realtor Bekah Cochran is awake and working.

She didn’t set an alarm the night before. As a mother of four, she’s developed an internal alarm that rouses her before anyone else in the house has an inkling it’s morning.

Blessed, as Cochran says, with a few minutes of peace and quiet, she warms her fingers with a few texts or emails to clients or team members, picking up threads of unfinished work from the previous day and launching entirely new tasks.

Eventually, Cochran’s household rumbles to life and she must step away from her keyboard, or put down her phone and tend to her children. But by that time, she’s already going full throttle.

“I’m a pingpong ball. I multitask at a very high level,” she says. “Thankfully, this industry allows me to do that. I can get up before the sun and start corresponding with my team. Then I can sign off and get the kids on the bus, and I haven’t skipped a beat because there’s an email or text waiting in a client’s inbox.

“Then I come here and start my appointments.”

“Here” is Cochran’s office at Keller Williams Realty Greater Downtown Realty’s new Washington Street facility. Located in a cozy corner of the new building, it’s a small space that somehow accommodates Cochran and her team of seven other women without seeming crowded.

Desks and chairs line the walls, leaving room in the middle for Cochran to pace, converse and issue orders.

The room also is notable for its large windows, which provide a clear view of Lookout Mountain, and preponderance of pastel colors. From the pink circular logo containing the initials B.D.C. (which stand for Bekah Dalton Cochran) to the large pink and purple balloons by the windows to the photos of Cochran’s team wearing red, white and more pink, there’s no mistaking this is her space.

“Pink is happy, joyful and natural for me,” Cochran says. “We interlace red and white, and I pop with pink. It’s fun. We come in here to have a good time and get our work done.”

Work is getting done this morning as Cochran stands in the center of it all, overseeing operations.

Sitting in a corner flipping through the pages of a thick notebook is Kim Love, Cochran’s contract-to-close coordinator. Office administrator Sara Hindman is seated nearby, her eyes zeroed in on a laptop.

Then there’s marketing guru Rae Gullett. At 21, she’s Cochran’s youngest team member. Office administrator Susan Shapiro is tucked into another corner, her fingers tapping at a keyboard.

These four comprise the backbone of the Bekah Cochran Team as they support the work of Cochran, buyer’s agent Laine Mitchell and listing director Amanda Garrison.

The only man in the room smiles from a photo of an earlier version of Cochran’s team. “He did a good job for us,” Cochran says. “But I demand a high level of urgency, and not everyone can keep up with that rhythm or provide the level of customer service I insist on offering.”

Cochran acknowledges she’s not opposed to bringing another man onto the team, but says her current crew has perfect chemistry.

“We have phenomenal energy, and everyone has a great natural skill set,” she says. “When everyone is doing their one thing well, we’re strong.”

Cochran does more than one thing well, Love adds, piping up from her corner. In addition to being an effective mentor and a crack negotiator, Cochran is a strong and compassionate leader, Love says.

“She’s fierce. She has a high standard for how things should be done and is clear about how to do those things. Since my nature is to follow instructions, that works for me.

“But she also understands what it’s like to be a mother and to balance your home life and your work. Her older children are the same age as my children, so she knows where I am with my family.”

Cochran explains she built her real estate business on a foundation of quality customer service, which has resulted in a steady flow of referrals and return clients.

“Our goal is to provide our buyers and sellers with the kind of experience that encourages them to tell everyone they know about the Bekah Cochran Team,” she says.

Cochran’s focus on quality customer service has helped her to cultivate a reputation for selling homes quickly and for close to the list price.

“I make an effort to sell each home for the most amount of money in the least amount of time,” she adds.

Cochran loads a spreadsheet that supports her claim. The Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ April 2019 Home Sales Report, shows the average Days on Market (a measurement of the age of a real estate listing) in the city is 51 days. Cochran’s average is 36.

Cochran also is proud of her team’s sale-to-list ratio, which exceeds 98%. This means, on average, her team’s listings are selling for very close to the listed price.

While Cochran is proud of these accomplishments, the numbers that matter to her the most are those that matter to her buyers and sellers.

“I want everyone to be taken care of,” she says. “Whether you’re selling a $10,000, $100,000 or $1 million house, we take the same steps and provide the same level of service.

“We don’t just place a sign in your yard; we proactively sell your property.”

Cochran is a former kindergarten teacher who became a Realtor in 2006. Although the housing market was starting its historic nosedive, and it wouldn’t be long before Realtors were leaving the profession in droves, Cochran was drawn to the flexibility and financial opportunities she says real estate offers.

“I knew I would want to start a family someday, so I took my God-given skillset and dove in,” she says.

Girding herself with what she calls “fierce determination,” Cochran absorbed the mentorship and coaching of her first broker, Jenny Noblitt, as well as the training Keller Williams offered.

“Anyone can get their real estate license, but few can survive in this business,” Cochran notes. “I was going to survive.”

Cochran not only survived; she thrived. Her first transaction involved selling the house of a friend. From there, she built a business that climbed to $16 million in annual sales.

When Cochran was between $4-6 million in sales – she estimates this was in 2013 – she hired an assistant.

“My decision to start a team evolved out of a need for help and a desire to provide a high level of customer service,” she remembers. “I couldn’t show houses to four buyers in one evening. I had to adjust.”

Love was Cochran’s first hire. A former assistant to U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson in Washington, D.C., Love gradually evolved from administrator to contract-to-close coordinator. “Kim shadowed someone local and then developed how that role would look for us,” Cochran explains. “She built the system and set the standard.”

The team Cochran built continues to serve its original purpose. Today, Cochran leads a group of licensed agents and support staff that’s striving toward $20 million in sales by year’s end and co-manages a growing household with her husband, Clay Cochran of Jody Millard Pest Control.

“Real estate has allowed me to have a thriving, amazing career and still live the dream of getting married and having children,” she says.

Speaking about her team’s goal for 2019 brings Cochran back it to numbers. “For us to hit that goal, we’ll have to service a certain number of buyers and sellers, which means we’ll have to work a certain number of hours,” she says, her expression tightening from her constant smile into something more businesslike.

“If you want to meet a financial goal, then you need to convert that amount of money into the number of buyers and sellers you’re going to have to service to make it.”

When Cochran isn’t putting in her hours, she’s embracing life with her family, which can include an all-family hike, a trip to the community pool or taking her two older kids to flag football or cheerleading.

Cochran notes her love for Chattanooga has inspired her to become engaged in the local community.

As an active Chi Omega alumna, she’s volunteered in sororitywide efforts to serve The Make-A-Wish Foundation and Siskin Children’s Institute.

In addition, she’s worked with the P.E.O. Sisterhood, which provides educational opportunities for female students worldwide, and volunteered at her children’s school.

Cochran has also launched the annual Busy Bekah Scholarship for a student at her high school alma mater, McMinn County High School in Athens.

“My husband and I were at a point in life where it was time for us to model and give back to others, and I thought, ‘How cool would it be for me to start a scholarship?’” she says. “I was the recipient of several scholarships, and they gave me wings to fly.”

Cochran fashioned the criteria for the $1,000 subsidy after her high school self. While a student at McMinn High School, Cochran maintained a high grade-point average, held down multiple jobs, volunteered with the Special Olympics, joined missions trips as a part of her church’s youth group and more.

This year’s recipient, Kaitlyn McKinney, mirrored the teenage Cochran. “Out of all the candidates, she best reflected who I was in high school and who I was hoping to help,” Cochran says. “She’s very well rounded.”

McKinney says the scholarship will help her “receive an amazing education and make friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Cochran’s motto is “Living the dream.” From her early morning workday warmups, to every hour she serves her clients and community, to every moment she spends with her family, she’s living her dream.

The scholarship is her way of helping the recipients someday live theirs. “I try to live each day with presence,” she says. “Just like my family and community set the example for me, I hope to set an example for others.”