With a little help from Mark Ronson’s hit song, “Uptown Funk,” Signature Brokers kicked off 2016 in style during a breakfast meeting held Friday, Jan. 26 at the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors. Throughout the spirited event, the Ooltewah-based real estate firm celebrated its accomplishments in 2015 and looked forward to greater things in the year ahead.
“A new year means a fresh start and a chance to take your business to the next level,” said broker and owner Gina Sakich. “We’re here to focus on the changes we can make to help you grow your business.”
The firm, which opened its doors in February 2014, commemorated achievements that seemed to belie its tender age. For instance, in 2015, nine of Signature Brokers’ agents sold more than $1 million dollars worth of real estate. Partly on the back of this exploit, the firm rose to number three among local independent real estate firms. “I never dreamed we’d be where we are this quickly,” Sakich said. “We haven’t even reached our two-year mark.”
The rapid evolution of Signature Brokers has prompted Sakich to begin thinking about expanding to downtown Chattanooga, she announced during the meeting. Her criteria for opening a second location includes recruiting about a dozen high producing agents who are known for their integrity. “Belinda [Winslett] and I worked downtown for 14 years cultivating the market,” Sakich said. “Signature Brokers needs a presence there.”
To lure new talent, and to create an ecosystem in which its agents can thrive, Signature Brokers announced that it is implementing a number of Realtor-focused services. Chief among these is agent branding.
Using Realtor Bridget Johnson as an example, agent Jeremy Callahan showed how Signature Brokers will work with an agent to create an individualized brand. A photograph of Johnson on the Market Street Bridge, with the slogan Live it. Love it. Chattanooga! displayed above her is intended to promote her as a go-to agent for downtown real estate. Johnson can use the image any way she deems fit, including in videos and brochures, and on social media sites. The concept grew out of Johnson’s love of downtown Chattanooga and her passion for selling property there. “If you want to become a top-producing agent, you have to put yourself out there,” Callahan said. “You have to do things that get you noticed.”
Perhaps the most popular branded item introduced at the meeting were the custom listing signs, which include the listing agent’s photo and contact information.
Realtors don’t become top producing agents on the strength of marketing alone, however. A solid understanding of the current market is also essential. To that end, Signature Brokers will be hosting monthly training sessions at Wired Coffee Bar in Ooltewah.
“We want you to know the basics of the market so real estate pours out of you naturally when you’re talking with others. You’ll know the average price per square foot in different parts of town, and how much home sales are up over last year. People will begin to turn to you for real estate because you’re not only passionate about it but you also understand the market,” Callahan said.
Callahan said the training will help agents avoid the highs and lows of the seasons, and enable them to put in place disciplines that continually generate leads. “We want you to get to the place where your business is stable, you have free time, and life is grand. We’re going to talk about how to do those things.”
Signature Brokers is also looking into the creation of a new website that will function across all platforms and offer a wealth of content in an easily accessible format.
During the meeting, Callahan and Sakich hosted “Family Feud” style games, showed upbeat videos set to “Uptown Funk,” and gave away several pricey door prizes, including paying one Realtors’ MLS fees for an entire year. They also announced the Signature Social Club, which will give the company’s agents an opportunity to set business aside for a short time and simply enjoy themselves. During one upcoming event, they’ll be filming a music video directed by Realtor Kyle Barels, who’s also a co-owner of Dance Tonight Chattanooga.
“Belinda and I have always believed you can have fun and still make a lot of money, so we have always made that part of our business,” Sakich said.
Sakich also announced that Signature Brokers will be presenting sponsors of Dancing With the Chattanooga Stars and the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway in 2016. “Giving back is important,” Sakich said. “This is also another way we’re getting our name out there. When you say you’re with Signature Brokers, we want people to know who we are rather than ask you who we are.”
To honor its top producers, Signature Brokers gave out three awards: one to their “Rising Star” (essentially a rookie of the year award), one to their top-selling individual agent, and one to their top-selling team.
Joey Winslett, Belinda’s son, received the Rising Star award. Joey sold nearly three million dollars worth of real estate during his first year, suggesting the profession just might be in his blood. “When an agent knows every property that hits the market within two minutes of it being listed, that’s passion, and it thrills me,” said Sakich. “Joey is a dynamo.”
Sakich also said good things about Angie Pickett, her top-selling individual agent. “She’s everyone’s favorite. She’s the epitome of professionalism, and she’s always happy,” she said.
The award for top-selling team went to the Winslett Team, which consists of Belinda, Joey, Ali Jo Winslett, and Chris Limbaugh. “They tore it up this year,” Sakich said. “They had outstanding sales and provided outstanding service.”
In closing, Sakich let her agents know they can turn to her when they need help. “Thank you for everything you do,” she said. “I’m here to promote you and to get you up and going.”
To see more photos, pick up a copy of this week's Hamilton County Herald.