Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 27, 2017

Real estate broker grateful for life she never planned on

Doll outside Exit Realty’s office at 7610 Hamilton Park Dr. - Photograph by David Laprad

As Christi Doll stood alone, surrounded by predators and other creatures typically found in the wild, a man came to her rescue.

Later in life, Doll was approaching a crossroads when a friend grabbed her arm and said, “Let’s go this way.”

It’s possible Doll wouldn’t be where she is today without the intervention of these two people at critical points in her life. Partly due to the paths onto which they steered her, Doll is now the managing broker of up-and-coming real estate firm Exit Realty Scenic City.

Doll would most likely still be successful at whatever else she had pursued. She not only seems to have the kind of aptitude that could adjust to different endeavors, she also has an infectiously positive spirit. But Doll might not be doing something she loves.

The man who came to her rescue in the wild was her father, Bob Stack.

“I loved computer-aided drafting in high school. I thought it was what I wanted to do,” she says, an amused expression crossing her face. “I went to ITT Technical Institute in Tampa but wound up hating the program.”

One day, Doll left school, went to the zoo by herself and walked around pondering life. On her way out, she got a job. When her dad learned she had quit college and started working at a zoo, he retrieved her and brought her home.

Stack then took Doll under his wing at his telephone store and taught her how to run a business.

For a time, Doll handled customer service while her dad ran everything else. Then the day came when Stack no longer wanted to sell phones and gave his daughter the company.

Doll proved her business chops when she expanded the business to a third store. Then misfortunate struck.

“I broke my legs in a traumatic horseback riding accident. It took me a year to walk without a limp,” she explains. “I have a rod in my left femur and a reconstructed right knee.”

Doll closed the stores and, after she was up and walking, took an event planning job with a large concert venue in Florida.

“I’m a very social person. I’m bubbly and fun and like to keep things light,” she says. “So I had a good time doing that.”

In time, that business started to wane. Fortunately, this was 2003, and another industry was beginning to swell with potential – real estate.

Seeing the writing on the wall, a friend said to Doll, “I’m going to get my real estate license. You should come with me.”

Doll says she wouldn’t have pursued real estate on her own, even though she saw what was taking place in the market. But she was willing to link arms with her friend and pursue it with her.

Their timing was good.

“Real estate exploded,” Doll remembers. “Money was falling out of the sky.”

Doll hung her license at Exit Realty, where a friend of hers was the broker. She credits the company’s extensive training program and family-like culture with getting her up and running.

“My broker was always available and the other agents mentored me as well,” she says. “I liked that it wasn’t just about the numbers, but that they concentrated on personal growth.”

By the time the bubble burst in 2008, Doll had built a large enough sphere of influence that she was able to survive the downturn. But another big change in her life temporarily took her out of real estate: moving to Tennessee.

“I was married at the time and he and I wanted to move to the mountains,” she adds. “Compared to Florida, what you have in Tennessee is mountains.”

Since Doll was new to the area, she decided to take a break from real estate while she “got a feel for things.” To fill the gap, she took an event coordinator and marketing position with The Enterprise Center, which was working on a four-year funded project.

At the end of those years, Doll was ready to leave the 8-5 office environment behind and get back to real estate.

After a brief stint with RE/MAX Renaissance (now RE/MAX Properties), Doll moved to Exit Realty when she saw that franchise owner Katherine Woodburn was looking for a broker.

“I didn’t want to be the broker; I wanted to be an agent,” Doll says. “I jumped ship because I was familiar with Exit Realty and wanted to be back in that environment.”

As Doll got her feet wet at a new Exit Realty, she quietly earned her broker’s license – more out of a desire to simply have it than to advance in the company. But when the broker’s position opened up again, Woodburn asked her to take the job and Doll accepted.

Today, Doll’s days are very different from when she was an agent. Instead of listing properties and assisting buyers, her hours are filled with contract compliance, recruiting, training and marketing. They’re also filled with newfound enjoyment in her work.

“I like interacting with other Realtors and teaching everyone to work together,” she explains.

That’s not to say every day goes smoothly. But when Doll is facing uncertainty, she leans on the support of Exit Realty’s company-wide broker network.

“I have access to brokers who have been in the business for 30 years,” Doll says. “I can even call the broker who raised me as an agent. That takes a huge load off of me because agents will test you and make you question your sanity.”

Doll also remains as focused as ever on enhancing her knowledge. From attending broker boot camp in Canada to taking continuing education courses, Doll serves as an example to the agents she encourages to never stop learning.

Doll’s hard work is paying off. Agent growth has doubled since Woodburn launched the franchise in 2014 and sales were up over 1,000 percent in 2016.

“That was a huge increase. But we’re not done growing,” Doll explains. “We’re continue to grow in terms of agents, volume and market share.”

The key, Doll says, is recognizing that real estate is a people business. “You have to build relationships and take care of your clients. You can’t just focus on your paycheck.”

Doll is concentrating on more than what’s going on within the red and teal interior of Exit Realty’s office on Hamilton Park Drive; she’s also reaching out to serve her profession.

In addition to being a member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors, Doll is a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors Chattanooga, where she’s serving as secretary for 2017.

Doll is also proving that there’s life beyond work. She’s currently in a long-term relationship that came with a gaggle of kids (four, to be exact) and is spending time pursuing a variety of outdoor activities.

These developments, along with the success she’s experiencing in her professional life, have made Doll happier than she’s ever been.

“I’m a lucky woman. Even though things have been stressful at times, I try to remember that my life could be completely different from what it is,” she says.

“I’m blessed in many ways and want to teach others that, with hard work, they can be prosperous as well.”