Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 5, 2018

‘I’m not giving them a hard sell; I’m being real’

Realtor Regan embraces power of social media to stand out in competitive field

There’s a video online that reveals the truth about Keller Williams Realtor Jennifer Regan.

The video shows Regan driving her car, the pulsating beat of Drake’s hit song, “In My Feelings,” thumping through the speakers. A voice off camera says, “Do it.”

After a mild protest, Regan stops the car, steps out of the vehicle and starts dancing. It’s not an awkward dance, either. If she were on “America’s Got Talent,” Howie Mandel would tell her she has moves.

Regan, 44, posted the video on her Facebook page during the “In My Feelings” viral video craze that swept across the internet like wildfire in August – the same page on which she shares information about her real estate business.

The truth the video reveals is that the real Regan isn’t buried beneath a suit and a smile – she’s out there on the road, dancing for everyone to see.

Some Realtors might wince at the thought of posting something as unashamedly personal as a dance video where their clients might see it, but not Regan. She likes to “keep it real.”

“People don’t want real estate shoved down their throats. So, on my social media pages, I strike a balance between, ‘Here’s what you need to know about real estate,’ and ‘The Chattanooga Market is having their big barbecue bash!’” she says, turning a cup of gas station coffee with her right hand as she sits at a table at the office.

“I’m not giving them a hard-sell; I’m being real.”

If Regan has a secret, it’s that “being real” has served her business well. She even picked up a client as a result of the dance video.

“One of the lenders I work with saw the video, forwarded it to somebody she was qualifying to buy a home, and wrote, ‘Here’s the Realtor I want you to work with,” Regan laughs.

Regan’s social media antics have her laughing all the way to the bank. Her Instagram page contains a photograph of her wearing a giant animal head at a local Target. Her daughter, 13-year-old Macy (owner of the voice that eggs on Regan in the dance video), took the picture during a shopping trip last year.

When a Frisco, Texas, couple relocating to Chattanooga saw the photograph while searching for an agent online, they knew they had found their Realtor.

“They took a screenshot of the picture and sent it to me in a message that said, ‘This is what convinced us to use you. We can tell you love Chattanooga, and we love your energy,’” Regan recalls.

Networking has been the key that’s unlocked a lot of business for Regan. But the energetic 44-year-old doesn’t limit herself to Facebook; she also pencils in face-to-face time with people in the community.

One of Regan’s regular venues is a professional networking group called Business Networking International. Each BNI chapter can have only one member per profession, making her the only Realtor in her group, the Bridge City Chapter. “I charmed my way in through people I know,” she explains. “I was lucky because, in a BNI group, the Realtor is the engine.”

Regan serves as her chapter’s education coordinator, which means she’s responsible for giving a brief, informative talk every Wednesday morning during the group’s weekly meeting. She recently spoke on what professionals can do to maintain their business relationships – a topic near and dear to every Realtor’s heart.

“They were little things like congratulating your clients if they had a baby or their child won a state tournament,” she adds. “Send them an email or a text, or pick up the phone and have a conversation with them.”

Through BNI, Regan has gotten to know professionals who own a variety of businesses that can serve her clients, including a lender, an insurance salesman, a financial advisor, a plumber, the owner of a HVAC service and more.

Unlike her social media marketing efforts, Regan does not expect her investment in these relationships to pay off in leads. Rather, she merely likes having a list of service providers she can confidently recommend to her clients.

“The plumber isn’t going to regularly run across someone who’s looking to buy or sell a house. For me, the benefit comes from growing my group of professionals.”

Regan also avoids the hard-sell after a buyer or seller becomes a client. Instead she focuses on educating them and meeting their needs.

“It’s my responsibility to love on my clients – to protect them, educate them and fight for them, if it comes to that,” she says, her eyes showing a glint of fire from beneath an Alabama Crimson Tide ball cap. “Buying and selling houses is not about me forcing my opinions on someone; it’s about empowering my clients through education. If I teach them about the market, they’re going to make a good decision.”

Regan’s soft-sell is paying handsome dividends in the form of referrals. When she started in the real estate business in 2015, she worked hard to acquire leads. This year, 90 percent of Regan’s business has been referral-based.

“In the beginning, my dream was for my business to be almost all referrals,” she recalls. “I’m getting there, which means I’m doing well enough that my clients are comfortable referring me to people they know and love.’’

Regan’s current stint as a Realtor might have started in 2015, but this is the second time she’s earned her real estate license. After growing up in the Chattanooga area, graduating from Hixson High School in 1992 (“a long time ago,” she says) and earning an accounting degree at Alabama, Regan was lured to real estate by what she perceived to be the romance of selling houses.

But there was an obstacle: to start making money in real estate, one first has to spend money. “I was young and real estate looked glamorous. I wanted to drive a nice car and wear fun clothes,” she remembers. “So, I took the classes, passed the test, earned my license and then realized I was single and poor, and couldn’t afford to go into the business.”

Regan’s fell back on her college degree, working locally for a medical accounting business and then doing similar work for a bicycle company. She also married, which eventually opened a new door: working as a stay-at-home mother.

She jumped at the chance. “I wanted to be the homeroom mom, the field trip mom and the mom who volunteered in the library once a week,” she says. “I was connected to the teachers and the students, and I was always there for Macy.”

Regan relished the opportunity to focus on her daughter and serve at the private Christian school she attended. At the same time, she says an important part of her was not being fed. “I needed to be out in the world, making a difference.’’

Although a piece of her was empty, Regan remained a stay-at-home mom throughout Macy’s elementary school years. When she decided to return to work, there was no question in her mind about what she was going to do: she was going to become a Realtor.

“Real estate had stayed in the back of my mind. I wanted to do it, not because it seemed glamorous, but because I wanted to make a difference on a deeper level than I could in the accounting world,” she remembers. “I wanted to be able to grow close to people and be part of one of the most important decisions they’ll make.”

Regan initially hung her license at a small boutique real estate firm, but soon discovered the arrangement wasn’t working for her. “When I said, ‘Hi, my name is Jennifer Regan. I work for X,’ people generally said, ‘Who?’” she continues. “That’s not something you want to hear when you’re starting your own business.”

Regan was also leery of working in an environment where everyone but her was a veteran, “superstar” agent. “They all had their businesses well in hand,” she says. “When I looked around, I didn’t see anybody like me.”

Regan gravitated toward Keller Williams Realty Chattanooga as she took a few of the classes the company offered and spoke with agents who worked there. Attracted to the strength of the brand, the training the company offered and the resources it provided, Regan made the leap to Keller Williams in 2016.

The roadblocks that kept Regan from building her business immediately fell. “When I said, ‘Hi, my name is Jennifer Regan. I work for Keller Williams Realty,’ nobody said, ‘Who?’”

While Regan has embraced much of what Keller Williams offers her, one aspect of the company’s model doesn’t appeal to her: the drive to build a team. Although many of her colleagues at the company have built successful teams and groups, Regan prefers to work alone and keep her business at a level that’s manageable for her.

“I never want to be a part of a team,” Regan says. “First, you hire an administrative assistant, then you hire a buyer’s agent and eventually you become the rain maker – the listing agent that feeds all your buyers – and you add and add and add.

“I don’t ever want to do that. I don’t want to be stretched too thin, or get to the point where I’m not giving a client all of my attention,” Regan adds. “If I’m juggling a dozen balls, I’m going to drop one or two of them, and I don’t ever want to do that.

“I might be shooting myself in the financial foot, but it’s quality over quantity for me.”

Regan also wants to ensure she has ample time each day to spend with her daughter, as she’s now a single mother. A quick scroll down Regan’s Facebook page, which contains videos of her and Macy singing in the car, hiking and sliding down Cardboard Hill at Renaissance Park, reveals the close, loving and fun nature of their relationship.

The beaming mother-daughter selfies on the page might give one the impression that single-motherhood has been easy for Regan, but that would be wrong.

“It’s been scary and challenging, but also empowering and liberating,” she says. “When one hundred percent of that responsibility falls on your shoulders, you find out what you’re made of.”

Regan says her daughter has seen her experience great successes and epic failures. The important thing, she adds, is how she chooses to deal with the latter.

“My ability to grow from my missteps – to pick myself up, pull myself together and try again – will ultimately define who I am,” Regan says. “And, for good or bad, Macy has a front row seat to the action.”

Casual observers might assume Regan is made of pure energy...

Casual observers might assume Regan is made of pure energy. Although she’s been sitting calmly for nearly an hour, her voice is lively and brisk and her face is full of life. It’s not the gas station coffee, either; it’s who she is.

“I’m one of those annoying persons who jumps out of bed in the morning and says, ‘Let’s go!’”

Fortunately, Regan has several outlets for all that fuel – the great outdoors. In addition to riding a bike, rock climbing and paddling, she’s an avid runner. She doesn’t just run for the sheer thrill of it, either, but frequently competes in Chattanooga Track Club races and other regional events.

Regan is training for the Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga in May. To her surprise, it’s been a humbling experience.

“I thought I was in good shape. I lift weights two or three days a week, I run three or four days a week, and I try to ride my bike a couple days a week,” she says. “But I’ve been stuck in a routine, so my coach has forced me to move in different ways, do different drills and wake up what he calls my ‘fast twitch’ muscles.

“I’m lucky to be able to raise my arms over my head to shampoo my hair in the morning.”

Regan will also consider herself fortunate if she’s able to work in real estate for the rest of her days. She not only loves her daughter, her city, her clients and the great outdoors, she loves where she’s planted herself professionally.

“Keller Williams will have to drag me out kicking and screaming if it wants me gone. I’m extremely happy,” she says. “And I’m in it for the long haul. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”