Ray Lo joined Sibcy Cline (and the real estate industry!) in February 2017 after a 30-year career at P&G as a research scientist and supply network manager. We caught up with him to find out why:
The part of my job I always enjoyed most was working with people—understanding needs, solving problems, seeing successes, coaching and mentoring. When I retired in 2016, I wanted to continue to do that. A lot of my colleagues were consulting, but I wanted to tackle something different. So I asked myself what it was during those 30 years that fired my passion and made me love what I did? The answer was simple: people.
From there, I explored all sorts of avenues. When real estate came to mind, I pursued it and got licensed on my own. That way, if it worked, great! If not, I would go into life coaching and people development. In fact, the day when I took my exam, I packed my gym bag and told my wife I was going to work out. So it was a surprise to everybody! (When she found out, she thought it made perfect sense!)
What made you decide to take the leap into a new industry?
When people I mentor ask me when to change roles and do something different, I tell them to ask a few questions: (1) Are you happy? (2) Is the organization you’re working in and the people you’re reporting to; are they happy? (3) Are you growing? If the answer to all those questions is YES, it may be time to move.
I know how that sounds, but the reason you don’t want to stay is, if the converse becomes true, your energy will be sapped, you won’t want to make the move and, if you do, you’ll be unable to climb a steep learning curve. A new business requires you to take positive energy with you and build on it. That’s why I retired and became an agent. All my answers were “yes.”
That mentality not only helps you, but others. When I was getting my license, I coached a couple of students who wanted to drop out. In one class, we talked about tips to pass the license exam (because it’s HARD!). One student raised her hand and asked, “What if we don’t pass?” I said, “Hey, you’ll pass! Don’t even think that!” And she did pass. That’s the beauty of positive energy.
Why did you join Sibcy Cline?
Towards the end of my training, they had a career night. I had 30+ questions I asked every broker—that’s the scientist in me. Sibcy offered above all the best combination to let me grow as an individual and contribute my skill set to an excellent industry. And I have not been proven wrong. In fact, all my managers are the best. We’re like a family. It’s a wonderful office to be in.
What was it like to take on a brand new career?
A little scary! I had never bought or sold a home for someone else before. But I gained a lot of confidence. Sibcy Cline has a fantastic post-real estate training called Steps to Success. You finish your training and license, but you’re still a liability until you take Steps. School teaches you to pass the test. Sibcy Cline teaches you to be a Realtor.
The beauty of this industry is that every scenario is different, so you continue to learn. You can’t buy “the book” on real estate. Tomorrow, you’ll find something that’s not in there; the answers are not in the back.
The biggest challenge is getting in front of people; total strangers. Even my own network knows me as Ray, the Scientist, not Ray, the Realtor. But through advertising and an online presence, I show people what I have to offer and keep in front of them. Every once in awhile I get an inquiry from someone I don’t know.
Going to open houses helps too. I can build relationships and see what’s selling and what’s not. I ask people questions—it’s a big learning opportunity. Part of the continued learning is doing a lot of research.
What’s an average day like?
An average day starts by looking at listings. I go to MLS and my social media to see what’s developed. Then I go to task in my customer relationship management database (CRM). I do follow-ups—basically, keep in contact with clients. A typical day also includes phone duty, and we have sales meetings once a week.
Everything I do is because I always want my pipeline to be full. Even if something is happening with a current client, I keep my sales pipeline flowing so the next relationship is being nurtured. Say I meet someone at an open house; I need to follow up. If they aren’t in the market for a year, I’ll follow up for a year. I’ll send them updates on a neighborhood or market at an interval that seems reasonable.
The other thing I do is keep in touch with my current relationships. After 30 years working in a corporation, you build close relationships. We’ll go to lunch and talk about how they, their kids or families are doing. I usually don’t bring up real estate; they do! I think it’s best practice not to. I really want to see how they’re doing. If they’re interested, they’ll ask about the housing market.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I actually think real estate is a tremendous industry if you love to learn and solve problems. I’m lucky because if I don’t know the answer to a problem, I have a team of realtors and other professionals who’ll help me. Then I can get out and help my clients. The best buyer responses are, “I’m glad I thought of that!” I love it when I suggest ideas and they feel like it’s their own. In the end, they’re happy—that’s all I care about.
Zig Zigler said it best: “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Any advice for new agents?
I remember what it’s like to be new! The best advice I have for anyone starting out is to quickly build a network of people who are smarter than you. I made sure I knew who top realtors were, who the experts were in mortgage, insurance, title, relocation, and home services. Then I met with them and asked questions. Never be afraid to ask a question, even if the challenge seems funny or impossible. Odds are, you won’t be the first person to have encountered it.
And have fun! Life’s too short—you’ve got to have fun. Do something fun or make what you do fun. As humans, we have that choice.