About Tammi Knapp:
Tammi has owned several businesses ranging from a gym, a software development company and now a real estate firm. She loves figuring things out and helping others blaze a trail. In her current role, her passion is to take new real estate agents and turn them into highly trained and educated top producers. For her, watching that progress is pure joy - not easy, but satisfying.
In this episode Jason and Tammi discuss:
- Taking on new people
- How to be a successful leader
- The importance of clear communication
- Being respectful of others
- If you’re taking on new people, make sure to have written detailed job descriptions and that you already have systems in place.
- A truly successful leader is one who builds their team and gives them what they need for them to find success.
- Clear communication is important. It has to be clear exactly what you’re offering and what your seller is accepting.
- Be respectful of everyone that you come across, whether they are your competition or team member. You may never know when you’re going to be in swapped positions.
“Clear is kind, unclear is unkind. Don’t shy away from tough conversation… instead of not speaking to them about the issue because you don’t wanna hurt their feelings.” - Tammi Knapp
Connect with Tammi Knapp:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TLCRealtyGroup/
- Website: https://www.searchcaryhouses.com
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkbDdMmvFQOWf__SvM6TIVw
Connect with Steve and Jason:
Listen to the podcast here
Tammi Knapp: Clear Is Kind
I have got a special guest who hails from Cary, North Carolina, Tammi Knapp. She is the Owner and Broker of TLC Realty Group. This is super exciting that I have got Tammi with us. Before we get into it, Tammi, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited.
I always enjoy talking to my Southern folk. I hail from Maryland and depending on who you talk to, Maryland qualifies as being in the South. To a lot of other people, maybe to you, Maryland doesn't qualify for being in the South. It's exciting to talk to somebody from North Carolina.
I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other because I'm not from the South, even though I live in the South.
If you have read any episodes of the show, you know where I'm going to come out of the gate from, which is asking you a question about gratefulness. As we sit here, one in Maryland, one in North Carolina in the middle of the day, and on the end of May 2022 type of day, what are you grateful for now?
There so are many things. I am grateful for the agents in my business. I'm grateful that I have a business. I have amazing friends and a support system, my family. Every day, I show gratitude for the things that I have. I have a great life.
It always makes me smile hearing different people's answers. When I listen to you, it sounds like you have a nice community around you. I could tell by watching you and listening to your voice tonality, that it is something that is important to you, which also says a ton about you. The people that we surround ourselves with tells us a lot about ourselves. Thanks for answering that question.
It's important to have open communication with all agents and the other agents can talk to each other.
I do think it's extremely important.
We could have a whole conversation about gratefulness. It wouldn't bother me a bit. I would love our readers to know a little bit about who you are. We have got readers from all around the country that may not know Tammi yet. I'd love for you to give us a brief bio of who Tammy Knapp is.
I have lived all over the country. I was born in Oregon and moved to California. I have done the West Coast up and down. When I moved to the East Coast, I went to Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and now North Carolina.
You have been around. My co-host Steve is from Oregon. He will like hearing that. You have been all around. You are well-traveled.
I went to school at Oregon State University in Exercise and Sports Science with an emphasis on athletic training. I was an athletic trainer for several years. I worked with different sports at different levels, high school, college, and professional. I went from there and opened a gym in California. I own that for a little while. That was a lot of work. We opened at 5:00 AM and closed at 10:00 PM. For the first three months, we had no other employees. That was a learning experience, but it was the opening of the gym and negotiating the lease of the building itself and the equipment that made me realize that I might like a career in negotiating. I started thinking about real estate. That's where that went.
With you opening a gym, it reminds me of the book The E-Myth. Is that a book that you have read?
Communication: Clear communication is extremely important in real estate. When you have transactions at the dollar amount that we're talking about, it has to be clear exactly what you're offering and what your seller is accepting.
You are starting the gym, and with your athletic background in history, you went to school for that, but then you are negotiating leases. You are there from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. If you were open from 5:00 to 10:00, you and I both know you were there before 5:00, and you were there after 10:00. From an entrepreneur or leadership standpoint, what might have been 1 or 2 of the top lessons from that timeframe?
I do have a lot of leadership skills back then. Even the first couple of employees that we hired, I feel like I didn't lead them well. Number one, I was exhausted from training. That was half-hazard. If I had to do it again, I think I would have done better. Having systems in place and having things written out about what the job description was before I even went looking for somebody to do the job. I knew we could hire somebody. We get to finally afford somebody and therefore bring somebody in and figure it out.
That's partly why I mentioned The E-Myth. You sound like you got into the workout fitness industry because you love that. You are responsible for everything and things like doing the books and marketing. That might have not been when you went to school for. You find yourself mopping the floors and doing all that stuff.
When people were asking me what I did at the gym, I was like, “I did everything.” I did sign people up and their personal training. I made their shakes. I cleaned the toilets. I did everything for a while.
Carry it forward from then to now, you start at your own brokerage, and you are doing that. How do we get from one to the other?
When I got my license, I started selling real estate, which I immediately loved working with clients and seeing the excitement on their faces when we closed. My business was growing. I remember correctly. I sold 6 units in my first year, 12 next and 24 for the next. That was growing quickly. At that point, I started thinking about having a team and having to help.
I’m having other agents there that I could give leads to and offload a little bit of the job responsibilities. That went okay. I had decided that's not exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't want to share responsibility and manage people. I wanted to teach people, lead them and show them what I knew about how to get from point A to point B with new clients and build a successful real estate career.
“Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”
It sounds like going from doing the smoothies, the toilets, the opening, and negotiating all that to having a team and delegating and having processes in place that more suit what your skillset is and what you'd like to do. Maybe that's what brought you to where you are now with TLC.
I'm all about systems. If you write an email more than once, it should be saved somewhere so that you are copying and pasting it in spreadsheets and documents of everything that I have to send to people over and over again.
A lot of people in real estate mortgage would say that this is a tough market. There are some easier markets and tougher markets. Within those, there are always pockets of opportunity and challenge. Even in good markets, there are challenges. How would you describe the market now? How would you describe your efforts in this market?
A lot of people, when I first tell them I'm in real estate, they are like, “The market is great.” I'm like, “The market is challenging.” It's not a market I enjoy. Being a buyer's agent, you are out there showing multiple houses, putting in multiple offers, and giving the same client multiple rejections. When there are multiple offers, only one person gets the house. Telling somebody that they have to spend $515,000 on a house that seems like it should be priced at $475,000 and may only appraise at $475,000. It's uncomfortable for me.
I let them know. I'm like, “This is not me speaking. This is the market. If you want to get your offer accepted, this is what you have to do.” I have to tell them, “You also have to do what you are comfortable doing. We have to find that happy medium in there. Trust me that whatever you are comfortable doing, I will sell your offer as far as I can.” You to the listing agent and seller, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't.
When we take the market right now and overlay it with you starting TLC, having a team in place, delegating, and systems, there are 3 or 4 different questions that I want to ask, but, from a leadership standpoint, what are some insights that you have had in this market right now?
It's important to have open communication with all agents. The other agents can talk to each other. In our weekly meetings, I always ask if there are questions, comments, or if people have a particularly challenging client or transaction that they want to bounce ideas off other people in the meeting. We can come together and help each other. That's important to a lot of different people in the firm with different experiences and knowledge. If you can tap into that, you are a stronger agent for it.
Communication: If somebody is doing something wrong, you need to go to them, be very clear about what it is that they're doing wrong and how you can help them fix it instead of not speaking to them about the issue, because you don't want to hurt their feelings.
In doing my research for this interview, the word communication came up a lot. I know you have written some things about that. You mentioned it. Step into that a little bit for me. Tell me the role of communication to you, how you look at that and lean into it. Talk about the topic of communication a little bit more for me.
I have always thought clear communication is important. It's extremely important in real estate when you have transactions at the dollar amount that we are talking about. It has to be clear exactly what you are offering and what your seller maybe is accepting. If it's not clear then you could have problems come closing time. A lot of my ideas from our communication have come from Brené Brown. She talks about vulnerability, leadership, and leaning into those tough conversations. One of her quotes that I use all the time is, “Clear is kind, unclear is unkind.”
What does that mean to you?
It means don't shy away from that tough conversation. If somebody is doing something wrong, you need to go to them, be clear about what it is that they are doing, and maybe how you can help them fix it, instead of not speaking to them about the issue because you don't want to hurt their feelings.
I see many examples where there's a tinge of ambiguity, and that creates an opportunity for misunderstandings, for setting up future conflicts for not meeting expectations, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” When it comes to you, I have seen topics and words like respect and empathy. When I think about real estate, sometimes it can be a little hard nose with the market that you are in right now. What are the things like respect and empathy mean to you? What does that look like on a day-to-day basis?
When you are dealing with another agent, you are on your contract, there's another agent on the other side of that transaction. I feel that the other agent deserves respect. You never know when you are going to be in swapped positions. You are going to be the buyer's agent, seller's agent, or vice versa, number one. Number two, they are people. We are all working towards the same goal to get this house sold. It can be a win-win for both the buyer and the seller. If we both approach it that way, things will work out better.
I appreciate what you are saying there. The note that I wrote down as you were talking is to respect your competition because, as you said, they are human beings too, and you don't know when the tables are going to be reversed. I read this one of Dale Carnegie's books. It’s the golden rule, treat people the way that you want to be treated yourself or even better than, because what comes around does come around-type of thing.
Don't shy away from that tough conversation.
I have been yelled at by agents, and I feel agents need to take a step back emotionally from their transaction. It's not their money and house. They want to get their client the best deal, but that doesn't mean getting emotionally involved. If you can do that, number one, it's better overall for everybody involved, including yourself. It takes a lot of stress off your day-to-day life. You can take a step back, see the bigger picture and find the solution that doesn't require getting emotionally worked up.
Let's dig into that a little bit. I can nod my head as you are saying that, and I agree with you, but I have also been in situations myself. I was in mortgage banking for several years. There is a low appraisal and denial on loans. When you thought it was going to be an approval, there's the price situation that you brought up or whatever. There is a myriad of different situations that come up when you are getting yelled at and taking the time to step back. Walk me through your mechanics of doing that. At the moment, how do you do what you talked about?
It's something I had to learn. In the first couple of years, I did have my ups and downs emotionally, and it was exhausting. I learned how to step back, and I think empathy helps. You have to be empathetic to your client in what news comes in. Let's say it's that low appraisal. They are going to be sad, mad, and confused. I need to address all of those when I talk to them. I can fix the confusion part. I can't fix the sad and mad, but I can let them know that I know that they are feeling those things and give them some solutions.
In this market where you are leading people, I want to go back to the challenging market. You had said that you are high on brand new agents. You even said right out of school, once they get the licensed type of thing. I talked to a lot of brokers like yourself, and they are like, “I need some experience when they come on my team.” I'm hearing from you the opposite. Why is that?
They are a blank slate. They are lava clay ready to be molded. I don't have to break any bad habits. They are excited. They haven't been on the job for a year and have not had a single closing. They have a defeatist attitude. A lot of agents don't make it in this business. What I have come to find out is some of it is our fault, the broker in charge, the firm's fault for not giving them the guidance, and some of it is their fault.
They are not hungry, and they are not willing to make the phone calls, answer the phone calls and meet with people. You have to be hungry. That's number one. If you are hungry and you failed, I feel like that falls on your firm, on the broker in charge, and the training that they are giving you. That is where I feel like that's my passion. I want to step that up and give them all the support and the training that they need to succeed.
That blank slate is exciting. I could even tell the way that you are talking about it, leaning into that as you described that to me, that's very exciting to you too. I do want to dig a little deeper because I have heard people, even in your answer, you said, “Most agents don't make it.” My specific question to you is, what's the trick as a leader to try to identify who you think the blank slates are that will make it. If you take a bunch of blank slates on, and most of them don't make it, at some point in time, you are spinning your wheels. How do you identify the blank slates that you think will make it versus the most that won't?
Communication: A lot of agents don't make it in this business. Some of it is the firm's fault for not giving them the guidance. Some of it is theirs.
Honestly, I'm still figuring that one out. I'm a little too positive sometimes. When people come into my office, they are excited, and they answer the questions right. I get them going, they do the training, and then I don't hear from them. I found out that they don't have that hungry that I was talking about. I don't know exactly how to interview for the hungry yet. If you have got any ideas, I would love to hear that.
We have got 25 coaches throughout the country that coach for Rewire. In the beginning, we didn't do a good job at that because my partner and I were similar to you. We love people. They would have a passion for coaching and want to help people. You go, “We can work with that. You seem nice. Come aboard.” When it's not a good fit, that's not, you are doing the person a disservice, not your firm, but we have honed that over time. To answer your question specifically back to your clear is kind. Unclear is unkind. I’m trying to be clear with you right now.
It's difficult to become a coach with Rewire. We are vetting process. It's a four-step, specific and tough process. We have done our best to put that relational. We love everybody aside and go, “There are certain things.” To use your word, clear metrics, and specific answers that we are looking for in order to come on board.
Sometimes, I will talk to somebody, and I love them, but they don't answer those questions the way that we need them to answer questions. We tell them, “I have a nice life. If we can help you in the future, it'd be good, but it's not going to be good for you or for us. It's not a good match.” There are probably twelve other things behind that that I could say, but that’s one of the biggest ones that I have learned is to vet very hard. Instead of having the viewpoint of us going, “We are not going to accept you because you are not good enough.” No, that's not the reason at all.
They are probably a good fit for some other organization. We are giving them the opportunity to skip the bad experience that they will have with us and get right to the other thing. When we are facing in that direction, we are like, “We want to make sure it's a good fit for them and for us after all of that vetting.” There are a couple of things that I would say, but how does that strike you when I say those things?
I know that there are questions that would vet them out. I haven't figured out that question yet. It seems like some people I have strong feelings about as far as they are going to hit the ground running, and I know I'm right. It has happened where I think that I’m wrong.
It goes back to something that you said earlier about we are all humans. Even though you asked for a couple of tips, I gave you some of our experiences. I will admit, similar to what you did, we are still figuring it out too. We don't have a 100% lock, stock, and barrel way where we know it's always going to work. Our success ratio in that department is better than it was several years ago. It's always trying to improve the process.
Agents need to take a step back emotionally from their transaction. It's not their money, it's not their house. They want to get their client the best deal, but that doesn't mean getting emotionally involved.
One of the things that we do, and it sounds like you do too, is debrief with your leadership team or yourself when somebody does make it in your environment and organization with the personalities that are involved. What is it that led to that success for that person? Can we replicate that? The opposite is true, too. When somebody doesn't work for whatever reason, what can we learn from that? How do we try to shy away from that? Even with all those systems in place, we are human beings and sometimes, you never know.
We are humans and that's part of the fun of the game. We are always going to try to find the path, but I don't know that we will always get it right. That's fun to chat about that with you. As we wind down our time together, is there a topic or a question that I didn't ask that you want to make sure that we cover now?
Communication and training. One thing that I have done with my training is I have put 90% of it online. The agency coming on can work through it self-paced, and it's augmented with personal training. It's a system. Instead of me saying, this is how you fill out this form to twenty different people, I use Springshare recording and say, “This is how you fill out this form.” You have to do it once, and they can rewatch it. That's the benefit of it instead of, “What did she say about that?” They can go back and rewatch the part that they need.
It goes from the intangible. You are talking about systems to the tangible, “This is my system, and this is how we do it.” Speaking of that, how do people find you? We have got readers all around the country, some in North Carolina. How do people find you if they want to seek you out?
Thank you for the conversation. Some of the things that you said about communication and transparency. I wrote down that quote from Brené Brown about clear being kind and unclear is unkind. There are many little nuggets there that I'm walking away with. Thank you for that. I can't wait for this episode to drop and for people to learn from you. Thank you for your time.
Thank you so much for inviting me.
You got it. Be well, Tammi.
- TLC Realty Group
- The E-Myth
- Facebook – Tammi Knapp
- Facebook Page – TLC Realty Group
- LinkedIn – Tammi Knapp
- Jason Abell
- Steve Scanlon