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“5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business” with Kathleen Black

As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Black. She is one of North America’s leading team coaches and trainers, delivering her proven success techniques to agents and teams around the world. That growth is worth billions […]

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As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathleen Black. She is one of North America’s leading team coaches and trainers, delivering her proven success techniques to agents and teams around the world. That growth is worth billions in additional sales volume annually across her client network with 80% of her clients being national top 1% producers. Kathleen, the best-selling author of “The Top 1% Life”, will help you to expand your business, at a fraction of the time and cost, using the tried, tested, and true “KBCC Ultimate Expansion Strategy” that has powered her client growth into the most efficient, productive, and profitable teams in the world, powered by performance cultures.

The success of KBCC centers around integrity, honesty, and results-driven measures, the very things that represent Kathleen. Kathleen has been named twice Top 100 Elite Women Driving the Future of Real Estate by REP Magazine and Top 20 Emerging Leaders by T3 Sixty’s Swanepoel Report. She was recognized within the top 1% of Realtors in the Toronto Real Estate Board, has ten plus years, over 20,000 hours personally, of agent development experience, and hundreds of teams attribute their growth and success to Kathleen’s leadership.

Kathleen is also the driving-force behind the Ultimate Team Summit, the largest team specific Real Estate summit in North America and the Ultimate Mastermind Series of events, including the 100 Deal + Ultimate Mastermind. Recently recognized as a Global Leader Making the World a Better Place by the Women’s Economic Forum.

Kathleen lives in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada with her two free spirited, independent, and very loved children Ethan and Ella, and their cat Ethel.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Beginning my career as a RE/MAX Real Estate Agent and working my way to being recognized within the top 1% of Realtors in both the Durham Region and on the Toronto Real Estate Board, many would agree that this level of success is the pinnacle achievement amongst their peers; but for me it was only the beginning.

Identifying the need, I set out to work on further developing the systems and platform of educational programs and coaching methods to which I attributed her own professional and personal success.

With the launch of KBCC in 2015 and building upon my 10+ years of Team and Agent development and guidance, hundreds of teams (80% of which are top 1% producers) have attributed their growth and success to my integrity, honesty and results driven leadership directly or through one of my coaching programs.

I was selling real estate as a busy single mom of two children and I had done a lot of content and systems development with a look to creating better work life balance.

The team I worked with was creating a coaching company and I had a background in psychology, so it just seemed like a natural fit to try to become involved.

That coaching company found itself in some challenging territory in its early days and there were differing opinions within the ownership as to how it should be resolved.

This ultimately resulted in the departure of the director of coaching and I was given the opportunity to step into that role within 18 months of the company going live. I had been a coach for just under one year at that point.

It was really a chain of complicated events that led to a great opportunity for me.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I moved on from Director of Coaching to Director of Operations in a relatively short time and became half owner of the company with access and full decision-making authority. At that time the books were opened to me and it was instantly evident that the company was in quite a bit of financial difficulty. I played a significant role in turning the company around. I led the clearing of about $180k in debt and revamped the majority of the content which led to considerably stronger client retention.

As things were turning around, my (largely silent) partner decided they wanted to go in a different direction professionally. I was presented with some difficult questions; ‘Is this who I am, can I look at my children in the face with integrity if I don’t stand up and defend what I have built, what will I do if I don’t do this’. I remember fear. I remember the reality of having bills to pay. I also remembered some great advice I had been given; ‘If you really believe in it, bet your house on it’.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

An example that I give often is I used to mentor, coach and train while I was relatively new to selling, so I often had someone shadowing me.

I ended up realizing a couple of years into it when I left a buyer presentation, which I would sign 98 per cent of, with one of my mentees, when she told me that she had seen me present my buyer consultations many times, and that she had learned so much, but the logo on the powerpoint said ‘Your Team Name Here”.

I didn’t even realize that for two years I had been using my coaching company’s version of my buyer consultation and it didn’t even have our team logo on it, and yet I was still signing 98 per cent of all consultations I sat down in front of and attended.

When building a business it’s really easy to say you need the perfect brand, but in reality what you need are the clients.

Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?

When our company started, our vision was to help busy entrepreneurs, who were largely in the sales industry, carve out a business that had the structure necessary to give them the freedom they wanted.

We found that a lot of entrepreneurs feel structure is restrictive, when in fact it gives them the path they need to give them the ability to leverage and scale so that they can have a successful business and life.

At the end of the day, what we found, was that we had to empower people in order for them to take empowered action, which is vital to create a structured business.

The purpose of our company is to power up people so they can build the businesses and lives that they are capable of leading, that they don’t choose to build until they approach it with a higher level of consciousness and confidence.

What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?

Human capacity and connection. We thrive in results mirrored in our physical world ascribing credit to our resonance with the communities we serve.

The teams of the future represent the coming together of higher mentalities, and gifts to achieve more together. We move with confidence into automation as a means to free our resources to elevate in the only path available to us: together.

Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?

The number one principle that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times is agile focus. We need to be compassionate, we need to be connected with our teams but we also need to be hyper focused on what’s most important so we can lead people through difficult times and still bring value to the marketplace.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

As mentioned above, I moved on from Director of Coaching to Director of Operations in a relatively short time and became half owner of the company with access and full decision-making authority. At that time the books were opened to me and it was instantly evident that the company was in quite a bit of financial difficulty. I played a significant role in turning the company around. I led the clearing of about $180k in debt and revamped the majority of the content which led to considerably stronger client retention.

As things were turning around, my (largely silent) partner decided they wanted to go in a different direction professionally. I was presented with some difficult questions; ‘Is this who I am, can I look at my children in the face with integrity if I don’t stand up and defend what I have built, what will I do if I don’t do this’. I remember fear. I remember the reality of having bills to pay. I also remembered some great advice I had been given; ‘If you really believe in it, bet your house on it’.

Ultimately, I went all in. I stood up for myself. The result of that pivotal moment saw my shares bought out, half of the client base following me to the new company based on the content I owned, and within a month and a half my client roster was full. Within three months, head down and determined, I had a client roster that occupied a second coach as well. Necessity and focus were the defining factors in my early success.

When I get tired or frustrated, I’m a typical entrepreneur. Instead of thinking ‘take a day off’ or ‘take a week off’ i think ‘okay maybe I’m done’ or ‘maybe I’m not meant to do this business’. But the reality of it is, I get a good night sleep and I know that this business for me, is not about money, it isn’t about a business, it’s about a purpose in my life and I believe that I’m destined to be doing what I’m doing.

This mentality has dragged me to the future, even when I feel exhausted and burnt out. To build this business, I had to run and jump off of a cliff. There was no ability to hesitate or play it safe, I think for me I had to believe it was my destiny to do it, or I wouldn’t have been able to take the risks that I did.

So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?

Now, I’m the CEO and founder of one of North America’s leading Real Estate Coaching companies.

We’re always expanding. We’ve currently been expanding our resources to help people obviously during the COVID-19 pandemic, to suit their needs of moving remotely.

But COVID-19 has definitely given another reason for top producers to build systematic process driven businesses, where clients get a higher level of services and the team or brokerage have a more organized way to conduct more business and transactions, while also having a life.

Our focus is on making sure the teams and brokerages that we support have a quality of life, to enhance their lifestyles in order to sell more homes. Our systems are allowing them to hit two very important goals at once.

We’re also expanding our services globally, by building systematically, we’re offering teams 16% higher profit margins than a typical team model would. Having agents on the top teams using our models sell 10 to 20 times the average transactions on most of their local Real Estate boards. Additionally, we’re aiding them in converting at up to 7 times higher when they get to our advanced conversion systems.

We’re really committed to helping our agents build the most efficient, productive and profitable teams in the world. Why would agents follow another path and journey when we’ve already created this path with a predictable track record with our agents?

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Vision, you need to know where you’re going. What is that top 1 percent life, what is that top 1 percent team, what do those look like to you?That’s going to give you depth. The number one stressor for team leaders is people management. If you have a vision of the business you want to have in the coming years, you can step into the reality that the key players might change, you need to make decisions based on where you’re going not based on where you’re at.
  2. Efficiency. We believe in having an approach that works before we invest a ton of money into lead generation or marketing. If an agent were to join your team, and they were converting at the same percentages you were for a step in the client process, would you recruit them?Would it be enough for you to invest money into that agent, if they were performing the same as you are. This is an important awareness to have, because when you have team members come on, you want them to have the exact same eyes. These are our minimum standards and the guidelines to how you’ll be efficient.
  3. Opportunities: Lead Generation and Marketing. We need to be in tune with the opportunities that are coming into the business, the source of business, what our top sources are and whether we need to expand them. We need to be aware of checking in on the things we’re testing, to ensure that they’re working properly, and to not be afraid to cut things, but make sure you’re getting insight into how long you need before you know something is working or not.
  4. Leverage. Do I know what I’m great at, and do I know the right profiles and the right expertise that I need in the other areas of my business? Am I always aware of the next steps for my business, and how I’m going to get there? Who’s the next hire you’ll have and are you adjusting your systems and processes to include them in it? Leverage is very important because if you can take some things off of your plate, it is very valuable to the business overall.
  5. Data. This includes tracking to target training, it includes multipliers, to know which business is coming from where and how much it’s costing you to create an appointment or deal. What are your budgets, profits and losses? This allows you to be more agile and adaptable quickly. You need to track in order to know how to spend your money, and stay up to date on how your business is getting and doing business. All of these different steps rely on strong systems and the protocols that support them.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I don’t think there has ever been one person. A lot of my opportunities actually came from overcoming challenges, so some of the people who gave me some of the opportunities I had are also people who presented massive challenges for me and my career.

At the end of the day, it’s relying on great mentorship, there’s not only one person I can name.

There were definitely brokers who gave me great advice and now we’ve built programs in place that we’ve created together, like Paul Baron from The #1 Century 21 Brokerage for the country, C21 Leading Edge in Canada.

I’m grateful for our team, I have an amazing group of people who support me and there’s no way I would be able to do what I do without them.

We have a collaborative leadership team who are very entrepreneurial, and who take ownership over what needs to happen. It’s very collaborative without a director style delegation, everyone owns their portion of the business. That is how we thrive.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Conscious living. I think people who are conscious about who they are, their values, and what they’re bringing to the world are typically better parents, better team members, better community supporters, better people. I find the ability to ‘do good’ is just more naturally present for people with a conscious mindset. If I can help people raise their consciousness and see their abilities and power, they will ultimately serve the world through their greater purpose with ease. If KBCC can have any influence on people leading themselves versus looking at others, that’s a win!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathleen-black-4811a052/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenBlackCoaching/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kathleenblackcoaching/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kbccoaching

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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