Clear communication — This is the top complaint of clients! Make sure you’re communicating the way that they’re comfortable with, whether that be text, email, calling, etc.
Active listening — Don’t decide you know what you’re going to say before you’ve finished hearing out your client.
Customer service — If they’re asking a question, there is a reason for it. Make sure you’re getting the emotions out of your work and focusing on tending to your client’s wants and needs.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Dressler.
Linda Dressler is the president of Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS and a REALTOR and broker at RE/Max Suburban. Dressler has been on the Mainstreet board of directors since 2017 and served as the treasurer in 2019. Her motto is, “helping from the heart.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
I spent a large part of my career as a Tupperware manager. I was determined to change people’s lives and give women a sense of independence by recruiting them to find a job they loved. That’s because for as long as I can remember, I’ve always adored making people happy. In a world where things can be negative, bringing a smile to people’s faces is what I find joy in.
Once I heard about the opportunities to help others that becoming a REALTOR offered, I had to get involved. I joined the Women’s Council of REALTORS and their education and leadership was priceless. The experiences of those that I met became valuable lessons for me as I entered my career in real estate.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
When people get into real estate they don’t realize how much work is involved. There’s so much more than just looking at houses all day. I remember being a new agent and being so frustrated that it felt like there was always a wrench being thrown in the way of closing the deal. It’s important to detach yourself from any drama and emotions, and just think of it as gained experience. The buyers and sellers may get emotional and they have every right to, but that’s not the job of the REALTOR. Be the professional that takes the emotion out of it and it’ll help you develop relationships and build trust with your clients.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m currently running for park district commissioner in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. I’ve never had to campaign to get my name on the ballot, so reaching out to people in the area to collect signatures has been a unique experience. It’s in my DNA to serve and volunteer — it’s my hobby! And so I’m hoping with this new position I’ll be able to help people and make the community an even better place to call home for its residents.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I’m incredibly proud of our team at Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS. With 18,000 members, we’re the seventh-largest local REALTOR association in the U.S. and the largest in Illinois. I think what makes us stand out is how established we are in the community and how we’re always adapting to better serve our members.
In 2021, we’re celebrating Mainstreet’s 100th year of being an association. Over time, we’ve grown through the mergers of many local REALTOR organizations. I love being part of an organization that has this much longevity. And while we’re an old organization, we’re cutting edge when it comes to what agents and consumers need. We’ve grown as our consumers have grown — we never want to stagnate.
Mainstreet is a leader, and we always want to provide a bold vision for our members. Currently, this includes starting a diversity task force to ensure inclusivity in leadership and recruitment, and the continued expansion of cutting edge technologies for members such as Forewarn and Proxio. Forewarn is a safety tool for our REALTOR members, and Proxio allows us to provide a centralized location for members’ digital listings and promote them locally and globally.
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 about that?
I have been with my husband since 1979 — since I was 14 years old! He’s been there for me through it all. No matter what hat I wear, my husband is quietly supporting me. Just a few days ago, he got home from a long day of work and I could tell he was exhausted, I was too. But I needed to go collect signatures for the park district commissioner position. He was right there with me driving around as I went door to door. It’s the little things like that which make me realize how lucky I am.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?
In society, it’s traditionally been the women that have to stay home while the man leaves for work. This puts women at a disadvantage professionally. I think we’re moving past that as a society, but in some industries, the gender parity in senior positions still isn’t equal.
Companies need to address the heightened challenges women are facing and better support inclusion and diversity, which have both always been an issue. But inclusion and diversity go beyond gender, it encompasses religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and sexual preference as well. I’ve recently heard from a Black woman about her experiences in the real estate industry and it caused me tremendous sadness to listen to some of the adversity she’s faced. I feel that as a white woman, I haven’t had to face those challenges. So yes, we absolutely need to have more women in senior positions, but that must be inclusive of minority groups.
What 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
- Making work more sustainable and flexible. This is improving now because of COVID-19 and it’s working in favor of women and their lifestyles. If you’re able to stay home and work, you have an advantage that you previously might’ve not had.
- Taking a closer look at performance and not who that person is. This goes back to my point above about focusing on inclusivity.
- Adjusting policies and programs to support women. Taking steps to minimize biases and improve communications because that manages expectations.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I think there’s a challenge with the work-life balance that women face. As mentioned, women with children have long been expected to fill the maternal role, which can mean a focus on the children and keeping a home in order. I think we’re growing out of these stereotypes and our society is moving towards more balance between two partners, but this remains a challenge for many women executives.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
- The ability to earn same wage no matter the gender, skin color, sexual orientation, sexual preference or religion
- The opportunity to touch so many lives in a positive way
- The chance to be a mentor for others
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
- Sometimes, we can speak within our own echo chamber, and if this continues it will make us out of touch. If we want to continue building trust with homebuyers and home sellers we need to be having open conversations with them and equipping them with as much knowledge as possible so they can make informed decisions.
- REALTORS® are working towards the same goal, which is to provide home-buyers and home-sellers with an end-to-end valuable home transaction experience. We need to remember that we’re professionals and that how people see us is how they’re going to see the profession. Even as they interact with agents on the other sides of the transaction, attorneys, etc. we need to remember everyone is part of the same sphere. We should be creating a world of collaboration.
- Unintentional biases can be a huge problem. If you’re not intentionally inclusive, you’re unintentionally exclusive.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
We have to be transparent both with our clients and our teams. This ties into working collaboratively as opposed to competitively, which will ultimately build a better reputation for all of us. Lastly, inclusivity is tremendously important. These three things will help build a strong culture of accountability, honesty, camaraderie and compassion.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
Here are the top five skills you’ll need:
- Clear communication — This is the top complaint of clients! Make sure you’re communicating the way that they’re comfortable with, whether that be text, email, calling, etc.
- Active listening — Don’t decide you know what you’re going to say before you’ve finished hearing out your client.
- Customer service — If they’re asking a question, there is a reason for it. Make sure you’re getting the emotions out of your work and focusing on tending to your client’s wants and needs.
- Organization — Create a system for yourself so that you operate efficiently.
- Positive attitude — No one wants to be around a Negative Nancy. You’ll gain more referrals and business by maintaining positivity.
Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d like to remind people that we’re all human beings. My motto is, “helping from the heart.” Everyone is going through their own trials and tribulations. We’re all inherently here together so let’s work together to make it a positive experience.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!