Woman in Business Interview with Racheli Smilovits of Loans-4-U.com
Tell us about your business. How you got started? Why you chose the Real Estate Industry and what you love most about it?
It was 1995 I just wanted a loan for my Home. The person I went to inquire about the loan said “I’ll gladly do your loan if you come to learn the mortgage business and work here part time”. At the time I was doing financial services, so mortgages seemed like a good addition.
It wasn’t a year and I was full time doing mortgages and loving it. Clients were chasing me rather thnt I chase clients, I liked that dynamic much better.
I must thank one of the people who were working there at the time, Jeff, who shared with me that he visits 25 real estate offices a week. As he was saying it I felt a nut in my stomach that got tighter and tighter and he continued sharing with me his system of door knocking and cold calling. That day I vowed that this will not be me. I didn’t know what and how I will do it differently but I was committed to find a different method that will suit my personality better.
I found it in a system that promotes building business based on referral and relationships rather than how many strangers I speak with in a day (known as cold calling and door knocking). It’s about 14 years now that my business is based entirely on repeat and referral clients. I love it and I get to be who I am and devote my time to serve my clients rather that chasing for new ones. It lets me play the “what if game” with clients to guide them through the process of Home Ownership. And I get to use every thing I know with Financial Services to enhance the relationships. Many tell me that I am not the “Normal Mortgage Advisor” who collects information and shuffle papers. For me a decision mad together with my clients has consequence on other areas, I point the benefits of one way over the other and share secrets on money saving ideas that are worth tens on thousands. “How come I never heard about it” is the most common comment I get.
What are some of your biggest challenges in growing your business?
In today’s market we have shifted from being totally loose on lending guidelines to being totally tight to the point of outrageous. I am fortunate to still be in the mortgage business where thousands have left. I believe that this is due to how I built my business. These days I believe that business have to be so careful to stay at float and take care of the basic of the business, rather then looking to grow. The growth is happening we just don’t see the results yet. Like a seed that take it’s time until you see the little bud picking out to become a beautiful flower. Patience is key now. Keep ‘fertilizing”, “watering” and “give sun” to your business, the results are happening and your business will bloom.
What are some of the best marketing programs you have implemented and why?
I use a referral base system to build and maintain my business. I have been fortunate enough to be trained and coached by one of the best coaching companies in the US named Buffini and Company. They cater primarily to real estate people, but the system is universal and can be utilized by any business that needs to generate new business.
“Hand Written Personal Notes” has been the most cost effective and rewarding when it comes to building relationships with clients. That’s one of the tools I utilize. It doesn’t end there it’s just the beginning of the dance. Others marketing ideas are “Clients Parties” where I invite a selective group of people for a get together. We did movies, picnics, dinners and more.
Another one that you liked Heidi were the ”quirky marketing ideas”.
How do you decide which marketing programs to use?
I look at where we are and what my clients need and come up with marketing ideas that addresses those concerns. I make a conscious effort to think of what my clients will need before they would realize they need it.
How do you measure the success of your marketing initiatives?
What you don’t measure you can’t improve .Track and test your efforts to see what needs tweaking so that you will end up with your desired outcome. You can do split testing with Headlines, Offers etc. Each has to be grabbing and engaging or it won’t work.
If you could change one thing about the Real Estate Industry today, what would it be?
I would put in place some monitoring check points so that we don’t get looped into the greed we had in the early 2000’s. A financially sound area is an area where the median home price is 3 times the median income. In south Florida during the 2005 year we reached a 7 times figure. This is unhealthy though people didn’t “FEEL” it. When I told realtors, clients and the media, that the “train has stopped it just didn’t get to the station yet” and that we will loose 30%-40% in value of our real-estate, thy looked at me like I was from a different planet. That’s when we started to have a negative influx of people leaving the area because they couldn’t keep up with prices. Those who stayed many of them went way over their head. And now we all are facing the consequences of this ill market. We are correcting and in my humble opinion it is in the BANKS’ hands how fast we come out. The banks among other industries and the public got us here, however, the BANKS in my opinion, with the way they are handling the housing crises these days are responsible for getting us so down and keeping us way too long than is needed in the dumps. There is no logic in asking a prospective buyer to wait 4, 5 0r 9 months to get an answer if they can even buy the home at an offered price. By then the value is way down. NO BUSINESS would stay in business handling their clients that way.
What are the top 2 or 3 mistakes you see other Real Estate Professionals make?
1. They take their customers for granted.
2. They don’t keep in constant touch. So they can earn the right to get referrals
3. They don’t find out from the 1st interview what the underling “WHY” is that they are buying or selling a home. You may have to dig in with 5-6 layers of questions to find the real WHY, and all through the transaction keep the client’s eye on that WHY so the whole transaction doesn’t get derailed. It’s an art and to be successful must be learned.
What advice would you offer someone just coming into your field?
Find a mentor that you respect Take them to lunch and ask for their advice.” Buffini and Company” had the perfect program which I am a mentor for it’s called “100 Days To Greatness” .I wish I had this program available when I started. It warms my hear when one of my realtor students told me at the end of the year she took the 100 days class that “it was my best year ever in 15 years of doing Real Estate”. Find out who is training in your area. You can call me and I will do my best to find someone for you.
What professional organizations do you belong to/network with?
1-2 networking events per week is my goal. I belong to a few. The Ft. Lauderdale Chambers of Commerce, Women’s Council of Realtors, The women Executive Club of Ft. Lauderdale I attended and planning to join. The Women’s Council under the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. I love the “Balance Magazine networking as it is full with very energetic women. Heidi if I am correct we met at one of those luncheons. There are more that I visit from time to time.
What do you do in your leisure time?
I rollerblade and do Yoga every week, I want to find out if there is such a thing as Rollerthon Triathlon with rollers rather than running if you know if any please let me know. Traveling is a passion, and a cup of coffee with a good friend is always great food for the soul.
What book are you reading right now?
I study and read 2-3 hours a day usually early morning. Just finished 2 great books,
“The Attractor Factor” by Joe Vitale, and
“Permission to Succeed” by Noah St. John.
I am reading a few books now. The answer by John Assaraf,
“Empowerment” by Gene Landrum and
“The Book of Tamar” by Shlomit Abramson.
Heidi you gave me 3 that are next. It’s amazing to me how one book roles you to the next.
What’s next for Racheli Smilovits?
Internet Marketing is something that I stumbled upon when I was looking for ways to reach more clients and realtors. People I meet and serve keep telling me “You got to share this, more people need to know, this is amazing” and so on. So since 2007 I have been studying how to use the internet so reach more people and it’s working great through utilizing Social Media Tools, TeleSeminars, writing articles, publicity, workshops and more. Heidi I see us doing something together in the near future, for the betterment of the community.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A recession is a terrible thing to waste.
These times are ones to look within. Do you know there are 8 X more millionaires created during times like we are experiencing now than normal time? Those people find a way to seize the moment they give answers to problems and issues society face.
What are your gifts? What are your strengths? Marcus Buckingham in his book “GO Put Your Strength to Work” is suggesting that to get a head our society needs to have individuals and companies develop more of their strengths rather than try to develop and work on one’s weaknesses This book really makes you think.
Take some quite time; I love the ocean, no phones, emails, text, JUST YOU, YOURSELF, and the UNIVERSE. Be in the NOW and think what would you like for yourself and the world you are in? What is really important to you what do you really want. Your thoughts, feelings and actions should vibrate that energy. Welcome to your renewed you. Touch, Connect, Inspire.
Heidi, I am Thankful for the opportunity to share with you and your readers.
You can learn more about Racheli at www.loans-4-u.com and www.MeetRacheli.com