On Building a Successful Team, Motherhood and Entrepreneurship
Looking back at her professional journey, Sara-Christine didn’t know she would end up building a real estate empire that she has today. Her team of six real estate brokers and associates is set to grow to ten by the end of 2021. Troini credits her success to discipline and hard work that she developed in her competitive figure skating years, and working from a young age to support herself. She worked multiple jobs from waitressing to bartending in her 20’s, which led her to create a team that produces over 200 transactions a year, winning the award of Best Team in Quebec. All this while being a mother of soon-to-be two children! Here’s the story of a woman who leads in every area of her life.
Tell me about your journey to becoming a real estate broker?
I went straight into real estate after doing some courses at McGill in Communications. The course was difficult for me, I passed the exam only on the third try. During my first year, I kept a side job on weekends to pay my bills. For the first three years, I worked nonstop and I was alone, but it taught me so much about hard work, dedication and perseverance.
How was the transition from working under a team to building your own team?
It happened gradually, as it is difficult to delegate in the beginning as a broker, when you have a certain expectation of how you want your clients to be serviced. You spend so much time building a brand image that each person has to represent those values you set forth so it doesn’t happen overnight. When I got pregnant my physician advised me to stop working because I had a hard time during pregnancy, so I had no choice but to act on that quickly, and form a team that could replace me when I couldn’t be there.
Thats when I realized I needed a team – I was always on the road, speaking with clients and didn’t have time to come back and take care of paperwork, that’s when I knew I needed a secretary. Now my team has three secretaries, three brokers and counting. I would like us to be ten by the end of the year.
Do you find becoming a mother made you better in business?
It’s funny, but becoming a mother definitely made me more disciplined, organized and develop a routine. It helped me enormously. You can do both quite well, it’s definitely not easy but it is possible. It forces you to prioritize and not waste time.
What are three words you would use to define your team?
Humility, perseverance, and customer service. Buying a home is such an emotional time in a persons life, I always give it my 100%, bringing it my expertise of selling over 200 homes per year. You have to stay objective, but give it your all every time. That’s the advice I give my team. To be there for the clients. It’s not just a transaction, it’s building a relationship.
For me, it’s not about the experience or how much you know because you can always learn more – it’s about how hard you are willing to work. I prefer to work with people who are less talented per say but aren’t afraid to work hard because they will learn what they need to. It’s a feeling for me.
What areas do you focus on?
Our expertise is North Shore, Lanaudiere and Laurentiens – with today’s social media reach we can pretty much go anywhere. We have clients in Montreal, places in Quebec. It’s a great advantage to be able to reach more people [because it] no longer limits us to a physical place.
What is your five year goal?
I would love to have a bigger team. I would like us to be 20+ brokers. I want to keep growing by still keeping our excellent five-star quality service with each client.
How do you maintain your work/life balance?
I work all the time, but I never feel like I’m working because I really love what I do. I wouldn’t know how to “not work”. Sometimes I take a few hours off and I get restless. My daughter is definitely what keeps me balanced or else I would be working all the time! I prioritize time for my boyfriend and my child, with another one on the way now.
What is a challenge you have surmounted recently?
For me the hardest thing is to make sure my team is constantly driven and satisfied. It’s hard to manage seven people and to make sure they are each following their path [while we work towards a bigger goal]. I’m happy when my girls are happy, their success is my success. The well being of my team is my responsibility.
What advice would you give when facing a challenge in business?
For me, it’s simple. When things get hard, I take a step back and assess the situation and ask myself : can I do something to change this? If yes, then I get to work or act on it, if there’s nothing to change than there’s nothing you can do about it, release yourself from the situation.
What advice would you have given yourself when you first started in business?
I would’ve really liked to get help with my finances. How to save, where to invest it. When you start off for the first few years, it’s an investment you are making in yourself and in your business – it costs a lot to be a broker whether you make a sell or not you have bills coming in, you have to pay your brokerage fees monthly, rent an office etc. You need another income or savings account in order to survive those years. People think that being a broker means you get to make your own hours but that’s not true – when a client needs you – you have to show up. You have to be careful to manage
Investing in real estate?
When investing in real estate, it’s important to have a diversified portfolio ; stocks, RRSP, residential, commercial investments. If it’s a first property – I suggest you invest in a commercial building that gets you revenue. The bank will base its funding on the value of the property itself, instead of your salary.
Photo Credit : Dorothée Beaulieu