Lori Arnold—broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Apex, REALTORS® in Dallas, Texas—joined her family’s business in the late 1980s. At that time, Apex was a one-office operation with five agents. Today, Arnold has grown Apex into a powerhouse with 15 locations and over 625 associates.
Arnold also notes that she's particularly proud of the fact that Apex is the No. 1 woman-owned and -operated Coldwell Banker Affiliate Company in the country. Family has always played a pivotal role in her life, and she devotes much of her time to coaching her extended family—her agents and employees.
Here, Arnold chats with us about her coaching style and the top qualities she looks for in a new agent, among other things.
What first drew you to the real estate industry?
I grew up in a real estate family. As a child, I had no interest in the family business. As a newlywed, my husband had interest in real estate and I mainly wanted to be with him—I still do 36 years later.
Why did you choose Coldwell Banker?
I had worked in my family's small real estate firm and, although I had been successful, I realized I didn't have the same resources to compete at a higher level in the market. I took over the family's five-person office in 1990, and by 1993 I decided to review my options with a franchise.
Having been an agent since 1982, I had my own personal perception of the various franchises in the DFW area and took the time to look deeper. There were several things that stood out when learning about Coldwell Banker. Most of the people I was introduced to had a tenure that was much longer than other franchises. I also felt like the partnership attitude was exactly what I was looking for to grow my small company.
What was your biggest obstacle when you first got started?
I don't believe I saw this as an obstacle but, looking back, it was to hire agents who saw the vision of what I believed our company could become and for those agents to be willing to trust that vision and join us. We have been immensely blessed with a loyal group of amazing professionals who call Coldwell Banker Apex home.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into coaching?
I call coaching "my why." It's why I go to work every day. It's what drives me. I knew that coaching my agents and staff was the thing that drove me, but recently I had an experience that taught me the "why" behind "my why."
I was lucky enough to have an incredible mentor when I joined Coldwell Banker in 1993, Tom Lainson, who was my first business consultant. I credit Tom with helping our company become what it is today. But while filming a video for Coldwell Banker recently, I had a light bulb moment: I love coaching because of this mentor relationship. Tom changed our company future forever and I want to do that for those who work for us.
Can you give us some qualities that you look for in an individual who you’re considering bringing on as an associate?
It may sound simplistic but we have three things that are beginning qualities before we even consider an agent. For one, they need to be full-time. We see real estate as a career endeavor, not a hobby. In today's market, that eliminates a lot of agents. Also, integrity. Always putting the clients' interest first and doing what is right. Lastly, we do not do diva. About a decade ago, I decided that there was no amount of real estate sales that could make me want to have a "diva" working for us. Once we made that a firm requirement, the culture of my company changed. Our agents support each other on a very high level and really have each other's back.
What does it mean to you to be the No. 1 woman-owned and -operated Coldwell Banker Affiliate Company?
I am fortunate enough to be in a brain trust group of the top CB brokers. It was the men in that group that made me even realize that CB Apex was the top woman-owned and -operated firm. My goal is to be the best broker regardless of gender. Having started real estate at 19, and being a wife and mother, I do believe women have some extra challenges in balancing home and work. I hope I can inspire and assist my female agents with those challenges.
What’s the next big trend in real estate going to be?
I think there's a tremendous push to reduce the profit margins for REALTORS® and companies from sources that don't realize how difficult this industry is. From the outside, this industry looks easy. Great people don't want to work for free and I believe you always get what you pay for. So I think the trend to put pressure on commission will continue.
I think the trend among some franchises and brokerages to hire quantity of "hobbyist" real estate agents may peak. The value of a truly great real estate agent can't be underestimated. Nor can the disservice the "hobbyist" mentality in our industry. If we believe that a real estate sale or purchase is often the largest financial decision a family makes, I would hope the trend to ensure the public has qualified professionals would become important to brokerage firms everywhere.
Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
At Coldwell Banker Apex serving my agents and staff. In the last five years, we have grown from a company closing 4,200 units a year to 6,800 units in 2017. We believe we will break the $2 billion mark in 2018. Had you asked me this same question in 2012, I wouldn't have anticipated the growth. At the end of the day though, for me it's about having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of my agents and staff just like my mentor did for me many years ago.
Featured image: Coldwell Banker Apex, REALTORS®