Born and raised in Ireland, Brian Buffini entered the real estate field when he immigrated to San Diego and found immediate success. In 1995, he founded Buffini & Company, to show others how to grow their real estate business.
Thanks to Buffini’s comprehensive coaching and training program, plus his unique lead-generation system, real estate pros in more than 37 countries have learned how to improve their business, increase net profit and enhance the quality of their life. Buffini recently took some time to talk coaching and how others can find success.
Keith Loria: What is your coaching philosophy?
Brian Buffini: My business philosophy is about building relationships to captivate the repeat and referral potential of an agent’s sphere of influence and past customer base. My coaching philosophy is systematic. First, we’ve created a system for our clients to follow that includes providing all their marketing and support materials so they can focus on taking action each day instead of trying to create processes from scratch. However, as systematic as we are in how we execute, is as individualistic we are as we coach. We have a secret weapon. Our Heritage Profile is hands down the best ability management tool in the industry. It allows our coaches to tailor their coaching and our system to the individual needs of our clients. And, it helps our clients lean into what they are naturally good at, and manage their areas of weakness.
Because we personalize the coaching experience in this way we focus on peoples’ strengths and what they do well—matching that up with the system. That’s why clients don’t just get great results; they stay in our coaching program a very long time because they enjoy what they’re doing every day.
KL: Why do real estate agents need outside coaching and training when they learn this from their own firms?
BB: I would define it in two ways – objective perspective, and accountability. Everybody needs outside perspective. Accountability is key because it’s far easier to come up with an excuse than it is to take action. Firms and franchises already have so many things on their plate and I believe they can do a great job with support, training and events—that’s why we’ve created training programs to support broker/mangers in that endeavor. However, the coaching relationship requires the confidentiality of a confessional and the safety of having someone not too close to the situation.
KL: Buffini & Company began in 1995 -how have your coaching methods and offerings evolved over the past two decades to keep up with changes in the industry?
BB: I’m a big believer that principles don’t change; tactics do. We have a very simple and easy-to-follow system for building relationships in such a way that you can generate a steady stream of high-quality referred leads to your business. It’s based on principles that don’t change—how to take care of existing clients in such a way that they continue to use your services, and also refer you to others. And that’s never going to change. On a tactical level, we’ve invested millions of dollars in creating several technology platforms. To mention just two, we’ve developed a CRM (Client Relationship Manager) based on the very lead-generation systems we coach our clients on. It’s a gorgeous interface, is easy to use, and our clients love it.
Another innovation is that we’ve built our own TV studio and we broadcast nationally and internationally through a channel we call Buffini TV. Although agents love coming to live events, we’ve created an opportunity for them to participate in both classroom training and tune into our live Success Tour events. They can stay at home and watch the broadcast, or watch it in groups at their office. This year I’ll do six Success Tour events where we’ll teach not only our referral systems, but also bring industry and thought leaders together to share cutting-edge content geared toward helping agents succeed. And even though there’ll be a couple of thousand people in attendance at each event, we will simultaneously broadcast it to tens of thousands of locations tuning in either individually, or in groups at an office. This gives the agent the flexibility to attend in person, watch at home, or synergize with their office.
KL: How have you incorporated technology and social media into the very personal and relationship-centric field of coaching?
BB: As I mentioned, we obviously embrace technology and have built some cutting-edge resources for the industry. But we also believe it is not the end all and be all of everything. Unfortunately, many people have succumbed to the “Shiny Object Syndrome” of social media and technology and they invest hundreds of hours each year though these mediums, but have little to show for it. Having a presence on social media is as important today as having a business card was in the past. It’s a wonderful way to connect with people, provide value and stay in touch with how and where people are communicating. But we also hold our clients accountable to not get lost in social media because it can become a distraction to the real work of building relationships, generating referrals and making sales.
KL: What makes your coaching so successful?
BB: We believe agents need mindset, motivation and methodology in order to succeed. That’s why every one of our clients sets goals – not only for business and income, but the other vital areas of their life. We provide regular motivation with inspirational video clips called Bit’O Brian. Our live Success Tour events are a combination of real estate training and rock concert. The real estate business is hard. It can be an emotional roller coaster and people need the grounding of a mindset, but the pick me up of motivation. Combine this with the confidence they have in our methods, and that’s why our average client last year made just under $300,000, while the average REALTOR® made just $35,000.
KL: How do the agents/firms you work with measure their return on investment from your services?
BB: Everybody’s expectations are different; we don’t define success for the individual; we allow them to articulate what success looks like for them. For instance, we have all types of people, all the way from someone who makes $85,000 a year up to somebody that makes $5.5 million a year in income. That’s their goal; that’s what they defined as success in their business and we have the system to ensure we support both clients. Of the thousands of people we work with, the average income is just under $300,000 a year. For $439 a month we can get someone a 5,400 percent return on their investment. A lot of people throw their numbers out there without validating; we validate all our numbers for our clients’ sake so they’re running business in a business-like fashion, and for our sake so we can have the credibility behind our messaging.
KL: What makes you different from other real estate coaches/trainers in the field?
BB: Two things; first and foremost, I actually had a very successful real estate sales career. While I respect everyone in the training field, I think it’s different when you sit at a kitchen table and get someone to sign a contract to buy or list a home. And that’s how you feed your family and pay your mortgage. It gives you a different perspective than someone who is all theory. I have empathy for agents and a level of understanding that’s layered into all our systems. I don’t ask agents to do a ridiculously unattainable amount of activities. I know what a person can and can’t do because I’ve been there and done that.
As far as our coaching staff is concerned, these are fulltime professionals, not part time coaches who also sell real estate or have another job. Our coaches work out of our company headquarters so they are able to synergize with other coaches to help overcome client challenges. We have our own built-in Training Department for coaches, and each coach is held accountable for the results of their clients. Many people in the coaching space have attempted to coach from home—a part-time coach, part-time agent dynamic. I’m not a big fan. I don’t want a part-time surgeon operating on me, a part-time pilot flying the plane I’m on, and I sure don’t want a part-time coach who’s responsible for transforming my business and life.
KL: If you could offer just one piece of advice to agents struggling to succeed in today’s challenging real estate market, what would it be?
BB: If you want to make your business big, you’ve got to make your focus small. Make a list of all the people you know or have done business with. Go see them! Take them for a coffee. Go to lunch. Pop-by their home. Let them know you’re there. Let them know you value the relationship. And oh, by the way…remind them you’re never too busy for any of their referrals. When you’re struggling, the most important thing is you get some kind of positive momentum…some feedback or results that’ll help you keep going. You need a small win right now in the form of a good interaction with a client or maybe a referral. And who knows, maybe you’ll get a lead or two.
We take a deep dive into the how and why of outside coaching in Real Estate magazine’s March cover story, available online on March 1. For more about Brian Buffini, please visit www.buffiniandcompany.com.