(Above) Veronica Figueroa and The Figueroa Team “take a deep dive in everything we do.”
Veronica Figueroa’s career started in timeshares—a common niche in her region, but far from her ideal profession.
“I got my real estate license straight out of college with no desire to get into real estate,” she explains. “I dabbled a little in timeshares, and I knew it wasn’t for me.”
Figueroa changed course and entered the hospitality/human resources industry—her career of choice in college—but kept her license. “‘Maybe one day when I buy, I’ll use it,'” she reasoned.
Figueroa did need it, after a divorce left her raising two children solo. While in her full-time human resources role, she began part-time in real estate, driven by her family’s needs.
“It was a way to supplement my income and make sure that my children would be provided for,” she says. “I became obsessed with it immediately, and I started selling to every friend and every family member. It was the combination of skills that I had learned in human resources and my background in hospitality, and my passion that was fueled by providing for my kids.”
Soon, Figueroa was all-in on real estate, discovering that with her drive and mentality, her business could soar.
“My first three months in real estate, I made $11,000,” she says. “I thought, ‘If I gave this my all, and I wasn’t dividing myself between a full-time job, imagine what I can do.’ I took the leap of faith and never looked back.”
There were bumps in the road—”We’ve failed our way forward,” Figueroa says—and the crash, which required she rethink her strategy. Along the way, she has maintained her spirit and vision—one she draws from as leader of The Figueroa Team at her brokerage, RE/MAX Innovation, alongside husband Tony. RISMedia recently spoke to Figueroa about her team, and how she and the group are primed for success.
Suzanne De Vita: Veronica, you started out with a stint in timeshares. How did you come to form your real estate team?
Veronica Figueroa: I decided to go into residential sales, and started part-time while I had a full-time job. Within three months, I quit my full-time job and went full-time [into real estate] as a newly single mother, newly divorced with two small children in private school. I had already met Tony, and he supported me. I hired my first assistant in 2006, and in 2007-2008, I hired my first buyer agent.
Then, the market crashed. I had to move my business back into my living room. I listed my first short sale—I had no idea what I was doing!—and I realized the REO market was an opportunity. I hopped on a flight to Texas to a Five Star Conference with $5,000 left in my bank account, and went out on a mission to meet every single asset manager I could. We broke into the REO market and became really proficient in the operational side of the business.
In 2010-2011, the market was shifting again, and we went really deep into traditional farming in the market that we lived in. I bought a RE/MAX franchise in 2012, and I got really intentional with learning and dissecting all things in the digital space, social media and the online consumer experience. Fast-forward to now, we have a team of 21, and our goal is to sell no less than $125 million and continue to recruit and grow and build multiple streams of business.
SD: Your core marketplace is Orlando. How are the changes in your market motivating your team?
VF: Orlando being a popular destination, we’re seeing lots of growth, lots of new jobs and lots of development. On the flip side, we’re also a target for disruptors—we’re seeing iBuyers and all of these competitors coming into the market. It’s a great market, so long as you can pivot and have a value proposition and be willing to put in the work. We’re a fun, focused, dynamic group of people who have high integrity and are very generous. We’re growth-minded, we stay very nimble when it comes to change, and we’ve always been learning-based.
SD: What’s your approach to leading your team?
VF: The EOS [Entrepreneurial Operating System] Traction process is our management style. Everyone’s clear on what the vision is. We’re always discussing what our issues are, and everyone is participating, helping with this vision and mission, and helping us move the rocks up the mountain. If anyone’s wanting to improve their management style, ensure everyone is clear on what their role is.
SD: Communication is key to your team’s workflow. What tools are you using?
VF: We communicate via Slack non-stop, seven days a week, from eight in the morning to 10 or 11 at night. Slack has become a way for us to communicate and be invested in each other’s business. We [also] meet every Monday in person. We have a clear agenda as to what went on the previous week, we allow our listing agents to share their up-and-coming listings or their challenges with their listings, and together with our buyer’s agents, we learn what types of buyers they’re working with to see if there’s a fit. We talk about industry challenges and we’ll have vendors [come in], as well.
SD: You’ve built a powerful presence on social media. What’s your strategy?
VF: It’s about standing out in an ever-competitive market. We’re just being authentic. We’re a fun group. We want people to know that we’re energetic, we have a lot of passion, and we’re going to take a deep dive in everything we do. We wanted our brand and our culture to be true to who we are. What you’ll find with us is we celebrate our wins on social media. We share our lives on social media, from our children to our beliefs as far as the things we love. It’s our pets, it’s travel…we want people to get to know us. We want to be 100-percent authentic to who we are and who we are going to continue to be: bold, brave, fun, honest, the most hard-working people, and not afraid to take risks.
SD: You have a goal of $125 million in sales this year. What’s next for your team?
VF: We are looking to incorporate a new showing assistant model for our top producers so that they can continue to scale and grow their business—somewhat of a “team within a team,” giving them an opportunity to grow into the entrepreneurs they deserve to be without having to figure it out on their own, and leverage the resources that we provide. The stretch goal is $150 million, and we will be recruiting, as well. We’re really excited about where the industry’s going.
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.