Katherine Barnett of Re/Max Realty Specialists: Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Launched My Business or Startup

An Interview With Doug Noll

Doug Noll
Authority Magazine

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Building strong relationships with other business owners and industry leaders has helped us gain valuable knowledge, resources, and support. Networking has opened doors to new opportunities and helped us build a reputation as experts in our field.

Taking the risk to start a company is a feat few are fully equipped for. Any business owner knows that the first few years in business are anything but glamorous. Building a successful business takes time, lessons learned, and most importantly, enormous growth as a business owner. What works and what doesn’t when one starts a new business? What are the valuable lessons learned from the “University of Adversity”? As part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katherine Barnett.

Katherine Barnett is the founder of the Barnett Real Estate Team, a highly successful all female Real Estate team in the Halton region and GTA. After 17 years of marriage and raising five children, Katherine chose to pursue her passion for real estate by starting her own business. Driven by a desire to help families find their dream homes, Katherine’s dedication and determination have brought her to the top of her field. You can find Katherine at https://katherinebarnett.com/

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a University of Toronto graduate in biochemistry in 1988, I quickly realized lab work wouldn’t cut it for me. I wanted to work with people. My Dad had worked in real estate and development and the industry seemed like a good fit for me. I love working with people, so I saved up while serving tables and took my real estate course. I bought a few new suits and financed a car.

I got my license and met my husband ( now X ) at work while selling real estate. I loved it and I was good at connecting with people and helping them find their next home.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

After a nasty divorce in 2007, I found myself a single mom of five kids and the sole provider. I had been working on a team with my husband and he locked me out of the database. I was in debt to the tune of 90K and it was sink or swim.

I was starting from ground zero with my own business and five young kids. It was terrifying.

I moved into a new home, set up an office and put my head down to work. I worked most days from 8 am until I went to sleep at 11 pm. I built my business by Door Knocking, cold calling, open houses, flyers and ads. I had time with my kids. I was able to drop them off at the bus stop, pick them up after school, have dinner with them most days, tuck them in then go back to work, thanks to the flexibility of a Real Estate business..

I met so many wonderful clients along the way who have become dear friends. Connecting with people is the best. Helping them find their next home is a joy. I love that everyday is different and there is never a dull moment in this business.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I had five kids to look after and I wanted them to have what they needed. I knew I had to make this work for their sake.

I recall an agent asking me if I do affirmations in the morning, how do I get motivated to do so well. When you have kids to provide for, that’s all you need to get up and keep going. .

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Today things are going very well. I put my head down and worked many 16 hour days in the beginning. Sometimes I worked months without a day off. I knocked on doors, called people, did open houses and connected with people whenever I could.

I built an excellent reputation and my business started to flourish by repeat and referral business. Now I have an administrator and an amazing sales team.

Starting a business takes a lot of work and time, but it pays off.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was showing homes to a Buyer about an hour away from where I live. We had seen several homes and they had their kids with them. I got distracted.

After finishing up and driving home I put my hand in my pocket to find the key to a property I had shown. Yikes. I had to drive an hour back to the property to return the key. So embarrassing and so inconvenient.

I learned to double check the doors and keys at every showing!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My team has perfected the art of listening to our clients and going above and beyond.

One client in particular told me I’m not your typical real estate agent — I don’t approach things with a salesy attitude, instead I connect deeply with my clients and put in the work needed to get the job done to the highest standard. She said, “you really are a class act!”

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I’ve learned to take scheduled days off and regular vacations to recharge. If I’m starting to feel stressed out and don’t want to see anyone, it’s time to take a break.

I love being in nature and it is a fantastic way to reset. It improves my mood, creativity and focus. I enjoy hiking, camping and being by the lake or ocean whenever I can. Even a short walk on the trail near my house is helpful.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There have been many amazing people along the way, but Suze Cumming from The Nature of Real Estate was my mentor and coach for a few years and she really stands out. She helped me believe I could achieve more and I doubled my business. Suze is a mindset coach, and mindset is huge in my business.

She is an awesome soul and now we are friends.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am a proud sponsor of the Milton Menace Hockey team, they are OJHL champions here in Milton.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first launched my business” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1 . Understanding our customers and their needs is crucial. I say this because the only way to deliver or over deliver for our clients is to know what matters to them. I ask what is most important to them in their Realtor. Then I listen. They always tell me what matters most to them, so then I can make sure that I deliver that on top of what we already do to deliver excellent results.

Recently I interviewed clients to see what their pain points are and what services, if any, we can add to make their experience even better.

By focusing on customer satisfaction, we have ensured that we are meeting or exceeding expectations and addressing our client’s pain points.

2 . Building a strong and motivated team is key to achieving success in business.

Our team works well together and is committed to achieving a common goal. Which is to provide service to every client the same way we would sell or buy our own homes. My team is made up of all past clients and two of them are family members who entered the business after buying and selling. My Sister Jeannie and my oldest daughter Maggie are part of my team..

Heather, my first team member, was such an asset that clients started to mix us up due to our similar work ethic and approach.

I’ve failed at hiring team members a few times. I didn’t carefully explore their values and this cost me wasted time, training and precious energy.

The culture of your team must be solid and everyone must be on the same page. I can trust everyone on my team with anything, They are smart, efficient and 100% have each other’s backs at all times.

3 . The ability to adapt and change direction quickly is important for any business. By being flexible and open to new ideas and opportunities, we have capitalized on new market trends and emerging opportunities.

Real Estate marketing has changed over the years. Technology is always changing and clients’ expectations are different now. I have learned to embrace the new rather than resist change in our business. I think it’s easy to get stuck in patterns and old ways of doing things but those days are gone!

One thing I really don’t like is when the market is so tight that homes are holding offers until a set date. I used to resist this practice. It is so frustrating for buyers and feels unfair. But it has been proven to get the seller more money so when the market calls for it, we do it. We constantly have to adapt to what is happening and change our strategy to deliver for our clients.

4 . Business planning is essential for setting goals, developing strategies and measuring progress. A solid business plan provides a roadmap for achieving success and helps to keep us on track. How can we get somewhere if we don’t know where we are going? We know what we want to do this year and how to do it. This is key.

5 . Building strong relationships with other business owners and industry leaders has helped us gain valuable knowledge, resources, and support. Networking has opened doors to new opportunities and helped us build a reputation as experts in our field.

It’s important to be talking to other successful Realtors about what is going on in their market and what they’re experiencing. I didn’t know this when I was new but markets can change so quickly. If we aren’t talking to other professionals we don’t always know what’s happening.

I remember having a house for sale and I received an offer for my client. I told the agent it was too low. He said the market is dropping and I didnt realize this was happening at the time. My client missed out and values dropped after that.

We have connections with Mortgage brokers, home inspectors, painters, stagers and more.

Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?

I’ve learned that there are always ups and downs. Real Estate is 100 % commission based business so it’s either going well or it isn’t. When things are feeling low, I learned it won’t last. During these times, I practice self care. Maybe get a massage, take some time away, read an inspirational book or meet with a positive friend. And then get to work to change things!

One year I didn’t have a sale until April, I was totally freaked out but then I ended up having a pretty good year. We can’t always control when our clients will come. But we can control our mindset and actions.

Having a mindset coach or mentor in general is also extremely valuable. They help me to keep a good perspective no matter what is going on around me. The news can be scary so I avoid watching the news and read news on my phone. This takes the drama out of it for me.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I have an adult Special Needs son.

Families like mine who have an adult child with special needs face a unique set of challenges when it comes to housing. In Ontario, there is a severe lack of resources available for families in these situations, leaving many feeling helpless and without options.

We need better solutions that provide relief and respite for families who are struggling to care for their adult children with special needs. We need a fully funded option where they can bring their adult children so they can receive the support they need in a safe and nurturing environment. By doing this, we will be able to give these families hope and the peace of mind that their loved ones have a place to call home.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can also find me on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/katherinebarnettrealestateteam/

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/katherinebarnett.remax/

and Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/katherinembarnett/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About the Interviewer: Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA was born nearly blind, crippled with club feet, partially deaf, and left-handed. He overcame all of these obstacles to become a successful civil trial lawyer. In 2000, he abandoned his law practice to become a peacemaker. His calling is to serve humanity, and he executes his calling at many levels. He is an award-winning author, teacher, and trainer. He is a highly experienced mediator. Doug’s work carries him from international work to helping people resolve deep interpersonal and ideological conflicts. Doug teaches his innovative de-escalation skill that calms any angry person in 90 seconds or less. With Laurel Kaufer, Doug founded Prison of Peace in 2009. The Prison of Peace project trains life and long terms incarcerated people to be powerful peacemakers and mediators. He has been deeply moved by inmates who have learned and applied deep, empathic listening skills, leadership skills, and problem-solving skills to reduce violence in their prison communities. Their dedication to learning, improving, and serving their communities motivates him to expand the principles of Prison of Peace so that every human wanting to learn the skills of peace may do so. Doug’s awards include California Lawyer Magazine Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America Lawyer of the Year, Purpose Prize Fellow, International Academy of Mediators Syd Leezak Award of Excellence, National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals Neutral of the Year. His four books have won a number of awards and commendations. Doug’s podcast, Listen With Leaders, is now accepting guests. Click on this link to learn more and apply.

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Doug Noll
Authority Magazine

Award-winning author, teacher, trainer, and now podcaster.