With a great brokerage and brand behind her, Colorado’s Jill Grano runs her business in her own way, on her own terms
By Camille Wilson // Photography by Marc Piscotty
Video by Michael Collins
When Jill Grano began her career at a small real estate brokerage in Boulder, Colorado, she recalls setting up her office, sitting in her chair and wondering to herself, “Now what?” Instead of being content to stay there and wait for business to walk in the door, she decided to get outside, enjoy the beautiful day and start connecting with people. People she could help. People she could serve. People she could count on to tell others about her.
And so it began. An exceedingly successful career built on action, authenticity, trust, relationships and – over time – more and more repeats and referrals. By 2012, her second year in the industry, she was ready to move to a RE/MAX brokerage – and there, with the freedom, independence and competitive advantages that come with affiliation, she absolutely soared. Now, five years later, she’s still going strong, running her business and supporting her passions by being visible, active and involved in the community
The Hall of Famer at RE/MAX Alliance on Walnut is usually out and about somewhere in Boulder. That’s just how she likes it.
“Real estate is a great career path because you can make it whatever you want and get to know people and serve the community at the same time,” says Grano, a two-time Chairman’s Club member who’s been recognized on multiple “Best Agent” lists in Colorado and beyond. “I’ve been very fortunate. It’s a great fit for me.”
An approach all her own
RE/MAX is a great fit for her, too – because Grano is an entrepreneur with the confidence and skills to blaze her own trail to success. She doesn’t do much formal prospecting. Instead, she moves around, doing things her way, in a fluid, unstructured work style. Asked to describe her typical day, she says there isn’t one.
“Want to know what I do? I stay opportunistic,” she says. “I call it turning outward in all of my interactions, which lets me remain open to possibilities and helpful to others. When you commit to serving others, you find leads, business and referrals down the road.”
She doesn’t maintain a physical office at the brokerage, preferring to work from her iPhone and MacBook in coffee shops or other spots around town. That way, she’s forever positioned to be face-to-face with new people, friends of friends, and potential clients of all stripes. Although she’s not prospecting per se, many casual conversations have turned into business. In fact, she recently won the listing on the $2.5 million home being sold by the owner of her favorite juice bar.
“I was one of five brokers she was considering,” Grano says. “She picked me because she knows me. Sometimes just being yourself is the best marketing you can do.”
Grano has several family members in real estate, and says her background knowledge of the industry led her to earning her license while pursuing a degree in political science. Despite her unconventional approach, she’s serious about the impact she’s able to have on her community.
In fact, one of the advantages of being at RE/MAX Alliance on Walnut, she notes, is being aligned with others who view real estate as a full-time profession of substance and impact.
“It’s a group of dedicated, productive professionals, and we help each other succeed,” Grano says. “We text back and forth all day about different properties and pricing, and I continue to learn about the market and the business every day. I have terrific managing brokers, too, and I really appreciate their support. I love it here.”
Grano also appreciates the advantages of trainings, accountability groups and a strong referral network, not to mention the strength of the brand. In her national and global travels, she finds people immediately recognize the RE/MAX name.
“It adds credibility and makes a difference,” she says.
Grano works hard to make a difference in Boulder, a community of 100,000 with a stunning backdrop and well-known affordable housing issues. The average single-family home price exceeds $1 million, and just 7.3 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable. Grano has served on several boards of directors working to drive policy change and is currently vice chair of the City of Boulder Board of Zoning Adjustments. She’s considering a City Council run toward the end of 2017.
“I love Boulder, but I believe cities with diversity in housing prices are more creative and more productive,” says Grano, who has also advocated for statewide policy changes through the Colorado legislature. “Affordability is an issue worth fighting for. There is a social and economic benefit to finding a balance of affordable housing,”
Grano’s efforts get very specific as well. In 2015, she set up a GoFundMe.com campaign for a battered single mother and her three children who were being evicted. The drive raised $40,000, which enabled the family to purchase a mobile home outright. The woman, with equity gains in hand, now plans to move again and even may open a business. The family’s lives and prospects are forever changed.
Between work and community involvement, much of Grano’s time is accounted for. So the single mom of two sons, 3 and 13, prioritizes time with them before anything else. Those are the time slots she protects with intention.
“I share my sons half-time with their dad, so on the days they’re with me, they’re my priority,” she says. “We always have dinner together, and my youngest comes out to showings or closings with me if something’s scheduled. He loves that there’s usually free juice and candy it in for him.”
On whatever day it might be, and at whatever time it might be, Grano watches for opportunities to take advantage of her beautiful community and the healthy, outdoor lifestyle it’s known for. Her mountain bike is always in her car, as are her hiking boots.
The key, it seems, is being opportunistic at all times, watching for a chance to go, and then going for it – in her own way and on her own terms. Just as with everything else in her life.