Tracy French has been selling real estate for just five years. But in that short time, the recent RE/MAX convert has built a fervently loyal client base in her native Louisville, Kentucky, and honed an enviable work/life balance that allowed her to close 111 transaction sides for roughly $22 million in volume last year – all without missing a single event on her four active kids’ school and sports calendars.
“Tracy is a remarkable agent and person,” says Jay Pitts, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Premier Properties in Louisville, where French has been an agent since March. “What’s amazing is that she’s not part of a team. She personally transacted all that business and somehow didn’t miss a softball game or other event for her children.”
“I schedule all my kids’ activities into my calendar on my phone, and I make it work,” says French, 37, whose four children, ages 16 to 6, are active in basketball, softball, field hockey, cheering, and more. Generally, clients want showings during the day, when her kids are at school, she says. And for evenings when she can’t schedule client appointments around her kids’ activities, she has a go-to list of agents available to show homes for her for a small fee.
Only once has a client pushed back – when French arranged a stand-in on a showing so she could attend her daughter’s tournament game –. “And my response was, as a mom, my kids come first,” French says. Fast forward a year, and the client returned to French for help selling her home – which went under contract in five hours. “She expressed her thoughts, and I was honest with her. She actually stayed around, and has even more respect for me now,” French says.
French launched her real estate career in 2013, following the closure of her grant-supported position at Louisville’s Humana Inc., where for five years she oversaw a program that connected patients in the VA system with civilian physicians in order to reduce their service wait time.
It was a job she loved, and French felt certain that, had she applied, she would have been placed on another project at Humana. But something told her the time was right to follow her dream of selling real estate – and she hasn’t looked back since.
“I jumped in head first,” French says. To find her earliest clients, she drew upon the large social network of friends and family that she and her husband, Travis, an aviation insurance broker, had built in Louisville, a city they’ve both called home their entire lives. “I always hear other agents saying it took a year or so for them to get their momentum going, but for me, my business took off from day one,” she says.
She credits some of that success to being a self-described “people person.” She’s certainly not afraid to market her services the old-fashioned way. “If you’re in a restaurant and you hear people at the next table discussing a listing or buying a home, you have to be willing to go over there, put a business card on the table, and introduce yourself,” she says. “We’re in sales, after all. You can’t be afraid to go talk to people.”
If you’re in a restaurant and you hear people at the next table discussing a listing or buying a home, you have to be willing to go over there, put a business card on the table, and introduce yourself,” she says. “We’re in sales, after all. You can’t be afraid to go talk to people.”Tracy French
After a meteoric rise to become a top seller and one of the main public faces of her previous brokerage, French made the leap to Pitts’ 31-member RE/MAX brokerage this year with a goal of boosting her business even further. “Jay is a wealth of knowledge, and I feel he can take me to the next level,” French says. “I’m looking to him to help me restructure my business in ways that will let me work smarter, not harder.”
Interviewed just a few weeks into her new position, French was thrilled by access to customizable RE/MAX marketing tools including open house flyers, social media templates, and more – components she had been creating from scratch before. “RE/MAX puts a lot of tools at my fingertips; things I didn’t even realize I was missing until I had them,” she says.
Ultimately, French hopes to one day create a team at RE/MAX and expand the number of property investors in her client base as a way of buffering her business against market downturns, whenever they come.
“I’ve had a great five years. But I know the market could change at any moment. I think that keeps me going and pushing through on the days I’m feeling exhausted and want to take a break,” she says. “I know that in this business, a paycheck isn’t guaranteed.”
Drawing on her insider knowledge as a native of Louisville, French has been able to capitalize on the city’s hot market, which has recently seen listings selling in just hours, often above asking price. The market is so tough, French has had to think outside the box to find inventory, including sending targeted post cards to drum up potential listings in areas where her buyers are looking.
Her business is currently an even mix of first-time buyers and resale clients – most of them word-of-mouth referrals, the No. 1 driver of her business. While not her only niche, she enthusiastically markets her services to the extensive network of friends she’s met through her children’s school PTAs and extracurricular groups.
“Tracy’s clients are crazy-loyal,” Pitts says. “She provides exemplary service, and because of that they are connected to her. They don’t just refer her, they take it one step further to follow up with people to say, ‘You called Tracy, right? Because you’re crazy if you go with anyone else.’”
French works hard to make her interactions with clients all about them. When she posts about closings on her very active Facebook business page, for example, she’s careful to tag clients and word the post as a congratulatory message about their new home or a celebration of their new milestone – rather than about her skills as an agent.
“You have to be careful how you approach it, or it could look like bragging,” French says. “For me, it’s about genuinely wanting to help my clients and friends. I want that to be the message that comes across.” The approach is working, and French does very little paid advertising.
“Tracy celebrates her clients’ success rather than her own, and she’s proof that when you don’t make it about yourself, then the success handles itself,” Pitts says.