Jim Gillespie, President & CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, started in real estate in 1975, in Hinsdale, IL. He had been working as a youth program director for a La Grange, IL YMCA and a tennis partner there talked him into trying real estate. He told Gillespie he would work a lot of evenings and weekends, make more money in real estate, and be helping people with one of the most expensive transactions they will ever make: buying a house.

He remembers the sense of helping, of providing a service, from the first transaction where he listed a home he had sold previously. A couple bought the home in Hinsdale in 1975, then the husband got transferred in late 1976, and they had to sell. But they made money on the home. When the couple thanked him, it gave him a good feeling to know that he helped them out.

The CEO learned over the years to listen, and read through the lines. Here is an example. ‘I was just sitting in the office, and this couple called in on a house they had seen. I showed them about nine or 10 homes during the course of three appointments. As we looked at these homes, I tried to listen to everything they said to me and each other and observe them closely to see what they liked and disliked. They demanded a home with a two-car attached garage.

‘Eventually, this one property came on the market. I went on a broker’s tour. As soon as I got inside the house, I knew the couple would love it. So I called them and met them at the house. They fell in love with the house as soon as they went inside. The funny thing was that when we were walking back to the car to sign the contract, we all noticed that the house had a carport. But by that time, they didn’t even care.

‘Now, I had heard, around the office, this little saying: ‘Buyers are liars.’ And by the end of this transaction, I understood what that meant. Buyers are not necessarily liars; they just don’t always know what they want. This transaction taught me that.’

Gillespie’s people skills earned him over $1M in his first 6 months in the business, Rookie of the Year, and a promotion after 6 months to Office Manager.

When asked by Realtor.org what he adapted from those first sales, he answered, ‘I learned that you need to listen to your customers and pay attention to how they react when you are showing different homes. Practitioners need to remember what the client likes and dislikes. This transaction also gave me confidence that I knew what I was doing and would be good in the real estate business.’

Our goal for 2010 here at Coldwell Banker is to provide outstanding customer service in every way to everyone who comes through our doors. Our wishes for a Happy New Year to all.