Entrepreneurship - How I Grew a Successful Business
I ended up connecting the dots backwards. I tell our children the same thing. Daily you will go in a forward direction and then one day looking back you see how the dots connected in the correct order for your successful business adventure. This doesn’t mean there won’t be setbacks. There are always challenges but the challenges are the growing pains.
Entrepreneurship for me involves the following:
- Organization and planning
- Personal marketing
- Open to new challenges
- Trusting your own judgment after responsible contemplation
- Well balanced daily life
- Action oriented so status quo doesn’t become acceptable
Desire – my desire to have a successful business started many years ago when I was freshly out of FSU and decided to go into real estate sales in Plano TX. The desire to succeed was second only to raising 2 daughters and delivering to them the best mothering I had to offer while desiring to be the top rookie in our company that consisted of 4 branches and a few hundred agents.
Moving to Houston I had to regroup and figure out how to make parenting, and a career "get along". Organization and planning became my trademark. My youngest daughter was starting kindergarten and I started tennis. I got bored really fast. Back to real estate.
I was asked to teach a real estate course at HCC and fell in love with adult education. I naively went to Austin to inquire about "real estate schools" and found out it was extremely difficult to put the prospectus, business plan, curriculum, finances together to the satisfaction of the 9 commissioners. That was 1983. My education background from FSU allowed me to get it together within the year and in January 1984 I opened Champions School of Real Estate on Pebble Bend Dr. in Houston. The desire and the organization of personal and business all went into my daily calendar.
Teaching, marketing, registering, mothering all became a reality of true fun. When you enjoy what you are doing it is not work. My real estate background taught me marketing but I had to do OJT for the budgeting and financing.
Once FM 1960 Campus was up and running, I knew I needed a presence in the Uptown Galleria area. I opened that school in 1999 with the profits from 1960 location and the newly college graduated marketing representative, daughter, Kimberly. Then I was traveling and teaching in Texas and my customers said, open a school in our city and we will be there. Hence, 2000 Dallas region, then 2004 Mid-cities of Coppell, then W. Houston while at the same time we opened campuses in San Antonio and then Austin. Between Dallas and Mid-Cities I knew Champions had to have online campus for those agents who couldn’t get to our brick and mortar schools. Today, we have 8 campuses, over 80 teachers, 43 sales staff of professionals.
Champions offers real estate courses, loan or mortgage school curriculum, appraiser education and home inspection courses both pre-licensure and continuing education.
How? My 27 year journey has centered around Fred. The Fred Factor, by Mark Sanborn, – customer service that is so good people don’t think of it as customer service but just a way of life at Champions School of Real Estate – we take care of you. We know our students names when we connect with them personally at our brick and mortar schools; through our support team of online pros our students are so taken care of that some of our online students have dropped by just to put a face with a name and say hello. Our goal is to help the customer/student become as successful as possible and then they send us their fans and friends! We help them by offering NAR designation courses, PMN courses from WCR, current and meaningful materials for MCE, real estate, loan, appraisal and inspection. Our prep courses help them successfully pass their State exams. Since the inception there is free coffee and bagels or donuts every morning for breakfast. We put their successes on our school walls. We print their testimonials in our statewide literature.
Our teachers are the best…they are excellent communicators, and are specialists in their field. They receive instant positive gratification through timely payroll, receiving well deserved recognition: we are respectful and open to their suggestions for improvement. I provide a 401K and health insurance. It has to be a win-win.
Personal "reach out and touch" marketing is the key to our success. We do direct mail, e-blasts, and contribute 1,000 of dollars to brokerage charities and when we contribute we want to be there to demonstrate our commitment to their causes; we contribute to our industry that allows us to stay in business. It is important every agent know that "without their business we don’t have one". One of the highest compliments I get paid is when a student asks me about our family. It doesn’t get anymore personal than that!
Consistency in the marketplace with quality and customer service is our trademark. Champions has been The #1 real estate school in the Nation since 2005. I love what I do and I love my customers, even the ones that are difficult. They keep me grounded as to who I am and how I got here – one customer being taken care of at a time.
If you can love what you do – it’s not work.
Champions School of Real Estate® is owned by Rita Santamaria and has been providing the highest quality education for Texas real estate agents since 1983 with online courses and campuses in Austin/Round Rock, Dallas, Forth Worth, Houston, San Antonio and satellite campuses across the state. Champions also provides Loan Originator, Home Inspector and Appraiser Licensing and Continuing Education courses.