At TracSoft, we care about our clients. We’re a home-grown company living side-by-side with the very people we serve, supporting their businesses just as they support ours. Recognizing our interdependence, we celebrate their successes because when our clients succeed, we do, too. For this reason, TracSoft will be profiling some of our clients over the next few months, focusing on their impact on the greater Columbus metropolitan area, highlighting their achievements, and exploring the beneficial relationship that exists between us.
According to Forbes contributor Kristi Hedges, five areas of spending—home, car, children, education, and retirement—will consume over 50% of the money we earn during our lifetime. So it’s no wonder that decisions we make about these areas of our lives can be stressful. Of these, buying a home ranks as one of the most stressful, with some claiming that home buying can be as stressful as a divorce. This is especially true for first-time homebuyers, who may be surprised by recurring expenses related to homeownership, such as maintenance, taxes, and homeowner’s insurance.
One way to reduce the stress of buying a home is to hire a real estate agent. Because real estate agents are constantly looking at homes, assessing neighborhoods, and researching trends, they can quickly connect clients with properties that meet their needs and budget constraints. They’re also experienced with tricky areas of homebuying such as home inspections, negotiating repairs, and handling the legal side of these transactions. They know a good offer from a bad offer.
Recently, I sat down with local realtor Kim Mixon to find out more about what makes a good real estate agent, what it’s like selling houses for a living, and how her team is handling the unusual times we’re living in. One thing I took away from our meeting is that what sets apart a really good real estate agent is their humanity. It’s hard to help people find the home of their dreams if you don’t care what their dreams are.
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What Does It Take To Be A Successful Realtor?
Caring is one of Kim Mixon’s strengths. When I sat down to speak with her, what stood out to me the most was her warmth and enthusiasm—for life, for houses, and for people. That warmth is reflected in a recent, major change to her business.
Kim recently joined Keller Williams, an international real estate franchise and the number one real estate franchise in the United States by sales volume. The announcement was made in a jubilant July post on her Facebook page. When I asked her about this change, her answer largely focused on the people who work with her and how the change would benefit them.
“Keller Williams offered an opportunity for the team. It was the best decision for me and each member of the team,” she says. “It was the right decision to make in spite of loyalty and partnership and 13 years [with Bickerstaff Parham].”
“I want each team member to be as successful as they can be, that’s very important to me,” she continues, explaining that in real estate you often work odd hours, weekends, and holidays. As a result, team members form close relationships. Although she doesn’t call it this, her leadership style is nurturing, investing in the people she counts on.
She does this through teaching them everything she can and providing an environment where “they can grow, thrive, and be happy.” She acknowledges that not everyone operates this way, that some leaders worry if their employees grow too much that they might move on. “But I feel if they need to take a better opportunity I don’t want to hold them back. If God has a better plan for them, then he has something really good for me, too.”
How Do You Sell Houses During A Global Pandemic?
Realtors interact with a lot of people in their line of work, which is difficult this year with social distancing restrictions. When I asked how she and her team have been addressing those difficulties, she replied, “You’ve got to be able to pivot, be flexible and open to change.”
She doesn’t lament these changes. Rather, the pandemic has challenged her to reflect on and improve her business practices. “Some changes we have made may stick because they’re better practices. Some things will probably go back to how they were.”
Ultimately, however, it comes down to meeting people where they are. “It takes kindness and understanding because there are lots of opinions on how to do things. Each client has their own needs and desires, and we have to respond to them as individuals. What you do for each client might be very different based on each circumstance.”
In that sense, she suggested, selling homes during a pandemic really isn’t all that different from usual. Clients come with unique needs, wants, and budgets. It’s her team’s job to work within those situations.
She also acknowledged the importance of her team. “I work with great people. We’ve fallen into a good routine quickly despite the madness of COVID-19,” she says.
Did You Always Want To Be A Realtor?
As natural a fit as real estate is for her now, it wasn’t what she originally set out to do. Hailing from Florida, Kim worked at a W.C. Bradley sporting goods store during high school. The job made a lot of sense for someone who has had a natural interest in fitness from a young age. When I asked her about this, she explained that she grew up with active parents who worked out and enjoyed cycling, and who passed on this interest to her.
“It’s always been a part of who I am,” she says. “I have vivid memories of the first time I ran a mile. I got passionate about running during my junior year of high school. I got really into it and it grew from there.” Today, Kim is a runner, cyclist, and triathlete.
Her love of fitness is, in a roundabout way, what brought Kim to Columbus. She was looking for a way to leave her hometown of Panama City, so when the sporting goods store offered her a better position in Columbus, Georgia and a chance to attend college, she seized the opportunity. She enrolled at Columbus State University as a marketing major and worked while attending.
However, the sporting goods store was sold and Kim had to find another job. She took a position in banking because it offered tuition reimbursement, and for a while she balanced both work and school until the two clashed. At that point, she left college, choosing to continue in banking.
What Made You Stay In Columbus?
Columbus was meant to be a stop on the way to bigger things, but quickly became home for Kim.
“I planned to stay in Columbus for two years, but God had other plans. It’s a great place to live,” she explained. “It’s close to lots of things, but not in the middle of chaos. It offers a lot and has a strong community feel.”
She’s been here since 1996, which means Kim has witnessed a lot of change in the Chattahoochee Valley. She told me how she’s excited by the emergence of “awesome locally-owned restaurants” and the growth of locally-owned businesses in Columbus. But she’s been especially excited by the revitalization of the downtown.
“I always came downtown, even before the boom, for the athletic community. I would come downtown for running, training at the YMCA, cycling on the Riverwalk. And we would visit Iron Bank and The Loft, The Cannon—things like that,” she said. “I have always loved our downtown so much that I even chose to lease space as my team’s office on 12th St. so we can be a part of the Uptown vibe.”
How Did You Move From Banking To Real Estate?
After a few years in banking, Kim found herself looking for a new challenge. One of her clients who was a broker recruited her to be his relocation director. It was a salaried position, which felt safe, so she made the change. It required a real estate license, so she studied hard and fast and was licensed within approximately 4 weeks of taking the position.
“I knew nothing about real estate,” Kim told me, “but I learned a lot in this position.” She watched the agents, who were independent contractors, and she liked the idea of being in business for herself like they were. A little over a year after earning her license, Kim made a daring decision to step out on her own as an independent contractor.
“It was not an easy time to be in real estate. It was January 2006, the market was crashing. But I was passionate and dug in. I really believe it was always what God meant for me. Times were tough, but I never gave up.”
Initially, she chalked up much of her success to her own tenacity, but in retrospect she can see how this was always the path meant for her. “I was talking to my mom and she reminded me how as a child, I always loved houses. I was always drawing floor plans and talking about how to decorate houses.” But it wasn’t until she was in real estate that she recognized the depth of that passion.
How Has Your Background In Banking Helped You As A Realtor?
None of Kim’s experiences seem to have been wasted. With each career change, she seems to have brought old skills into new positions, constantly adapting and building on them.
She explains, “Understanding credit processes, loan processes, understanding credit scoring and appraisals all helps me be able to assist clients and my team by knowing the terminology and how it all works.” This is a definite strength since this is often the most baffling part of buying and selling a home for many people.
Similarly, she has put to use her background in marketing. I point out that branding is something that many business owners don’t want to be bothered with, but Kim has defined and established her own brand.
She admits that branding and marketing are things she loves. “I like to be hands-on. I get excited about it.”
How Important Is Your Website To Your Business?
TracSoft’s web development team built Kim’s website, and since branding is such an essential component of her business, I’m curious how her website fits into that strategy.
She explains, “The website is a big part of it—the biggest part besides the logo for building my business. The website serves as the heart of my brand.”
“Actually,” she adds, “TracSoft played a role in my branding as well. My website design concept is a TracSoft design.” She explains how the site was built around her logo and was built specifically to reflect her, the team, and their branding. That’s pretty clear when you meet Kim, who dresses in the same vibrant, energetic colors that make up her logo and website. She explains that those colors reflect the positive attitude she brings to her job.
Speaking Of Logos, Yours Is Distinctive. How Important Is Your Logo To Your Brand?
She jokes, “My logo is where it all started and if you standstill long enough, I’ll put my logo on you! My logo is the basis from which ALL of my other marketing grew. Everything for my business branding is built around my logo to include the very early versions of my website created years ago by TracSoft. My website is a huge part of my branding as well, so much so that friends jokingly call me ‘KimMixon.com’. To take it a step further, I have also invested the time and money in trademarking my logo to keep it protected.”
The logo takes center stage. Kim’s distinctive logo was created in 2009 by her husband’s daughter as part of a college portfolio for her graphic design degree. But it also served an important function when she got married.
“I wanted to change my last name to my husband’s without losing the recognition I had earned. I used my logo to help with that transition. If everything was built around that logo, then people would associate me with that branding regardless of my last name.”
At the time, Kim was the only realtor in the area with a logo, and having the logo worked; she was able to change her name without losing the cache she had built.
What’s It Like Working With TracSoft?
“I’ve always enjoyed it,” she says. “Anytime there’s something I’ve needed, I’m able to reach someone. TracSoft is always there even if it’s something simple I want to change or it’s time for a complete redesign. Regardless of the scale of what I need, it’s always taken care of well and on time. I’ve had a long-time relationship with TracSoft. They are a trusted and valued business partner for me.”
“All of the innovation and suggestions over the years that have been made I’ve appreciated immensely,” she continues. “I’ve appreciated the integration of new technology and letting me know when it’s time to make changes because that’s not my area of expertise.”
Kim’s praise reflects the values we strive for at TracSoft. We’ve built our brand around innovative technology, meaningful partnerships, and solutions that work for our clients. We understand the importance of having a website that ranks well and helps define your brand identity.
If you’re ready for a new website or need a website redesign, contact us today. It may be tempting to turn to plug-and-play website builders, but your business doesn’t have to settle for limited functionality and restrictive templates. Find out how our experienced team can deliver a beautiful mobile-ready, future-proof website that will help you establish your brand and increase engagement with your clients right away.