Competing with real estate’s biggest brands can be difficult, but it’s something Tamara O’Connor knows well. The broker-owner at Premier Living Properties in St. Charles managed to make our Real Data list not once but twice, personally scoring the No. 4 spot for all agents in Kane County and spot No. 9 in terms of her brokerage’s production in the same county. She also dominated the condo and townhome lists in terms of highest closings in 2018.
Still, it doesn’t take a deep analysis to see that our Real Data lists are heavily populated with RE/MAX, Keller Williams and other national brands. While O’Connor does acknowledge that the systems, training opportunities and marketing budgets available to those working for the big companies may be tempting to independent broker-owners, she relishes her boutique status. “I love that we can adapt and change quickly. We don’t have all the red tape to go through,” she said, adding that customers appreciate their independence in a different way. “Many potential clients love the idea of a family owned, locally based business, and we embrace that identity. With so many mergers and acquisitions happening these days, our brand consistency is working for us.”
Running a boutique brokerage does require O’Connor to spend more time figuring out which tools will help her agents succeed. She credited Premier Living’s training programs, CRM, in-town location, support staff and marketing materials — such as the company magazine that goes out to local homeowners and businesses three times a year — for their success. “Our staff-to-agent ratio ensures our agents have the support they need,” she said. “We provide great systems and training to our agents so that they can have a career that is rewarding financially and fulfilling professionally.”
So how does O’Connor make it up so high on the list of Kane County’s top producing agents and still run a successful brokerage? Her first line of defense is her daughter, Amanda Laughlin, who serves as managing broker and helps her manage the Tamara O’Connor Team as well. “I do have an amazing team,” O’Connor said. When other broker-owners confide in her about their concerns about continuing to sell, O’Connor waves their worries off. “I have found that my active selling has created more opportunities for my agents. I never compete with agents in my company; I refer business to them on a regular basis. Also, being active in real estate has allowed me to help my agents through difficult transactions. I too am in the trenches every day and willing to share and mentor every day.”