Taking the reins after tragedy

by Evi Arthur

Taking the reins after tragedy

To many agents in her brokerage, Emily Jeffries is the perfect boss. She’s always available to offer sage advice, is able to admit when she’s wrong or doesn’t know an answer and is fiercely dedicated to her team. However, the circumstances under which she got the job were anything but perfect.

Jeffries, currently the managing broker at RE/MAX Exclusive Properties in Lakeview, opened the office with her husband, Charles “Deno” Jeffries, in 2005. She worked in sales while her husband managed the brokerage.

However, when Deno died suddenly in June 2017, Emily had to become the new managing broker of the office. Over the course of about two months, she had to take over daily operations of the office while preparing for and taking the test to earn her managing broker license. “There was a lot to do, a lot to learn,” she said.

Certain parts of the transition into managing broker were difficult for Emily, like picking up the bookkeeping systems Deno used and learning how to keep track of documents and keep all the important paperwork straight. She found a much easier transition with other responsibilities, such as maintaining the familial culture of the office, working on sales negotiations and advising other agents. “We worked together so closely over the years, it was a partnership. I knew what kind of office culture he wanted to create,” Emily said.

When it came to counseling others in the office, Emily found she could draw from her experience in sales and use it to help others with their own issues, especially when it came to new agents. “What I do is look back and think, ‘What did I do in these situations in the past,’ or what [Deno] would do, and then pass that onto the agents,” Emily said.

Luckily, with numerous experienced agents in the office, there’s no shortage of wisdom. One such seasoned agent, Tom Hanigan, worked under Deno before Emily took over. He said he has noticed over the past year and a half that many of the ways Emily leads the team mirror her husband’s work, including the pair’s commitment to communication. “She had some pretty big shoes to fill when her husband died almost two years ago, but she picked it up right away and learned really fast,” Hanigan said.

Just like Deno, Emily is committed to maintaining open communication between herself and agents in the office. “I make myself available, just like my husband did. I always have my phone on me and will take calls no matter what time of the day or night,” she said.

Barbara Barker, another agent in the office, said she appreciates how Emily always makes herself accessible to agents and remarked that other managing brokers she’s had in the past didn’t do the same. “She’s always there for the agents at the office … she doesn’t lose interest in her agents or abandon them,” Barker said, adding that Emily is something of a role model for others looking to succeed as managing brokers under trying circumstances. “She’s just a strong woman and she’s taking everything so gracefully … that’s really admirable.”

Emily recommends other managing brokers implement the type of open communication that she has in her office. “If someone asks you something and you don’t know the answer, let them know that you don’t know, and then get to back to them when you do have the answer,” she said. She also recommends using the knowledge and resources that other agents might have. “Don’t be afraid to bounce ideas off of colleagues.”

Despite the harrowing circumstances under which Emily received her promotion, it seems that she’s doing an exceptional job, at least according to one associate. “It’s a breath of fresh air, having her as a managing broker,” Barker said. “She’s the best managing broker I’ve ever had.”

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