Barbara Grumme wants to make one thing clear: She does not trade in bricks and mortar.
Now on the surface that may sound strange for a realtor boasting sales figures that rank in the top five per cent for all of Canada. If that’s not trading in bricks and mortar, then what is? After all, these are serious numbers for a person who is serious about her profession. And Barbara Grumme is definitely serious about her profession.
But Barbara Grumme is not your typical realtor, either. And that goes a long way toward explaining her remarkable and consistent accomplishments, professionally and personally.
“I’m a consultant,” she says, eschewing the term salesperson, almost with a shudder. “I help people with their problems and help them achieve their goals. That’s what I do, and I love what I do. I love helping people.”
So what’s the difference between that and being a mere seller of buildings and property? It’s night and day, the way she practises it.
If she is selling anything, Barbara is focused on lifestyles, so much of which are determined by our homes, typically the No. 1 investment we will make. Lifestyles, of course, don’t begin and end with an address. Barbara recognizes this, which is why her bonds with her customers typically do not begin and end with a sales contract.
“I truly try to develop long-lasting relationships with my clients,” she says. “It really is about getting to know them as people, to understand their goals and to help them. And to keep helping them.”
It’s very much an ongoing kinship.
For example, she holds an annual customer appreciation party at her home on the Niagara Parkway. Riverfest is a six-year-old event featuring an annual theme, live music, food – all the trimmings and good fun associated with relationships that have grown into friendships. It’s a community of sorts, and community is very important to her.
“I love my customers and look forward to seeing them each year,” she says. “I am quite close to a lot of them.”
In addition she holds regular Love Your Life seminars on a variety of topics. This month an expert will help guests tackle stress management. It’s all about giving back to the people around her, and expanding her circle of associates and knowledge.
She writes a newsletter, the contents of which go well beyond dos and don’t of real estate. The Summer 2010 edition covered tips for maintaining a pest-free garden without using chemicals; market trends; understanding the HST; and the art of feng shui, which she uses to assist clients create the homes and lives they desire.
Barbara writes a blog (http://niagaraexecutivehomes.com/wordpress). There you will find her talking, naturally, about real estate, but also pointing surfers to links on Niagara’s trails, golf courses, wineries and other attractions. You can find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/people/Barbara-grumme/1035983351#!/profile.php?id=1035983351); regularly posts video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/barbaragrumme?feature=chclk); and for good measure has a regular column in the Niagara Business Link newspaper.
She’s developed a special affinity for Heartland Forest, a barrier-free outdoor learning centre in Niagara Falls, and sponsors an annual fundraiser (The Heartland Hoedown) for the facility.
Somewhere amidst all of this she manages to find time to sell some properties. A lot of properties, actually.
“I don’t necessarily follow what is typically done,” she says. “I am always looking for ways to do thing differently and better. I treat each of my listings as a unique little, separate business of its own. They all have to be handled differently, and I give them all that individual attention.”
It’s a technique honed over almost 25 years in the business. She started at 18, right out of high school. She remembers a high school career counseling session recommended she become a police officer, a teacher or a realtor. At the time it was a decision based more on what she didn’t want to do: stand at the front of a classroom or wear a cop’s uniform. The process of elimination served her well, though.
Barbara, who has been with Century 21 in Niagara Falls for seven years, has won the company’s Centurion Award four times. It’s an annual prize designating the small, elite group of performers within Century 21 across Canada. In addition, she has won the Top Producer Award many times within the Niagara Falls office.
Even through hard economic times, when Niagara’s listings typically sold at a 48 per cent rate over three-four-month periods, her numbers hovered around 70 per cent; in better times she’s usually around 98 per cent, and has been as high as 100.
That comes from hard work and a well-qualified team who work with her.
“I have an awesome group of talented and skilled people helping me and I couldn’t accomplish all this without them.”
But it comes from more than that. It’s about a vitality and sincere interest in the well being of those around her, about sincerity, and about an outward approach to pretty much everything. It’s about growth, and about treating life as a journey of learning and enlightenment – and sharing that expertise with those around her.
She’s a believer in kaizen, an ancient Japanese management philosophy that guides every decision, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, toward reaching goals. It focuses on constant change for the better.
She takes courses in business, interior decorating, gardening, dance, music, and horseback riding. In the mid-90s she took a break from a burgeoning career in real estate to attend the university business administration program at Niagara College, specializing in operations management.
“I do work hard,” she says. “It’s pretty much seven days. But it doesn’t feel like work. It’s going out there, meeting people, and talking to them about their aspirations and assisting them.
“It’s great. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
8123 Lundy’s Lane
Niagara Falls, Ont.