Real Estate Coaching and COVID

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed Agent11/29/2022


What’s happening with real estate coaching during the pandemic?

The pandemic has changed how real estate professionals do business. We’ve seen everything from the move to doing business virtually, fewer sellers on the market in some areas, and stops and starts in available inventory. 

It’s also impacting the motivation levels of many full-time real estate agents which in turn creates a higher demand for coaching services. More than ever, agents are looking for someone to hold them accountable and help them create tangible goals.

But what is happening with coaching during the pandemic – and more importantly, how are agents reacting?

We sat down with some of the most notable real estate coaches in the industry to get their thoughts. Before we jump in, let’s meet the panel of expert real estate coaches:

Debbie De Grote:debbie-de-grote

The Co-Founder and CEO of Forward Coaching, Debbie is also an author, keynote speaker, and a preferred Coach to many large companies and brands. She began her career in Real Estate at the age of 18 and within a few short years, was one of the top agents in the nation (closing over 156 units annually!). In addition to her sales career, she also manages a large office, assisted in recruiting efforts, and wrote strategic plans and launched new office locations for two large brokers in the Orange County area. Debbie’s extensive background attracted many opportunities to speak, train, and consult with others, which is how she discovered her passion for coaching. She’s been providing coaching for over 20 years, and is considered one of the top coaches in the real estate industry, coaching some of the most elite salespeople and brokers in North America, as well as mortgage, title, escrow, and insurance professionals. Her passion is providing custom consulting for the real estate industry because she knows that no two agents, teams or brands are alike.


Adam Hergenrother

The Founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality, Adam has built a $1B organization in less than ten years by creating a culture where personal growth and work-life integration come first. Adam thrives on taking on physical challenges, including Bikram yoga, hiking, Ironman races, white-water rafting, skiing, and more. Life is hard. Business building is hard. There are daily struggles to overcome. It’s about finding the gift in all of life’s experiences and understanding that you have the power to unleash joy! Adam lives in South Burlington, Vermont, with his wife, Sarah, and three children, Sienna, Asher, and Madelyn. 



Michael Hellickson

Michael Hellickson brings over 20 years of experience to the table, including more than 750 active and pending listings at one point in time. Hellickson started as a real estate agent in 1991 and made it to the top 1% of agents in the country. At one point, his team was named the #1 team nationwide. He’s known as one of the best short sale experts in the world. Hellickson is a nationally recognized real estate expert and has been featured on popular programs, including CNBC, The Fox Business Network, Glenn Beck, and The Dave Ramsey Show. He started his own consultancy businesses – Club Wealth® Coaching and Consulting. Each Club Wealth coach has completed more deals than the brokers and/or agents they coach – a system he crafted to help ramp up production. 



Ken Goodfellow

No one knows more about elite real estate than Ken Goodfellow (also known as “Coach Ken”). As a personal coach to only top producers, his client list reads the Who’s Who of Real Estate. Ken’s vast experience in coaching high performing teams is well known across North America. His broad-based career includes over twenty years of coaching experience in real estate and in high-level sports. He was a top agent and a broker/owner. He is also known as the coach’s coach, having coached many well-known circuit coaches, speakers, and franchise CEO’s. After selling his 200 person brokerage, as well as building a very a successful team, he has earned the distinctive title of North America’s #1 Expert on Real Estate Teams.



Brian Gubernick

Brian Gubernick co-founded Metrix Coaching and Training with Jason Abrams. The company delivers coaching services that provide tangible, specific, and objective results. Whether the Metrix model of coaching is successful or not is not based on emotion or hope. The core coaching program offered by Metrix is its signature “Implementation” training program – a 5-month 1-to-1 program where Agents and Team Owners learn how to maximize their CRM and lead generation tools, create massive team accountability, and implement tried and true strategies that were built around Brian’s own successes and failures.



Together, these coaching experts bring over 100 years of real estate experience to the table. They have served different markets and have helped hundreds of brokers and agents break barriers.

Good news – they’re all still very active and working during the pandemic.

Here’s what they had to say:


Success Stories Are Still There

proud Realtor on steps

Despite how things look, it’s not all bad news. Most of the coaches on the panel had success stories to share since the beginning of COVID.

“While others were freaking out, focused on putting masks on, our agents were focused on finding opportunities in the chaos. We’ve worked with agents to help them find ways to get creative, regardless of what is going on. Making sure they were safe but successful. Some of our agents have done more in the first quarter than they did all last year,” said Michael Hellickson, Club Wealth CEO and Founder.

This is a great example because it shows that you can find business no matter the situation.

Other coaches have similar stories to share.

“In the past 90 days our team, Hergenrother Realty Group, put 865 homes under contract,” shared Adam Hergenrother.

Hergenrother was able to achieve this by “coaching agents to remove distractions, to say no to anything that was unnecessary, and to say yes to only the most important things.”

According to him, it is important to work together and be on the same page. He said:

“Our team met regularly to refocus on the vision, to check-in with each other, and to give each other permission to take a break when we needed it. We also held a virtual 5K to make sure we were collectively focused on our health and well-being. Our leadership team continues to coach our agents to take care of themselves and their families, and stay laser-focused on the daily activities.”

Debbie talked about the importance of staying connected with old clients during this period, as they might be anxious with a lot of questions.

“Past clients are more willing to talk to them than ever before. They want answers as to what is happening in the local market,” she said.


Changing How One Does Business

“It has been interesting coaching through this pandemic,” said Ken Goodfellow, best known as Coach Ken, one of the most recognized coaches in North America.

“During the shutdown, we were able to take a deep dive into clients’ finances and explore ways to cut costs and implement more effective systems,” he added.

He talked about the shift in planning and how buyers entered the market once they reopened:

“While it seemed everything was shut down, many were busier than they had ever been. When things started opening, it was clear that many homeowners and buyers were in quarantine planning their next move. Markets opened with a BANG!”

Gubernick has a similar sentiment:. 

“Early in the pandemic, we spent a great deal of our (coaching) time with our clients discussing how to best categorize and manage expenses, what cuts needed to be made immediately, what cuts should be made if “X” or “Y” occurred, etc. However, the greatest successes went beyond just expense management and into true “cash flow management”. We spent time with clients helping them project what future cash inflows they had in the pipeline in comparison with cash outflows,” said Brian Gubernick.

Furthermore, he offers great advice for future agents:

“I think agents must truly become the local economists of choice. Our role has morphed well beyond showing homes and writing contracts. We should be the keeper of all real estate related information as well as local and national economic news. We should have a thorough understanding of how the various components of the economy impact the housing market.”


The Right Time to Form Connections

Ken talked about the importance of forming connections and how the lockdown allowed his team to spend more time with their clients and get to know potential clients.

“This shutdown provided a distinct opportunity for agents to connect with their clients in a powerful way. We were all in the same boat, and lots of people needed a little bit of a hand. Even if it was as simple as picking up and delivering groceries, it allowed for courteous and more thoughtful communication with clients and our communities,” he shared.


Concentrating on Gaining Skills


Covid-19 has changed how we do business. Lockdown and stay home orders forced businesses to come up with new ideas to keep the ball rolling.

Real estate agents had no option but to use the latest technology to stay in touch with each other and clients. Meetings and proposals are being held virtually.

“We now need to be great at virtual sales. Few agents were effective at doing a listing consultation online. The old ‘wing it’ method quickly faded as it came across as amateurish. People needed to trust and have confidence in their agent more than ever,” said Ken.

According to Ken, the pandemic has allowed agents to become tech-savvy and learn to use tools like Zoom with everything going virtual. Most experts expect agents to use the virtual platform even once things go back to normal.

“The act of holding your team accountable had to be perfected. Many had never worked from home before and had little discipline. Some team leaders reported team partners showing up on Zoom meetings in their Pajamas. Helping others be accountable is a necessary skill that not everyone appreciates but is essential,” added Ken.

They believe that this period will help them prepare for the future. Agents must concentrate on skills that are important like “lead generation, lead follow up, and lead conversion,” according to Hellickson.

Real estate agents have been doing this for years, but now things have to be done virtually. But that’s not all that agents have to work on. They also need to develop their “emotional fitness,” according to Hergenrother.

According to him, agents need to have a proper routine that includes time for family, friends, meditation, food, etc.


Be Ready for Change 

Change is inevitable, and coaches know that better than anyone. They emphasize the importance of changing with time. 

“Ask yourself if you’re ready for change.  If the honest answer is no, you’re probably not a good fit for coaching,” says Hellickson. 

Agents not willing to change might not be able to survive the current scenario.

If you want to continue to make progress, you must adapt according to the changing times. Debbie has a great suggestion for budding brokers and agents:

“Create a monthly action plan with your coach, because each month through the pandemic has brought new opportunities and new challenges.”

She also suggests learners to not hesitate in asking coaches for help and highlighting real-life problems they may face while connecting with clients. Moreover, staying focused and keeping a log of what you learn can be of great help.


Seek the Training That You Need

pexels-cottonbro-5081392“When I got into real estate in 2006, I borrowed $8,000 to start my business and spent half of that money traveling to a week-long conference. That one decision to invest into my own training and education set the stage for my success long-term and my commitment to coaching for myself and others,” shares Hergenrother while talking about his journey and the need to seek the right training.

Other agents have a similar view.

“The most successful agents are the ones signing up for coaching,” says Hellickson while highlighting the need to opt for proper training.  “Find a coach who has been where you want to go.  If you want to do 250 transactions a year, pick a coach who has done that.”

Ken shares the same view. “This is not the time to hire a coach who doesn’t have extensive and proven experience,” he warns, “A real estate team or a brokerage needs a coach that has the right background. They have done what you want to accomplish and can help you avoid common mistakes and move forward faster more efficiently.”

There’s a coach for everything, according to Gubernick.

“If you are seeking a coach today, I think you first must get very clear on what, exactly, you want out of the coaching relationship? What must you accomplish with this coach to feel like you received a return on your money and your time?”.

Gubernick elaborates:

“Get clear on what it is you want from your coach. And then seek out that coach that specializes in your area of need. If you need help in many areas, then prioritize and determine what area is most important to tackle today.”


Choosing the Right Coach

woman thinking

Because there are many types of real estate coaches out there, agents must do their homework to pick the right coach.

You can look for mindset based coaches that offer accountability and encouragement, or you can go for strategic, tactic driven programs that focus more on execution. 

Both options are beneficial, you have to “get into a relationship with a coach that has the greatest chance of pushing you to victory,” suggests Gubernick.

Ken suggests future agents to interview coaches and ask all relevant questions to have a better understanding of what they’re capable of. 

Here are some of the suggested questions:

  • Have you sold real estate?
  • Do you have experience in changing and down markets? 
  • How much business do or did you do and for how long? 
  • Can you provide references?
  • Have you built a team before? 

Asking these questions will help you figure out if a coach is suitable for you or not.


Coaching Can Be Great Now and Tomorrow

As mentioned earlier, registration numbers are high. 

“New client count has been up. Since COVID, we have more than tripled the clients coming on each month. The biggest jump we have seen has been in agents doing more than 25 transactions,” shares Hellickson. 

Gubernick suggests agents “set expectations for your coach as well as for yourself.”

“Your ability to maintain discipline in your business and personal life is critical. I strongly encourage everyone to work from a compelling plan. This is one area where there is so much push back, but the benefits are unrivaled. The discipline of following a carefully thought out plan will transform your life,” suggests Ken.

Don’t wait for things to get better to opt for a program, suggests Hergenrother.

“There are many different options for coaching: one-on-one, group programs or cohorts — all at varying price points. If you are committed to growing yourself, then you can find a program that fits in your budget — right now. You do not need to wait to hit a certain income goal to get into coaching. In fact, investing in coaching now can help you fast track your personal, business and income goals,” he says.


The Coach Alone Cannot Be Enough

A coach alone cannot be enough. You must be willing to work hard and do as your coach suggests.

“You MUST listen to your coach, and you must make the changes that your coach suggests. It doesn’t make sense to just listen, nod and do nothing. Some changes are crazy difficult but the pain of inaction over time will far exceed the pain of making the changes,” says Ken. 

You must be attentive, get the numbers that your coach needs, and make sure to reach every meeting on time.

“Your coach will review your financials and guide your profit and allocation of spending, but they will also need to examine data that highlights appointments, leads and conversion, days on market, etc. This data will expose triumphs and missed opportunities,” says Ken. It’s your responsibility to provide this data to your coach. Your time and money will go to waste if you fail.

Other experts seem to voice the same opinion:

“If you are not preparing for your call and/or not executing the action steps from your previous call, you will not get a return,” says Brian Gubernick.

“Coaches can advise you and guide you, but they can’t actually do the work for you,” reminds Hergenrother.

If you want to succeed, you must choose a good coach who can motivate you to do better. 


Agents Are Learning and Growing

real estate agent thinkingReal estate coaches seem to be very happy with agents. 

Hergenrother highlighted the changing role of real estate agents and how they’ve been able to meet the demands:

“Agents have stepped up during the pandemic and showed up as leaders. They had to shift their business models, their communication, their home lives, quickly and often to respond to the needs of those around them. They have had to show up as better versions of themselves and they didn’t disappoint. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world and agents have taken a leadership role in their communities – especially as real estate has become not just the home, but the entire world for many people.”

Others, including Gubernick, echo the same opinion:

“I was somewhat surprised by how quickly so many agents got into action.  Sure, there were days or even weeks where many buried their head in the sand and asked “why is this happening?!?”  But overall, I think our industry really sprung into action – reaching out to our clients and peers, coming up with innovative ways to market and sell homes even when, in some states, Realtors were considered “non-essential”, and banding together to put deals together in some very uncertain times.”

However, not everyone used the opportunity. As Ken highlighted, some agents “used the pandemic as a vacation.” 

The opportunity to build a stronger, better business with more meaningful relationships didn’t resonate with everyone.

Ken shared a very motivating example of a client who took a well thought out move to reduce their expenses by 40% once the pandemic hit. This was a swift and well thought out move. She had 7 staff and replaced all but one. This resulted in new excitement and positive attitudes. The agents all participated in expanded skills training, and now her business is exploding. No matter how complicated it can be, sometimes we need to break something to fix it. 

You will find many similar examples out there. Another one of Ken’s clients added a powerful customer service component that helped him cut some costs. The decision to accept technology and advertise virtually helped him get his biggest month (50 Million) after 30 years in the business. 

As Debbie pointed out, while highlighting the need to not give up no matter what the situation: 

“In times of crisis, the strong survive and thrive, and those who are not dedicated and committed to the business often use it as an excuse to take a break.”


Closing Thoughts

Gubernick has a very positive message for agents and brokers:

“Most of us in this industry have experienced market ups and downs, a technological shift in the way our business is conducted, competing brokerages with strategies never seen before, Zillow and others aiming to displace us and our roles, etc. We’ve seen it all. This is most definitely a unique time and experience, but we will persevere as we’ve always done in the past. The consumer will always desire a key, intimate, and personal relationship in their home buying or selling experience. And Realtors will be there for them.”

Many agents and brokers used this opportunity to build tomorrow’s business, but not everyone has been wise enough to seize the opportunity. 

Without an end in sight to the pandemic – If you haven’t already signed up for a coaching program, it’s a great time to start looking for one!

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 11/29/2022



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