This month marks my 25th year at Kurz Group, the property tax consulting firm I run with my brother Rick. It feels like yesterday that we were holed up in the Dallas Public Library, researching the aspect of commercial real estate where we wanted to focus our careers.
Fall also is the time of year that many college graduates start their first jobs and begin to navigate their career paths. With both of these factors in mind, I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts and encourage the newer members of our industry to think outside the box.
1. You’re only one “no” closer to a “yes.” In the words of Babe Ruth, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” You’re going to experience rejection. And sometimes, a lot of it. And you can either let it discourage you until you quit, or you can let it empower you until you succeed. Beginning my career as a broker, I quickly learned that the only way to succeed in real estate was to be extremely persistent and develop a thick skin.
When the market went under in the late 1980s, Rick and I went back to the drawing board to eventually decide to start a commercial property tax consulting firm. We spent hours at the appraisal districts looking up buildings, finding out who the owners were, searching for numbers, and pursuing contacts. It took a lot of time and we received a lot of “no” responses.
In those early years, we had to make calls day in and day out to prospective clients we had never spoken to before, and this came with a lot of rejection. However, we knew that with every “no” we received, we were just one more response closer to a “yes.” You have to sell your prospective client and make them understand your value, and this will take time; but eventually, with a lot of persistence and a little serendipity, you will begin to grow and succeed.
2. Take risks. The early part of your career is the time to take risks. Following the crash, we invested all of our time in learning the commercial real estate tax industry. At the time, we didn’t know if we would sink or swim, but we saw a need in the market that we could fill so we went for it. Although it’s daunting, don’t be afraid to take chances and go outside your comfort zone. We understood the commercial real estate industry from the perspective of a broker, and this gave us an edge when going into commercial property tax consulting services. Always be thinking strategically and when an opportunity presents itself, explore it.
3. Live by the Golden Rule. This one is the most important for me. You must always treat your clients, employees and any other stakeholders the way you would like to be treated. For your clients, you want to put yourself in their shoes and understand their bottom line as much as your own. Be an extension of their team and prove your value by not only helping them save on their property taxes, but by creating valued long-term relationships. For employees and coworkers, this means creating a warm, flexible work environment where everyone feels empowered and appreciated. This in turn increases productivity and retention, and effectively helps us continue growing our business and keeping our clients happy.
The real takeaway I want to impart is that it’s not easy, and it won’t always be fun, but hard work certainly pays off and the rewards are well worth the early rejections. Don’t give up, stay humble, and hungry, and you’ll make a career that you can be proud of day in and day out. Good luck!
Jeff Kurz is executive vice president and co-managing partner of Kurz Group, a property tax consultant group. Contact him at [email protected].