Specialist or Generalist?

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Specialized knowledge is being responsibly knowledgeable.

I have a friend and mentor Tom who made his bones as an uber successful restaurant real estate broker. That's right, a restaurant real estate broker, who in fact played a pivotal role in making Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach what it is today. Once in a while the two of us get together to catch up and I get the privilege of picking his brain and absorbing the fruits of his experience. At one of our dinners some time ago we had one of our more memorable conversations – is it better to be a generalist or specialist?

What is a generalist? A generalist is someone whose knowledge and talents span a broad range of areas and industries. On the other hand, a specialist is someone whose expertise is very specific. A good way of understanding this is to consider the following example:

Let’s say we are looking at putting on a fresh coat of paint in our master bathroom. We do a little homework and surf the internet looking for new ideas to make our space come alive with a Florida ocean feel. Eureka! We’ve found exactly the concept we’re looking for and head down to Home Depot, the general store for all of our home improvement needs. When we walk through the door, we have a general idea of what we need to accomplish our goal, so we approach customer service to direct us to the appropriate isle for paint and paint supplies. Once at the paint isle we are overwhelmed with options – so many different types of paints, brushes, materials, etc. We needed further direction from someone to help advise us as to how to accomplish our beach bathroom dreams! On cue, a nice man named Mike approaches us from down the isle – his nametag indicates he is a “Paint Specialist”. Mike asks us how he can be of service, so we show him the picture on Pinterest and tell him this is what we want to accomplish for our master bathroom. Mike the Paint Specialist immediately takes into action. He identifies the best paints to match the same texture and how much of each will be needed based on our stated square footage. He then moves to the next part of the aisle and shows us what brushes we’ll need and how to use them. Within a short period of time, we have everything we need to get started on our new project.

“To be great at anything you must specialize,” Tom told me. “Those that understand this and design their business around this mentality will be very successful.” I took this advice to heart, and I give Tom a great deal of credit for helping me to internalize this lesson years ago. I designed my business to service the agent, and as a result, a reputation for being able to close deals others cannot. This very mentality has propelled me to become #22 in the nation for Most Agent Closed Purchase Transactions in 2016, being ranked against 1,000,000+ other loan officers nationwide.

In my 20+ years of service to many of South Florida’s leading real estate agents, I’ve found that each one having their own specialization is what has set them apart from their competition to reach the levels of success they each currently enjoy. Ocean front condo’s, single family homes in Palm Beach County selling for less than $300,000 or first-time homebuyers, each one has specialized in some area of the market and sought to master their craft to garner a reputation for being the best at what they do.

“To be great at anything you must specialize.”

We are pleased to announce our next event which will be hosted on August 24th from 9:30am – 12:00pm. Join us for a discussion with a chief appraiser whose personally overseen more than 1 million appraisals. Come learn more about the appraisal order process, the difference between comparable sales and adjustments, effective rebuttal processes, garage conversions, FHA vs conventional appraisals and so much more! If you are a buy side agent, list side agent, transaction coordinator, office manager, broker owner or any other role that involves the buying and selling of real estate, this event is for YOU! Join us at the Cinemark Palace in Boca Raton by calling me at 561-864-2458 or emailing at mweaver@financeofamerica.com


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The views of this blog, “Your Morning Shot” podcast, and on this site in general are solely those of the authors, Matt Weaver (NMLS-175651) and Zack Lewis, and do not express the views or opinions of Finance of America Mortgage.

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