The success of Sarah Dykema and her four-woman team in the ultra-competitive Los Angeles market serves as a poetic echo of her favorite quote: “Be the smallest minnow in the biggest pond.”
Since diving into real estate five years earlier, Dykema has evolved from solo agent into the rainmaker of a small team of four that closed 40 units in its first year with $22 million in sales while servicing the San Gabriel Valley out of the Chino Hills (Calif.) market center.
“We are a group of working moms, and so we are going against all the demands life has for us and taking what we call the limits off them and making them limitless with possibilities to be successful,” she says.
Here’s an example of how Dykema pushed back on her own limiting beliefs to free herself and her team for growth. When she studied up on the accomplishments of the agents she’d be sharing screen time with during her upcoming Family Reunion panel, “Run Lean to Succeed With a Small Sales Team,” her initial feelings slunk toward intimidation.
“Those are the big fish,” she said of her fellow agents on the panel. “I looked up to them, and there were a lot of things I learned. What I would love for someone to hear when they’re watching the panel is ‘You’re in the right room.’ If we run away from the things we’re uncomfortable with, we will never be able to grow. So stay in that room, stay in that seat, keep doing what you’re doing, know who you are, and how you determine success. You’ll get there. You’ll just look different.”
In Dykema’s case, different helps pave the way for small team success – all while staying true to the business’ set of values, and providing a culture where her team members can thrive.
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Know who you are – and when to say “no.” Dykema made sure to name and acknowledge her values before she opened her business so she would know which opportunities upheld those values – and which did not. “We reverse-engineered that and became very comfortable with having to say ‘no’ to certain opportunities, knowing they would impinge on our value systems and our beliefs,” she says.
One of those values is a commitment to being more of a giver than a taker right out of the chute. “The way that we serve our clients starts with the way that we serve our families,” she says. “And everything extends out of that. What overflows out of us is only the result of what we fill up with.”
Remember that your brain is a muscle. Sarah credits her dad and her degree in psychology for encouraging her to strive to be a big thinker. “If you don’t provide yourself a place and a space to begin thinking big and creatively, it’s not going to come all that naturally, and you’re going to get frustrated, and you’re going to have a hard time fighting through things like the pandemic and market shifts,” she says.
An example Sarah gave was her team’s readiness to adapt to shifting away from open houses during the pandemic. “We hired a nationwide-recognized drone pilot to bring a completely different type of fly-through and also hired a commercial actress to do virtual tours for us,” she said. “Our watch rates on our videos and tours dramatically increased, and we were able to leverage this type of marketing in a way that we didn’t miss a beat on our showings and exposure of our properties.”
Head back to basics. Sarah thinks a refresher on real estate 101 can benefit everyone, whether they’re struggling or looking for an extra hit of inspiration. “Even though I have agents that have been in the industry for quite some time, maybe their production is not where they wanted to see it,” she says.
“And they were kind of buried in guilt and shame like, ‘This isn’t working.’ I love to be able to teach and reteach some of those models at a very basic level. We’ve got to get back to the basics before we can go much further than that.” For Sarah, that means focusing on lead generation, connecting with contacts and getting real with numbers.
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Get creative with lead generation. One of the values of Sarah’s team is to be connectors and networkers of people. “You can look into different places and spaces that you’re already at and see how you can bring value into that space, but also, how can you use those people in that space to connect to your clients, your sphere and maybe your friends and family?” she asks. “It’s getting really creative because you don’t necessarily have the time as life has its own demands on us.”
As an example, one of Sarah’s ancillary businesses is a coworking space where – prior to the pandemic – she would bring people within her network into one office space, which became its own lead generation engine. Now, in response to COVID-19, she and her team have pivoted to a virtual way to reach their sphere. “Typically, we host one to two events a quarter at our kids’ schools, in the community and churches,” she says. “Because we weren’t meeting in person and our ability to serve and show up in this way was eliminated for the time being, we began immediately hosting virtual classes for our sphere in areas of mortgage insight, investing and providing budgeting classes for both adults and teenagers, to name a few topics.”
A Rapid-Fire Round With Sarah Dykema
In preparation for Family Reunion, Dykema sat down with Outfront’s editorial team to share what drives her day in and day out:
Favorite Book: How Successful People Think by John Maxwell
Favorite Podcast: “How I Built This,” NPR
Favorite Mantra: “Be the smallest minnow in the biggest pond.”
Best Career Advice: “Lack of communication equals chaos.”
Most Powerful Moment: Doing deadlifts at the gym. “It makes you look a lot stronger than you are because it’s that big bar and it has those big plates and makes that big noise. When that thing drops, I feel so strong.”
Big Why: “I love elevating others and helping other people come out of this idea of what they thought was a limit into limitless possibilities.”
Dykema spoke at this year’s Family Reunion on the panel “Run Lean to Succeed With a Small Sales Team.”
Missed this year’s event or just feeling like you need a refresh? Check out Outfront’s Family Reunion 2021 archives.Dive Into FR 2021