A Sit Down With Owners Mike & BJ

December 29, 2020

In times of trouble we look to our leaders to guide us, for everyone here at Windermere Kirkland, that is Mike & BJ, owners and leaders of our team. Throughout the many years that they both have been brokers and leaders they have provided guidance and knowledge in ways that have impacted many. However, this year in particular they were a resource of positivity throughout a very tumultuous and uncertain time. As this year comes to a close we sat down with Mike & BJ to discuss their experiences and hear about their plans for 2021.

How did you two, as the leaders of the office, pivot in the beginning of the year? 

Mike: Good golly, what a team effort it was once the stay at home order hit. We really rallied around the mission of serving others and supporting our brokers. At first we were declared “non-essential”, which posed a challenge of how do we keep our brokers' spirits up? The first thing we started to do was have two weekly team meetings rather than one, to keep checking in. BJ and I  joined a group of other Windermere owners to provide support to one another, which we continue to be a part of. Being non-essential also meant we had to look at the damage control report and assess how much relief we needed. We also have a new building project going, which came to a halt. So there were a lot of moving parts to manage and a lot of uncertainty. 

BJ: We were so thankful for all of the resources we received from Windermere at the corporate level, they really helped us get through this. They provided PPE packages that we could give to our brokers to give to their clients, this included hand sanitizers, gloves, etc. We wanted our brokers to always feel prepared in case the client was not, since it was very difficult to get some of these products at first. Windermere corporate also helped develop technology on how we could navigate the new guidelines, for example how to run a virtual open house and how to best serve our clients when we are so used to having normal open houses. Windermere corporate really stepped up.


You mentioned real estate being non-essential at first, how did that change and who was involved? 

Mike: Washington Association of Realtors, Northwest Multiple Listing Service and Seattle King County Association of Realtors coordinated as a team to provide lots of detail to the governor’s office on why real estate should be an essential business. At the time there were 17-18k transactions statewide that had to close. They were instrumental at making a difference for our industry and we are so thankful for their leadership in this. 

BJ: This also affected how title companies, home inspectors, etc all operated. They all had their own set of rules and each office relied on the other. But the entire industry worked together to create a system that works. For example the NWMLS created new forms that helped with the new process. 


What are you two thankful for and how may your answers differ if I had asked you this question last year?

BJ: First we are thankful for the resilience and inventiveness of our brokers. As much as our office was under turmoil, our team figured out ways to stay afloat, safely! I am thankful that so many embraced the challenges. They stepped up to learn about virtual tours and on top of that our office has a culture of sharing so we all learned from each other's successes and we worked together to problem solve. 

Mike: We have always been so thankful for our people and associations and thankful for our faith, and that has not changed. This year was a particular honor as I have been a broker for 40 years now and I was awarded Realtor of the year by the Seattle King County Realtors. This award is based on the outstanding contributions of a REALTOR® to the local, state and/or national REALTOR® Associations. The recipient must demonstrate what we call REALTOR® “Spirit” – a faithfulness to the principles of the REALTOR® organization, professionalism and the Code of Ethics. I could not have received that title without everyone around me that makes each day what it is in our industry. 


What is some advice you would give to other business owners and team leaders as they navigate through challenging times? 

BJ: My son says I have always been a positive person, even among my friends there has been so much anxiety this year and somehow we have all remained positive. I would say being aware of your anxiety for a moment, then going back to actively having a positive mindset really helps. One thing that has helped us is to stay involved. By helping others you are bringing positivity into the world, by helping a local organization or helping a neighbor. With that same sentiment, sharing your wins with others, so we can all learn and grow from it, together. 

Mike: Strengthen your team in these challenging times and you will see what amazing things happen. Look at who you have around you in life and in business. We have our brokers, staff, Windermere owners, Windermere services, Penrith Home Loans, CW Title and Escrow and all of the other people and organizations we work with to make Windermere Kirkland happen, in our opinion you can’t have a stronger team than what we have got. 


Looking forward in 2021, both in business and in your personal life, what are you most looking forward to? 

BJ: A new normal! Looking back and taking some of the positive things we did this year and paying it forward. We look forward to providing an excellent experience for our buyers and sellers. Also get some travel in to get away from the gloom. We also can’t wait for the completion of our new building! 

Mike: This year we had a lot of time to spend with each other, and we want to continue to spend quality time with our loved ones, and as BJ mentioned, we hope to carry all of the positive things we learned about ourselves and our business into 2021. We want to maintain our mission of serving people and investing in people. And that's what makes Windermere Kirkland so special, we all contribute to improving relationships and our community and it makes us all better. 


What does Windermere Kirkland look like in 2021? 

BJ: We finish our new building and with that comes new energy into the office. Being able to get dressed again and be in the new building, which is made with every detail of collaboration and success in mind, that will be a great start to 2021. 

Mike: It is going to be much the same from the standpoint of always doing good business, taking good care of people, it is just going to be on a larger scale as we move into our new building. We are in growth mode and looking to add similarly minded real estate brokers to our Windermere Family. Our new building will really be the driving force behind our 2021. 

BJ: Yes, we hope that our team and community can take advantage of the new building once it's done. Our intention is to allow members of the community to use the space too, so we are looking forward to connecting with people we know, people we have yet to meet, and it's all thanks to our building and the intention behind it. 

Our goal at Windermere Kirkland is to be a resource for the community. Aside from helping you buy or sell your home, our team is dedicated to adding value to our city. Every other Tuesday we will be posting a blog post highlighting different people, businesses, communities, and more throughout Kirkland. Stay tuned!