Written by Janece Shaffer Wednesday, January 25 2012Snapshot: Shirley Gary, Broker and Founder of About Sales, Inc.
Broker Shirley Gary founded About Sales, Inc., a real estate sales and marketing company based in Atlanta in 2007. About Sales, Inc. provides comprehensive sales management, staffing and marketing services to property-holding banks, investors, developers and builders. Last year, Gary’s company was named one of The Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Firms. The company is the only real estate brokerage firm to make the top 10 on the prestigious list.
Gary has over 25 years of sales and marketing experience. Her career includes stints with some of the Southeast’s largest and most popular builders including D.R. Horton/Torrey Homes, Sharon McSwain Homes, Pulte Homes and Paul Thomas Homes.
Womenetics: How did you come to start About Sales, Inc.?
Shirley Gary: Out of necessity as well as a desire to start my own business. My previous position of working in house as the sales and marketing VP and/or broker for national, regional and local builders within their new home organization was in the process of being eliminated in many companies beginning in 2007. This propelled me to move forward toward my dream that otherwise I may never had stepped out of my comfort level to actually do.
Womenetics: Your company has experienced tremendous growth. What do you think has been key to this success?
Gary: Our company will be four years old next month. I would attribute this growth to realizing it would not be enough to stay within the new home arena for sales only. I would need to diversify. My clients today are builders, developers, bankers and investors. This diversity of businesses has allowed our company to grow at rate beyond my expectations. We also have a strong market knowledge and an experienced team. Our volume of units sold and revenues increased by 60 percent from 2009 to 2010 due to the increased listings from more than one avenue. This allowed our company to be named in the Top 10 Fastest Growing Women Owned Businesses in Atlanta in 2011.
Womenetics: Negotiation is key in your work. Can you offer some advice about how to best negotiate?
Gary: In negotiating, it is always best to relay your proposal or counter and then shut up! The next person who speaks always loses. This holds true in any business negotiations and is the cornerstone for success. Do not be afraid to hold your ground if you have overcome all objections and proven your value.
Womenetics: Your company is known for memorable marketing. What does that mean and can you give me an example?
Gary: No matter the product or service a company is selling, to be memorable is key for business today and in the future. An example of this would be our marketing team that meets with our clients to provide them with a full range of services to include graphic design services and marketing coordination -- at no cost to the client! This allows our customer to receive a value add rather than incurring additional costs. Our team is experienced and has been able to provide the creative look that our clients need and deserve.
|Shirley Gary and some of|
the About Sales, Inc. Team.
Gary: As we have grown, I have added two sales VPs that now manage, train and recruit for About Sales, Inc. We have very little turnover as we make it cost effective to work with the company. I also spend all my time on business retention and business development. Therefore, our sales team knows that I am constantly working on bringing more business in the door for them.
Womenetics: How has technology changed your work?
Gary: Real estate is greatly affected by technology. Eighty-five percent of all buyers will go to the Internet first before driving to look at homes or even engaging the services of a real estate agent. It is now jumping to new heights with the smart phones so prevalent. Currently we have just introduced QR (Quick Response) codes in all of our communities. There are constant changes in this area, and we are always responding to the newest and best ways to market our homes.
Womenetics: What is your favorite part of your job?
Gary: Being part of the collaborate team that creates a strong selling environment and seeing the results occur from this. When I can make a positive impact on our clients and our team, in that lies the greatest reward for me.
Womenetics: What are your future plans for About Sales, Inc.?
Gary: For the year 2012, I am projecting a 20 percent increase in revenues. Long term, I would like to see the model we have developed growing to a size that can be duplicated in other states.
Womenetics: How do you balance your personal and professional life?
Gary: That is a tough one for any business owner. I schedule and pay in advance to go out of town for three long weekends and a full week vacation annually. I will not cancel a trip that is fully paid for! Spending time with family and friends is critical for success in business and long-term happiness.
Womenetics: What's your favorite room in your home?
Gary: My office -- just kidding! The kitchen, of course. Doesn't everyone gather here at the end of each day in every home? It is great to unwind with my husband and whoever stops in -- our children, our family, our friends, our neighbors.
Womenetics: What is your favorite book? Movie? Guilty pleasure?
Gary: Love to read! Just finished the book trilogy by Stieg Larsson, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and two sequels, have read the Harry Potter series three times in the past five years (what an amazing author!) and anything else I can get my hands on. I see a few movies, but the books are always better to me.
Janece Shaffer, senior editor of Womenetics, is also an award-winning, professionally produced playwright. Her plays have been produced in theatres across the country including the Asolo Repertory Theatre, Alliance Theatre, and Taproot Theatre. She also has more than two decades of experience in the communications field and has held communications positions at Emory University, The NAMES Project Foundation/AIDS Memorial Quilt and the Alliance Theatre. Shaffer holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in communications from Georgia State University.