Glenn McQueenie
Glenn McQueenie

While some real estate agents are waiting out the pandemic before getting back to business, others are working even harder and actually thriving. That’s what Glenn McQueenie discovered when, in the midst of the lockdown, he began calling some of his 550 associates who are part of Keller Williams Referred and Referred Urban in Toronto and Keller Williams Lifestyle Realty in London and Windsor, Ont.

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McQueenie, who is the CEO and operating principal, found that 20 per cent of agents were waiting out the pandemic before resuming business, 60 per cent had no idea what to do, while another 20 per cent were “doubling down.”

This latter group, he says, was working twice as hard, calling twice as many people, and booking twice as many appointments. “I started seeing they were racing ahead…”

And some were getting creative and coming up with innovative ideas. One distributed 100 pizza kits. “People don’t forget that,” says McQueenie. Another, he says, started doing Zoom bingo for clients. “They had 200 people come to it and they gave away prizes and their business took off, and they didn’t do it for business.”

But McQueenie was concerned about the larger group who were unsure what to do or had decided to wait until COVID-19 had subsided. “I started thinking this is a problem now. How do I get our agents out of fear and into action?”

He believed it was a mindset issue and that a few key strategies were needed to help them get back on track. His solutions are contained in a new book, his third geared to real estate agents.

Launched in mid-June, Shutdown Slingshot: Eight Winning Mindsets Real Estate Agents Need to Double-Down Over the Next 100 Days (Author Academy Elite), lays out steps agents can take to thrive in their business during the pandemic. The book has been nominated for a 2020 Author Academy Award for literary merit and publishing excellence in the business category.

“My book says, ‘get out and talk to clients, just show up as an amazing human being, (ask) how can I help?’” He believes connecting in this way can turn into new business later on.

The 67-page book has eight chapters and, says McQueenie, “is designed to be read in one hour.” He believes by keeping it short and succinct it’s more likely to be read.

There are graphs that show what those who “lie down” (unproductive method) are doing versus what those who “double down” (work harder) are doing and offers action steps at the end of each chapter with tips to succeed.

“There has never been a better time in my 31 years in the industry for you to have the opportunity to build market share,” McQueenie says.

His advice comes from experience. A year after getting into real estate in 1989, the market crashed. “Prices and volume dropped and most of the existing agents could not adapt,” he says.

“I kept working and lead generating and testing new approaches. Within three years I became the No. 1 agent out of 230 salespeople.” Meanwhile, he says, many top agents and brokerages refused to change and offices that were in the top 20 brokerages in Toronto went under.

“I thought if I write this book now, it’s a once-in-a-career opportunity to gain market share…if they could change, they can race ahead of their competition. This is like 30 years ago.”

One of the key messages in the book is to “digitize everything you do and act virtually.”

“In the first chapter, called Digitizer, I give the contrast of the worst mindset, for them it’s ‘I don’t get the digital thing, I want to go back to the way it was before’ and the opposite mindset of that is when you think, ‘oh, if I can digitize and make this faster, simpler and easier for the consumer, I can win the game,’” McQueenie says.

“For example, we started teaching agents to get comfortable on Zoom. We switched to virtual listing presentations and virtual buying…and now virtual open houses. The old game had open houses on Saturday from 2 to 4 but that wasn’t always convenient, now you can do it on Tuesday at 7 p.m. People can now do it from the comfort of their own chair and have face time with the agent.” After being sent a 3D tour, they can ask their agent to show them the basement or open a cupboard. The agent no longer has to drive to the home to show it.

Other chapters cover the importance of continuous learning – whether it’s how to use lighting to look your best on Zoom meetings or being aware of current inventory levels, sales and ask ratios, and what’s happening in the market on a daily basis.

McQueenie also suggests finding a niche market and identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to being a game changer. “The game changer means dominating one single target market,” he writes. “The easiest market to dominate is the one that comes most naturally to you, an area you already have experience in.” Did you come from another industry before real estate and if so, what skills did you bring with you?

To deal with the shift in the market, McQueenie says agents need to get back to basics – lead generation, booking appointments, lead conversion, taking listing/buying contracts, negotiating offers and getting the transaction to closing.

Many chapters stress the importance of various aspects of technology. This includes virtual buyer/seller consultations; virtual showings with homes virtually staged; all paperwork digitized and signed electronically; virtual home inspections; virtual appraisals; virtual financing; and lawyers closing transactions without ever meeting clients face-to-face.

“Never let a good pandemic go to waste,” he says. “In every crisis there’s an opportunity. You can shut down or double down.”

Not surprisingly, McQueenie has been anything but idle during the pandemic. He’s offering training and Zoom seminars – one of them, based on his new book, was a fundraiser that brought in $20,000 for the Nova Scotia shooting victims. He’s also voicing an audio version of his book, which should be out in August and he’s planning group and private coaching based on the eight mindsets.

“It’s a new game and the person who’s adapted the quickest will succeed,” says McQueenie. “Agents need to see this as a time for growth and opportunity.”

The book is available through Amazon, on Kindle and soon on Shopify.


  1. Excellent reminder… Lesson agreed:

    It always comes down to the 80:20 thing no matter how you slice the pie. I’m thinking what we used to call farming might tie in to the article reference to niche marketing. Just like Tom Peters repeatedly said: “Stick to the knitting.” (Do what you know best.) And make Nordstrom type customer service be your religion.

    New agents in particular need to lean in that direction. But someone also has to tell them that it can take sometimes three years to build that system. But it’s so worth it.

    We don’t know what we don’t know until we find out we don’t know it, whatever “it” is. I so much understand what Mr. McQueenie refers to. One thing: Corp head office did a beautiful job during all the years I was there “sending special letters,” sometimes sent by regional managers, and often by the executive VIP’s, acknowledging strategy and success employed by their top salespeople. Of course that was for many years prior to the Internet and the social media world.

    We were deep in a recession I was told repeatedly in 1991, when many agents were just getting started; it was only ten years earlier that mortgage interest rates were 18-23%, yet people back then were buying and selling houses. The real estate world didn’t come to its predicted end.

    How come I didn’t know we were once again in the late 80s, in a recession like ten years earlier having survived the prior one. But it did surely change.

    I’m a news junkie, I was a perpetual convention attender, learning multitudes of new things from presenters (mostly American), and tuning out the recession news that began on world famous Wall Street, I guess. I saw no signs of it locally, other than hearing that the auto industry was suffering and a local yacht manufacturing company was forced to close by an over exuberant very young new banker who allegedly predicted the end of high-end lifestyles; that none of his high-end auto dealers, jewelry stores and other success-oriented industries would survive. He helped that prognosis materialize. He called their operating loans even so they were best bank customers who had never defaulted. Why? Because he could. Massive power-trip. The stories were in all the financial readings. And stressed how it came to be helped by the young new banker who had read headlines while on an executive holiday down south saying such businesses such as he had on his newly acquired platform were sure to fail; best he should call in their operating lines, mostly secured by their home ownership. Houses went on the market.

    I had a personal tour by one of the principles of the plant (fibreglass thick like fog in the air). Later the giant plant became some sort of evangelical church.

    We had been in this then 1991 recession since 1987 apparently. I hadn’t noticed. It didn’t affect my real estate career, clearly, as local offices were closing down their offices all around me, and some were merging branches, cancelling lease contracts.

    From day one my boutique concept, novelty that it was, was successful. Shops in malls had papered windows. Closed. Sound familiar? And there was the birth of the so-called big-box stores.

    And then there was the introduction of the new kid on the block in the mid-nineties? What seemed almost overnight: buyer brokerage. What timing… no one seemed to understand it, the rules were vague at best. Some still don’t understand it or yet believe in practicing buyer brokerage. Many agents all those years later are still reluctant to get a BRA signed.

    I had just come through that late 80s timeline with the most successful years in my career working for a brand name company that I later learned was suffering. Later I was told I had been carrying the bulk of the branch expenses.

    What was I doing? Taking my broker courses, all back to back and out selling and listing real estate till midnight and back at courses at 8 am and somehow studying amidst it all. Yes. There will always be people buying and selling homes, no matter the business chatter or climate.

    You shouldn’t have to seek them out: they should know to call you. In my case I was very fortunate; they sought me out. My phone never stopped ringing.

    Maybe when I went out on my own it was the unusual never before used colours, or some other subtlety, maybe subliminal advertising in the matching colours for signs, stationery, website. Maybe it was the ubiquitous follow up and follow through making everyone crazy insisting that i’s be dotted and t’s crossed, and paperwork delivered within the irrevocable. I have no answer.

    In February 1991 when I opened my, at the time unheard of in our trading area, boutique real estate company, me, myself and I, as shareholder, I was told “don’t you know you can’t do that, and that, and that???” It got tiresome. So I simply tuned it out and listed and sold another house.

    What’s the matter with you? I heard repeatedly. Then came the Internet in 1997. You can’t do that, and who do you think you are? naming your company by only your first name? And then using that name on the Net??? Mad! You must be totally mad! You cannot use those colours on the Internet. WHAT are you thinking? It’s all too “girly.” What makes you think that will work?

    Whatever it was that aggravated some folks so badly created for me a stronger than ever business. Since I carried a heavy listing load oddly enough many of the chronic complainers brought offers on my listings – why? because I had the listings, and word got around that I hand-delivered their commission cheques on closing day. Only a couple of agents ever called to say thank you for the speedy personalized processing.

    By writing my continued consumer education articles online, that kept my name front and centre on Google, always in the top ten and very often in number one spot in searches. I never ever paid a penny for SEO or positioning ads. Never ever paid for a lead in all the years.

    Just like in February 1991, I heard it all over again. I had developed a 24% market share in my career and I maintained it at my own boutique agency. One of the strongest quiet but very vocal local private company owners allegedly told the Board my business application should not be approved. Why? When questioned by the Board. Because she will fail anyway so it’s all a waste of time; we don’t need her opening a real estate company that won’t succeed anyhow, and there are enough companies here in town already. What “little man” thinking. That was nearly 30 years ago. And I was already nearly 50 back then.

    When I look back I have no idea how I did what all I did. I am most proud of my unsolicited thank you client testimonials. I sold more real estate working behind my desk than anyone I knew out showing dozens of houses to maybe buyers. I refused to play that game. I learned what clients wanted and often said in my newsletters: if we (the Corp) don’t have it, we’ll go out and get it for you.

    I saw no signs of that late 80s recession, and maintained a career lifetime hold on my 24% market share. Right through devastating family situations. Until a family medical situation changed my life and then on top of it all gave me a massive heart attack. Even so I recovered. I think. No high blood pressure, no high cholesterol ever. But giant blood clots prevented oxygen from doing its thing to keep me alive.

    Not one to sit and watch the world go by, I used my healing time and turned my hobby since 1976 into a secondary vocation if you like, an avocation. Even in my near destitute state, I could still write and develop new recipes.

    There’s my first-name only theory again…

    Thus the Kindle cookbook “Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne” came to life; a replica collection of my REM recipe columns a decade old, amended from my old 1970s weekly newspaper columns “Gourmet Cooking with Carolyne” and having taught gourmet privately in my home, long before going into the real estate field as I sustained my long term often 60-hr weeks academic career. I was only in my mid-thirties back then and was gifted with an abundance of energy.

    And 45 years in the making, a massive undertaking companion hardbound and softbound real cookbook will eventually be on bookstore shelves, local and NYC, London UK, UAE, and Australia. I look forward to as the world rotates what comes next. There’s no predicting the future. We can only live one day at a time. Make it count. Make someone else’s day count. Forget mother said: “and don’t talk to strangers.” That leaves out almost everyone?

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” | Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

    Working on rewriting old recipes, again from as far back as the 1970s when the world was a whole n’other place for sure, modifying and updating them for my second manuscript in the making during the Covid timeline helps keep my brain active. It’s a giant undertaking.

    How we eat has changed so much. But everything old is new again. Some agents put a link to my REM recipes in their client newsletters, and that, as a loss-leader, brings readers to REM where they read and are introduced to what they might not know about how the real estate world works.

    © Spirits in My Kitchen: Lady Ralston – Canadian Cooking with Bouquets and Aromas | Good Food Made Better Adding Spirits will take some time to finish. In the meantime feel free to share and indulge in recipes in my REM column: Recipes for REALTORS (r)

    Note: It’s important for me to advise I receive no compensation.

    Thank you to all the REM readers who connect privately as well as here at REM. Your comments are genuinely appreciated.

    And set up your mindset in real estate to become the go-to person. Build it and they will come. Be one of the 20 who do 80% of the business. But stay in your local map area. That’s the secret.

    Carolyne L ?


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