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RE/MAX Results broker’s path to sobriety

Real estate broker finds a path to sobriety to go on to run successful brokerage.

John Collopy is the co-founder, broker, and owner of RE/MAX Results, a RE/MAX franchise with nearly 250 employees and 1,300 sales executives. However, back in 1975, no one would have predicted such a trajectory. That year, Collopy, then 23, was arrested after driving intoxicated without a license and fighting with a police officer.

It was the next morning, after his friends had bailed him out of jail, that Collopy decided to get sober. He served 60 days behind bars and a month at a drug and alcohol treatment center, then began to rebuild his life.

After working at a nonprofit community action agency, Collopy purchased an uninhabitable home in Northeast Minneapolis for a few thousand dollars and rehabbed it himself. Realizing that he’d need to sell it to repeat the process, Collopy earned his real estate license. Soon afterwards, he became a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker and eventually moved his way up to management. Then, in 1986, he co-founded RE/MAX Results with a former colleague at Coldwell Banker.

The guiding principle behind his company was to view the sales executive as the customer. To serve its real estate agents, RE/MAX Results established top-quality office locations; hired ample administrative, front desk, and accounting staff; produced marketing materials; and provided training and business planning. Thanks in part to these strategies, the average salesperson at RE/MAX Results currently sells 24 homes each year.

In his new audiobook, The Reward of Knowing, Collopy tells his life story, including how he transitioned from semi-homeless to self-made success. Here are a few of the lessons he learned, which can hopefully inspire others in their professional and personal lives.

At the end of the day, says Collopy, to be a successful real estate agent, “you don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar or go to Harvard. All you have to do is have a little heart and integrity and be willing to learn.”

  • First, if you’re suffering from addiction or mental health issues, get help. Go see your family doctor or a psychologist. Collopy still sees his therapist of 23 years. “Life continues to be a growth experience for me,” he says.
  • Once your health is on track, create a business plan and find a way to develop accountability, whether by hiring a coach or working with a small group of people.
  • The more you give, the more you get. “This might be a corny saying, but it’s true,” says Collopy. “I care about the people I work with and want to see them happy.” Collopy’s concern for his employees contributes to the positive morale at his company.
  • “Be honest with yourself about what you want and what you are willing to do to get it,” he says. “Don’t say you want to be rich without working the hours your business plan requires.” Once you figure out what you need to do, act. “It’s so simple but we have such a hard time doing it.”
  • “The number one thing salespeople do is contact people,” he says. The best way is to call them on the phone. Make at least 15-20 phone calls daily—it only takes about an hour total. Each day, Collopy rings former, current, and prospective salespeople.
  • Build your database with contacts who’ll be willing to do business with you when the time comes for a real estate transaction.
  • Schedule at least five appointments each week.
  • Buy real estate and rent it out. Collopy says that the properties he and his former business partner owned helped support their business during the years when it wasn’t yet profitable.
  • Keep learning. “I can’t run the company the same way I did seven years ago,” he says, adding that he’s about to attend a three-day seminar on trends in upper bracket home marketing.