Jill McNamee started her real estate business in 2008 in Hudson, Wisconsin. Four years later, her oldest son, Zach, joined her as an owner-partner of the McNamee Real Estate Team. The team quickly grew to add five agents and a full-time administrative employee. Jill started the business when lots of people were leaving the real estate market, so she experienced its volatile nature and lots of foreclosures and short sales. Entering the market during that decline made her a stronger agent because she had to learn to create business for herself, and that experience is very similar to the current market suffering due to effects of the COVID-19 virus.
PIVOTING TO FIT NEEDS
Jill is happy to lead her team with the “back to basics” strategies that helped her in 2008. The current lack of in-person open houses did not deter Jill. She said, “Even in the face of the virus, people still need to move. We are going to be the company that helps them.” She started offering virtual open houses and online appointments with clients. “Spring 2020 is not seeing a typical market. We have to turn over a few more rocks than normal, but our agents are still seeing great success with 16 closings in May.” Her group has committed to taking the time to check in with past clients, reach out to new ones and find creative social distancing solutions.
MAKING CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENTS
She is continually working to improve the business and, in 2018, enrolled in the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) offered by the UW-River Falls Small Business Development Center and led by Associate Director Katherine Fossler. Katherine noted, “Jill made it a point during ETP to give as much as she could – asking engaging questions, making a point of connecting personally and individually with every other student in the class, and always looking for ways to add value to the other businesses represented.”
Jill said, “The ETP was hugely valuable due to the business plan materials and the Business Model Canvas that helped me define my ideal customers and how to find them.” She also learned much from other business owners in the class, whom she continues to network with today. This year, Jill went back to the ETP class as a presenter, sharing her expertise in marketing with current students. Jill said, “I have tons of fun presenting in the class!”
Accomplishments with UW-River Falls SBDC
- Business Model Canvas
- Business plan
- Pivot guidance
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
In 2008, Jill founded St. Croix Valley Girls which has become her “tribe.” She wanted to lead a women’s group that provided value to local female business owners. Each month, an educational speaker presents to approximately 50 women in attendance; however, the mailing list has grown organically to nearly 580 women.
Jill and her business host a free movie at Hudson Theatre annually and work with the Hudson YMCA to sponsor the Holiday Hoopla event featuring visits from Santa and activities like building gingerbread houses. The McNamee Real Estate Team has had lots of additional local impact, as one of the business’s core values is “community.” They partner with EJ’s Pizza, Mei Mei’s Cookies, Buddy’s Bakery and other local business leaders for everyone’s mutual success.
MOVING TO THE FUTURE
The McNamee Real Estate Team knows that obstacles such as agent turnover and a changing market will always be present, but they are committed to not regressing and instead discovering and making the strategic moves that will keep their name in front of the community and bring continued success.