Man of Distinction: Eric Kuzuian of Toronto's PSR Brokerage
It takes patience and perseverance to navigate through Toronto’s cutthroat real estate industry and come out on top; only the strong can prosper in this modern and aggressive market. Just ask Eric Kuzuian, a self-made industry scion and the Broker-of-Record at PSR Brokerage. As President of the company, his mission has always been to cultivate a business and corporate culture that shed the archetypes of a “traditional” real estate brokerage, bringing something a little more progressive and sophisticated to the table. Staying true to that vision and aligning himself with a passionate and like-minded team has allowed PSR to grow and flourish into one of the leading real estate firms in Toronto. From carving your professional niche, to building a brand and closing the deal, get to know this real estate industrialist a little better as he speaks to PSR’s secret sauce for success.
PSR positions itself as being an “atypical” brokerage. How do you differentiate yourself as a brand from the rest of the real estate industry in Toronto?
I think that one of the main factors that differentiates us from our competition is the welcoming and supportive atmosphere (or “vibe”) in PSR’s offices, which is very unique. A lot of sales environments – especially those that are heavily commission-based – can often be quite competitive, regardless of industry. Expanding on that, the different types of sales specializations of PSR agents (resale, leases, condo/pre-construction) create a wide-ranging spectrum. Hiring an array of talented agents with assorted skills lends credibility to PSR’s adaptable business focus, which is, of course, trading within residential/resale real estate, commercial, and leases, but also involves land assembly, development, raising capital, managing portfolios, and all other facets of these practices and transactions. We pride ourselves on being a non-traditional brokerage (we call it boutique) where our agents can carve out their industry niche, building their own distinctive brand that honours their real estate skillset and expertise, whatever those may be. We encourage individuality with a hint of style, but professionalism and integrity is always priority number one.
Having a great team behind you, especially in the realm of real estate, is so crucial to success. What traits do you look for when it comes to building one?
I think that the most crucial part of assembling a solid and ambitious team is the recruitment process. The right fit is a high priority for each agent that we hire; if PSR’s mission and vision inspire a potential hire (from a business perspective), then that prospect will likely thrive within our corporate culture since our values are aligned. It’s a compliment to our business that PSR has grown mostly through referral, and by hiring that way, we’ve been able to cultivate a truly collaborative, passionate, and forward-thinking team that motivates each other and enjoys working together – just look at the photos from our last Halloween party! We invest in the individuals we hire, providing them all of the tools, technology, resources, training, and mentorship necessary to build a career that lasts in a highly tumultuous and unsparing industry.
Do you see your company, then, as a facilitator for fuelling passion?
I agree with the age-old adage that, “if you build it they will come.” Both of our PSR offices were designed with this concept in mind, to provide value to our team by creating functional and stimulating spaces where they can work contentedly. We fuel passion through leading by example; we have positioned ourselves as Toronto’s premier boutique real estate brokerage, and as a team, are die-hard believers in the brand which trickles down and is carried out through our highly driven agents. We definitely live the brand that we’ve built, by ensuring that everything from our office design to our logo and brand guidelines, digital presence, ongoing training and mentorship, marketing and advertising, in-person demeanour, and our commitment to an exceptional level of service are consistent with our brand and the core values that we’ve instilled as a business. Nothing destroys credibility like presenting yourself as one thing, and failing to meet that expectation. We are purveyors of follow-through and accountability, which drives our passion for building a trustworthy and reputable business – we definitely talk the talk, and always walk the walk to match.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I am an early riser who wakes up at 4:30am every day, no alarm clock required. While to some this might sound like more of a curse than a blessing, I try to capitalize on it by squeezing in 3 extra hours of work every morning – it adds up to roughly 21 hours a week of added productivity. Throughout my workday, I am untiringly accountable and punctual… If I have to be somewhere at a certain time, I’m there. If I tell someone that I will do something, I do it. It all comes down to respecting other people’s time, keeping organized, and managing expectations. It’s not rocket science; it’s common courtesy. And on top of all of that, keeping a balanced life is paramount. Spending time with my family and children keeps me grounded when things are hectic at work, which happens to everyone at some point. In those moments I’m mindful to take a step back, shift my perspective, and focus on the people that are most important to me.
Conversely, what are the traits that you try to exude from within yourself to further motivate your team?
A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, and that’s why our entire office is constructed of glass, concrete, and marble! All kidding aside, there is definitely some truth to that proverb, which is why I hire individuals who are not only extremely bright and talented in their roles, but also unwaveringly confident in their abilities, which gives me peace of mind to let them take the ball and run with it. My leadership style has never been that of a micro-manager, and I am a steadfast believer in that there is a difference between being a leader and being a dictator. That’s the best advice that I can offer – foster an environment where your team can excel so that you can always count on them to nail that three-pointer at the buzzer.
HOW TO WIN AT REAL ESTATE
Kuzuian dishes some advice on how to leg-up your real estate business, but really, his advice is applicable to any field. Here are the five rules you can follow to win at whatever you do.
LITTLE THINGS ADD UP
Real estate agents essentially run their own businesses, which can make it tough to stick to a regimented routine when their daily schedule is often in flux. In some workplaces it’s easier to develop a regular routine, like when you’re required to be at your office, at your desk, every day from 9-5. As a realtor it’s important to force yourself to do the little things each day when you’re not with clients to propel your business forward. While doing deals with clients certainly dominates a lot of time, it’s important keep yourself in check and ask yourself what you’re doing with the remaining hours of your day to continue to grow your business.
SHUT UP AND LISTEN
Know your clients. Ask them questions, but more importantly, listen to their responses. REALLY listen – pay attention to the nuances of their body language and the tone of their voice as they explain their wants, needs, and deal breakers. This is incredibly valuable information. Picking up on these cues will assist you in identifying their comfort level throughout the deal process as you negotiate on their behalf.
DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE
It’s crucial to understand to the best of your ability any objections a client may have instead of trying to mask them. Be 100% transparent. When you start acting like a used-car salesman with the sole focus of closing the deal, your clients lose faith that you have their best interests at heart. This practice is short sighted; to build a foundation of trust you must put yourself in your client’s shoes, and have compassion and understanding. Staying successful in this industry is dependent on open and honest communication so to properly serve your client’s needs and manage their expectations.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
There is no blue pill that you can take to magically close 100 deals this year. It comes down to passion, motivation, goal setting, and putting in the work to execute these intentions – your drive to succeed. Real estate is a hyper-competitive industry with north of 43,000 real estate agents fighting for the same business. In addition, the digital aspect of real estate has made it easier than ever for the average person to buy, sell, or lease a home on their own, cutting out the participation of realtors entirely. With all of these options available for the public to access real estate, you have to ask yourself, “Am I successfully conveying the value-add of my professional service to the targeted demographic?” Increase your market value as a realtor by dedicating yourself to understanding the market environment, trends, comparisons, absorption rates, product availability, price points, and neighbourhoods throughout your city. Put in the time and effort to honing your craft. Education is ammo and expertise pays dividends; there is no shortcut to success.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself… I’m pretty sure that’s a thing people are still saying. Have respect for your clients, the industry, and yourself. Act with integrity and check any attitude at the door. An amiable outlook will always shine a positive light on you when working with other agents in the industry, and bad karma is not a good thing to have hanging over your shoulder if you conduct your business without a solid moral compass.
PSR BY THE NUMBERS
NUMBER OF OFFICES IN TORONTO // TWO
NUMBER MARRIAGES THAT CAME FROM 2 PSR AGENTS WHO WORKED TOGETHER AND FELL IN LOVE // ONE
NUMBER OF BROKERS, SALES REPRESENTATIVES AND STAFF // 100+
NUMBER OF DEVELOPERS WORKING WITH PSR // ELEVEN
REAL ESTATE SALES SOLD TO DATE // $3 BILLION+
NUMBER OF DOGS THAT VISIT THE PORTLAND OFFICE PER WEEK // 2-3
NUMBER OF NEW DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS SCHEDULED TO LAUNCH IN 2017 // FIVE
YEAR PSR WAS FOUNDED // 2008