Kris Lindahl is a successful entrepreneur and the founder of Kris Lindahl Real Estate, recently ranked by Real Trends as the #1 team-owned real estate brokerage in Minnesota by volume, and #12 in the country. Kris’s original career goal was teaching. But after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in education, a friend suggested getting his real estate license, and the rest is history.
Kris quickly became the #1 agent in Minnesota. He then formed a team at a national brokerage and become the #1 team in Minnesota and one of the top-producing in the nation. Kris then declared his “Innovation Independence” and started Kris Lindahl Real Estate (KLRE) in May 2018. In just over two years, KLRE has more than tripled in size and become one of the fastest-growing residential real estate companies in America.
Apart from real estate, Kris wears many hats as an entrepreneur. He’s a bestselling author (Sold!), a top-rated national speaker, a Business Journal 40 Under 40 winner, host of the top-performing podcast The Kris Lindahl Show, and a sought-after subject matter expert on TV and online. He’s most proud of founding the Be Generous Movement, which encourages people and businesses to give back to their communities through skills sharing, financial resources and volunteering, or “Time, Talents and Treasures.” Outside of work, Kris is an avid fisherman and loves nothing more than spending time with his daughter, Victoria.
How did you get started in your industry?
I was interested in teaching, but I was also a natural entrepreneur who was always thinking of new ideas and starting new ventures. I got my college degree in Education, but once I graduated and dipped my toe into real estate, I never looked back. I loved helping people with the most significant investment in their lives, and I couldn’t stop thinking of ways to make the experience better for them. Real estate seemed stuck in the dark ages in many ways. I wanted to bring it up to date and deliver the same convenient customer experience you get when you buy something on Amazon. Over time, I realized that the best way for me to shape the industry was to start my own company. And that’s why I started Kris Lindahl Real Estate in May 2018.
How do you make money in your field?
The literal answer is that you make money as a real estate agent and brokerage through commissions on selling homes. The bigger-picture answer is that you make money by providing the best possible consumer experience. That comes from combining technology with the human touch—being friendly, knowledgeable and responsive, and going above and beyond to make clients feel heard and valued. That’s what creates customers for life. You also have to reinvest a big part of your company revenue into building a powerful brand that people recognize and trust.
How long did it take for you to become profitable when you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I was profitable pretty quickly as a solo agent when I started out. But I realized there was a limit to what I could do alone, and a ceiling to those profits. That’s part of what moved me to a team-based approach, where team members could focus on what they do best. That has allowed the business to scale up, while also reinvesting in the business and our people. I never really doubted that a team approach would work, but when I moved from a big national brokerage to starting my own company, the stakes definitely got a lot higher—and so did the rewards!
Do you remember how you got your first customer?
I don’t remember an actual “customer #1,” but I do remember something I did early on that brought in a flood of new customers. I was looking around seeing how everyone was starting to use smartphones, video and social media, and I thought, “Why don’t real estate agents take advantage of this?” I went out and bought a camera and a backdrop of the Minneapolis skyline, then recorded dozens of customized videos where I looked into the camera and said, “Are you looking for a home in [city]?” and promoted my services. I even changed clothes between shoots. After a full day of doing those videos all by myself, I loaded them onto my Facebook page, and the phone started to ring off the hook. It wasn’t that the videos were great quality, or that I was good on camera. I was actually pretty nervous, and it shows. The important thing was that no other Realtor® was doing this, and I was reaching people where and how they were spending their time: on their phones, on social media.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Where do I start? We’ve invested a lot into building a big brand through integrated marketing. That includes traditional media like billboards, bus wraps and radio, but it’s also having a big social media presence (nearly 40,000 Facebook followers), using PR like industry articles and TV appearances, and having a digital presence through Google ads. We’re unique in that we’re a brokerage built on one person’s name and image. I noticed early in my career that when you asked someone, “Who sold your home?” they would never say the name of the brokerage. They’d say the name of the agent. That’s why our brand is built around me, and why I need to get myself out there as much as possible. People remember names and faces more than companies and logos. That’s been a huge part of our success.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I think it’s my passion for people. In real estate, that translates into, “How can we change this system to better serve people?” As an entrepreneur, it’s, “How can I become a better leader?” and “How can I assemble the best people for my team?” And as a philanthropist, it’s, “What can I do to Be Generous and give back to the people and communities around me?” Those three all work together, and it’s why we’re able to attract people who are not only talented and hard-working, but also incredibly kind. It’s also why people refer us to their friends and family, and why we’ve been able to grow so quickly and sustainably. Another important aspect is my relentlessness. I’m constantly educating myself and seeing around corners so I can actively create the future instead of waiting for it to happen. I push everyone around me to innovate as much as possible.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Again, there are too many to choose from. One that comes to mind is when someone suggested that we use one of our billboard spots to rerun a famous ad featuring former Minnesota Lynx basketball star Maya Moore. She’s in a famous Michael Jordan pose (it was for Jordan Brands), and the billboard only appeared for a short time in downtown Minneapolis in May 2018. Knowing what an incredible role model Maya Moore is for girls like my daughter, and really for everybody on the planet, we made it happen. It had nothing to do with business. It was just a fun and meaningful thing to do based on having a dialogue with the public. We got such great feedback on it, it has always stayed with me. It made me realize how lucky I am to have my platform, and how gratifying it is to use it for more than business.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Growth, growth and more growth. We’re revving this machine up even more, and I’m so excited to see where it takes us in the next five years. I feel like we’re leading two revolutions. One is to give the customer experience in real estate a total makeover. The team approach. Virtual showings and staging consultations. Guaranteed Offer programs that deliver a more convenient experience for people who want it. We’re all about advancing the culture of the industry and making it as consumer-centric as possible. The second one is our Be Generous Project, where we’re leading the charge to make generosity a daily part of life, and encourage people to donate their Time, Talents and Treasures to others as much as possible. There’s a lot of need out there right now, and we all need to step up for each other in a big way.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d say, “Pursue your passions, but don’t chase things you’ll never catch.” So many entrepreneurs and highly driven people fall into the trap of always wanting more without enjoying the moment or asking if their success is truly bringing them meaning and fulfillment. I experienced that early in my career as a Realtor®. I was a maniac, and while I achieved high levels of success, one day when I was supposedly on vacation (but still working), I realized that what I was doing wasn’t sustainable. That was a great gift in a way, because it led me to adopt the team approach that Kris Lindahl Real Estate has now taken to the next level.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Absolutely. I wish I could spend 24 hours a day being a mentor, but of course there’s only one of me! Any young person looking for a mentor can call 1(763)401-7653 and book an appointment. I manage a lot of requests, but I always do my best to help young people who want to learn more about business, real estate, leadership, entrepreneurship, marketing and community involvement. Or we can just talk about basketball or fishing. : )