From Wine to Real Estate: How April McCollum Built a Thriving Business Through Relationship Building

From Wine to Real Estate: How April McCollum Built a Thriving Business Through Relationship Building
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You might not think wine and real estate have much in common. You might not believe they share any qualities at all. But when you’re a business person, you can learn lessons everywhere. And the most successful entrepreneurs constantly challenge themselves in new, uncharted industries.

April McCollum could count herself among that select group. A tenure as a sommelier at the esteemed Seeger’s Restaurant, a 5 star Mobile rated restaurant at aged 23, followed by the co-creation of an acclaimed wine business, led to where she finds herself today: a blossoming real estate career as a broker. 

Mirroring the rapid rise of North Carolina real estate itself, McCollum made her name in the state, achieving 92 sales in the town of Kernersville and surrounding areas in her first year. But how does a wine expert get named one of their state’s top real estate agents? The answer lies not in a colorful life story but in skills, values, and a dedication to relationships.

Wine and Wisdom

From Wine to Real Estate: How April McCollum Built a Thriving Business Through Relationship Building

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When you’re tasked with suiting the tastes of affluent individuals as they wait for a thousand-dollar meal, you learn a thing or two about relationships. “They looked at me like I was the goddess of the dining room,” McCollum illustrates. “I could bring stress down with wine. If we had problems in the kitchen and everything was delayed, I had the best tools to calm people down.”

But opulent alcoholic beverages weren’t the only solution at McCollum’s disposal. Impromptu wine classes for waiting guests were also her forte. Even back in her sommelier days, the realtor’s attitude spoke to a broader ambition to lead by example.

“Often, when you’re at a restaurant, and things aren’t going well, the waiter is nowhere to be seen,” the agent observes. “That’s because they’re scared to approach you. So what’s the lesson from that? Don’t be scared to approach the situation, and keep calm.”

It’s an example of how building a relationship with your customers can strengthen the perception of your company. In other words, the impression you give off to your clients overwhelmingly dictates your standard of service. But there must be flesh on the bones—that food needs to come sometime. That’s the bridge between the worlds of wine and real estate.

“Seeger’s was a good fit for me because, even though I was always stressed, it was seamless,” she says. “They didn’t need to see my stress—my job was to make the service as seamless as possible.”

“I believe that training has done me well, especially in real estate,” McCollum continues. “The client is stressed, so I have to keep the stress down and the service perfect.”

An Entrepreneur’s Empathy

Even under pressure, real estate demands brokers stay emotionally in touch with their clients. Otherwise, how can you know their intentions and feelings toward the property?

First, McCollum alleviates worry and negative thoughts by ‘spoiling’ her clients. Naturally, it usually comes in the form of a rare bottle of wine (wine = happiness). Then, she enters the meeting on her client’s level, tossing aside many preconceptions of what a real estate agent is like.

For instance, she recently stood out while meeting a client in the agricultural sector with shorts, flip-flops, and a six-pack of beer. Other brokers are often astonished by her unconventional approach, but McCollum typically finds herself the one walking out of the door with a deal. 

On another occasion, she noticed an expanse of property with a breathtaking view that the listing agent had overlooked. The result? A more attractive price and a happier client. The agent frequently credits that attention to detail with her success.

Price Before Property

As McCollum’s career in real estate continues to develop like the fine wines she once lavished on diners, her knowledge has become more precise, practical, and valuable. Much more than a realtor, she talks to her clients about the reality of their investment and flags up vital quirks that others miss. But she gained one piece of advice from a mentor that she holds higher than any other.

“If you don’t buy well, you can’t sell well,” McCollum declares. “Going back to my wine distributor days, if I bought any old thing that any winery would give me, 95% of the time, it was overpriced. So I only chose wines that were a good deal.”

She applies this philosophy to real estate and urges clients to do the same. Buying too high, she believes, is the property sector’s most prominent problem. Buyers should allow for some depreciation but not commit to a deal that will leave them drastically out of pocket in 10 years. 

It’s the boldest demonstration of McCollum’s universal business acumen. The basic pointers that once formed the essence of her wine business now guide her clients out of traps and into prosperity. The best use for knowledge, it seems, is to build more relationships and gain more knowledge.

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