Craig Beggins has always prided himself in being a hands-on boss — a real estate broker with the training and positive attitude to help new Realtors learn the ropes and veterans perfect their techniques.
In pre-coronavirus times, each day always began with music, clapping and a team huddle.
The pandemic has changed some of that — his morning meetings, which are part-training session, part-pep talks, moved online. But Beggins said he consistently tries new things to try to keep them engaging.
“I’m a little worried about the future because personal connection has always been what we were known for,” he said. “(But) I have more attendance online than ever before.”
Beggins’ insistence on having a workplace that pushes its agents to succeed is what has likely brought 12 straight years of being named among the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces. This year, his Century 21 Beggins Enterprises, of which he is president and CEO, landed the No. 1 slot for midsize companies, where it has also been before.
When the pandemic first made its way to Florida and temporarily slashed home sales, Beggins said he panicked.
“I figured we were done,” he said.
But more than a year later, the real estate market has been forging ahead with a ferocity not seen in virtually any other sector of the economy, and the record-low inventory has forced Realtors to get increasingly creative. Beggins pivoted, shifting the morning Zoom meetings to coach agents about 10 strategies to help get their buyers’ offers accepted, or ways to convince on-the-fence homeowners to sell.
Read more: Tampa Bay’s top midsize workplaces in 2021
On a recent Tuesday morning, a session focused on how to forage for new listings: talk to divorce attorneys, check in with estate lawyers, knock on doors.
But it still included some of Beggins’ trademark can-do attitude, with a power-point slide of quotes: “Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” “Kill your excuses, face your fears.”
He tuned in from his home, decorated with motivational signs and a bright yellow smiley-face flag in the front yard.
The meeting had more than 100 attendees, and a recording was posted online for others to watch later.
Real estate agents are already an independent bunch — essentially a set of subcontractors working under the same brokerage, whose pay is determined based on how many houses they can get out and sell.
“The morning meeting became critical for us to stay engaged with our people,” Beggins said. Recently, he was disturbed by how many new hires he didn’t know, because they had been brought on during the past year.
Follow trends affecting the local economy
Subscribe to our free Business by the Bay newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
“I’ll walk into the office and somebody will say, ‘Hey, Craig,’ and I’ve never seen them before in my life,” he said. “I felt out of touch.”
So now every 30 days, he sets aside time for new hires get to have a one-on-one Zoom with him.
Several of Beggins’ real estate agents said the online training sessions are just as informative and motivating.
Sean Stuart was hired about a year ago — an anniversary that was celebrated on one of the morning Zoom sessions, along with employees’ birthdays — after being a Realtor in Massachusetts for about 10 years.
“Ever single day I learn something new, it’s crazy,” he said. “I didn’t have this kind of training in the past. It was kind of your standard, ‘Get a client, write an offer, sell a house.’ Now I’m learning the ins and outs of title companies, how contracts are supposed to work. ... I catch one amazing piece of information every meeting.”
Lauren Fleischman has worked for Beggins for about four years, but is based out of Brandon — one of the eight locations, including its Apollo Beach headquarters. Because of that, she said, she’s always attended the morning meetings by video.
“They are just incredibly supportive, and they have like over 40 years of experience to teach us,” she said of Beggins and the other managers.
Read more: Two Top Tampa Bay Top Workplaces earn national recognition
Fleischman said trying realty was the result of a self-reinvention at 52, after a host of other jobs, including retail, teaching and working for an automaker.
“I used to dread when my alarm went off in the morning ... now I look forward to getting to work,” she said. “Our job is to help people get what they want. And when you help people get what they want, you get so much more in return.”
Despite his initial misgivings, Beggins said the pandemic has changed how he views his company’s own real estate — and he’s thinking of shifting to smaller offices.
“I know for myself, I’ve proven I’m more efficient at my house ... I think most agents feel the same way,” he said. “Paying people to sit there for 40 hours a week — I don’t think we’re going back to that.”
Read more: Here’s how our Top Workplaces survey was done
Times staff photographer Ivy Ceballo contributed to this report.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
Century 21 Beggins Enterprises is a real estate firm based in Apollo Beach.
Location: Eight offices from Madeira Beach to Brandon
“I feel confident in my skills and abilities because of our strong leadership team and their ability to continue to engage and empower us with the information we need to succeed.”
“I truly love the teamwork, training and inspirational support.”
“There are no limits - my potential is up to me.”