Broker Spotlight: Kimberly Benefield
January 25, 2022
REALTOR® Kimberly Benefield leads with her heart and follows her dreams. A native of Gardendale, Alabama, Benefield is now fully invested in Oneonta, the home base for her real estate brokerage, Sweet Home Life Real Estate, and in her passion to serve her community.
We asked Benefield to share some insights into her life, career, and lessons she’s learned along her path to success…and about Sweetie’s Place, her and her husband’s restaurant.
Describe a typical day in the life of Kimberly Benefield.
My day starts at about 5:00 a.m. - and I wake without an alarm even on weekends. This is my private prayer time before I start putting out fires for my agents at 8:00 a.m. At that point, I begin checking everyone’s paperwork online. I check in with agents on our private Facebook group to let them know about our training opportunities on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays and to discuss closings. Then I will have several one-on-one Zoom appointments.
I work from home in the mornings and afternoons in the office. A lot of my time is spent working remotely encouraging and loving on my agents to help them increase their production. We have special event get-togethers every month.
How has the COVID pandemic changed your business?
In some ways, the pandemic changed things for the better. We were able to do some good things, and we just had to follow our clients’ comfort levels. I taught agents how to do listing and buying consultations over Zoom. I taught other brokers through the Alabama Real Estate Education Association (AREA). Because Zoom sessions can be recorded, I found more agents took advantage of training.
Because we were working remotely, I was able to combine two office locations into one. We began using an online paperwork system and direct deposit. I hired a coaching company for guidance with a productivity coach.
Where did you grow up?
Gardendale and Montgomery. My father was transferred so my last four years of high school were at four different schools.
As a child, how did you answer the question, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Well, I wanted to be a newscaster - but I thought my nose was too big. I grew up, got married, and had children. I was a dental office manager but I mostly sold treatment plans for crowns, root canals, and dental implants. I was successful, but I had quotas to meet and no commission. I figured it was probably easier to sell houses than root canals.
It’s an obvious question, I know, but what prompted you to choose real estate as a career?
I just wanted to do something where I could work from home and set my own hours. I had school-aged children. I wanted something where my own efforts determined my income.
What makes your career most enjoyable?
As a broker, I enjoy bringing out the best in my agents. When I was a real estate agent, I had a broker and a business coach who believed in me before I believed in myself. They really took me under their angel wings and changed my life. Genny Williams was my business coach, and Ginny Willis was my broker.
I always keep that in mind because there is a high failure rate in our industry, and I want our agents to succeed. I won Broker of the Year in 2018 for the Birmingham Association of REALTORS®. In accepting the award, I wished everyone love, joy, peace, happiness, and success, but also that a Genny/Ginny (or two!) will come into your life.
Any important lessons learned along the way?
Treat your clients and your agents like they are very important, but always do everything with your real heart. I’ve never made a recruiting call, but I’ve turned down agents that want to come to my company. It is a business, but you can have a heart-centered business.
As you look back on your life and career, can you identify a defining event or person that directed your course?
Hiring a business coach, Genny Williams. I came to her because I was just mediocre. There wasn’t anything special about me - two or three deals a year. I doubled my business in the first three months. It came down to honing my skills.
Tell me a little about Sweetie’s Place?
It’s a pay-what-you-please restaurant. My husband’s dream had always been to have a restaurant. He’s a world-traveled musician who moved here from Nashville when we married five years ago. Jon Bon Jovi’s JBJ Soul Kitchen Community Restaurant in New Jersey was his inspiration. We had to figure out why it was on our hearts to do this. It’s part business and it’s partially a way to show God’s love to our community.
There is a donation box at the front door and a sign that reads:
How to pay the Sweetie’s Way.
If your pockets are full, give a little more for those in need who walk through the door.
If your pockets are light, it’s our delight to help you today. We can lend a hand, simply pay what you can.
If your pockets are empty, that’s ok. Your Sweetie’s friends and family will treat you today.
Pay What You Please.
We were in a hurry to open and we didn’t know why. It was November 2019 - right before the pandemic started. A lot of our clientele are elderly and you see them especially at the end of the month when there is more month than money. In addition to our hot bar, we have a dinner menu, too, and our clientele also includes business people, doctors, and lawyers. We’ve ministered and prayed with many people. It’s amazing what loving and caring about people will do for them.
Is there a question I should have asked you?
I just think brokers and agents need to realize that what keeps you in the business is that you love people. If you do it with heart and integrity you will be successful.