Written by: Heather Pluard
If every day is an opportunity to write another page in your story, what page are you working on? That’s the question Keller Williams Team Leader PJ Kennedy routinely asks. PJ is perfectly primed to lead his group to exciting new chapters, even during a pandemic.
“There’s adversity thrown at the main character in every great story,” he says. “When we look at COVID-19, we are the protagonists. REALTORS® have a choice in how we are going to approach this. We’re living in different times with a new normal, and it’s your time to shine. Embrace it, get creative, and overcome!”
Known for being a positive person, PJ says his grandfather taught him how to see problems as opportunities. “My grandfather owned a real estate company on Cape Cod, and I used to spend my summers as a kid working with him,” PJ explains. “I learned how to think outside of the box and find creative solutions.”
To pay his way through college at Johnson and Whales University, PJ started selling timeshares on Nantucket Island. “I discovered I was a good salesman but not great at following the rules,” he laughs. “I took a straight-forward approach and only pitched to interested people, and I ended up out-selling the other three reps combined.”
PJ’s track record landed him a salaried position with the same company selling timeshares in the Bahamas. “I transferred to the Miami campus and went to school Monday-Thursday, then caught a boat to Paradise Island and worked there over the weekends. After I graduated college with degrees in restaurant management, culinary arts, and food and beverage, I thought I was finished with real estate,” PJ tells us.
PJ traveled the country opening restaurants for J Alexander’s, living in a new city every few months. Tired of life on the road, he made his way to Charlotte, where he took a break from management and started tending bar. That’s when he got back into real estate.
“I started handing out business cards for one of the bar’s patrons, who happened to be an agent,” PJ remembers. “I found so much business for him that he offered me a job as an unlicensed, inside sales associate. Then I decided to get my license, even though I’m a terrible test-taker. I had to take the class twice and the test three times before getting my license in 2013.”
His persistence paid off. He became a capping agent in his first year at Keller Williams by selling more than $2.5 million. “I spent three weeks cold-calling before I got my first listing,” he says. “It ended up being the biggest listing that team has ever had. I’m thankful for the entire team experience. It prepared me well for when I decided to go out on my own.”
In 2014, as an independent agent, PJ was behind on his mortgage and wondering if he should continue in the business. Thankfully his mentor, Chip Walton, helped him become more productive. “He told me to rent a cubicle and be in the office more,” PJ recalls. “I needed the structure. I ended up selling $1.1 million in October that year, and I was able to pay off all of my debt from just that one month.”
The following year, PJ became an IGNITE instructor, and Chip appointed him to be the Productivity Coach for the Ballantyne Market Center. “Chip called the plays, and I helped execute them,” says PJ. “Ballantyne became the #1 most profitable Keller Williams office in the world, and has held that position for five consecutive years.”
Then PJ got fired. “Chip wanted his Productivity Coach to be a $10-million producer, and I’d only sold $7.9 million in 2016,” he says. “At the time, I was mad. But now I understand that Chip saw I could do more. I was spending too much time taking care of the agents I was coaching instead of my business. I hired a full-time administrator, Jenna, and we went to work. In 2017, I ended the year with $11.3-million in sales and decided to start a team.”
After a $16 million year with his team in 2018, PJ pulled himself from production to focus on coaching and management. He also started teaching around the world for Keller Williams through Carolina Educational Services, and he wrote a real estate course titled “Mindset is Everything,” which became a part of CES’ materials. PJ’s wealth of experience, success, and perseverance made him the perfect choice to be Team Leader of Lake Norman, Huntersville, and High County. He officially earned that title last February, right before COVID-19 hit.
“Regardless of the pandemic, I will have my offices in the Top 25 by the end of 2020,” PJ says. “Listings are up, properties are going under contract quickly, and we’ve had closings in the parking lot wearing surgical gloves. We’re not slowing down.”
Keller Williams Realty, Inc. is also taking constructive steps. “We’re watching expenses and dropping fees,” PJ says. “We’ve changed our splits to 85/15 for three months to help agents keep more cash in their pockets, and we hope to bring on a lot of displaced talent this year. I’m extremely proud of my story with Keller Williams!”