Real Estate Agent of the Month Jay Fletch

Jay Fletch

The Negotiator

By Susan Cushing

Multifaceted, dedicated and perpetually striving for personal growth, Broker/REALTOR Jay Fletch of Edina Realty is anything but typical. Recognized as one of the top-producing agents in Minnesota, Fletch is also a father, army veteran, best-selling author, boater, world traveler and exceptional negotiator. In fact, based on his prodigious and imposing resume, one might surmise that this 30-something entrepreneur must have begun building credentials from the cradle. In fact, this is not far from the truth.

As a young boy, Fletch was already a successful entrepreneur mowing lawns, operating a paper route, and generally seeking out various means to earn money. Unusually disciplined for a boy his age, he made sure to give his studies just as much dedication. Furthering his education, both traditional and alternative, has always been part of his plan.

The Art of the Deal

Perhaps one of the most important, if not the most important skill in business is the ability to successfully negotiate. Because of the intricacies involved and personal attributes required, it’s also the most difficult to teach. Most experts agree that the best negotiators are born not made. Fletch certainly qualifies as the former. He began honing these skills early, negotiating prices for his lawn cutting services, even then understanding that customer service was the key to success.

Like most prodigies, Fletch entered the world of real estate at a very young age as well. Interestingly, although he acquired his license as soon as he turned 18, real estate wasn’t necessarily his first choice for a career.

“Actually, after seeing the movie ‘Jerry McGuire,’ I was certain I wanted to be a sport’s agent,” he says. “As I grew older, I realized it wasn’t the business per se that I was fascinated with, but the negotiating aspects. Initially, getting into real estate just seemed like a better option for earning money while in school than slinging burgers or pouring drinks.

“By the time I completed my undergraduate degree and was beginning work on my MBA, I had completely fallen in love with the real estate business,” he continues. “It was like finding my calling, and I was lucky because it was at such a young age. It was such a good fit and I devoted all my energies (and still do) to perfecting my craft . When you do that, it becomes a passion. My love for the work drove me to get better and visa-versa. Most importantly, it was the perfect place to exercise my love for negotiating.”

Surprisingly, despite the fact that he was already earning six figures, Fletch stuck to his plan and completed his MBA and even served a stint in the armed forces. He does admit that at one point he halted his studies, wanting to devote all his energies to his new passion. But, his discipline won out, driving him to complete his degree, the only concession being that he focused classes around negotiating and other skills that would make him a better REALTOR®. According to Fletch, this commitment and discipline is integral to his makeup.

“I think it’s hardwired in me,” he says. “and applies to all areas of my life. I believe that in every aspect of life, you’re either growing or dying. For me there is no final destination or top of the mountain. There’s no stopping point, it’s progress not perfection. It’s a journey not a destination, and we’re always going to be refining it and improving.”

Continuous Growth

Serious about his drive to continually improve and grow, Fletch takes advantage of seminars, courses, lectures and organizations that serve this desire. “I’m a self-improvement junkie,” he admits with a smile. “I’m a huge proponent of mentoring and coaching. I believe everyone should be coached and mentored at some point, if not continuously throughout their lives. Personally, I feel very fortunate to have had several incredible mentors, teachers and coaches in my life and it all started with my parents.

“Another equally important part of mentoring is taking all that accumulated knowledge and wisdom bestowed from mentors and coaches, and passing it along. I feel a real sense of obligation to give back, and hopefully this benefits others.”

One of his earliest mentors, Robert Squillare, was particularly influential, and in fact continues to impact Fletch’s life in myriad ways.

“Robert is an old-school, St. Paul Italian,” says Fletch. “He taught me, ‘you must be better.’ After that, I bounced around from one guru, coach or mentor to the next, and spent several years attending every Anthony Robbins seminars I could.”

Always thirsting for new knowledge, Fletch’s quest became even more aggressive. Books became a significant part of this crusade; not fiction or light entertainment, only those volumes offering ideas on self-improvement, enlightenment or business strategies. A voracious reader, Fletch easily completes a minimum of 52 books a year.

“My favorite room in my home is my library,” he says. “I remodeled that room before my kitchen, and probably spent more. There are granite countertops and several built-in bookcases filled with about 3,500 to 4,000 books, not counting duplicates, and I’ve read every one. My library allows me to be who I am as well as who I want to become. My books help me grow and improve.”

He begins and ends each day, (regardless of how long), by pulling something from these shelves that will inspire and enlighten. Mornings begin with a 30 to 40-minute session that includes material that is motivating and positive. Winding down, he concludes each day by dedicating another 30 minutes to reading something that will enhance his skills, knowledge or business acumen.

This push to always improve and excel, what Fletch refers to as “honing my craft,” includes advanced coursework, seminars and workshops in addition to his extensive reading. “If I can glean just one new idea or concept from each course, book or experience and apply it to my life, I know I’ll be able to better serve my clients and my team, family and community,” he says.

Choosing top-tier vendors is another avenue Fletch explores in this never-ending pursuit of excellence. “Our vendors are an extension of our team,” he says, “so we insist on only partnering with those we consider to be the best in their field. For instance, we use a prelisting inspection for our listings and entrust Cornerstone Inspections to make sure this is done efficiently and professionally.”

Always Another Apex

Having explored his entrepreneurial talents from such a young age, Fletch has never shied away from hard work or long hours. With a father who was in the construction business, Fletch also began his hands-on education early, venturing into virtually every related field of the business that he now dominates.

“I’ve been involved in many different facets of the real estate industry, including land development, home building and residential mortgages, which has rounded out my expertise,” he says. “Owning businesses has also given me a much deeper understanding of the entire industry that most agents don’t have.”

As his real estate career grew, so did the hours he invested. Fletch came to the realization that in order to continue to provide clients with exceptional and personalized service and maintain the high standards he’d set for himself, there were only two options – to clone himself or build a team. Obviously, the second option was the most viable.

Learning opportunities for Fletch are not limited to classrooms, lecture halls or books; not unlike an athlete in top form, his mind is trained to seek out bits of wisdom in virtually every experience. One illuminating moment came one night while watching a television interview with one of his favorite actors – Will Smith.

Asked about what makes him so special that he has achieved so much in his life and career, Smith responded, “The only thing I see that is distinctly different about me is that I’m not afraid to die on the treadmill. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, but if we get on a treadmill together one of two things is going to happen: one, you’re getting off first or two, I’m gonna die. It’s really that simple.”

“It was one of those amazing aha moments,” says Fletch. “I’ve always admired Will Smith, but he had just summed up in a few short words my exact work ethic and philosophy of life. I’ve been working literally since I was a kid. I’m not afraid of hard work, in fact I thrive on it.

“I can control myself, and how much I invest of myself. There are so many things we have no control over – luck, opportunity, our looks and intelligence. The one thing I always know I have control over is how hard I work, and when it comes to that I have only one speed, one level and that’s full throttle.”

As he matured Fletch came to a second realization – that one person is only capable of pushing themselves so far. There are only 24 hours in a day and super heroes only exist in comic books and movies.

“I had always believed that the harder I worked, the more successful I would become,” he says. “The thing is, no matter how hard I worked, no matter how many hours I clocked and no matter how hard I pushed myself, I always hit a ceiling. My production hit a plateau and no amount of additional work, longer hours or push made a difference. It finally occurred to me, that one person, regardless of how much he or she works, is always going to be limited.

“The days of one agent trying to be a super-agent and be everything to everyone are gone. You cannot truly provide excellent service as a solo agent. I guess I’ve always been a type-A personality. It’s hard for me to delegate because I believed the only way to make sure things were done right and met my sometimes impossibly high standards, was to do everything myself. Thankfully, with maturity comes wisdom and insight, and I began to realize I am after all, just one man.”

It was at this point in his career that Fletch began to explore the possibilities and practicality of building a team. “Not just any team,” he says, “but hand-picked professionals who share the same work ethic and dedication to customer service as I do. The optimum is to have a team where everyone in that team specializes in what they do best.”

He also understood that in order to have this ideal ensemble of qualified and dedicated people, the goals and means of measuring “success” would have to be radically different from what’s considered the norm. So, he determined at the outset that the Jay Fletch Real Estate Group was not going to base its success on numbers but on people. This philosophy has been the backbone and structure of the team, setting its goals, focus and vision on building strong and lasting relationships.

“People know when you sincerely care about them,” he says, “they like to work with you, and will refer you. The hardest part of building our team was finding just the right people who had the right strengths and shared the same vison as I do. Also, I had to leave my ego at the door, and seek out people I felt were better at various jobs than I am. Every member of our team excels in at least one particular area and supports everyone else.”

To emphasize and serve as a constant reminder of what they are all about, these words are boldly and prominently displayed on the office wall: The relationship is more important than the transaction.

“It’s imprinted in our hearts and on our walls,” says Fletch.

Jay Fletch Real Estate Group

Though still growing, today’s Jay Fletch Real Estate Group includes a total of five members, including Fletch. Each individual brings expertise, experience and a “customer is king” attitude.

Canadian transplant, Brian Beaubien arrived in Minnesota in 2013 and immediately enrolled in real estate classes. Hitting the ground running, Beaubien’s business exploded almost from the start, continuing to multiply with every succeeding year, reaching the $12 million mark in sales in 2016. As real estate consultant Beaubien, serves as both a buyer’s and listing agent with the group. With 15 years building experience, he’s also very knowledgeable in new construction and with his reputation for providing the ultimate customer service experience, helped create “Raving Fans.” Beaubien attended Lambton College in Canada, majoring in business management with a marketing background, helping him develop key skills in negotiations and marketing which translates into superior results for clients and the team.

Obviously adept at making friends and building relationships, Beaubien settled in Woodbury, Minnesota, not knowing a single soul, yet without the typical “sphere of influence” successfully and quickly built a thriving business. He continues developing contacts, leading the team and building stronger, deeper relationships.

“I focus on building a relationship business not a transactional one,” he says. “That’s my key to success and the numbers speak for themselves.”

“Brian is my right-hand man,” says Fletch, “he’s been with me the longest, and I don’t see him leaving anytime in the near future. In my opinion, he’s the best agent to have on your side if you need someone to take the emotions out of the real estate transaction. He’s very even-keeled, and when the transaction goes through the various highs and lows, he doesn’t take it personally. Too many agents allow their personal feelings to get involved. A true professional, like Brian remains calm and collected regardless of what’s happened in his day.”

Marketing manager, Taylor Evangelist grew up in the Twin Cities, later attending Minnesota State University, Mankato where she earned a Bachelor of Science in marketing. Creative and knowledgeable she has created one of the most dynamic and effective in-house marketing departments in the state.

“Taylor is brilliant with marketing,” says Fletch. “She’s especially astute with social media marketing, which today is essential. She also handles our customer client care concierge program and all of our special events. She’s definitely the creative one of the group.”

Solvei Baylis serves as the team’s transaction coordinator. As the name implies, she sees to it that every file is complete and nothing falls through the cracks. Organized and efficient, she ensures that transactions are completed accurately and quickly.

“Really, Solvei does much more than a typical transactions coordinator,” says Fletch. “She’s our office supervisor in charge of the operations of the team. She runs the files, the day-to-day email inspections, really just all the detailed, highly organized things that keep us running smoothly and effectively.”

Joylynn Auderieth serves as Fletch’s executive personal assistant. Given his type-A personality and workaholic tendencies, this is no easy assignment. “Joylynn basically runs me,” says Fletch. “She runs my calendar, keeps me on task – both business and personal. Truly, it would be hard to function without her. She takes so much off my plate, so that I can stay focused on the jobs I have such as, leading the team, generating leads and making sure everything continues to run successfully.”

The newest member of the Fletch team is junior sales partner, Samantha Jensen. “Samantha assists with a wide variety of tasks for team,” says Fletch, “and works closely with our clients throughout the homebuying process. She believes, as we do, that the relationship is far more important than the transaction and has built a successful niche for strong customer service and lasting relationships.”

Fletch describes Jensen as a loving and involved mother of two daughters who also has a passion for yoga and following a healthy lifestyle.

Road to Success

Even with a capable team, Fletch still puts in 70 to 80 hours of work every week, although as he’ll claim, “it’s not work when you love what you do.” He’s also quick to point out that he’s had a lot of help and support along the way through mentors, coaches and his close-knit team.

“After my mom and dad, Robert Squillace was probably my first real mentor,” he says. “Robert was the first person outside my family to take a real interest in me and developing me into a leader. He got me into reading and personal development. He introduced me to the writings of Jim Rohn, and I think I’ve probably read everything he’s ever written. Robert taught me that leaders are readers.

“After that, my greatest influences came from the coaches of Th e CORE Training Inc., which includes Dayton Schrader, Rick Ruby, Kendra Cooke, Jim Bass and Phil Puma. They really helped me grow and radically changed my philosophy.”

Fletch credits The CORE with much of his advanced sales skills and personal growth. Grateful for the coaching and mentoring he has received along the way, Fletch gives generously of his time and expertise frequently appearing as a guest speaker for leading real estate companies as well as speaking engagements across the country on topics such as business, sales, success and entrepreneurial opportunities.

At the time of this interview, Fletch had just learned that he’s been named as the newest CORE coach in the areas of real estate and mortgage. This is both a tremendous honor and important acknowledgement of his own personal growth and capabilities.

“I’m incredibly honored,” he says. “CORE has been such an extraordinary influence in my life, I owe so much to those who trained me and guided me further along my path. I’ll strive to be as dedicated as I know them to be, and hope to impact and improve the lives of those entrusted to me.”

A recognized giant in the local real estate community and consistently ranking among the top REALTORS in the country for sales volume and transaction sides, Fletch enjoys an expansive and loyal following among his clients who become repeat clients and happily refer him to their family and friends.

Today his goal is trying to trim that 80-hour work week. While his daughter is number one in his life, Fletch also enjoys boxing, and boating on the river.

“That is the next phase of my career,” he says with a grin. “You know, ‘having it all.’ My world revolves around my 8-year-old daughter, and if I can get my hours down by refining the team and developing the people around me, I can have more time for my family, the community and myself.”

The Jay Fletch Real Estate Group Philosophy

“People are more important than the transaction. We specialize in building relationships and connecting with our clients throughout life. A house just happens to be the product, not our focus. Our focus is on our relationship with the client.”

“People are more important than the transaction,” says team leader Jay Fletch. We specialize in building relationships and connecting with our clients throughout life. A house just happens to be the product, not our focus. Our focus is on our relationship with the client.”

This is the primary philosophy behind the Jay Fletch Real Estate Group which, like Fletch, is not typical of any other real estate team. One of the main criteria for every member of the team is an attitude of service, with each member of the team specializing in his or her area of expertise. Unlike most sales teams, of the five members only two are agents, the others are support staff ensuring that every step of the way makes the process as easy and seamless as possible for their clients.

According to Fletch, it’s not just giving service with the “wow” factor, but providing that same, high-quality service consistently, so that every client can have the same exemplary experience.

Aside from having team members who are specially trained and experienced in their respective areas, the Jay Fletch team has set up basic standards of service that extend to every client whether they are buying or selling a starter home or a multi-million- dollar property.

“We work off the core belief that you do what’s right for the client,” says Fletch. “We’re not in this for the quick sale, we think long-term and base everything on developing long term relationships.”

With this program in place, sellers consistently received more money, in a shorter time and sell with less hassle.

“Some of the things we realize are critical to our service are actually no-brainers,” adds Fletch. “We’re not too proud to admire and ‘borrow’ those things that our competitors are doing that work and better serve our clients. As I mentioned before, we’re always growing and seeking ways to improve.”

Just a few of the highlights of this superior customer service with the Jay Fletch Real Estate Group include:

Staging: According to NAR statistics, homes that are professionally staged, sell 11-80% faster. This is a service that is provided at no additional charge to every Fletch Group client. “Yes, of course it means spending money,” says Fletch. “But if we’re not willing to invest our money in ensuring the quickest most profitable sale for our clients, whose best interest are we really concerned with? We are in this together with our sellers and that means putting our money where our mouth is.”

Pre-Listing Inspection: While there are mixed feelings about this, Fletch believes it’s better to know what you’re dealing with before the deal is ready to close. Under this philosophy, the seller has the opportunity to fully address any problems that might come up in the final inspection, thereby alleviating undue stress, delays or even a possible cancelled deal. “By knowing about any possible issues in advance, the seller has the option to either make repairs or corrections or adjust the asking price accordingly,” says Fletch. “Again, this costs our firm money up front, but it strengthens our negotiating position dramatically. In effect, we eliminate an entire round of negotiations. Forewarned is forearmed.”

Professional Photography: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in today’s market where social media plays such a key role, high-quality photography is not a luxury but a necessity. The Fletch Group provides top-of-the-line professional photography both in still and video, to show off and market each home to its best advantage.

Concierge Program: This extensive program includes a variety of services to make the buying, selling, and moving process less stressful. While there are too many services offered to list here, the few more unique of these include handyman services, a clean-up crew, as well as a host of other conveniences allowing buyers and sellers to stay organized and removing undue stress.

On-Going Customer Care Relationship: Long after the closing, the group stays in constant communication with their clients with cards for anniversaries, birthdays and other life events, gifts, and even assistance with real estate needs as they arise. Past and present clients are invited to various events throughout the year as a way of saying “thank you” and maintaining those all-important relationships for a lifetime, proving once again, that the Jay Fletch Real Estate Group is built on the philosophy of building relationships not chalking up sales numbers.