About Sales, Inc.

About Sales, Inc.

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About Sales, Inc.

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It has been said that to achieve excellence in sales, one should not be so concerned about closings but more conscious of beginning new relationships. This philosophy has augmented the extraordinary abilities of an Atlanta enterprise which has emerged as a critical partner to builders in one of America’s hottest housing markets. In this case, the starting of new relationships has not only resulted in increased closings but opened the door to increased success for all in Atlanta’s building industry.

In recognition of the city’s summer temperatures as well as its scintillating nightlife scene, Atlanta has secured national recognition as Hotlanta – a moniker that’s made all the more meaningful given the recent heating of its housing market. In the second quarter of this year, just shy of 11,000 new homes were started by Atlanta builders, a total not seen since 2008 when the economic recession brought so much momentum to a screeching stop. Builders in Atlanta, like so many in communities throughout the nation, were crippled in the downturn, but things are definitely looking up as housing starts have increased by 70 percent over the past year. Employment figures have also grown, leading to Atlanta’s ranking within the top 10 among metro areas experiencing improvement in job creation. As for the increases in new home construction, that has been prompted in part by the diminishing inventory of resale homes. In the case of one industry analyst, it was estimated that only a little more than 2,000 finished (but vacant) homes were in inventory (a less than three-month supply) which reportedly constitutes a record low. New home closings in the second quarter of this year are more than 30 percent higher than last year, and all indications point to the prospect for more positive news coming soon.

In the midst of all this housing activity, there is one company that has not only played a significant role in reducing the inventory of available homes but also effectively bolstered the efforts of both new and existing enterprises engaged in home building. While there are many contributing factors, there is no discounting the support, services and solutions that have been brought about by About Sales, Inc., an Atlanta company specializing in comprehensive sales management, staffing and marketing services to property-holding banks, investors, developers and builders.

About Sales is comprised of some 60 industry veterans with expertise in everything from sales and marketing to contract negotiations and closings, and, to be sure, this outstanding team has honed their experience by serving the unique needs of builders, a context of capability which is quite different than the approach applied by traditional real estate professionals. Serving all of the 28-county metro area of Atlanta, About Sales provides the solutions which empower their clients to have all the advantages and acumen conventionally deployed through a dedicated in-house sales and operational management team without the added overhead costs typically associated with that – allowing its customers to better focus on core services. Memorable marketing, efficient process management, professional staffing and seamless closings are byproducts of the partnership with About Sales, and it is the perfecting of these very practices which have not only attributed to this company’s success but has also contributed to successes throughout Atlanta’s building industry.

To put that story in proper perspective requires some insight into Shirley Gary, the founder of About Sales who was born and raised in Atlanta. As the child of a dedicated, single, working mother, Gary likens her youth to that of a latch-key kid. She explains that with her mother’s busy schedule as an executive secretary, after-school activities often meant returning home to an empty apartment and being left to her own devices for entertainment or enrichment or whatever it is that kids do to kill time after school. On many afternoons, Gary would venture to the offices of the leasing center that managed the apartment complex where she found a friend and mentor in the property manager. From a very early age, she became fascinated with the customer interactions, lease negotiations and operational aspects of that office center, but she also saw how those processes benefitted families living within the complex and required services from teams of professionals with clerical, residential development, management and construction skills. Gary was thoroughly enamored. There was simply something about the creation of properties and how this benefitted people that so resonated in her impressionable young mind that Gary knew exactly what she wanted to do when she grew up, and there would be no stopping that force of determination.

Pursuing a Passion

In 2007, Shirley Gary was serving as broker and sales director for a respected builder in Atlanta, yet at this juncture, she had already amassed some 20 years of experience which included former stints with a couple of large national builders as well as a couple of medium-sized, locally-owned firms. With respect to her expertise and sales track record, she had earned an excellent position with the company she served at this time, and, by all accounts, her life was just as peachy as any professional in Atlanta would prefer.  The only problem was that she didn’t believe her position was sustainable, and though the realities of the recession had yet to be fully revealed, Gary felt that companies like hers were going to start downsizing and outsourcing the services she was providing. She made the decision to start her own company and reached an agreement with her current developers to be their exclusive listing agent for all their on-line properties. About Sales, Inc. was launched through funds Gary had saved, as well as support from a primary investor, her mother. Little did anyone know what was about to happen. As banks tightened lending practices and new construction steadily declined, Gary was delivered grim news that the builder she had formerly worked for (and now her main client) was closing down the company due to catastrophic health issues with the spouse of one of the principals in the company. At this same time, the prognosis for Gary’s new company also seemed grim. “As scared as I was, the story of what was happening to my colleague’s wife gave me some perspective,” says Gary. “It allowed me to consider that no matter what I was dealing with, they were confronting something much more drastic. I thought if they could handle their problems, I could handle what was happening to the business.”

The builder had some 150 homes in various phases of construction when the bank got the news his company was closing. Working with the builder, Gary went to the bank with a proposal. Home values had yet to drop as substantially as they would during the recession, and Gary’s plan was to secure buyers for the properties as a means of paying off the construction loans the bank had made to the builder. While it was generally anticipated that the bank would not receive as high a return as it had anticipated when the loans were provided, Gary was able to sell all of the homes, and, in most cases, the bank received well over the amount of the initial loan. At the time, when new construction virtually stopped, About Sales survived by helping a number of banks recover on the loans they had made to builders. Gary’s company was selling homes throughout all of Metro Atlanta, and, little by little, the reputation of About Sales increased along with their property listing portfolio. In time, builders and developers started contacting the company to inquire how it might serve their professional needs. Today, About Sales has transitioned into a full-fledged partner for a range of building companies and is positioned for further success given the recent developments in the Atlanta housing market.

Cost-Effective Capability

In providing a range of customized solutions, About Sales’ clients avoid the overhead costs of taking on staff and conducting training while still benefiting from the marketing, sales, contract negotiations and closing services. Gary says her team works so closely with their clients that each builder feels as if they have their own in-house division, but part of that is achieved by her hiring of people who have worked for national building companies who fully understand the needs within this industry which, again, is different from traditional real estate sales. She says About Sales may work closely with established firms but more often partners with builders when they’re just starting their company from ground zero. “We help a building company become a building company,” says Gary. “We know what they need from day one, and that’s not just sales but contracting tools, marketing and a partner who believes in them.”

What Gary finds particularly exciting is how the loan models for new homes have changed. She explains that in the past, banks would supply loans that would cover 100 percent of the cost to purchase land and lots and as much as 80 percent of what it cost for construction. Today, banks are only providing construction loans to firms who have already purchased the lots or land on which they’re developing. Gary says this has prompted builders to partner more with mainly local investment firms or individual investors who actually buy the land for one project at a time which, in turn, enables the builder to secure the needed construction loan. Gary says such relationships have helped infuse a lot of money in Atlanta’s market.  Now that the Atlanta market is showing strong signs of recovery, this is attracting some really large national investors that are allowing builders to increase market share and grow their companies at a much quicker pace.  She says this kind of funding creates opportunities to develop massive, master-planned communities while allowing the builder to purchase multiple sites.  Whereas builders may have once only focused on a few lots within a neighborhood, there is now greater emphasis on creating residential spaces that encompass sustainability practices, amenities and multiple-price points in home values. “It changes the entire dynamic of building in Atlanta to have that capital infused in the industry,” says Gary.

As for the dynamics of services rendered by About Sales, Inc., these have been strengthened by strategic relationships maintained by the company with other enterprises. The company works closely with the law firm of McMichael & Gray which specializes in both commercial and residential real estate law as well as builder and developer services. About Sales and its clients also benefit from a close relationship with Academy Mortgage, a 25 year-old company distinguished as one of the nation’s largest and most respected independent mortgage lenders. Marketing and promotional materials which are so critical to sales are developed through the company’s partnering with the creative design team at Another Keen Idea based in Powder Springs, Georgia. The success of About Sales has also enabled these companies to more greatly experience success along with an increasing number of builders and developers.

In terms of the future, Gary says she believes her business model could serve in other markets. She’s open to the idea of opening new locations sometime in the next few years, and, should these also achieve success, she might consider franchising the business. For now, her focus is all about Atlanta. She says that she feels grateful to grow a company that serves a family of building companies as well as families longing to find their dream home, but, for that matter, that’s a focus of Gary’s family too. Her husband, brother-in-law and sister-in-law all work at the business today. This family business, founded on family values of dedicated service, all driven by a team of industry experts singularly focused on providing solutions that empower new and existing builders to better achieve their goals, is positioned to capitalize on increasing opportunities in the Atlanta market. Having experienced the hardship so many confronted not so many years ago, Gary affirms how rewarding it is to see such promising potential in present conditions.

“The first three years were not for the faint of heart, and it often felt like we were swimming against the tide,” says Gary. “New construction is hitting a stride right now, and it is exciting to see opportunities for builders and subcontractors increasing. We’re having fun helping a lot of companies; it just took a while to get to the fun part.”

For more information, please visit their website at:   About Sales, Inc.

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