As Bill Bullock and Lydia Sarkissian look back over more than two decades working together in the real estate industry, it’s not hard for them to identify the keys to their enduring professional relationship.
“We don’t keep score,” Bullock says. “So many teams that are trying to get off the ground keep track of how many days they worked and how many days their partner worked and if it’s not an equal number, a fight starts and there are problems. Lydia and I were never like that. If a job needs to get done, somebody does it and there is no keeping score to figure out whose turn it is.”
Bullock is a licensed broker and CEO at Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty while Sarkissian is a licensed real estate agent. The duo has formed a lucrative partnership that came together without a lot of pomp and circumstance.
“I was the manager of Neiman Marcus’ travel department in San Francisco,” Sarkissian says. “I wanted to get into real estate. Decker Bullock was only two years old when I joined. So I had been in the luxury market before and I joined a luxury company in real estate and several years after that, we did a couple transactions together and decided we worked well together, so why not become a team?”
In 2014, Bullock and Sarkissian closed $121 million in escrows and followed that up in 2015 by closing $122 million in escrows.
“We’re almost a company within a company,” Bullock says of his partner. “Near as I can tell, we’re the most successful team in Marin County and among the most successful teams in the U.S.”
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The outside perception of working in the real estate industry does not always match up with reality, Bullock says.
“It’s easy to be busy, but it’s hard to make money,” Bullock says. “I was in two real estate companies before I founded Decker Bullock. This is the only company I’ve been in where we don’t have personnel problems. The staff is a very homogenous, goal-oriented group. We have the best offices in Marin County.
“We spent a lot of money on our facilities and on support for agents. We’ve got management staff on call every day of the week and 24 hours a day. If an agent has a question or needs some critical piece of advice at some critical moment on a holiday weekend, they can dial a number and somebody answers.”
One of the keys to being a strong leader in any business is your ability to relate to your people and the work that they do for your business.
“I’m still a selling agent,” Bullock says. “I’m not so removed from this day-to-day stuff that I have lost touch with what agents have to endure to be successful in this business and what kind of support they need and the problems agents face every day.
“I face them every day as part of my selling business. I’m the CEO of this corporation, but with Lydia, I’m also this company’s top producer. All of the problems that agents have and the staff have, for that matter, I understand them as well or better than some of them do.”
Another factor in the success at Decker Bullock is the positive energy that emanates from Bullock, Sarkissian says.
“We have another company in Marin County,” Sarkissian says. “The philosophy of that president is to look at the agent you look up to in your area and work as hard as you can to take them down. That becomes a very vicious and mean business practice.
“When you ask Bill about his philosophy, there is respect for other agents. There is enough business for everyone. Everyone has his or her own niche in the marketplace and you’re respectful when you are in a competition for the same listing. Use your talents, be authentic and be real.”
As he looks to the future, Bullock says he analyzes his business every year to keep track of what happened the previous year and what the goals are for the next year.
“Every escrow we close, it’s the same thing,” Bullock says. “Where did that business come from? Were we representing the buyer or the seller? Were we representing both? Where did that business come from? We have a four-page analysis that we have developed over all these years. We go through and plug in all these numbers and then we have conclusions that we write based on all that information we kept.
“Then we have goals for the coming year based on that information, principally based on where our business comes from and what we can do to at least maintain that source of business, but more than that, how do we magnify it and expand on it? Any person who is successful in business understands the fundamentals, what brings business in the door and what keeps business and what provides income for the company. Lydia and I have done that better than any real estate team.” ●