“I basically took an old shtick and made it new, fresh, now.”

Growing a business with Tatiana Londono, president and founder of Londono Realty Group

From a stint in the Canadian military, to starring in her own reality TV show (The Property Shop), to running her own successful company—Londono Realty Group Inc.—Tatiana Londono proves she’s a woman with no fear. Advantage recently talked with her about what she learned from her early adventures, why her agency is the future of real estate, and what entrepreneurs should be doing right now.

Advantage: How did you wind up in the military?
Tatiana Londono: It was pretty simple: I couldn’t find a job that summer, and I read one of those little ads that said, “Make lots of money, do something fun, work outdoors.” So I show up to the interview and I’m on an Army base! [Laughs.] I was 19 at the time, so I said, “You know what? I’m going to do it.” I became a private, and I did it for about a year. It was very hard and intense. It was a great experience, very unique.

Where did you go from there?
After that, I decided that telemarketing was the thing for me. Then telemarketing got really dirty and scummy. I’d had my first child, and we decided to get out of the telemarketing business when the FTC came out with the new rules that were very strict. We weren’t doing anything crazy, but God forbid someone says something when you’re not looking just to get a quick sale. So we closed down, and at that point I decided to do my real-estate course. My dad was a realtor, and he always said I was great at sales. I was home with the kids and decided to try it. I didn’t look back. The rest is history.

How did you know you had gone as far as you could as an agent?
I started doing well immediately. I shared my first sale with my dad because I was working with him, and my end was $12,000. I thought to myself, if I could do this 10 times in a year, that would be $120,000. But I knew if I could do 10, I could do 20—or 30. So I decided to hire an assistant, and I would teach her everything and she would be my clone. I believed in it so much that I just did it. My first year in real estate, I brought in six figures. I did that for three years full-time, and then I did the course to become a certified real-estate broker and opened my own company.

Having your own reality show on HGTV—crazy fun or a lot of work?
It’s more work than it looks like, but it was the best opportunity ever. Walking around having cameras follow you? It was great! I’ll go to New York City and they’ll recognize me. I walk into a restaurant here and they treat me like a queen because I’m on HGTV. But it was hard work, too, because I was also building a business. Fortunately, my husband joined me, and we opened it together. We’ve grown from 3 agents to 100 agents in just over 4 years. It’s been a little bit of everything: that military knowledge, my telemarketing knowledge, the TV show. All of this helped to make my agency a success.

What sets your company apart?
We’re a very assertive agency. We’re in your face. We go get the client if the client doesn’t come to us. We cold-call. I teach and train my agents. I taught them how to get listings, and then the rest is up to them. And because I worked for two agencies previously—RE/MAX and Sutton—I took all the weaknesses from those agencies and tackled them here in mine. I basically took an old shtick and made it new, fresh, now.

What do you think holds other entrepreneurs back?
I believe that people fall into negative energy very quickly. I’m witness to it right now. The market in Montréal is getting a little soft, and it was never my personality to get negative, but I’ve caught myself talking about it. And I knew I had to stop that negative energy. I have to tackle the issue at hand. This is what I do. I’m a real-estate broker. The money still has to keep coming in; clients still have to be served. So, entrepreneurs, just keep going. If times are slow, invest more money in your business. If it was a successful business before, it will be a successful business in the future. Cut costs, tackle the issues, and reinvest. A good business will stay afloat.