THE LUX LIFE: Kristi Berryhill’s plans for world domination
When it comes to size, did you know that DFW ranks fourth behind only New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles with approximately 7.4 million residents?
It is no secret that there’s so much momentum right now in Dallas- Fort Worth (DFW) – from the quality of life, low cost of living, great weather, and abundance of career and entrepreneurial opportunities. With such substantial growth in the area comes an influx of new residents to the Big D and the often overwhelming disorientation that comes with finding a place to rent in one of the nation’s fastest-growing markets.
Local entrepreneur Kristi Berryhill founded her company, Lux Locators, in response to the region’s continuous growth and her belief that whether you’re a transplant new to the city or a longtime resident looking to make a fresh start, everyone deserves to love where they live. Created in 2015, Lux Locators provides Dallasites with a personalized solution when it comes to apartment locating and other real estate needs.
We sat down with Berryhill to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey and her vision for this innovative company.
A special thank you to Marie Gabrielle for serving as the awe-inspiring backdrop for this feature. Photography by Christopher Alvarado.
What inspired you to go into real estate?
It all started in early 2010. I went to college for nine years (no, I’m not ashamed) to become a nurse. Along the journey, I realized that my soul was dying. I wanted to be in the service industry to help others, but nursing was not the route. I diverted to real estate when I came to Dallas at the age of 26.
I’ve had great mentors that took me under their wings to show me the good, ugly and bad sides of real estate. In the span of five years, I started a racing team to promote a real estate company with my business partner at the time. I felt like I was on top of the world. We were winning championships and funding a real estate company all at the same time.
However, the business took a nosedive. As an entrepreneur, I learned to fail quickly and iterate. I learned to cross-reference every person I work with and that money was not everything. Trust and honesty are valuable. Your co-founders make or break your business or startup. Quality over quantity is the name of the game.
Although I lost everything from business, family, to even my marriage, I came to appreciate resilience and not giving up no matter what happens in life. That inspired me to start all over with the utmost transparency and authenticity. I wanted my new business to be for the people. I learned to be a hustler with heart. Dallas is giving and has a big heart too. I’m very big about making money and equally giving back to make our community stronger.
Do you have mentors that have shaped your entrepreneurial spirit?
My first job in real estate was an eye-opening experience. The first owner of the apartment locating company I worked for was my first mentor in the real estate industry. She gave me a safe place to learn and make mistakes. She was patient and listened. She taught me the trade and that’s where I found my passion.
My business coach of two years has been a savior. He helped me launch my business from writing a business plan to refining my sales pipeline. He and I touch base frequently to evaluate if my business needs to be accelerated or slowed down.
What’s your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur right now?
Time is always against me. There’s not enough time in the day. I’m working with my business coach to learn time management and prioritize different tasks. My clients always come first and I put myself last. I also need to learn to balance personal and professional life. My life is blended and I need to set parameters to maintain sanity.
Tell us more about Lux Locators.
Lux Locators has been connecting people into communities since June 2015. It’s simple. We want everyone to love where they live. No stress. No hassle. It’s a free apartment locating company to help you navigate through the vague process of apartment hunting. We also can help you find you a home when you feel to take the leap.
Each Lux agent is knowledgeable about the communities and properties, as we value building relationships. We believe that professionalism and compassion go hand-in-hand. We don’t just help you find a home, we get to know you. Our goal is to humanize the process as we know that you can be pulled down a rabbit hole full of enticing descriptions of pools, amenities and luxury interiors.
It can be overwhelming…especially with the tangle of rental prices. Apartment rents are set more like airfares, changing daily in response to the influx of information. As such, we become your advocates to vouch for the best deal. As in any company looking to optimize, automate, and innovate, Lux Locators uses advanced systems to harvest and process vast amounts of data to personalize each client request(s). Operationally, our team uses data points to know what’s vacant, price optimization, capture leads, and property descriptions to stay abreast with the shifting real estate landscape.
At the end of the day, these tools enhance the experience and automate for efficient delivery; it’s an imperfect science. However, we never remove the human element. Behind our technology is someone to greet you and ask you about your living desires. Lux Locators is a small part of the real estate pie. Statistically, there are approximately 20,000 apartment listings in DFW to keep up with an estimate of 80,000+ people moving last year, which equates to about 350+ newcomers a day. We are constantly learning as the real estate space grows.
You mentioned data systems for your operations. How does it translate to exceptional customer service?
Technology plays a big part in real estate. We set out to reimagine the entire experience to make it seamless and enjoyable across the board. We are not reinventing the wheel. We tackled the pain points of apartment hunting as the process is stressful, convoluted, and intimidating. We’re in the business of customer service that happens to be enhanced by technology. We actively listen to our client’s story and compassionately design each experience for them.
I identified a pain point when I was working at a real estate company approximately 10 years ago. At the time, most of the leads at this company were not being follow-up and everyone was dropping the ball. The customer service was not up to par and the process was delayed. I knew I had to develop a software to capture leads within 24 hours and curate an automated message so that our customers are engaged.
Yes, you will receive a standard message to acknowledge that we received your request. However, once the request is processed, you will either have me or one of our amazing Lux agents reply back to your request. As such, we provide each client with a step-by-step guide when they utilize our free service. We work closely with each property to learn their floor layouts, amenities, community development, and relations. Hence, we have a B2B model where our agents are commissioned by the property to assist with vacancies. They pay us, you get the service.
Tell us about a big win or success you or your team have had in the last 12 months?
After all the fraud and heartbreak I’ve been through I have finally found a place in my heart to trust myself again. From that, I have made better decisions and surrounded myself with quality people. I’ve been extremely successful in learning new marketing and branding skills to implement in my business and to help others grow their businesses. I have also made it a habit t to focus on three things to keep a positive mindset. Those are to focus on my business goal, my physical goals, and my creative goals.
My business goals are to grow the Lux team. My physical goals are to train MMA and never stop fighting for what I believe in. My creative goals include putting together training programs for new realtors getting into the apartment locating market.
I see wins and losses as areas of opportunities. However, I would note that our evolution has been celebrated by the team. We’ve had people join us and take their entrepreneurship journey by the horns. I love that. It demonstrates that I am not leading but influencing. Change is always good. As such, due to our expansion plans, we are looking to recruit agents that have an appetite for hustle and heart. I’m very excited to grow the team.
Since implementing the new systems, I have tripled my annual gross revenue. We have outgrown one system and are in the process of building the upgraded version of the new system. I have influenced my team to believe in themselves and that they can make anything happen once they put their minds to it. My team is amazing.
Our agents get a membership to the automated software to capture leads and follow-ups with different commissions models to maximize your potential. Our team also values partnering and collaborating with the community to move the needle in collective impact and curate experiences that activate a #LUXLIFE. Follow us on our channels for upcoming events.
What’s your vision for Lux Locators?
Lux Locator is headquartered in Dallas but my vision is expanding beyond DFW. We have agents in San Antonio, Austin, and Houston. We can assist with your relocation seamlessly. I also noted earlier that Chicago has a ripe apartment location market. Chicago is our next stop. My 5-10 year plan is to establish international offices, for example, Dubai. Dubai is central to the world with a direct flight from DFW, you can be there in 14 hours or so. There are lots of expats that spend a limited amount of time due to work obligations. As such, there is an abundance of rentals. After traveling five times to build relations and understand the ecosystem, I identified a few pain points that Lux Locators can assist with. All in all, with the combination of our customer service and technology to back it up, I envision Lux Locators to be international soon! Although the law is different, Lux Locators will be ready to adapt and disrupt the space accordingly.
In addition, Lux Locators also offers a concierge service that provides discounts with car dealerships, utilities, cable, cell phone, and other lifestyle needs that we can help with. We’ve also partnered with a credit repair company to remove any roadblocks from purchasing or leasing.
What recommendations can you provide to those that are apartment hunting?
Ask questions. It’s like dating. You need to build trust and rapport with your agent. Each person has a different personality and style. However, each of our agents undergoes a training boot camp that’s empowering and fun. You’ll definitely work with experts that understand southern hospitality and will go above and beyond around the clock to find you a home.
Do your research and know who you are working with. I always tell my agents that’s a two-way street. We want to create a safe and welcoming environment for our clients when we escort them to the properties. My priorities are my agents, my clients, and the properties we’ve built a relationship with and planning on doing more of. We want to create an open and transparent ecosystem for apartment locating. LeveragGooglele and read all the reviews, check out Lux Locators on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and Linkedin. Engaging with your agents beforehand will give you an idea of our work ethic and culture.
Lastly, what tips and strategies can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Invest in yourself. Professional and personal development has a great return of investment in the long-term. You should only compete with yourself. Entrepreneurship is about iterating your idea for disruption. Don’t wait for tomorrow; do it now. Here are my 3 tips to start, build and scale an innovative company:
When starting your own business, go all in! Trust yourself and do research on who you want to invest
Read a lot of books. Successful people read about 60 books a year. I’m currently reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.
Ask questions! Asking for help doesn’t make you look weak. Stay inquisitive.
Join Lux Locators and Launch DFW on November 13th 6-8pm for networking and special preview of “Heart + Hustle,” a new event series debuting in 2019 that will highlight the city’s leading millennial innovators in business and philanthropy. The event will feature cocktails courtesy of One Vodka and an opportunity to mingle and network at one of the city’s newest high rises, The 23 Dallas.