When Jake Thomas and his fellow Winnipeg Blue Bombers cheered on the field after winning the Canadian Football Grey Cup last year, his team at Keller Williams celebrated along with him from the bleachers and in front of their TVs.
A world-class football player with the Canadian Football League – essentially, the Canadian version of the NFL – Thomas also sustains a successful career in real estate as part of the Drisdelle Team, a top KW Canada real estate team in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Thomas, who was drafted by the Blue Bombers in 2012 and is its longest-serving member, knew he wanted a second career years ago. He had narrowed down his choices to real estate agent or firefighter, but when the football season was canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020, Thomas decided to make the plunge into real estate.
Before becoming a part of the team, Thomas was acquainted with leader Austin Drisdelle and the team – he had played competitive sports alongside Drisdelle’s son growing up. The rapport he had established with the Drisdelles was a strong factor in his joining the team, but, Thomas shares, Keller Williams’ tried-and-true models and systems and its team-based approach sealed the deal.
“Growing up, I saw myself as a business owner,” Thomas says. “I’ve always been a people person and a team sport person, and I wanted to end up on the right team. I’m a big believer that you always want to surround yourself with the best people. Keller Williams seemed like just the right fit.”
Drisdelle and Keller Williams cheer on Thomas and those like him who are looking to succeed in dual careers. Early on, Thomas was set up for success through meetings with a Keller Williams productivity coach.
“It helps us kick-start new agents out of the gate quicker than anyone else,” Drisdelle says. His new agents are in production within their first 57 or 60 days, versus what’s generally closer to 90 to 120 days for agents working elsewhere.
When Thomas is away at training or off playing football games during the season, he’s often able to handle calls and act as the first point of contact with prospective buyers. He knows his Keller Williams teammates are always there to back him up.
Constant communication makes the process run smoothly, while Thomas’s team members help nurture his clients when he’s unavailable. “Then when I come back,” he says, “we’ll tag team them. It’s very much a team effort.”
Drisdelle says that Thomas excels because he interacts well with people, is a motivator, and “a very valuable part of our puzzle.” Thomas will likely return to Winnipeg for spring training, with Drisdelle’s blessing. “He has just flourished in regard to being part of this team,” Drisdelle says. “We’re absolutely over the moon having him.”
The Intersection of Athletes and Agents
Sports and real estate both require some common traits, making a career in real estate an excellent fit for athletes. Both necessitate a team player attitude, as well as accountability and durability.
In real estate, “you know you’re going to be there for your clients,” Thomas says. You’re going to send that late night email or go the extra mile to show buyers a property on a tight timeline.
Athletes make great agents, Thomas adds, because they’re used to a performance-driven league. The variable schedule, rather than a 9-to-5 job, is also comparable between real estate and athletics, and attractive to many athletes.
Drisdelle adds that both football and real estate are contact sports – in real estate the contact is with buyers and sellers. In both sports and real estate “everyone is moving together,” he says, “and rowing the boat together in the same direction.”
Professional athletes are also well-positioned to serve other athletes and those in the entertainment industry as clients – they understand the unique needs and challenges of a rookie player or a recording artist, including privacy and discretion.
Upon joining, Thomas felt confident in his new skills after top-notch training from KW. “I really liked that KW spent a lot of time training,” he says. “And, it seems like Keller Williams is above everyone else regarding technology.”
Thomas benefits from using the lead generation tools in KW Command, where he seamlessly organizes his contacts. He’s also set up SmartPlans — automations that remind agents to call clients quarterly or wish them a happy birthday — and he’s been using Opportunities, a system where agents can easily track transactions.
Drisdelle says that agents can thrive and survive simply because KW makes sure their toolbox is full. “Agents just have to execute it,” he says. “That’s the beauty of Keller Williams. We have tools, education, and we have a culture of sharing and caring. Agents can grow a very, very large business and leave a legacy and live a life by design.”
In today’s competitive market, where homes are on the market for mere days now as opposed to months, Thomas is enjoying the excitement of the hunt and helping his clients end up in the best possible home for their needs.
It’s this type of attitude that’s helped the Drisdelle team as a whole achieve great success. In 2021, the team closed more than $44M in sales volume.
“We’re growing very very well,” Drisdelle says. “We’re quite pleased with our trajectory.” It wouldn’t have been possible without a strong, cohesive team with great chemistry. “And, it’s not about just putting people on a team,” he adds. “Team members have to have the same values and work ethic, and they have to buy into the vision.”
Before they come to Keller Williams, many people often say this is too good to be true, Drisdelle says. “But after they’re here, they say, I should have done this six months ago, or, I should have done this five years ago. Keller Williams is for people who want to knock it out of the park and live life large.”