Female Founders: Jenni Ruiz
This next installment of the Female Founders series on Union Street Media’s YouTube channel features Jenni Ruiz. Ruiz is the President of the Mibor MLS in Indiana and owner of JS Ruiz Realty. Click the play button above to watch the whole interview with this seasoned leader and entrepreneur.
Jenni Ruiz’s career in real estate began when she was 18 years old and got a job working at the front desk of a real estate company. The broker owner at that company saw her potential and encouraged her to get her license and work with them. Ruiz worked as an agent for a while and then, during the downturn, saw the need for a REO company because most of the agents at her company were focused on higher priced properties. “So I just had the opportunity at that time because nobody wanted anything to do with that space,” Ruiz reflects.
“I think this is a huge part of anything – business owners know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.” – Jenni Ruiz
Ruiz is good at spotting opportunities. She’s a proponent of diversification and considers it essential to both growing and future proofing your business. Ruiz notes that the businesses that can make the most out of any kind of market are those that cater to different clientele, provide different services, specialize in different property types, and transact different price points. “Real estate happens in so many ways,” Ruiz says.
As for what’s next in the industry, Ruiz believes smaller companies are going to have to pivot to stay ahead. Large brokerages have the ability to organize and have different business models which make them highly competitive.
Ruiz believes that independent companies and smaller firms can use technology to their advantage. “One of our goals in our MLS is to be the definitive source and one of them is to promote professionalism,” says Ruiz, adding, “so technology that would speak to those two goals could be something that could help us organize [and] help us compete in the market.”
Ruiz knows a lot about professionalism. Ruiz had to try extremely hard to even “get through the door” as a woman in the REO space and starting her own company. Through her relationships with other REO agents at conferences, Ruiz eventually grew her brand to what it is today. “The good ol’ boys would be talking and I would have a friend that would say ‘oh she’s really great in Indiana.’ But that was one foot in the door to get that one chance,” says Ruiz.
“I would work tirelessly to show them how good we were and that we’d get our stuff done and prove that we could keep our place.” – Jenni Ruiz
Ruiz believes one chance is all you need when you’re willing to work hard to make the most of every opportunity, and one chance is also all you may get. She is matter of fact about how she “just took [each opportunity] and learned and navigated,” but what she’s done is impressive. She had one assistant who worked with her for a while before she was able to grow her team. And during that time, she always said “yes”. “I would just say ‘we can take care of that – whatever it is we can take care of it,’” says Ruiz, adding, “I did spend my fair share of weeks working 80 hours weeks. I would never turn down business. We could always get it done. Little by little with one assistant.”
Ruiz’s business is different from traditional retail and residential real estate. For the REO side of the business, she works primarily with banks and lenders. She also works with Hedge Funds and institutional investors to buy property to turn into rentals. For these clients, Ruiz has to be incredibly detailed, analytical, and able to answer every question before it’s asked. And yet, she says she’s “not a numbers person at all.” Ruiz “just had to learn it, truly learn it” and now she looks at more reports and more data than most in the business, “so that they can see what their yields are on cash flow and things like that.”
“It’s just different,” Ruiz says matter of factly, confident in the similarities between her and others’ stories of having to work hard and learn how to succeed. Yet there’s something different about Ruiz, and it might just be that combination of frankness and foresight. She also isn’t stopping anytime soon.
“We have a huge company that everyone knows that is joining all of the MLSs right now that will become the 800 pound gorilla in this industry,” says Ruiz, reflecting on what’s next. “And there are corporations and corporations are very well organized.” “There’s still a lot to do and the next five years in real estate are going to be the biggest five years of change that I will have ever seen in my 25 year career,” Ruiz continues. “I think the change is going to be so drastic and I think COVID has brought that to us so fast,” she continues, adding, “I mean, it was what was going to happen over the next 10 to 15 years anyway, it has just shortened into a few years.”
To learn more about Jenni Ruiz visit: https://www.mibor.com/about/episode-3-jenni-ruiz/