Michele Velcheck’s experience in the real estate industry is solid … as solid as her company, Solid Source Real Estate Companies. This CEO was a go-getter from the day she graduated and started her business out of her one-bedroom apartment years ago. This mom and entrepreneur understands how to connect old-fashioned hard work and customer service with technological advancements that are setting the real estate industry abuzz. And though she could just bask in the successes of her professional life, she works to set an example about altruistic business practices — creating Solid Source Missions as a way to give back to organizations in Somalia, Uganda, Haiti and other communities in need. Get to know our newest FACE of Atlanta, Michele Velcheck!
You served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer. How would you describe your years in the service?
Joining the U.S. Army as a military police officer right out of high school required immediate maturity and responsibility at 18 years old. The work ethic gained from military structure initiated the work and thought patterns necessary for success. Going through boot camp and military police training instilled self-confidence, and going through S.W.A.T. training in New Mexico made me feel like I could take on anything … or perpetrator … that came my way.
How did you go from a pharmaceutical and medical device salesperson to starting your own real estate agency, Solid Source Realty?
My first career after graduating from Kennesaw State College in 1990 was in medical sales. In 1994, a late-night infomercial came on advertising a program of how to become a real estate investor/landlord. The people sharing success stories had varied backgrounds, and none of them had previous real estate investing experience. I thought, Why not?! I listed my condo for rent the next day for 50 percent more rent than my mortgage payment. There were multiple offers immediately. I couldn’t believe my story was unfolding just like the infomercial! The realization quickly hit me that I was now a landlord and did not know how to do even minor repairs or renovation. I started going to classes offered by Home Depot and learned to paint, tile, and repair light plumbing and electricity issues. This is when I fell in love with real estate.
What was the scariest part about going out on your own?
The thought pattern of questions: What if this doesn’t work? Is it worth spending my hard-earned retirement savings to take a chance on a new business? I’m a single mom and making a good living right now in the mortgage business — what if I leave the comfort of a regular paycheck and it doesn’t work out? Will I be able to provide for my son?
What advice would you give new entrepreneurs, specifically women, just starting out?
Pay now and play later … or play now and pay later. Advice specifically to women, especially to moms, regardless of a busy schedule: take the time to take care of you. The only way we grow is by introducing new information to our thought patterns. Starting a business requires an inordinate amount of time, focus and creativity.
Solid Source made headlines for being the ‘first paperless real estate office in the country.’ How has technology impacted your business model?
We pioneered many ideas that are common today such as agents getting paid at the closing table (2004); developing and implementing proprietary paperless technology (2006), which allowed agents to add, review and send documents without coming to a physical real estate office building; accepting wire commission payments and paying agents via ACH (2010) and many more ways.
Does the constant evolution of technology scare or excite you?
Definitely excite! When Solid Source opened in 2003, I knew nothing about programming or writing code. However, the real estate industry was so behind in technology, the pain of staying the same surpassed the pain of associated opportunity costs necessary to design and implement a paperless transaction management system.
In Atlanta, what do most of your clients look for in the perfect house? What neighborhoods are always at the top of their lists?
The perfect house varies for each buyer depending on commute, desired price range, relevance of school ratings and how this purchase fits into the specific family’s life journey of upsizing or downsizing, retirement community or overlooking a mountain range.
You and your company are very involved in service projects around the world. Why is volunteerism so important?
When asked why I believe Solid Source became abundantly successful, my answer is always the same: “God knew what we would do with the money.” God has given us the honor of providing water for those previously walking 3+ miles each way for daily necessity, schools for orphans and widows, an orphanage for abandoned babies, occupational training promoting confidence in women, mentors to initiate change and break the generational curse of poverty. We also participate locally by providing Thanksgiving meals to those in need and participate nationally in disaster relief efforts.
What are some ways to build an altruistic culture at the office?
The answer to one question can help anyone decide where to start: “What breaks your heart?” Get involved and find ways to serve the cause. Before we were able to meet the financial need for large projects, we participated in smaller opportunities. The key is to do something.
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What are your favorite local spots when talking up Atlanta to new residents?
The fabulous Fox Theatre is my all-time favorite! I love the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta Botanical Garden, local art festivals, historic Roswell, Piedmont Park and Lake Lanier. Favorite restaurants to dine and refer include Bistro Niko in Buckhead, Viande Rouge in Johns Creek, Bare Bones in Buford, Sushi Nami in Alpharetta and Bistro VG in Roswell.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Bob Goff offers an extraordinary seminar several times annually, Dream Big. He simplifies the steps to proceed from where you are currently to your desired destination. The best advice for me came in two of the seven steps: 1. Visualize your destination, and 2. What is in the path that must be cleared for you to get there? Clear the path. Sounds so simple but, wow, was it impactful!
What three things can you not live without (excluding friends, family and faith)?
Jazz, laughing hard, learning
A big thank you to Michele Velcheck for sharing her story with the StyleBlueprint family! And as always, a high-five for today’s wonderful photos by CatMax Photography.
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