Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, June 17, 2022

From restaurants to real estate

Schober’s move pays on personal, professional levels

Michael Schober is a mentor with The Edrington Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices J Douglas Properties. He says he enjoys teaching new agents how to represent clients well and succeed in real estate. - Photograph provided

People who work in restaurants sometimes say they could write a book about the experience. If Michael Schober ever writes his memoirs, he might include a chapter about how a phone call can change a life.

Schober, 34, was working an evening shift at J. Alexander’s in Chattanooga several years ago when local real estate broker and owner Doug Edrington called from his home to report half of his to-go order was missing.

“It was his wife’s meal, so he was going to come back for it,” Schober remembers. “He didn’t want to drive all the way so I met him at a gas station.”

The level of service impressed Edrington.

“Michael was a true leader who put his customers first,” Edrington recalls. “I experienced that firsthand.”

People who know Edrington even casually are aware his recruiting radar is always on. They also know he loves to eat at J. Alexander’s. Combining those passions turned the restaurant into an occasional source of agents for the broker.

(Edrington once told the Hamilton County Herald he convinced Marcus Holt to join The Edrington Team over a meal at the restaurant. He also drafted J. Alexander’s bartender Kevin Jennings to join the team.)

Edrington was enjoying yet another meal at J. Alexander’s when he suggested Schober become a Realtor and be a part of The Edrington Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices J Douglas Properties. While Schober was grateful for the opportunity, he decided to stay put.

“I fell in love with hospitality while in college,” Schober explains. “My first job while I was in college was at a restaurant.”

Instead, Schober spent a few more years working in various roles in the service industry until he found himself unemployed after leaving a company that was unable to provide him with an opportunity for advancement.

“If I’m not growing, I’ll get bored,” he cautions.

When Schober met Edrington and Holt by chance and the real estate pros once again suggested he join the business, he was finally game.

Schober had risen through the ranks at J. Alexander’s to become a manager and then spent several years in leadership roles with the restaurant. He also carries a business management degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. But he had no experience in real estate – so The Edrington Team paired him with a mentor.

That mentor was none other than Jennings – who formerly worked under Schober at J. Alexander’s.

“That was weird because I used to be his boss, and now he was mine.”

Jennings taught Schober the ins and outs of real estate and walked him through his first 10 deals. Schober says Jennings’ analytical approach to real estate and in-depth schooling in the processes gave him a solid foundation on which to begin contributing to the team.

After a couple of years of building momentum and reaching a point of steady and sustainable growth, Schober says he told Edrington he was ready to do more.

A year later, Edrington offered to promote Schober to mentor. Schober seized the opportunity.

Now Schober says he loves helping other agents learn the business.

“Starting out in real estate is daunting. You have no idea where to begin. So having someone there to guide you is important. I enjoy teaching people how to do something I know how to do pretty well.”

Schober continues to function as a fulltime Realtor, as well, which gives him fodder for his training. He says one of the most important lessons he teaches The Edrington Team’s new recruits is the importance of reputation in Chattanooga – a midsize city that becomes smaller over time.

“The longer I live here, the more I realize reputation is everything in this town,” he explains. “Everybody knows everybody.

“At the end of the day, I have do the best job possible so you’ll want to work with me again and refer me to other people. It would also be nice not to feel like I have to duck and hide if I see you at the grocery store.”

Schober says this sometimes means calling for patience when helping a buyer to find the right home for them.

“They might be chomping at the bit to get into a particular house and I’ll know they’ll be mad at me someday if I left them go through with it.”

As Schober has trained former logistics managers, one-time band directors and more, he’s learned a thing or two as well.

One is to allow his pupils to find the desire to succeed on their own and then teach them how to achieve that goal.

“I can’t teach someone how to have the drive to do well. But if they have passion, swagger and intelligence, then I can teach them everything else they need to know.”

Schober found his motivation to reach the top in real estate in the woman he wanted to marry. They met when he was still working in the restaurant industry and was unable to spend consistent time with her.

“I wanted to do something that would allow me to marry her and have a family – and that meant not working in a restaurant,” he remembers. “There were days when I closed the restaurant and there were days when I arrived at 5 a.m. to open it.”

Although Schober no longer works in hospitality, he loves to cook and can often be found laboring over a meal when getting together with friends and family. The latter is happening regularly now that he and his wife are new parents.

Schober could certainly write a book about the trials, tribulations and joys of being a father. But for the time being, he’ll likely put penning his memoirs on hold so he can help his fellow agents begin to write their own story of success.