Broker on the Move: Dennis Wheelock Can Relate to the Needs of Small Businesses in Maine

Magnusson Balfour Broker, Dennis Wheelock, has been a business owner and member of the Gardiner community for most of his adult life. Owning Dennis’ Pizza in Gardiner for 30 years, Dennis connects on a personal level with the small business owners and entrepreneurs he works with because he has lived it. He understands what it takes to run a business, the struggles business owners face, and what it takes to develop an exit strategy. He greatly enjoys the guidance and help he can give to entrepreneurs looking to start a business, owners expanding their businesses, and those ready to sell.

How long have you been a CREB, how did you get started?

I’ve been a full time Commercial real estate and business broker for five years. I have an accounting background, graduating from Bentley College, and am very detail-oriented. When I knew I was ready to transition out of owning such a demanding business as Dennis’ Pizza, I got my appraiser’s license as it was something I could do part-time on my own schedule while still running Dennis’. Along the way I met Scott Balfour. When I was ready to sell Dennis’ I listed it with him, and it was a very smooth, professional transaction. I was impressed, and he encouraged me to get my real estate license. The rest is history!

What type of car do you drive?

A 2015 4-door Chevy Truck

What items are in your car?

Living where I do, preparation is everything! I always carry a flashlight, rain gear, and my camera. I also keep a 100-ft tape measure, screw gun, stakes, and extra signs and sign riders with me.

What paperwork do you have with you at all times?

My briefcase is always with me which has all the required disclosure forms, listing agreements, as well as my business cards, and a bio sheet for more info about me.

How many business cards do you hand out in the course of a week?

Less than I used to as so much business is just done electronically these days, but I still hand out 10 or so every week.

Do you attend formal networking events? How do you get out and build your business?

I do. I think it’s really important to get out into the community and talk to people. How else do you really know what’s going on with businesses? I attend monthly Business After Hours events, and I’m a member of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Gardiner Maine Street program.

What technology could you not live without? Do you have a favorite App that helps you with your business?

My smart phone! It really does everything I need by way of communication, paperwork, and research when I’m out of the office. One of my favorite apps is Trello. I use it to keep listings and projects organized with my office assistant, Trent, so we know what each other is doing at any time, no matter where I am.

How many miles do you travel in your car in a week? What is the farthest you have travelled to list or show a property?

I put a good 400 – 500 miles a week on my truck, last year I recorded 20,000 miles. I’ve gone to the Rangeley area a few times, and although I’m in the Gardiner/Central Maine area, I travel to Portland at least once a week to be at the main office.

How many phone calls, emails and text messages do you receive daily?

You have to stay in communication constantly in this business, so between clients, other brokers, and the other professionals involved in transactions, I have 30-40 phone calls a day, and about the same number of emails and texts. It’s a busy business!

What’s your area of specialty or expertise, geographic territory, and why did you choose it?

My area of expertise is the Central Maine market, particularly the Augusta-Gardiner area. Having lived in the area so long, raised my family here, owned a local business for 30 years, I know so many business people in the area, as well members of the community. It’s great to work close to home, where I know the area and the needs of businesses so well.

What is the most important personal attribute that you bring to your job?

As they say, it takes a long time to build a reputation, and only a short time to lose it. I believe I bring honesty, sincerity, and integrity to my relationships with all the people I work with. I’ve had a lot of clients say to me, “thank you for being so honest with me”, and I take that as a big compliment. I want what is best for them, and I won’t just go along with them to sell something.

After being a business owner and entrepreneur for so many years, I don’t think of myself as just a broker, or just a salesperson, because I’ve faced the same challenges. Whether it’s staffing, or cashflow, or how to go about selling a business. I just feel I can have discussions at a different level with clients. We speak the same language because I’ve been where they are.

What are you most excited about in relation to your job this year?

I’m a Tier 3 Broker at MB, and I’ve been asked to be on the Leadership Team. I greatly enjoy being part of helping the company move forward, setting growth strategy, team building, mentoring newer brokers. I enjoy looking at the bigger picture, not just my own listings, but what is on the horizon for Magnusson Balfour.

What’s the greatest bit of advice a parent or mentor has given you?

My parents were my first mentors, and they always told me to follow the ‘golden rule’ – be honest, work hard, stand by your word and do what you say you are going to do. That’s still good advice in my mind.

What is a professional development goal you have for this year?

I consistently take courses on investing, business turnaround strategies, and courses from the International Business Brokers Association. I’m getting ready to advance my license to full Broker designation as well.

How do you prefer to relax after a tough day in real estate?

I love being home with my family. My boys are grown, but my wife and I enjoy relaxing together, taking walks with our dog, Bella, and I love to be in the outdoors hunting and fishing.