Pamela Dittmer McKuen is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in homes, lifestyle, and travel. Read her work at AlltheWritePlaces.com
Pillar of Community Strength
Giving back is a hallmark of Robyn Erlenbush's prosperous company.
January 21, 2014
Robyn Erlenbush, CRB, CRS, GREEN, GRI, earned her real estate license in 1980 and became broker-owner of ERA Landmark Real Estate, in Bozeman, Mont., a decade later. Learn how she has since expanded her company to four offices with a strong emphasis on philanthropy.
Number of offices: 3 residential, 1 commercial
Number of sales associates: 51 residential, 7 commercial
2013: $277 million gross sales on 1,011 transaction sides
2012: $216 million gross sales on 919 transaction sides
I always say that real estate supports my true loves—the arts and the community. I majored in music at Arizona State University, intending to be a high school choral director, but I married my childhood sweetheart, Orville (pictured with Erlenbush above, left), before I graduated. We lived in a small community in eastern Montana, where he was a banker. I started working for a title company and quickly learned I was not a person who should be behind a desk typing up title policies. I’m too much of a performer for that. I became licensed in 1980, and we moved to Bozeman a year later when Orville was transferred. I joined ERA Landmark in 1982, worked my way up to managing broker, and bought the business in 1990. At that time the company had one office and 15 people. While I was a good salesperson, I discovered I was even better at nurturing and developing other people. I made the decision to be a noncompeting broker. Any leads I get go back to the firm. Not competing with my agents allows me to use my creativity and business acumen to grow the company and have some life balance with my family.
Community Give-back Is Essential
My mother has always been a big believer in giving back to the community. It’s part of my DNA, and it’s part of my company’s DNA. One of the first things we did as a company, in 1984, was to establish the ERA Landmark Christmas Fund, which donates money to local charities. For a while, we sold Christmas trees in our parking lot; now we dedicate a portion of each closing to the fund. For the past three years, we’ve also put on an old--fashioned carnival to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the ERA corporate charity (volunteer team above, right). We did a survey in 2012, and one of the top reasons our agents like our company is the community involvement. It’s a fun atmosphere because we have a common cause. We all look first at solving someone’s need. The money is a byproduct.
Downtown Visitors Center
In 2004 we opened a 2,000-square-foot visitors center and real estate showcase on our historic Main Street. On one side is a full-service branded ERA satellite office where agents work in rotating two-hour shifts. On the other, we provide a full-time concierge as well as Bozeman information and merchandise. No agents are permanently housed in the center. They rotate in two-hour shifts from our main office. Our agents have found it’s a great way to give someone who’s visiting a little glimpse of what Bozeman is like. The conversation inevitably turns to real estate, perhaps vacation rentals or retirement homes. Everyone who comes here wants to figure out a way to get back. Local people come to us because they know we support their organizations. We feature an artist of the month and offer nonprofits reception space for 200 people. Originally it was difficult to find a tangible return for the center. But the true measure has been the conversion rate of walk-in leads, which has more than doubled since we opened.