There's No Business Like Real Estate. Except, Maybe, Sports Promotion

In our July issue we polled you about your biggest money fears. Here are your top worries.

January 1, 1997

Several months ago, we reported on some salespeople's’ careers before real estate and how those helped them in their business. Now we'd like you to meet Michael Royce, of Royce Real Estate, Dayton, Ohio, who has a rather unusual co-career--one that keeps him in the spotlight.

Besides his residential brokerage, Royce runs Royce Promotions, a company that arranges promotional appearances by professional athletes. “They're separate businesses, but the recognition from the promotional business, along with my local weekly real estate radio shows, weekly television show devoted to human interest and how-to topics, and monthly article in a tristate paper about the positive works that athletes do, has made me a minicelebrity,” says Royce. “It just amazes me--when I go places now, people recognize me.”

All this acclaim started modestly when Royce bought into a baseball-card shop. Although he quickly sold his investment in it, he kept his hand in baseball-card shows and in the process met a scout for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. The scout arranged to have a few Reds players at one of his shows. The players liked him and advised him to call them directly for appearances.

Now, three-plus years after starting Royce Promotions, he sets up appearances by Reds and Cincinnati Bengals players at signings, company grand openings, and church functions, as well as in exhibition games and TV and radio commercials. And he has expanded his player network to members of the Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants. He notes that “players get traded, which opens the door for connections with other teams.”

Half the time, Royce doesn’t charge for arranging appearances. When he does charge, he gets 10 percent of the revenue generated by the event. “But what I'm really hoping is that the people I made arrangements for will remember that I didn't charge them, that they had a really neat time, and that they'll think of me when they plan to buy or sell.” Royce says he can attribute about five transactions a year directly to the promotional events.

Some of his new business comes from the ballplayers themselves, though “most of the Reds go to northern Kentucky to buy a home because the taxes are cheaper,” he says. “So I refer them to a salesperson there and get a referral fee.”

By helping the players, Royce gets some perks, too. Players have done radio promotions for his shows and have made appearances at his brokerage. “Twice a year I put a sign in front of my office that says, for instance, ‘Meet the Reds’ Joe Oliver this Saturday noon--1 p.m. for autographs.’ The goal is to get people in here who haven't worked with me before. But I also send postcards to my former clients and customers telling them to bring their kids and cameras to meet a Reds player,” he says. “It's a perk for them. And they feel as if they knew these ballplayers.”

Think Royce will ever give up real estate for the glitter and glamor of sports promotion? No chance. He points out that when he meets people at events, “the card I give them doesn’t say Royce Promotions; it says Royce Real Estate.”

Christina Hoffmann
Senior Speech Writer

Christina Hoffmann has covered real estate and homeownership for two decades, including as REALTOR® Magazine managing editor and HouseLogic.com’s content manager, with added expertise as owner of a demanding 100-year-old house. She is currently a senior speech writer at NAR.

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