Business Tips from the Top 100

If you didn’t get enough in the July issue of REALTOR® Magazine, here are even more great ideas for building your company from this year’s Top 100 Companies.

July 1, 2003

Don’t expect the market to pay superior rewards for average service. “Our company is committed to providing legendary quality service. Our reputation is judged by the quality of the homes sell and the satisfaction of the clients we serve. We want a home inspection and a home warranty on every property; but if a problem develops after closing, we ask ourselves, ‘How would we feel if we were in the buyers’ shoes? Is this a transaction we’re proud of?’ We have advanced equity to buyers and helped sellers with repairs. We consider solving a customer’s issue an investment in our future, not an expense.”
—William A. Watson Jr., CRB, GRI, president and CEO, Watson Realty Corp., Jacksonville, Fla.

Lead by consensus. “We take the time to make sure everyone has buy-in to a new program—first the managers, then the associates and staff. We meet and we listen, and everyone gets heard. That’s more difficult to do as you get larger, but it’s critical. There’s a difference in performance when you treat everyone as a partner.”
—Bill Riss, president, Coldwell Banker Bain & Assoc., Mercer Island, Wash.

Get immediate feedback from your associates. “If the quality of your transaction services isn’t there, associates will not buy in. They won’t compromise their transactions."
—Ron Peltier, president and CEO, HomeServices of America Inc., Edina, Minn.

Model yourself on other industries. “These days, you expect to be able to go to a car dealership and buy a car; lease it or finance it; get a security system, a sun roof, or a special radio put in; and get it repaired. At one time, you had to go to different places for all these services. The same sort of one-stop-shop has to happen for real estate. And regulations such as RESPA have to change to accommodate that.”
—Stephen Baird, president and CEO, Baird & Warner, Chicago.

Offer prospects a discount. “We developed a “Buyer’s Edge” package that give customers a 10-percent discount if they use our whole network of transaction services—title, mortgage, insurance, and home services. We advertise this directly to consumers and average a 50-percent capture rate.”
—Peter Hunt, Hunt Real Estate Corp., Williamsville, N.Y.

Build benefit envy. “We view our in-house services, such as graphic design, primarily as recruitment tools, so we offer them to our associates at break even. It’s been very successful.”
—Charles Bengel, RE/MAX Horizons, Alexandria, Va.

Focus on the recruit’s priorities. “Unlike the Baby Boom salesperson, the Gen X associate is motivated first by being part of a group and only second by money and achievement. Recruiting efforts have to reflect those differences.”
—Richard Rector, president, Realty Executives, Phoenix.

Help associates imagine more.“Associates can’t achieve maximum success if they adopt minimum business models. We use accountability meetings and one-on-one consulting to help our salespeople clarify where they want their careers to go in three or five years. Then a sales manager works with them to plan what they need to know and what support and education they’ll require to get there. Personal consulting is key to success. All of us have ceilings of achievement. Having a consultant or coach to work with you may help you see the way to break through those barriers."
—Gary Keller, chairman, Keller Williams REALTORS®, Austin, Texas.

Match your management to the associate. “Our branch managers are trained on how to relate to different personality types, risk tolerances, and backgrounds. That helps associates develop the trust in a manager’s integrity that is critical to change.”
—John Bearden, president and CEO, GMAC Home Services Inc, Oak Brook, Ill.

Never forget the basics. “Even though our salespeople are experienced, we continually coach and train them on the skills that produce income. Once a month I hold a training session called “Coffee with Fafie” that focuses on one aspect of prospecting, listing, or closing.”
—Fafie Moore, president, Realty Executives of Nevada, Las Vegas

Put sales associates on equal footing. “We don’t let vendors sell services to our individual sales associates. If we think a product will help productivity, we buy it for the entire office. We do charge a technology service fee, and associates can chose to use a product or not. But by giving everyone the same opportunities, we are in a better position to fairly evaluate productivity. Using the same software templates for marketing materials and market analysis also helps give a more consistent look to our brand.”
—James Imhoff Jr., CEO, First Weber Group, Madison, Wis.

Cut administrative staff turnover. “Our support staff averages five years with the company, and we have very little turnover in those positions. We use a job profile for each position and a several-stage hiring process to ensure a good fit.” —Lee Finch, president, RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, Atlanta

Hold staff accountable. “We created performance standards and an accountability log for every administrative function in our company. All checks must be cut in 24 hours and all billings must go out on the 23rd of the month. All documents must be in a transaction file before a salesperson receives a commission.” —Kelli Amundson, president and CEO, RE/MAX All Cities, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Get help. Both my husband and I work regularly with Mike Ferry. We feel that coaching is critical to become a better broker, in the same way that continual training is essential to become a better salesperson.”
—Fafie Moore, president, Realty Executives of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Gain from economies of scale. “We’ve realized more cost savings from the consolidation of our three companies [HER, REALTORS®, Huff Realty, and Realty One] than I would have anticipated. Consolidating our buying power has put us on the radar of some vendors that thought we were too small before and helped us save money to invest in serving associates’ needs.”
—Harley Rouda, Jr., CEO and managing partner, Real Living Inc., Columbus, Ohio.

Don’t stand still. “Real estate is still very much a local business, so in many markets, size is irrelevant. But in major markets, size matters.”
—Harley Rouda, Jr., CEO and managing partner, Real Living Inc., Columbus, Ohio.

Put quality first. “We provide mortgage, title, and other auxiliary services by partnering with established companies. We might have made more money operating our own companies, but we didn’t want to risk sacrificing quality.” F.F.
—“Chappy” Adams, president, Illustrated Properties Real Estate Inc., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.