Greater Milwaukee is a pro-business community in a family-oriented region known for quality schools, lakes, and plenty of parks and recreation opportunities. So when Dale and Vicky Schaechterle launched Realty Executives Integrity in 1994, they knew they wanted to create a brokerage that fosters an environment where agents are free to run their own business as they see fit, in a culture that supports personal growth and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Now approaching their 25th year in business, Dale Schaechterle has made “the 3 C’s”—character, chemistry, and competency—a cornerstone of the company culture. He prefers to call agents “sales executives” and currently boasts 209 in seven offices in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Walworth, and Washington counties.
“There was so much interest from other agents who really wanted to run their business the way they deemed was best and to create their own approach and set their own path,” notes Schaechterle, who’s based in Hartland, Wis.
The company provides new and established agents “Executive Launch,” a six-hour training program that covers designing or tweaking a business plan, tools, and systems unique to Realty Executives. Dana Keegan, chief financial officer, says agents are provided “a comprehensive platform that manages their business on every level,” from marketing, digital transaction management, and client relationships to peer interaction and knowledge-based training. Each office also has a dedicated staffer who is a certified marketing executive, trained through Realty Executives International, to work with agents.
Several offices also have monthly mastermind discussion groups covering topics such as best practices and how to build and grow their brand to how contractual or legislative changes affect their business.
Sales executives chose from three fee schedules and commission plans. Newer agents typically start in the first tier and move to a higher tier as their productivity increases. “The entry-level plan is designed to be less expensive for them on a monthly basis and with more services provided without cost” but a lower commission percentage, Schaechterle explains, while the top-tier plan offers 100 percent commission.
“If you’ve got a house in a highly desirable location, on the first day it’s very plausible that you’re going to have 40 showings and eight offers by the end of the day,” Keegan explains.
Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese company, recently bought a downtown Milwaukee building for its North American headquarters and plans to build a manufacturing complex about 30 miles to the south. The move is expected to have a ripple effect on an already tight real estate market.
When it comes to recruiting agents, Schaechterle uses the 3 C’s as a guide. Someone with a strong character might be a veteran agent with a “great reputation in the industry,” while chemistry is key to ensure candidates embrace “how we do things,” Schaechterle says. Competency can be taught. When interviewing, he likes to ask: “Where do you want to go with your real estate career in the next three to five years?”
Realty Executives Integrity also encourages agents to develop their own niche or specialty, whether it’s geographic, a demographic such as first-time homebuyers, or lifestyle. Bruce Nemovitz, ABR, CRS, is a certified Senior Real Estate Specialist and one of the foremost senior real estate experts in the country. He has authored two books on the topic. The brokerage has been named a top brokerage by Real Trends 500, RISMedia’s Power Broker, T3 Sixty, and others, while Realty Executives International has recognized it with Market Leader and Extraordinary Brokerage awards.
Real estate has long been a part of Schaechterle’s life. His father was a broker-owner and his mother is still an agent and top producer in his hometown of Norwalk, Ohio. While the business always intrigued Schaechterle, he saw the demands it put on his parents and vowed to never work in the field. Instead, he got a master’s degree in child and family psychotherapy from Wright State University. “I still use [those skills] every day with real estate agents,” Schaechterle says, as real estate is all about human interactions. But, why the full circle?
Schaechterle spent several years counseling special needs children and their families. But in 1984, after his wife Vicky gave birth to identical twin boys, he wanted to spend more time with the newborns and knew it was time for a career change. “I was also looking for an opportunity to grow a business and to generate more income and revenue,” Schaechterle recalls. He spent 10 years at an independent regional company but eventually wanted more freedom to grow his own team.
Today, Realty Executives Integrity gives back with charitable contributions and sweat equity to organizations that include Habitat For Humanity; SALS Recovery, an addiction treatment program; JR’s Pups-N-Stuff Dog Rescue; and Lindsay’s Voice Inc., a nonprofit that promotes awareness about blood cancers and raises funds to support patient services and research. The latter is close at heart since it was created by one of his sales executives, Karen Wenzel, e-PRO, in honor of her daughter, Lindsay (Wenzel) Lopez, a 32-year-old wife and mother who died of leukemia in 2010.
Schaechterle says what he likes most about the industry he once vowed to never work in is “establishing and developing relationships of trust with anyone and everyone. Many of our clients and agents have become our dear friends. And that’s what I love about it.”