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This article was published on: 07/01/2006

Words of wisdom
Quick Tips From the Top 100 Companies

Looking for new ways to boost retention, grow your business, and keep up with new technology? Read on for advice from leaders of successful real estate companies.


What better source for great business ideas than the leaders of the 2006 Top 100 Companies? Rev up your business plan and take your sales to a new level with these quick tips.
  • Be a rapid responder. Thanks to technology, it takes just one second for a customer to enter the marketplace or to get an e-mail notification of a new property listing. We as an industry have to keep pace. Scanners let us digitize documents so we can send them instantly to clients. Smart phones let sales associates synchronize e-mail with their computers, surf the Internet, and take pictures of properties easily. Our clients expect these levels of service in the Internet age. — J. Lennox Scott, CRB, chairman and CEO, John L. Scott Real Estate, Bellevue, Wash.
  • Re-educate consumers about changing market conditions. Hot sales in many cities have raised buyers’ and sellers’ expectations to the point that they have misperceptions about today’s market. Now we’ve got to re-educate consumers about where the market actually is. Each day, I provide associates with the market stats and trends they need to educate their clients so that clients know what to expect if they’re buying or selling. — Jim J. Sexton CRB, GRI, president and owner/broker, John Hall & Associates Inc., Phoenix.
  • Make civic affairs and charitable efforts part of your core business model. We make our living from the communities in which we live and work so it’s our duty to give back. Several years ago, we adopted breast cancer research as our company charity and last year raised $220,000 for the American Cancer Society. This not only does tremendous good for individuals, families, and friends touched by this disease, but it’s also a fantastic builder of company and office morale. — Richard A. Smith, CCIM, CRB, chairman and CEO, Coldwell Banker United, REALTORSŪ, Bryan, Texas.
  • Become a specialist. We have salespeople who are totally focused on each of the condo and new home development projects we represent. These salespeople can’t list properties that aren’t in their assigned development or take potential buyers off the site of their project to look at other properties. Developers are much happier with our services since we instituted the program because they see that we have sales associates who become specialists in their projects. — Dick Cahill, CRB, GRI, president, Jack Conway & Co., Norwell, Mass.
  • Look before you leap. Embrace change, but don’t buy in to a false sense of urgency that may be created by vendors, competitors, or other salespeople. Give yourself time to do your due diligence and make an informed decision before you buy a new product or undertake a new business strategy. — Merle Whitehead, CRB, GRI, president and CEO,, Orchard Park, N.Y.
  • Re-focus your promotion to the Web. Recognize that more and more people of every age are using the Internet to communicate and find homes. I’m 70 years old, and I start every day “working” my e-mail and the Internet because I don’t want to get information in print. With that idea in mind, we’ve moved more of our ad dollars online. We spend $1 million a year in print advertising now, but we expect to cut back print by an average of 10 percent a year for the next five years. — Joyce A. Bytof, CRB, president and CEO, Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group, Appleton, Wis.
  • Make sure you’re the right person for the right job. All of our management team has read Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins (Collins, 2001) and integrated its principles into our company’s operations. One idea from the book that has had a very positive effect on us is: Get the right people on your bus and get them in the right seats. For instance, we had a good employee who led our business development department. She wanted to take on a new challenge and open a new branch for us, and it ultimately turned out great for the company. In addition, her replacement is also a dynamic person who brought new talent to a position of importance. — Jim Homolka, president, CRB, GRI, RE/MAX Equity Group Inc., Portland, Ore.
  • Follow your mission, whatever the market. The best bet for long-term success is riding the wave and watching out for the wake. In other words, make sure your mission statement, and business plan are in place so that short-term changes in markets don’t adversely affect them. — Bill Kessler, president, Century 21 Affiliated, Madison, Wis.
  • Never forget that real estate is a people business. Real estate is still about emotions and relationships, not just money or technology. A consumer’s decision to buy or sell has to make financial sense, but it still also has to feel right. A very important part of what we do is to negotiate, sell, and make people feel good about their decision. That is very hard to define and almost impossible to put on the Internet. — Philip Romero, CEO, Award-Superstars, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
  • Make money, but have fun, too. Every month, we throw a social event for our company. We’ve done scavenger hunts, bowling tournaments, all sorts of things that give sales associates the chance to network with their fellow salespeople and just have a good time. Our turnover rate is extremely low — 10 percent or less per year. I figured out a long time ago that if sales associates are making money and enjoying themselves, they’ll stick with you. — Mike Hughes, vice president, broker, and co-owner, Downing-Frye Realty Inc., Naples, Fla.

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Who Made the List?
View the PDF of the entire list, as it appears in the July 2006 print magazine.