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RE/MAX of Reading: Empowering Others and Generating Success

Jun 9, 2018 by

REMAX_Reading_July18_Cover_300x420_300dpiWith more than 3,800 transactions produced by 140 agents last year alone, RE/MAX of Reading has sold more homes than any other single-office RE/MAX company in the country. But for broker/owner Jack Fry, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. What he’s most fiercely proud of is the generous spirit that pervades his Berks County, Pa., firm, and the commitment to a high-touch culture that empowers others and generates success.

Fry, who grew up with a dad in the real estate business, earned his license while still in school, and, fresh out of college in 1973, joined his father’s independent company in the Reading area. Four years later, a member of the Million Dollar Club, he won a state award for sales from the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®.

At the 1978 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) convention, Fry found himself in tune with the RE/MAX real estate system and, with his father as a 50/50 partner, bought the RE/MAX of Reading franchise in 1980. There were two agents on board.

“I was impressed with the approach and objectives of the brand,” says Fry, “and its commitment to independent agents. Everyone carried their own weight. I liked the RE/MAX synergy.”

The two worked hard to get the franchise off the ground, but when his father died suddenly that same year, Fry became the sole owner and broker of record. He was 27 years old.

Today, he leads a company with more than 140 full-time agents and an administrative staff of 16. The office regularly holds more than 30-35 percent marketshare for all listings sold in the scenic Berks County and Greater Reading countryside region some 45 minutes from Philadelphia, and the company is ranked by service guarantor QSC as one of the top three companies in the country in customer satisfaction.

RE/MAX of Reading's support staff enables its agents to exceed national productivity averages.

RE/MAX of Reading’s support staff enables its agents to exceed national productivity averages.

But something more than dedication has driven the company’s achievement.

“By 1993, when the nationwide average was six transactions per agent per year, we were doing three times that number,” says Fry. “The phones were ringing, and everyone was busy, but I sensed an undercurrent of negative energy. I realized that I didn’t like our own culture very much. Then I had an epiphany. If I was unhappy with our company culture, it was my responsibility to change it.”

He called a meeting, attendance mandatory, and thanked everyone for their considerable achievements. But he also called for a new way of conducting business.

“I was inspired to run a high-touch company, to put the emphasis on service and accountability, and I knew it had to start with me,” says Fry. “I told them I was taking full responsibility for beginning a new era of positivity—for building a culture that embraces change, supports positive energy, and excels at serving others.”

His plan, he says, was to make company business transparent to every agent, downplay ego and negativity, provide a new kind of coaching and training, and create a workplace that thrived on support and service.

The new vibe wasn’t for everyone. Within 30 days of this momentous meeting, 10 percent of the firm’s 56 agents had summarily left the company. But among those who remained, Fry sensed a positive change in energy, and in the following year—with no discernible change in the market—they added 13 service-minded agents, and business grew from an average of 18 transactions per agent to 28. The new culture was making a tangible difference.

Annual company meeting, reviewing business plan and annual expenses for the year

Annual company meeting, reviewing business plan and annual expenses for the year

“By being transparent about operational expenses, and sharing the basics about how the company operates, I gained the trust of my agents,” says Fry. “And gaining their trust empowered me to lead, which, in turn, empowered my agents.”

Among those who stayed was manager Jim Williams. An industry veteran primarily responsible for recruiting, coaching and training, Williams was a firm advocate for the firm’s new policy.

“I’d been with the company four years when this new era began,” says Williams, “and I quickly began to see the change.”

“It’s not about who’s right” became the company’s mantra, notes Williams. “It’s more about what’s right.”

Fry and Williams introduced new individual and team training based on the self-help lead generation and accountability philosophies of Brian Buffini and Tom Ferry.

“The goal was to help our agents become the best people they could be,” says Williams, “and to meet and surpass their own goals by passing that positive energy on to others.”

REMAX_Reading_PQ_p79As business grew, so did the need for improved and expansive marketing concepts, with a focus on technology and the growing field of social media.

Enter Tavia Ritter.

A veteran in retail customer service with a keen eye for technology and the value of social media networking, Ritter came to RE/MAX of Reading in 2006.

“I loved this place from the beginning,” she says. “I liked the people and the purpose, and the energy that was being produced.”

Ritter created new profiles and automated communication platforms for agents to use with their customers, as well as introduced a strong digital footprint focused on recruiting.

“It’s all about relationships,” she says. “We’re all on the same page about what we stand for, and what each of us does best. We know the value of personal communication, and our agents stay in touch with their customers long after closing.”

REMAX_Reading_PQ_p80Technology makes that easy.

“The agents aren’t out there looking for the next shiny, new toy,” says Ritter. “We do all of that for them so they can go out and do what they do best.”

In fact, there’s a multimedia room that seats 100 where group training is ongoing, but individuals can also get special attention when they need it.

“In a sense, that’s our advantage,” says Williams. “We have a United Nations of real estate agents here with a variety of backgrounds and experience, but we have almost no turnover outside of retirements because people work together and flourish here. We enjoy working in this environment.”

In great measure, he adds, it comes from the top.

“Jack is one of the most trusting and caring individuals I’ve ever been around,” he says. “It’s our pleasure to share that caring attitude with our customers.”

In recruiting both new and experienced agents, Williams looks for team players who enjoy working with others, are focused on achieving goals, and motivated to do the very best job for their customers.

Recruiting efforts are helped by the company’s reputation in the real estate community as a workplace of high-achievers who seem genuinely glad to come to work.

“We put each other and our customers first,” says Fry. “We’re completely transparent, and we have great producers who don’t let ego stand in the way. That’s rare, I know—and I’m very protective of the culture we’ve created.”

Part of that protection means providing his agents with an abundance of services, including transaction coordinators who free the agent from paperwork, a service desk to handle promotions and marketing, and an IT department that reliably brings in state-of-the-art but easy-to-use technology and practical social media training.

The firm also has an unparalleled leadership team. Under Fry’s presidency, with Williams as general manager and Ritter as IT officer, Joe Peterson serves as compliance/dispute resolution manager and KJ Fry and Keith Malone as team managers. Kelly Pieja is the firm’s chief financial officer, while Kate Flowers heads human resources and agent services.

“You do the As,” Fry tells his agents. “We do the Bs and Cs so that you can be out there doing what you do best.”

In return, Fry expects that each agent will touch the consumer at the highest level, doing everything within their power to help customers achieve their real estate goals.

But it goes deeper than that.

Every RE/MAX of Reading agent is deeply involved in the community, supporting national organizations like the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Miracle Network and Women in Crisis, as well as a myriad of local causes—more than 100 in all. And they’re not simply donating funds. They’re out there coaching kids, stocking food pantries, teaching literacy, and more.

“Paying it forward is more than just a phrase here. If there’s a need, we support it,” says Fry. “When you have it in your heart to help, it permeates into the community.”

Not only does this kind of work ethic and caring approach become its own reward, but also continues to drive agent productivity and enhance the bottom line. In a region with an average sales price of about $ 180,000, RE/MAX of Reading has received the Pennsylvania/Delaware Regional Award for highest transactional volume—over $ 650 million—for several years running.

What’s on tap for the future?

“We’ll continue to stay aware of changes in the market environment and vigilant in our effort to be first with the best to the consumer,” says Fry. “Tavia is our eyes and ears in terms of technology and marketing, and Jim’s longstanding commitment to our company ideals will help bring the best and brightest agents to us for the long haul.”

In the 16 years since Fry’s decision to change the company’s focus, the market has seen change upon cyclical change. But steady and consistent growth remains the hallmark and strength of the franchise he guided from its fledgling stage to the company it is today.

“The arithmetic is easy,” concludes Fry. “High, positive energy and a culture of caring will always equal success.”

For more information, please visit www.goberkscounty.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Out in Front and Ahead of the Game: RE/MAX Fine Properties

Nov 11, 2017 by

Raising the Bar on Real Estate Success

When brothers Nimesh and Minesh Patel decided to go into business together, they leveraged their rich backgrounds in technology, finance and real estate to take over Sugar Land, Texas-based RE/MAX Fine Properties in 2009. Since then, the firm has consistently improved upon its numbers year-over-year, with remarkable accomplishments in agent productivity. The secret to the Patel brothers’ success? A hands-on, business-focused, supportive relationship with each of the firm’s 180-plus agents. Read more about the pair’s mindset for success in this exclusive interview.

Maria Patterson: Please briefly describe your career path and how you came to lead RE/MAX Fine Properties.
Nimesh Patel:
Before real estate, I was in IT and moved out to San Francisco to work with some big firms in the area. Dot coms were doing really well in the late ’90s and early 2000s, but I was missing my friends and family, so I moved back to Texas. I got my real estate license in 2002 so that I could create some investments for my future. I ended up being fairly good at it and joined RE/MAX Fine Properties. There are still people here now that taught me real estate back then.

Minesh Patel: We were both born in London and raised here in Sugar Land. I went to college in Houston, and in 1999 moved to California to join my brother in searching for a career opportunity after graduation. I majored in business and finance and landed a great job with Barclays Global Investors on the hedge fund side. I came back in 2007 to be with my family, but stayed in my industry and signed on with another hedge fund. Then in 2007 and 2008, the world collapsed. I was laid off and the industry went down the drain for the next several years. Opening my own business was always a lifelong dream of mine, so I decided to partner with my brother. By January 2009, we bought RE/MAX Fine Properties.

MP: That must have been an interesting time to get into real estate!
Minesh Patel:
There were a lot of concerns. We were buying into an industry that was collapsing and hemorrhaging rapidly. No one wanted to buy a house. Everyone was scared. Real estate had come to a grinding halt and the subprime market collapsed. Agents were leaving the industry in a mass exodus. The positives were we were coming into a business that was distressed. We were buying in a down market as opposed to an up market, so it was easy for us to negotiate a lot of important variables.

Nimesh Patel: We knew that if we got into the business at a discounted price, and put our energy and effort into it, we could build it up and stay on the positive side of things right off the bat. I liked the fact that this was going to be challenging, but if we worked hard, there was a lot of potential.

MP: How many offices and agents does the firm currently have?
Nimesh Patel:
We have one office and 185 agents. For two years in a row, we’ve been the largest single office RE/MAX in the country. Our parents are involved here, too. Our dad is our accountant, and when I got my license back in 2002, my mom also got hers. And to this day, she is still active.

Minesh Patel: We’re No. 1 in the country and No. 5 in the world in terms of agent count for a single office. In addition, we’re in the middle of expanding via a satellite branch. One of our fastest-growing teams wanted the opportunity to open their own office in Katy, so we’re currently helping them build out another office, which will open very soon.

MP: How does being affiliated with RE/MAX help support your success?
Nimesh Patel:
RE/MAX has always been known as the home of top producers who have been in the business for a while. We like that aspect of the brand. We’re not going to teach people how to sell real estate; we’re going to teach people how to be long-term business owners. If you’re an agent who made $ 100,000 but netted only $ 30,000, that’s not good. Because of my brother’s background in finance, we’re going to say, “Let’s go over your P&L and see how we can make you more profitable.” We’re changing the language of how we talk to agents and treating them as mini businesses under us. As RE/MAX, we’re going to attract solid producers, but many need help on the business side of things to get to another level.

Minesh Patel: When we decided to get into business together, we looked at 15 or 20 businesses that year, and all kinds of franchises, from Subway to car washes to daycares. RE/MAX was the No. 1 global leader in real estate in terms of transactions and sales, but also carried global brand recognition. It’s ranked with the likes of Coca-Cola, GE and Microsoft.

MP: Why have you chosen to stick with one main location?
Nimesh Patel:
A big part of our culture is that Minesh and I are always here. We found it difficult to see how we would run other offices as successfully if he and I were absent. We didn’t want to have a landlord/tenant relationship with our agents. We’re here; we’re your family. If we start spreading ourselves too thin with other offices, it’s not going to work. There’s no magic pill—you have to be there.

MP: How would you describe your firm’s positioning in the marketplace?
Nimesh Patel:
Last year, we did $ 770 million in sales volume with 180 agents. The second closest real estate firm in the area has 380 agents and did $ 650 million. We’re more productive per agent than any of our competitors. Our agents are breaking records in every single category—from listings to buyers to new construction, our firm dominates. Our agents keep increasing our numbers month-over-month and year-over-year. We have a family atmosphere—a serious family atmosphere—with competition and cooperation. We believe that you’re the average of the people you surround yourself with.

MP: What is your approach to recruiting? How do you ensure you’re bringing in and keeping such productive agents?
Minesh Patel:
Most brokerages out there take anyone who has a license—they recruit constantly. Our approach is unorthodox. We have minimum standards in place to be hired and we go after seasoned agents. We want six-figure producers who are serious about a long-term career in real estate. And we recognized early in the game that it’s about retention first—training and educating and making the agents we have more productive. That, in turn, leads to our agents doing the recruiting for us. We don’t make recruiting calls, and on average we turn down 10 – 15 agents per month. People see how we’re doing things differently and they want to be part of a place like this.

Nimesh Patel: We’re also an open book. For example, we wanted a really big producer in the area to come join us, but we didn’t like his overall demeanor after several interviews. He wanted a “deal” to come over to our firm, and we don’t play that game. We treat everyone the same. The firm found out we turned him down and it ended up being the most positive thing we’d done in a long time. It gave our agents a tremendous sense of pride to know we won’t compromise our standards.

Minesh Patel: Our hierarchy is very flat. Most brokerages only cater to top producers and forget everyone else. Our top producers are as important as our up-and-coming producers. We like to treat everyone fairly because you never know when the next superhero or rock star is going to emerge. We see it every year—unexpected, break-out agents who take over a No. 1 spot at our firm.

Nimesh Patel: From our staff perspective, we rarely have turnover. We promote from within. Our most senior manager started out as a weekend receptionist. We’re all about recognizing employees with opportunities they wouldn’t have elsewhere. They’re integral to our success.

MP: How do you involve your agents in the company’s growth?
Nimesh Patel:
We’re very analytical and use a lot of bar graphs and charts. We like to make sure our agents know what’s going on. They’re a part of this growth and it’s important for them to see where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

MP: What is your approach to coaching and training?
Nimesh Patel:
We teach our own classes—only one per month and only when we really see the value in it. People understand that and it’s why they come to the classes when we have them. It’s my brother and I providing a market snapshot, educating agents, and hopefully teaching them something they didn’t know before.

Minesh Patel: We were one of the first RE/MAX owners to use Momentum training, which was developed by David Scott. We also use Brian Buffini and will quickly adopt any other coaching and mentorships we think add value.

MP: What’s your strategy for effectively marketing the firm?
Nimesh Patel:
We’re big on social media. My brother and I actually run our own Facebook page. We market the success of our agents and firm constantly.

Minesh Patel: With Nimesh’s background in technology, and also being some of the youngest owners at every RE/MAX convention, we’ve been in touch with millennials, and, therefore, were quick adopters of Facebook and other social media outlets that had the largest worldwide traffic possible. We like to let clients know that since we’ve taken over, the firm has had its best year, every year, nine years running. We were one of the few firms growing in the worst recession real estate had ever seen. While most firms were struggling until the market started recovering at the end of 2012, our sides were doubling every year.

MP: How do you stay ahead of the curve on technology?
Nimesh Patel:
We don’t adopt every single piece of technology that comes out. I’ll be the guinea pig for every new piece of technology we consider, taking the time to learn it and teach it. And Minesh will go to a company and leverage our numbers to get great pricing for our office.

MP: It also sounds like you’re often the guinea pig for systems adopted by RE/MAX corporate.
Minesh Patel:
Yes. For example, BackAgent (online transaction management software) is one of the most widely used systems among brokerages today, but Nimesh was one of the first agents to use it. We found the developer who created it for a local company here and we asked if he could create a custom version for us. After our success, RE/MAX corporate picked it up and promoted it.

Nimesh Patel: We have a great relationship with RE/MAX and we want to be the first ones to do everything. We want to see RE/MAX do well as a whole. When we first got into the business, people reached out to us, so we’ve always had a pay-it-forward mentality when it comes to helping new owners launch their brokerages.

MP: You recently suffered through Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. How did the company fare?
Nimesh Patel:
We turned our 3,000-plus square-foot training facility into a distribution center for building large totes filled with food, masks, gloves, bleach, box cutters, water, toiletries, Clorox wipes, towels and anything and everything we could find. Partnering with Operation: Rebuild TX and The Church TX, we were able to make over 1,450 huge bins and distribute them all throughout the Fort Bend County area to many of the affected families. We had eight of our own team members severely affected, yet our whole firm, community, business leaders, friends and family came together to assist in rebuilding. As for future business, we’re very confident in our agents and our community; we’ll be on our feet and on top very soon.

MP: So where does the company go from here?
Nimesh Patel:
We want to make sure we don’t remain stagnant and stale and lose marketshare and agents. Someday, someone is going to come along and do what we did. The challenge is, how do we stay out in front of changes and technology? It’s our job to be knowledgeable about everything, so when we hear something about Zillow or Redfin or Amazon, we’re not going to dismiss it. As long as we know what’s happening and coming, we can prepare.

Minesh Patel: Information is the most powerful commodity in the world. We have our ear to the ground on what’s happening so that we can be prepared and act on the information quickly.

For more information, please visit www.remaxfine.com.

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at maria@rismedia.com.

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RE/MAX and Adwerx Launch Listing Automation

Aug 21, 2017 by

RE/MAX, LLC and Adwerx, a provider of localized digital advertising for real estate agents and brokers, have launched a program to run digital ads for new RE/MAX listings from participating regions in the U.S. and Canada.  The announcement was made at the RE/MAX Broker Owner Conference on August 21 in San Francisco, Calif.

remax-web-ad“RE/MAX has a commitment to provide their affiliates with the best tools, but also understands the challenge of getting affiliates to use them,” said Jed Carlson, CEO of Adwerx.  “The Adwerx Scale platform has opened the door for 100 percent adoption, serving the seller, the real estate agent and RE/MAX itself.”

All participating RE/MAX affiliates will be receiving a digital listing advertisement for one week on each new listing starting on September 20 and throughout the rest of the year.  Agents with new listings between this time period will receive their own Adwerx account and be able to extend the promotion and build new campaigns.

“Nobody sells more real estate than RE/MAX, as measured by residential transaction sides. So, this potentially translates into hundreds of millions of impressions for our agents’ customers under this new initiative,” said RE/MAX Executive Vice President Mike Ryan. “Adwerx makes it simple and easy to build an online branding campaign that follows consumers across the internet. That type of reach is a ‘game changer’ for both our affiliates and their clients.”

The program is available to participating RE/MAX affiliates through MAX/Center and begins September 20. Click here to learn more.

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RE/MAX, LLC Agrees to Purchase Group of Three Independent Regions

Nov 28, 2016 by

Denver-based RE/MAX, LLC, has signed an agreement to purchase the Master Franchise for the Georgia, Kentucky/Tennessee, and Southern Ohio Regions owned and managed for many years by the independent RE/MAX Regional Services group, the company announced Monday. The agreement to purchase the regions was signed less than three weeks after RE/MAX agreed to purchase RE/MAX of New Jersey.

“When Howard McPherson purchased RE/MAX of Georgia in 1978, he took a risk based on the potential of a young real estate brand that had about 1,000 agents, at the time. He and his family grew the region into a four-state operation with over 250 offices and almost 4,000 agents,” said Dave Liniger, CEO, Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of RE/MAX, LLC. “Howard has been extremely successful in growing the RE/MAX brand in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and southern Ohio and we thank him and his family for their dedication. It’s a real RE/MAX success story, and a testament to the outstanding brokers, owners and sales associates who helped build the brand in these four states. We look forward to working with them, providing the services they need, and growing our market presence even more.”

The acquisition of the RE/MAX Regional Services Region is expected to close before the end of the year, bringing the total of U.S. company-owned regions to 18. In 2016, RE/MAX, LLC has purchased or agreed to purchase the Master Franchise rights for New York, Alaska and New Jersey.

“It’s been a real pleasure to work with so many great brokers and agents in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Southern Ohio,” said Dane Ellison, RE/MAX Regional Services CEO. “They’re in good hands moving forward, and we believe RE/MAX market presence will continue to grow. That’s what happens when great agents put the interests of their buyers and sellers above all else.”

Susan Goiser, Region Vice President of RE/MAX Florida, will oversee services in Georgia, while Jeff LaGrange, former Region Vice President of RE/MAX Pacific Northwest and RE/MAX Alaska, will lead the regional team supporting Kentucky/Tennessee and Southern Ohio.

RE/MAX has a worldwide network of over 110,000 agents in over 100 countries and territories, a global footprint larger than any of its competitors.

For more information, please visit www.remax.com.

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