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Standing the Test of Time

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Forward Thinkers’ Prudential Rand looks back at its beginnings and where it’s headed

By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, July 18, 2007—In 1984, Marsha Rand established her first real estate office in a small house on Main Street in New City, New York. Today, Prudential Rand Realty has grown to become a prominent player in the Greater Hudson Valley, with 21 offices and over 700 agents covering Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties.

“I started in real estate in the ’70s like many people at that stage,” says Marsha Rand, founder and CEO of Prudential Rand. “I never thought about owning my own company. But after opening Prudential Rand in 1984 we quickly rose in about five years to become number one in the Rockland County market.”

Marsha says it was her sons’ joining the company that really helped it branch out and grow. “The best thing I ever did was bring the family into the business,” she says. “It’s a partnership; we make all decisions by four ways. It’s been their knowledge and abilities that have made us able to expand.”

According to Marsha, the fact that all four Rands are equals is key to their success. “That was the secret,” she says. “When Greg and Matt joined me, it was like a law firm where I was the managing partner. We agreed to things three ways. Now that Joe has joined us, we do things four ways.”

According to managing partner Greg Rand, Marsha brought her own views into the management team, and has rewarded those who have shared her values over the years. “The principles and philosophies my mother put into place have survived the decades,” says Greg Rand. “She built this company around the concept of career development salespeople. She created an agent-centric and true approach that she seized upon in our market and now we are a leader.”

These days, the company still follows that lead, always looking for good ideas and good people.

Forging Ahead

In the immediate future, Greg says, his company’s plan is to fill out the rest of the Hudson Valley.

“We have had huge growth over the past seven years, moving from being big, small company to medium-sized larger company,” he explains. “Now, as we’ve grown, we’ve made some infrastructure changes. Now, my brothers (Joe and Matt) are in the zone with solid experience. We’re really approaching our prime. We’re old enough to be dangerous, but young enough to be aggressive and energetic.”

The Rands also have a wholly owned mortgage company and their title company is in its fourth year. “We now have a high degree of competence in these areas to match our experience in real estate,” explains Rand. In addition, the company also has a dedicated commercial broker.

“We’ve finally reached a point where we have maturity in all four businesses,” he says. “We can carry the banner of a true home services organization. It’s a more efficient model; we can close faster with few headaches.”

With its businesses now established and proven, Greg says now is the time for the company to concentrate on gaining more market share.

“With every office we have, we need to be number one or two in that community,” says Greg. “We have about half of that right now. Job number one is to dig deep in all of our facilities, consolidate the talent and get to number one. We are making the investments necessary to achieve market superiority.

“We believe more in small geography; we’re big enough to be big, but not too big,” he continues. “We are focusing on winning the markets we’re in.”

Branching Out

As Prudential Rand has grown over the years so have the company’s opportunities, two of which were the launches of its mortgage and title companies.

“For a very long time, we’ve dreamt about fixing the broken transaction,” Greg says.
“Downstate from us, it takes 60-90 days to finish a transaction. You have lots of people at the closing table. That’s a lot of time. We want to design a streamlined transaction so we can control that timeline as much as possible. It’s the driving reason for our title and mortgage. We want to guarantee closing in 30 days if you use all of our services. We want to be famous for solving that transaction problem.”

To that end, Prudential Rand has bought a building and moved its entire company operations there: real estate, accounting, marketing, IT, title, processing and mortgage and underwriting.

“I don’t know where else this even exists,” says Greg. “In turn, this now resembles one transaction instead of three.”

According to Greg, people have become disillusioned with the idea of one-stop shopping because oftentimes what they’ve signed up for is not what they believe it to be.

“The reason why people are not choosing a one-stop entity is because these companies are not offering what the consumers said they wanted,” he says. “I’ve thought for years that what they want is a one-stop operation but the things they want are not being articulated correctly. What they are looking for is a more streamlined process.”

Coaching—with a Rand Twist

Over the past couple of years, Prudential Rand has created coaching and business development programs for its agents that make a meaningful difference in their lives.

“We tried the empty-calorie approach. Within a week, it’s back to same old thing,” explains Joe Rand, managing partner and general counsel.

So, Joe created a development culture—long-term learning opportunities to work on for eight to 12 weeks; “it then becomes a habit,” he explains. Agents are put into groups of 15-20 and meet weekly.

“We are designing ongoing training, marketing and coaching programs that are exclusive to us,” he explains. “As good as the big seminar training gurus are, we believe we have top quality, national-level training right here.”

What’s more, Prudential Rand also offers its agents its Realtor for Life program, where every six weeks the class meets for a large room seminar. Participants are enrolled into a database program and mail materials out eight times a year—four quarterly market reports that cover transactions, sales price, and days on market for every county in their market and four regional event guides.

“The event guides are fantastic because they find goings on in all local areas—parades, school plays, fun runs, etc.,” he explains. “We’re trying to position our agents for relationships with the community so that they can do business and develop referrals from this base. Each week, we hear success stories from our mailings. There is a significant effect for the agents who are doing this.”

The company also has its Power Program, a weekly coaching program. Participants attend the class and track as a class the weekly calls and appointments—“it’s almost like boot camp style coaching,” says Joe.

Marketing on a National Scale

Among the many goings on at Prudential Rand has been the recent relaunch of the company’s Web site, www.randrealty.com.

“We rebuilt the site from scratch,” says Matt Rand, managing partner. “Everything is new—the property search, the systems pulling the MLS data, all of the functionality. We are very pleased with the site; it compares to any national Web site.” Among the site’s other offerings are: integrated mapping, more details on listing properties, the ability for consumers to save their property search, or even favorite listings right on the page. What’s more, there’s also a built-in home valuator tool.

“California typically seems to be where the trends start and New York is where they end; we try to counter that,” Greg adds. “We have developed some innovative solutions ourselves, and we’ve discovered some through our friends in the business. At the end of the day, our tireless focus is still on the individual entrepreneur. We now have 700 agents, but we still work with the idea that they are all individual businesses, keeping true to each as an individual person.”

Adds Matt: “So much of our philosophy is going out and finding the right things that agents should be doing and using. This is an added value for them. We really look at ourselves as a full-service, all-inclusive brokerage for the agents. That’s why our agents succeed.” RE

It All Comes Back to Family

Children and family are obviously such a vital part of the Rand clan. Greg Rand tells two stories about his 5-year-old daughter, Diana, who is already getting in on the business.

 “I try to teach my daughter business concepts. I show her our ads every week in the paper. I explained to her why we give out balloons, because ‘the kids with the balloons are happy, so their parents are happy, and they like daddy’s company for making them happy’.”

“My daughter [drew a picture] on a placemat in a restaurant. She drew the house, which ended up not just being some random house, but our neighbor’s who was listed. When I looked closely, I saw the [yard] sign [on the left] and asked her about it. She said ‘Daddy’s sign’; she was four.”

A Snapshot of the Prudential Rand Management Team

Marsha Rand—Founder and CEO
These days, Marsha serves as what she calls the “sweeper” of the company. She works with the accounting staff and works with her sons as an overall managing partner.

Greg Rand—Managing Partner/Directs Mortgage Company and Commercial Entity; joined company in 1997
 Greg oversees the overall company operations for Westchester County. He is also responsible for the company’s commercial entity as well as its mortgage company.

Matt Rand—Managing Partner/Director of Marketing; joined company in 1996
Matt oversees the overall company operations west of the Hudson River, including Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties; 14 offices in all. He also directs all of the company’s print and online marketing efforts.

Joe Rand—Managing Partner/General Counsel; joined company in 2002
Joe’s main responsibilities are the company’s legal affairs and education, training and development of agents.

From the Agent’s POV:

Arlyne Ashkinos, Regional Vice President, Westchester County
With Prudential Rand: 23 years
 
“When I met with Marsha Rand in 1984, I knew from the beginning, it was going to be a long and rewarding relationship. She is a visionary who holds herself and the management team accountable. From day one, Marsha took me under her wing to every conference, seminar and training class, near and far. She gave me the confidence and support to succeed and help grow the company. The company has gone through many successful changes. I am now much more involved with Greg, Matt and Joe. They are also very creative, energetic, and are constantly bringing in new opportunities for growth in this ever-changing market. I think having a personal and professional trust and respect is the key to our long relationship.”

Margo Bohlin, Realtor, Rockland County
With Prudential Rand: 20 years

“This company is absolutely amazing. I don’t know of any other company that is as proactive as Prudential Rand. They watch everything and keep their thumb on the pulse of market trends, pressures, and technology that allow me as an agent to evolve and grow. This is a company that is about the agents. They are very progressive and forward-thinking and always stretching boundaries. Thinking outside the box is an understatement. I love my Prudential Rand and everything it stands for.”

Life at the Rands

From an early age, the Rand brothers had a deep appreciation for their mother’s career. Despite Marsha Rand’s hectic life of balancing career and home, when Greg and his brothers were growing up, dinner was at 6 p.m. every night.

“I have early memories…the phone would ring during dinner and it was always an agent,” recalls Greg. “I would always give her grief about the calls. She explained at one point that customers who might be normal people are now stressed about selling their house. She would tell us about how kids can get upset about the move and how a move can create a lot of pressure in life. Agents absorb that; they take the stress away from the customers. In turn, the company—my mother—takes the stress from the agent. It was a huge advantage to see how difficult the business is—stress, no monetary stability. It’s an emotionally charged product by nature, but my mother was always so good at being that sounding board.”

For more information, visit www.PrudentialRand.com.

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