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Bringing Best Practices Back to Business

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 By John Voket

RISMEDIA, Jan. 5, 2008-For Rei Mesa, president and COO of Prudential Florida WCI Realty in Sunrise, Florida, a back-to-basics client approach, effective brand positioning, leveraging its mortgage and title services, and supporting its sales force with authentic leadership from the top down are making all the difference.
“Every sales branch manager is focused on leading and increasing their market share,” says Mesa. “We demand nothing less than exceptional customer service, and our sellers, buyers, tenants and landlords expect no less.”

While most markets across the country are feeling the winds of change, Hurricane Wilma blew a market correction into Mesa’s world way back in October 2005.

“After Hurricane Wilma, our markets began to shift,” Mesa recalls. “We didn’t sit back to wait and see what would happen. We made a decision to focus on bringing together new synergies.”

Besides taking a relationship with Realtor.com to a new level, Mesa’s company incorporated cutting-edge IT tools to help better position his salespeople in their markets. Prudential Florida WCI Realty took a new look at its advertising strategies, pairing online and print buys, and creating a dual presence between Web and print.
Mesa and his management team visited offices to communicate the new environment.

“We focused on getting the associates to embrace the paradigm shift in the market and to understand that 2004 and 2005 market levels would not be coming back anytime soon. Then it became a matter of putting all of their education, experience and energy towards listing and pricing the property correctly,” Mesa says.
Mesa also stressed to his sales teams the value of the Prudential brand in assisting sellers and attracting local, national and international buyers.

“Brand is essential in this market,” he says. “Our sales professionals are leveraging our Prudential brand, and they know they’re backed by the support and resources of our network.” Recruiting Results
Sharon Snyder, broker/owner of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Prudential Snyder & Company, found her recruiting results took off when she joined the Prudential Real Estate system nearly four years ago. Many of her 50 agents were actually recruited and retained because of technological advances Snyder delivered.

At her company, each agent has subscribed to Prudential Real Estate’s Online Advantage platform, using it for lead generation.

“It provides a big attraction to new recruits as well as helps us retain our veterans. These Prudential Real Estate-exclusive tools continue to keep us in a forerunner position on the Internet,” Snyder says.

“They can see what the consumer is doing, see which houses are being looked at, and communicate with them with an enhanced social dialog online,” Snyder says.

When it comes to sizing up potential recruits, Snyder does it the old-fashioned way.

“My recruiting is direct,” she explains. “I target the individuals I select to interview, and the initial interview is one-on-one. The intent at that meeting is to show them the products and services that differentiate us, and will help them facilitate more business. Once they see how comprehensive the IT is, [my recruits] are then hooked.”

Using Prudential Real Estate’s Online Seller Advantage, her agents are constantly sending sellers immediate information on houses selling or being purchased in their area, detailing comps, and telegraphing price changes.

Pushing an Online Presence

Giovanni Verani had the foresight to establish Prudential Verani Realty in Londonderry, New Hampshire, as a dominant Web presence early on. Then he learned how to put all those Web leads to work.

“We’ve been on the Web since day one,” says Verani, who serves as the company’s vice president. “And while we always generated tons of leads from the Web, at first we had trouble servicing them.”

He rightly subscribes to the notion that agents who respond to Internet leads within three hours of the inquiry are most likely to get the business. His team now tries to respond within that timeframe. Today, the company has a full-time department in place to support the e-lead business.

“The next step was recruiting agents to that e-team. Many were folks just starting out who wanted to work in the online arena and sought us out, which really helped our success rate,” he says.

Being online early, Prudential Verani Realty has built great search engine rankings, but it’s more important for the company’s listings to be everywhere they should be, he explains.

“Our overall growth is attributed in great part to the e-lead business and our exposure on the Web,” Verani says. “In just five to six years, the company almost doubled in size.”

During this growth spurt, Prudential Verani Realty has also attracted acquisitions and affiliations, drawing top-seasoned salespeople and supporting personnel tied to the e-commerce end of the business.

Auctioning Homes

In the mid-1990s, Cory Shepard, president of Prudential California Realty in Chula Vista, California, assisted in listing and selling more than 18,000 properties through a sealed-bid program.

Recalling those stellar results, he decided to revisit the practice and in just a few months, his Real Auctions USA hit the ground running.

Crediting Steve Rodgers, president and CEO of Prudential California Realty, and General Counsel Pete Solecki for helping launch this pilot program, Shepard’s new division has quickly become a major player in the hotly competitive markets he is serving in the San Diego region.

“I know the kinds of results we are producing, and we’re outperforming the market in showings, listings and buyers,” says Shepard.

His auctions are designed to drive fair market values in a competitive bidding situation.

“Today, we are bringing in fair market values on homes previously sitting for 30 to 180 days or more,” Shepard says. “Even on unsuccessful auctions, we are driving people to our brand, which often results in post-auction negotiations within a few days to two weeks at the most.”

He decided to get into the auction business using his experience in the previous “correcting” market of the mid-‘90s.

“In April 2006, we saw the market changing and decided that was the time,” he explains. “In nine months, we put together the company and auction training program for the agents. We started the process, learning what we didn’t know and today we have it down to a pretty good system.

He believes Real Auctions USA is a model that will work throughout the county, and is looking to expand in the future to help teams in Orange and Los Angeles counties with market inventory appropriate and available for auction.

For more information on Prudential Real Estate, visit www.prudential.com/realestate.

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