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Changing Your Practices with the Times

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By Kayla O’Brien

RISMEDIA, June 9, 2008-Having been in the industry for over 20 years, Heather Croner, broker/owner of Heather Croner Sotheby’s International Realty, has seen the industry change and grow enormously overtime. The same holds true for her business practices. Today she’s making changes to meet the needs and preferences of her clientele, while staying ahead of competitors. Here, Croner offers key best practices she’s using to flourish in the Hudson River Valley of New York.

croner_heather.JPGHeather Croner
Heather Croner Sotheby’s International Realty
Millbrook, New York

Region served: Hudson River Valley, including Dutchess, Columbia, Ulster, Putnam, and Orange counties
Years Affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty® brand: Since 1980 when our company began
Number of agents: 14
Number of offices: 1 showroom office
Favorite tech tool: My BlackBerry. It speeds things up enormously. The convenience of e-mail saves so much time.
Words of advice for today’s real estate rookies: Don’t give up.
Educating clients on the right listing price: In this market, we have an abundance of listings, and so we’re able to choose our clients. If they want us to represent them, their homes must be competitively priced. To do this, we make a presentation tailored to fit the individual property, gearing it toward the people we’re speaking with.

What makes your company unique in today’s market?

An important part of our business is being affiliated with the Sotheby’s International Realty brand. That being said, our agents are out in the field, and so we use our office as a showroom to display all of our listings with large pictures-similar to a gallery. The gallery gives us a presence in Millbrook-it’s big and quite a nice office in a strategic location within the village. People will wander in and out. That’s helped us have an edge in terms of getting listings.

How do you break down your marketing spend between print and online? How has this changed over the past few years?

It has really changed remarkably. We try to keep an edge ahead of our competitors, so we really don’t depend on print anymore at all, only in special circumstances. Most of our clients are familiar with the Internet and do their research that way, so they come to us through our website.

When it comes to online marketing, what are your top strategies for standing apart from your local competition?

Very careful photography. We try to include as many pictures as possible. Our agents are all trained to take pictures that tell a story and show drama so that the pictures are memorable.

What has been your best strategy for client retention?

Constantly keeping up with our clients. We find it important to communicate with them regularly, helping whenever we can and maintaining the relationships we’ve formed. We use e-mail and seasonal postcards to remind them about our new listings on our website. It’s been a very effective way to keep in touch.

How do you keep your agents motivated in a slower market?

By creating opportunities for them and reminding them that even in a slow market there are opportunities to be had. Right now, that means listing as many distinctive properties as possible. Because of the market, we are able to be selective. We’re accumulating a nice inventory for when the market turns.

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