By Paige Tepping
RISMEDIA, March 8, 2008-With its “small-town people,” Albemarle, North Carolina is considered a static market. And while the downturn sentiment never gets a chance to break the spirit of this market, there’s still plenty of room for best practices when it comes to working with customers. Gary Stepp, broker/owner of ERA Four Seasons Realty, keeps his company on target by consistently keeping his agents up to speed. That open communication transcends to his consumer relationships, as the combination of customer service and company unity and knowledge keeps customers satisfied with their agent choice.
ERA Four Seasons Realty
Albemarle, North Carolina
Region served: Southeast
Years in real estate: Since 1986. “I have been with ERA since 1993.”
Number of offices: 2
Number of agents: 14
Average sales price: $130,000
Average time on market: 6 months
Getting into real estate: “I was interested in real estate right when I got out of school. This is the only career that I have had.”
Thing you love best about North Carolina: “The small-town people.”
If I weren’t in real estate: “I would be doing something that would allow me to be outdoors as much as possible. I could see myself in the landscaping business.”
Business philosophy: “Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.”
Favorite thing about this industry: “The flexibility that the industry affords me.”
What are some of the current trends you see in your market right now?
Albemarle, North Carolina is a static market area. What this means is that our market is not affected by the current trends, both good and bad, that are seen around the U.S. Being a static market is both positive and negative for us. The positive side to being a static market is that it prevents us from feeling the downturns that markets across the country feel. The negative side to this situation is that our market doesn’t see any rapid appreciation, either.
What differentiates your brokerage from the others in the marketplace?
The biggest thing that sets us apart from everyone else in our marketplace is our personal service. Our business is operated in a family-oriented style of management and is completely team-oriented. The level of service that we provide our customers with allows us to stand out among our competition. Our service is usually the first thing that our customers comment on when they walk through our door.
How do you keep your agents up to speed with what’s happening in the market?
Keeping our agents up-to-speed is very important to us as a company. We hold weekly sales meetings that everyone in the company is required to attend. We encourage open discussion during these group meetings, where topics of the week are talked about, as well as news that relates to our company. This format allows for total participation from everyone at the meeting.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a broker?
The biggest challenge that our company faces is recruiting; so we constantly run advertisements that pertain to recruitment. I maintain the attitude that quality agents are better, and although recruiting is important-and we strive to constantly look for new agents to add to our team-we are committed to recruiting quality agents who are a good match with our other team members.