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Outside-the-Box Success

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By Kayla O'Brien

RISMEDIA, March 11, 2009-Spend five minutes speaking with Russ Bono and Pawel Szott and you’ll soon realize their energy is contagious. So in a marketplace that has some fearing what’s to come next, you might be asking what’s helping them to maintain such a positive attitude. “Our company has outside-of-the-box thinking,” says Szott. “When we entered Orange County, we entered with the mindset of not being typical-being unique and different in every way, from compensation to marketing, to how we approach agents, clients, management-you name it.” Here, learn more best practices of this Orange County broker/owner team.

Russ Bono and Pawel Szott
Broker/Owners
Realty Executives OC Coastal
South Orange County, California

Years in the industry: Russ Bono, 7 1/2; Pawel Szott, 2 1/2
Number of offices: 5
Number of agents: 220
Region served: South Orange County, California
Average sales price in your market: Approx. $500,000
Average listing time: At least 90 days, but quicker if it’s a bank-owned property that’s priced aggressively.
The key to staying successful in today’s marketplace: You have to be well-versed in doing short sales.
Stay productive by…Having good managers and a great strategy. Be a contrarian in the marketplace, giving agents the flexibility that allows them to prosper.

What advice would you offer to agents for getting the right listing price?

RB: The first thing we all have to remember is to be realistic with our clients-not just tell them what they want to hear. Show them the comparables-even while most people are aware of what’s going on. If a seller is putting their home on the market, they have to be able to compete with the foreclosure market.

When it comes to dealing with difficult clients, what do you feel works best?

RB: You have to have confidence. If you’re not confident, a difficult client will walk all over you. But if you take charge of the transaction, you can keep these types of clients in line. You have to know your business and you have to know your craft.

How are you growing your company and why is today a good opportunity to do so?

RB: A down market is a great opportunity to recruit and we have a system for bringing in significant talent. Some of the best agents are coming over because they see there’s a better way.

PS: We use direct mail and e-mail blasts, but our managers have the biggest role in recruiting because they attend meetings with agents; there’s a lot of networking, inviting agents to open houses, etc. Our company has outside-of-the-box thinking. When we entered Orange County, we entered with the mindset of not being typical-being unique and different in every way, from compensation to marketing, to how we approach agents, clients, management-you name it.

How are you keeping your agents productive in a slower market?

PS: We create different types of promotions for our agents. We have a foreclosure center that highlights foreclosures within our offices and we market them to the general public to generate leads for our agents.

RS: Our managers load their meetings with information that helps our agents to produce-it’s educational, informative, and stuff you can use in the marketplace.

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