By Stephanie Andre
Editor’s Note: The RREIN Broker Spotlight Series offers industry insights from members of RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), an elite network of leading real estate companies united behind the belief that Information Share Equals Market Share. In this interview, featured in the October 2010 issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine, Prudential Fox & Roach Chairman & CEO Larry Flick, shares his insights on adapting and succeeding in a changing marketplace.
Chairman & CEO
Prudential Fox & Roach
Stephanie Andre: How did your career begin and how did it evolve to what it is now at Prudential Fox & Roach?
Larry Flick: I started out as a sales associate right after graduating from Philadelphia University. The plan was to eventually take over my grandfather’s small, custom-building business. But he believed I should get some experience first.
My grandfather was friends with Charley Roach, the broker of Roach Brothers Realtors, so I was able to get an interview to be an agent. I didn’t really expect to be in the business for more than four to five years; as it turned out, I’ve been here all of my professional life. I got into management in the early ’70s and wound up buying Roach Brothers Realtors with Chip Roach. There are probably two major transitions that impacted my career: adding title and mortgage in the ’80s; and mergers and acquisitions in the early 1990s. In 1999, we affiliated with Prudential.
Today, we are the largest broker in the market by a 3-to-1 margin, but are also still very diversified with six businesses: real estate, relocation, REO management, mortgage, title, and homeowners insurance. Plus, we also have our Fox & Roach Charities, which has raised millions of dollars to date.
SA: Today, how would you characterize the firm’s positioning in the marketplace?
LF: Our success is built around two business ideas: how to attract the best salespeople and help them grow; and how we add convenience for consumers. That’s our value proposition. Plus, I have two great partners and we have a very strong leadership team, which has been together for more than 20 years.
SA: How has the company remained successful over the years?
LF: We spend a lot of energy and time anticipating financial and real estate trends. By doing this, we are able to use this knowledge to our advantage. The home-financing market has been challenging, but we’ve even been able to take advantage of that with our flight to quality. Through our mortgage arm, Trident, we’ve actually been able to grow our business because our salespeople know that if we make the commitment to close on time, we will.
SA: What’s most on the minds of today’s consumers?
LF: Consumers are concerned about uncertainty. Most surveys show that people believe we are still in a recession, even though the economy has been growing for 12 months. All of this leads to a very emotional transaction. It is the best time to buy, but unfortunately, many consumers are too nervous to take advantage of the market. It is our responsibility to help them understand the opportunities that exist.
SA: How are you retaining top-producing agents?
LF: We care about what’s happening with them personally and professionally. That’s the foundation. We provide them with the support and coaching they need to be successful. To help them with local market trends and stats, we offer them what we call our Home Expert Report. They can pull it up any time by going to our intranet. There, they can view comparables on the market, local information, a month’s supply of inventory for a particular price range and neighborhood, etc.
SA: In your opinion, what’s the key to success for today’s agents?
LF: Business development is different between great and good sales associates. Business development now includes marketing that’s both traditional and online. Looking at the future, we are going to need to look to expand more online. The immediate future shows uncertainty so we have to be diligent and help buyers and sellers as best we can. Delivering exceptional consumer experiences is now more challenging. However, with our business model, we have positioned our sales associates and our company well.
SA: What are your plans for continued growth?
LF: Our business model is to remain in the Greater Philadelphia marketplace. We are going to continue to focus within this region. In certain markets, we still have a lot of opportunities. We think that there are acquisitions that will remain available in the future. In fact, we are in the process of having conversations with several other companies now.
Something else to point out—Gen Y is just the tip of the iceberg, as both buyers and sellers; but also as sales associates. They will have a tremendous impact. The company that wins that group will be the one that reinvents itself for the future.
For more information, visit www.prufoxroach.com.
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