Maria Patterson: Please tell us about the company’s history.
Larry Finn: Coach was founded in 1954 by two businessmen who became friendly while in the service during World War II. In 1980, Georgianna and I took over the company, which at that time was a three-office organization with about 40 sales associates. Georgianna and I had begun our real estate careers in the early 1970s. Today, the firm numbers more than 630 agents and 18 office locations.
Our children, LP, 39, and Whitney, 34, came up through the ranks of the organization. Today, LP acts as the firm’s operations officer, while Whitney oversees branch offices.
Whitney’s husband, Robert LaCosta, oversees the firms mortgage and title operations: Coach Title Insurance Agency and Residential Mortgage Division, an affiliate of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Their youth and willingness to embrace modern real estate practices have helped guide Coach through the recent downturn, allowing the firm to prosper and grow while many firms were constricting.
MP: How would you characterize Coach Realtors’ positioning in the Long Island, N.Y. marketplace?
Georgianna Finn: Coach Realtors holds a unique position. Our 18 branch offices are strategically located throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, giving our firm solid coverage of the entire marketplace.
Our firm is the only independent, non-franchised firm in the top 10 firms within the Long Island Board of Realtors/MLS. Our firm was ranked number three in closed transaction sides for 2009 within the MLS and we are on track to increase our market share for 2010. We are also very proud to be affiliated with the three premier real estate networks in the world: Christie’s Great Estates, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate.
MP: What would you point to as your competitive differentiation?
LP Finn: We are very proud of our new Web 2.0 platform website. Launched in August 2010, the new Coachrealtors.com provides truly amazing features for both home buyers and our agents. Buyers visiting the site will find search functions that rival the largest real estate websites. Agents with Coach have such tools as database management, drip e-mail campaigns and fully customizable and personal websites. Many agents are paying upwards of $3,000 a year for a personal website with these features. We have alleviated this cost for our agents, giving them a technically advanced and very robust personal website at no cost.
MP: What are today’s real estate consumers most concerned with?
Whitney LaCosta: Consumer concerns are what real estate professionals have heard for years: “Is this the right home?” “Will my family be happy here?” “Am I making the right investment?” The only difference is that now in 2010, due to the recession and financial crisis, these questions contain an increased level of fear or trepidation.
MP: How does your training keep your sales force equipped to succeed?
LP Finn: With more than 600 sales associates, training needs to be ongoing, varied and relevant. The training at Coach is provided on four levels: companywide, office level, small group, and one-on-one.
Throughout the year, Coach hosts traditional events, such as bringing in nationally recognized trainers to host private events for our agents. But it does not stop there—training is not just classroom style, but also the constant daily stream of relevant information delivered to each agent. This stream of information is a collection of insights and ideas that allow each agent to stay better informed than their competition.
MP: In your opinion, what do today’s agents need to succeed?
LP Finn: Agents of today need two things to succeed: a successful brokerage and dedication to their careers. The industry is changing quickly and small under-funded brokerages or brokerages without vision cannot provide these services to the agent. All the dedication in the world will not make a person successful unless he or she has massive support from the broker.
MP: What are your plans for continuing to grow the company?
Robert LaCosta: The future of Coach Realtors is bright. Our short-term goal is to grow the firm vertically: increasing our market share and the size of the sales teams in each branch office. We are also actively seeking acquisitions. We know the independent real estate firm can be the market leader and we look forward to bringing our brand to new markets on Long Island. As we move forward into 2011 and 2012, Coach will expand its footprint and open branch offices in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
For more information, visit www.coachrealtors.com.