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 Preferred Realty Owner Ron Croushore, shares his insights on adapting and succeeding in a changing marketplace.
Prudential Preferred Realty
Maria Patterson: Please synopsize your career path.
Ron Croushore: I graduated from Penn State with a goal of entering the political world but it was love at first sight when I was introduced to the real estate business. It didn’t take me long to discover my desire to lead other people toward success in this phenomenal occupation, so I got my broker’s license and was soon moved into management. In 1979, we were acquired by Merrill Lynch Realty and I was named president of our company. In 1989, Merrill Lynch sold its real estate division to Prudential. I remained president here and then had the opportunity to acquire the Pittsburgh franchise…the rest is history.
Today, we have 17 offices, in excess of 650 agents and 150 employees. We now also own and operate an array of ancillary services, including our mortgage company (Pennsylvania Preferred Mortgage), settlement company (Preferred Settlement Services), insurance agency (Preferred Insurance) and real estate school (Real Estate Educators).
MP: What would you point to as your competitive differentiation?
RC: We stand out in the measure of per-person productivity. We have the highest in our marketplace. Our philosophy is to develop high-quality, full-time agents, whereas some of our competitors are satisfied to allow their numbers to grow with the addition of hundreds of part-time agents whose potential is limited. Other things that set us apart in our marketplace: being the technology leader, being the leader in new construction, and having a contract with an independent, third-party evaluation company—Quality Service Certification, Inc.—to rate each one of our agents on customer satisfaction. We consistently achieve an average of 95% customer satisfaction.
MP: What are today’s consumers most concerned with when it comes to buying and selling real estate?
RC: I don’t think that’s ever changed—buyers and sellers want to conduct their real estate transactions with the least amount of inconvenience in the shortest amount of time. They need their REALTOR® to be there to help educate them on the home-buying and -selling process and how it might have changed since the last time they bought or sold a home. Due to technology today, agents need to be quicker and sharper. If an agent doesn’t respond to a potential client’s request for information right away, that person will contact someone else.
MP: How is the company keeping its sales force equipped to succeed?
RC: We offer multidimensional training. We have a full-time training department that conducts a vast array of classroom, online, regional and company-wide training sessions. We conduct webinars, but we also get in front of our people via live sessions, too. We are strongly committed to maintaining a dynamic technology department, open to change and ready to respond to it constantly. Today, you can’t just be consistent—if you stay consistent, you die. That’s why I count on programs like RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), a program that keeps my company’s people informed.
MP: How are you retaining top-producing agents?
RC: Our strategy has always been that we reward them for their production in a very competitive way. We believe in motivational compensation. We have several strong, successful teams and we are very supportive of them. We are constantly bringing new and creative tools to the table for our agents to use to increase their production. We have very low turnover for a brokerage of our size.
MP: What do today’s agents need to focus on to succeed?
RC: Education about how to communicate. They have to really learn to communicate effectively to all of the different generational groups out there, whether they are prospecting, or negotiating, or closing a sale or following up after the sale. We must always remember that we are not selling a product; we are selling a service. The primary component of our service is communication.
MP: What are your plans for continuing to grow the company?
RC: Getting bigger is great, but I am more concerned with offering the best quality. I focus more on quality and effectiveness than on branching out to expanded geographic areas. I want to stay consistent with our philosophy of professionalism and proficiency by continually enhancing the caliber of our agents and our agent support system. I want to educate our agents on how to counsel people and create relationships that will last. With all this, our bottom line will continue to grow, along with our reputation.
For more information, visit www.prudentialpreferredrealty.com.