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The NAR Power Broker Roundtable: Re-evaluating Operational Expenses: Is This the Time to Reinvest—and Where?

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The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Rei Mesa, NAR’s Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Moderator: Rei Mesa, Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR, and President/CEO, Prudential Florida Real Estate Services

Participants:
Ken Parrott, Broker/Owner, Coldwell Banker Heritage Real Estate, Dayton, Ohio
June Slusser, Broker/Owner, Coldwell Banker High Country Realty, Blue Ridge, Ga.
Linda Sherrer, President/CEO, Prudential Network Realty, Jacksonville, Fla.

Rei Mesa: Ah, spring! The sun is shining in most parts of the country and it’s always sunny in my home state of Florida. This spring, finally, along with the beginning of baseball season (go Marlins!), comes an encouraging high in consumer confidence and renewed evidence that a slow but steady economic recovery may be gaining a foothold. But while it appears as though it may be time to loosen the purse strings just a bit, where is the best place to reinvest? For some straight answers at this important juncture, we call on three industry veterans. Ken, is this the time to reinvest—and if so, where will you put your dollars?

Ken Parrott: As you suggest, Rei, we in Ohio are seeing a slow but steady uptick in the market. That’s good news, and we are moving forward by investing in two primary areas: marketing and technology. We redesigned our website and we’ve switched our ad focus away from print and even open houses in favor of television and other active media. It’s a targeted attempt to drive more consumers to our newly designed website—and it seems to be the right strategy for us, because Web-driven business is up 10 percent just since the first of the year.

June Slusser: In our specialized high country market, we never slowed down all that much, so although we tend to be conservative by nature, we’ve been able to take advantage of the tougher times to keep investing—primarily, as you are suggesting, in areas that benefit our people. We joined RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN) to generate additional business, and we’ve been working toward better paperless solutions for agents and clients—including e-signatures—and we recently brought on a proactive PR person to help generate media attention, especially now as the general environment seems to warrant it.

RM: So the trend to spend is catching on as the market shows improvement.

Linda Sherrer: Yes, definitely. Our pending sales are up 24 percent over last year, days on market time is dropping, and there’s more movement at the high end of the market, so we are very encouraged. We tried to make the most of the slower period to keep our agents busy and productive, learning to use all the best new techie toys to help them generate business. Additionally, no one in our area has expanded over the past few years, but while rates were down, we began looking at better, more attractive locations—and we found one too good to pass up. So in the next month or so, we’ll be moving our central operations into a beautiful, newly designed building in the heart of a great area that we think will be a boon to business.

RM: Congratulations. That is a bold move, but it’s the kind of investment that will likely pay off, because the agents who have made it through this far are ready to take it up a notch.

KP: Personally, I think anything you do to reward your people is a step in the right direction. They’re the lifeblood. Keep them motivated. As the saying goes, “If not now, when?”

JS: Every business, every market is different, but I’m excited about 2012. Opportunity is definitely out there if you are ready to balance your P and L against anticipated return on investment. It’s time to look ahead. As a broker, everything depends on your vision and your long-term strategy.

For an expanded version of this article and other NAR Power Broker Roundtable topics, please visit www.rismedia.com.

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