Top producing brokers and agents know that building strong relationships with your clients is critical to real estate success. “The more you know, the better you can serve your customers. An informed customer will make the best decision,” says Scott MacDonald, President of RE/MAX Gateway. Read on as RISMedia’s Barbara Pronin interviews McDonald, and RE/MAX Gateway partners Jason Smith and Brett Billington.
Barbara Pronin: Please give us the current stats on RE/MAX Gateway.
Scott MacDonald: In 10 years, with my current partners Brett Billington and Jason Smith, we’ve grown to 110 agents in four offices in Brambleton, Chantilly, Lorton and Gainesville, Va. We’re a full-service company offering residential and commercial properties, relocation services and an e-Concierge service partnered to provide mortgages, home warranty service, home inspection, repair or remodeling and other services ranging from appliance repair to pest control and more. Our agents are well-educated, accessible and empowered to do the best job for their clients, and that’s what keeps past customers coming back and new ones coming in.
BP: How has the company withstood market changes?
SM: Whether they’re changes in the market, new technologies, industry innovations or whatever, we make certain our agents and managers are the best-trained and best-equipped in the industry. The more you know, the better you can serve your customers. An informed customer will make the best decision, and that’s what we aim to facilitate.
BP: What would you point to as your competitive differentiation?
SM: I guess you could say our competitive difference is our approach to doing business. Our agents are truly entrepreneurial, better educated on the real estate market locally and nationally and very customer-centric. They have a lot of latitude and plenty of administrative support.
BP: How do your associates meet the needs of consumers?
SM: They do a lot of individual counseling, working with every buyer and seller to be sure their goals are being met. We have a Home Pricing Wizard app that crunches the numbers to be sure the pricing is right, but often it’s a matter of agents using their skills to find the right house for a customer, and helping them to get a good grasp of the history of our market.
BP: How do you retain your top producing agents?
SM: We give them a lot of love—and recognition. I’ll post congratulations on their Facebook page, or send a personal note by snail mail to recognize a special achievement. We take every opportunity to recognize and appreciate one another. It’s a small thing, but it results in a workplace where everyone is happy to come to work.
BP: How has your technology evolved to meet consumer demands?
SM: We have a vice president, Kate Casey, who oversees our tech needs, and we outsource to a company that spends one day a week in each of our offices, training agents on new programs and equipment. We are completely wireless, so our agents can do business wherever they happen to be, and we were among the first to be using QR codes to connect people with information. We also have a studio in each office where agents can access video training in getting the most from technology.
BP: In your opinion, what do today’s agents need to focus on in order to succeed?
SM: Stay in touch. Personal contact is more important than Twitter or Facebook messages. Even younger clients who thrive on social media appreciate the personal touch. You have to keep in touch with past clients, too, because the result of that are referrals and repeat business.
BP: Scott, what are your plans for continuing to grow the company?
SM: We’ll be opening a fifth office next year along with a couple of partners. We’ll do some hiring from outside, I think, although we prefer to grow organically if we can—mostly through agent referrals. It’s very important to us to grow with the right people…that is, people who embrace our unique philosophy.
For more information, visit www.gateway2realestate.com.