BP: What are today’s consumers most concerned with when it comes to buying and selling real estate?
BW: Sellers always want to get the best price, and buyers look for bargains. But concerns shift as the market changes, and we are seeing a change now. There is a shortage of inventory, pent-up demand, low interest rates and a lot of cash investors, so reasonably priced homes in good condition are routinely drawing multiple offers. At the same time, tightened credit requirements are making things harder for buyers. Our advantage, here again, is our far-reaching grasp of market conditions and our proven ability to help each buyer and seller understand and negotiate the options.
BP: How do your sales associates meet these changing customer needs?
BW: By staying on top of the market, being flexible and well prepared, and communicating effectively with clients. The fact is, there is so much information available online today that many customers don’t know what to do with it. They are bombarded with facts and generic advice that may or may not apply to their situation. All our sales associates are full-time agents. They are skilled negotiators, committed to being knowledgeable and customer-focused. We know our clients are making some of the most important decisions of their lives, and we take seriously our responsibility to help them make the best choices. That’s professionalism with a personal touch, and that is what we stand for and behind.
BP: What is the company doing in terms of training to keep the sales force equipped to succeed?
BW: We have a full-time training director who develops our programs and oversees more than 200 classes every year for both new and experienced agents. They range from industry basics to the most forward-looking trends, from managing social media to making the most of open houses and marketing yourself and your properties. We also have Prudential’s considerable array of online training classes available to our people 24/7, and we encourage a lot of planned and impromptu mentoring sessions that grow out of the day-to-day. The fact is, training never stops because conditions change all the time.
BP: How are you retaining top-producing agents?
BW: By providing them with stability and support in every market, and a nurturing environment that inspires success and recognizes achievement. Our agents know they are the heart of this company, that they are this company, and we value them. They know we treat them fairly, and that does not mean treating everyone the same. Every agent has different needs and expectations, and we recognize and applaud their differences. Lastly, we put great stock in being as transparent as possible. We listen to our agents, we hear them, and we make decisions largely based on what they need and want.