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By Lesley Geary

RISMEDIA, Jan. 19, 2008-Friendships don’t always translate into solid business partnerships, but luckily for the GnR Team from Springfield, Missouri, it certainly planted the seed for a blooming real estate team. After Greg Orthel’s friend Rick was called to active duty, he stepped up and into the real estate business to keep it flourishing while he was away. Fast forward to 2008, the duo is now a fully functional and technologically-sound real estate team.

Greg Orthel
The GnR Team
Carol Jones Realtors
Years in Real Estate:
Team members: 3
Region Served: Springfield, Missouri area
I formed a team when…”my partner Rick, who had a going real estate business, was sent to Iraq. He did not want to lose his business so I basically took over all of his customers and worked them for him. I took over his branding and kept it going and added to it. When he came back, we had this perfect partnership and we added a buyer’s agent.

What role does technology play in your team’s business?
We are all about is the Internet and transaction management. Our clients go to our Web site and upload documents. We give each seller a unique Web site. So when we use programs like Home Feedback or Call Capture, the seller can just go to our Web site and do it all from there. The other nice thing about our technology is that our clients never know when we are gone. Anytime they e-mail us with a question, it doesn’t matter if we are home or at the beach, we e-mail right back. By them not having to know that we are out of town, it makes things so much easier. Clients tend to get uneasy when you are out of town and think that you are not proactively marketing their property. But the reality is, whether I am in the Virgin Islands or in town, I can do the same things for them.

Talk about your Web site.
We have an excellent Web site and we are upgrading it. But very few people in our market are doing this. Many think we are “out there” with all of our automated processes. We deal with a lot of retirees from the East Coast and the West Coast and they are very tech savvy. They like to conduct business that way. We have one Web site right now but we are going to totally upgrade and rework our site. We use a la mode and they make the backend very easy and simple to get to.

How do you use technology to your advantage in terms of marketing and promotion?
We have really stepped up our advertising. We have tripled it. We want everyone to go through our site for branding purposes. We are also going to start offering pod casting and a blog, so people can listen to me or my partner talking about market conditions or various community events. We are starting to see Web traffic going way up. It’s kind of amazing the way people find us, and we can do headcounts and find out whether they are new visitors or returning customers. The beauty of monitoring our hits this way is that it enables us to find out what they want and give it to them. We are very customer driven.

How do you manage technology costs?
It is not expensive. Surprisingly, a la mode has a free version of its Web site. We pay $500 a year. Once we have it tweaked the way we want it, it won’t take much maintenance either.

Success Strategies
My partner Rick is great with follow up and our buyer’s agent has a great rapport with clients and I do all of the tech work. So we all have our own areas of expertise and it all flows so nicely. Of course, we all help each other out.

On difficult customers: Buyers coming into this market think everything should be a low-ball offer and the sellers are on the other side. So right now we are facing sellers and buyers with two completely different sets of expectations. We have to educate buyers right now to understand that they can’t low ball everything.

Percentage of budget dedicated to marketing: 15-20% of total revenue. But that number may well go down because we are fine tuning all of our marketing and advertising.

The key to working together: Communication. We sit down once a week and game plan so that we all know each other’s plans and go over each project. Then we delegate and set goals-very specific goals-that we keep always in sight.

Our relationship with our broker is…Great. I do a lot of their new-hire classes. I consult with most of their tech people from the perspective of a real estate agent. We are very collaborative. I get half-dozen e-mails from my broker every day and I send him the same amount back. We bounce ideas back and forth to each other, too. It’s just a great relationship all the way around.

We succeed in real estate by…being there for our clients and listening. We give them lots of feedback and follow up, follow up, follow up. Take care of your past clients, too. They are the ones who will refer business to you and make you successful.