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By Chuck Green

RISMEDIA, May 8, 2008-It’s no secret that in many markets, business has slowed. But one fact that won’t change is the reality that people are always going to be buying and selling; getting married, having kids, all of which causes families to grow and change. So what’s the best way to face this changed market head-on? “We just keep doing our thing and doing it right and we’re honest with everyone,” say James Plaster, broker/owner of ERA Tradewind Real Estate. After all, for his company, it works.

James Plaster
ERA Tradewind Real Estate
Longmont, Colorado

Years in real estate: 6
Number of offices: 2
Number of agents: 132
Region served: Boulder County and the surrounding areas
Best tip for getting the right listing price: Look at the data. Don’t try to hide or strew the facts.
Dealing with difficult customers: Be patient. Treat them as you’d want to be treated.
On running a successful meeting: Time management; get in, get out and do it on time. The best meeting has an agenda and a schedule-even if it’s a long meeting. If everyone knows that it’s going to be four hours, fine, but lay out what you plan to cover and finish on time.
Most effective way to motivate agents: Make sure that they feel the same passion for your business that you do.

What strategies have you found to be the most effective in terms of training?
Probably the best training has been our support staff helping with issues, one-on-one between the staff and other agents. I’m not a big fan of the mentor system. We didn’t go through school with one teacher all the way through college; we had multiple instructors. I believe, as they say, it takes a community to raise a family, and I still think that’s true in business.

Best strategies for dealing with the slower market?
My first response is the market’s changed just because it’s slower-it’s still not gone, it’s just up and down. The best strategy is following up with customers and doing the things you always do. People are always buying and selling; getting married, having kids, all of which causes families to grow and change. We sell the second-highest thing on the pyramid of life-shelter. Everyone wants it. So it’s not like I have to sell a space shuttle and only a select number of people would buy it. From that perspective, we just keep doing our thing and doing it right and we’re honest with everyone. It works.

How do you deal with the negative effects of the media?
Focus on the local market. What’s going on there will tell you an awful lot more than the media, which focuses more on the national perspective. They’re talking about this huge foreclosure market, yet where are the top ones? California and Florida. So if you’re reading the national news, it’s definitely referring more to activity in those states than the local markets. I tell everyone that you’ve got to look at local numbers, the local statistics and what’s going on in the local market.

What strategies do your agents utilize to stand out to clients and achieve customer loyalty?
Ethical and forward thinking. That way, agents are always out there saying, “how do we try to help the client?” Don’t put a dollar sign on someone.