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By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, July 4, 2008-Instead of sitting back and reminiscing a perfect market gone tough, agents have found that this time may not be all that bad for their business. Why not take the time to make sure your current practices are squeaky clean, ready for a market upturn? Here, Caroline Ruhl, president of Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors, shares how she’s sticking to her agenda because it’s, well, working.

Caroline Ruhl
Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors
Davenport, Iowa

Region served: Eastern Iowa, Western Illinois
Years in real estate: 28
Number of offices: 9
Number of agents: 250
Average sales price: $153,439
Average time on market: 120 days
Tech tool you can’t live without: My BlackBerry
Best tip for dealing with difficult customers: Build an agenda in advance and control it in the meeting so it doesn’t drag. Don’t discuss things that don’t need to be discussed.

What strategies are most effective for you in recruiting?

Before you even think about recruiting, you need to make sure your current agents are happy. We focus on building relationships with the public and other agents through PR as well as being the source of real estate information within our market.

How do you communicate with agents?

I communicate with the entire company through e-mail. In addition, I address the public and my company through my own short TV show that airs each morning before the “Today” show. The motivation behind this show is to portray to the public that we want to do business with everyone. This has been a great communication tool for both the public and my agents.

What is your best idea for time management?

Plan your days. You can’t expect to get anything done if you are trying to deal with everything that comes at you. Creating a plan allows you to block out time for tasks and to focus on what you need to get done.

How do you determine your marketing spend and how does that break down between print and online?

For the past 20 years, we have tracked where our business comes from and we share these results with our agents and the public on a quarterly basis. A big motivating factor behind our push toward the Internet is the documentation that we have received from the public that the Internet is where people are going and where they want to get their information. This caused us to dramatically shift our focus from print to online, so it is nearly 50-50 at this point.

What strategies do you have in place for working with the diverse markets that make up the real estate industry?

We have always reached out to different ethnic, social and religious groups. It is important for us to bring people into our company with whom our clients feel comfortable working.

What do you tell your sellers about the importance of home warranties?

We are huge believers in home warranties. We try to get every seller to put a home warranty on their property and every buyer to request them. This prevents many unnecessary problems from occurring at any point down the road.