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RISMEDIA, September 26, 2009—Utilizing the newest technology trends is one of the easiest ways for real estate companies to remain competitive in any real estate market. While it isn’t about using technology for technology’s sake, it is crucial to introduce concepts that are poised to enable your company to grow. Here, Bettie Meinel, Vice President Career Development and Emmett Laffey, CEO of Century 21 Laffey Associates in Greenvale, New York discuss how you can make technology work for you. 

Meinel_BettieBettie Meinel
Vice President Career Development
Emmett Laffey
Century 21 Laffey Associates
Greenvale, New York 

Region served: Northeast
Years in real estate: 19
Number of offices: 13
Number of agents: 500
Laffey_EmmettAverage sales price: About $700,000
Average time on market: About 180 days 

What is your company’s best competitive advantage over other real estate companies in your area?
Bettie Meinel: The fact that our company is run by three young, aggressive hands-on individuals who are always introducing the latest technology into the company is a huge advantage for us. It is not technology for technology’s sake. We introduce only those concepts that are poised to fuel growth. Since over 87% of buyers turn to the Internet to research homes, we developed the Weekend Virtual Open House landing pages. Virtual showings with Open Houses increased exponentially from an average of 900 virtual visitors on a weekend to over 8,000.
Emmett Laffey: We believe that the evolution of technology remains the core of our strategic advantage in today’s real estate market. Every step our firm takes is another leap towards ensuring that we meet the needs of customer-centric, 21st century buyers. To remain ‘as is’ in today’s ever-changing global economy is to invite failure. 

What are some of your technology best practices?
BM: We recently installed Window Vision, a front window display at one of our offices that has gotten us a lot of street traffic. The Window Vision features 18 properties that anyone walking by can click on to get more information. In addition, we are working with virtual tour company Previsite so that we can create our own virtual tours. Each of our offices has four virtual tour cameras so we can take photos and create the tour as soon as we take a listing.
EL: Long ago, we recognized the significance of websites and technology and were one of the first to wrap ourselves around the concepts of social media marketing. Google Search applications, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are all communication tools that have opened numerous doors to expand Laffey Associates’ global footprint that ten years ago was not even remotely possible.
BM: We recognize that social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are more “personal and entertaining” in nature and social media “influenced” sites, such as Trulia, LinkedIn and Zillow, reinforce the agent’s expertise. It’s cross-marketing the buyer to the expert in a particular market. 

How do you stay in contact with your agents?
BM: E-mail is the most effective way for us to stay in contact with our agents. We also enjoy the immediacy of the flip phone video which can be broadcast to the agent base or even uploaded to any of the social sites. Emmett usually has a flip phone video blasted to all agents once or twice a week. 

What strategies are most effective for you in terms of training?
BM: As the vice president and director of career development, it is my main charge to provide detailed agent training programs that meet twice weekly for eight weeks. This strategy allows me to keep in touch with all the new agents and see how they are progressing throughout the sessions. Frequent meetings also reinforce what our agents are learning in class and reminds them to put these skills into practice between sessions. 

How do you keep your agents motivated?
BM: Keeping our agents involved shows them that there is business to be done and keeps them motivated to go out and produce results. Sharing those results is paramount to success. For example, online calls and e-mails (verified) produced over 5,000 potential buyers a month from a combination of only the 800 number and the lead generating system.
EL: The firm continues to prosper through tactical acquisition, talent recruitment and strategic alliances. Each initiative plays a vital, all-encompassing role in cementing our relationships with our clients and customers.