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RISMEDIA, March 23, 2010—While today’s market has forced many real estate companies to focus on the basics, Charles de Wetter, Broker/Owner of Coldwell Banker Covenant discusses how a focus on innovation has helped his company meet the challenges that have been thrown their way during today’s tough market.

Charles de Wetter
Coldwell Banker Covenant
El Paso, Texas

Years in business: 37
Number of offices: 4
Number of agents: 150
Region served: West Texas, Southern New Mexico
Best tip for getting the right listing price: Use only recent comparables in the same subdivision as the subject property.
Best tip for running a successful agents’ meeting: Provide training on technology, marketing or transaction management and money-making ideas at all meetings. Don’t have a meeting just to meet.
Best recruiting technique: Use intelligence to target agents you want to attract and use referrals from your own agents. Then keep all agents happy and motivated!

How do you determine your marketing budget and how does this break down between print and online?
As a member of the Large Office Group for Coldwell Banker, we compare our budgeted numbers with other members of our group, and the composite average by expense category. Because of tight budgets, we try to be at or a little below that average. We plan to save a lot of expense by moving mainly to the Internet, which is proving to be much more effective anyway. That is a big change from just a couple of years ago, but making that paradigm shift has been much easier lately with proof provided by NAR and other reputable sources that electronic marketing works.

How has this ratio changed in recent years, and how’s it working for you?
Just five years ago, we spent about 75% of our marketing dollars in the newspaper, buyer’s guides and other print media. Now the reverse is true—our print budget is about 20% of our marketing spending.

What are your technology best practices, or what new technologies are your people using to help position them as leaders in your markets?
We utilize many tech tools to effectively deal with the client, including: advertising listings on over 15 websites; providing enhanced Showcase listings on; we offer “Factline” information and local website data in English and Spanish; all agents are offered free personal websites that connect with our company site; our local website is “mobile ready” for consumers who want to search data from their smart phones; and we use a number of social networking sites for posting new listings and open houses.

What strategies are helping your agents succeed in El Paso’s diverse markets and in this difficult economy in general?
The majority of our agents and clients are bilingual, using both English and Spanish all the time. As I said, our websites, “Factline” and property brochures are available in English, Spanish or both. We also have a large and growing military population with tremendous growth at our Army base, Ft. Bliss. As a principal broker for Cartus Relocation, we specialize in serving our military men and women.

In regards to the economy, we have redoubled our efforts to help agents succeed in a much tougher real estate environment. We are remaining quite competitive by supporting staff business planning, one-on-one coaching, and constant training on technology and creative marketing techniques. In the end, however, it gets back to the basics: prospecting for business has been and always will be the key to success in our business—and it cannot be replaced by technology.