Maria Patterson: How did your career at Prudential Americana Group evolve?
Mark Stark: I started in the business in 1985 and sold real estate for about six years. While still selling, I was offered a leadership position in the business from the president of Americana Group. I accepted it and continued to sell, too. In short order, a position opened up to manage one of the company’s large offices. I took that position and started to minimize my sales career. I managed that office for approximately five years. Mark Miscevic, one of the owners and president of the company at the time, was injured in a sky diving accident. I went to the other two owners, Steve Schneider and Jack Woodcock, and said, “I believe you need a general manager and I know I can do it.” I wrote and submitted a seven-page report to the company and, fortunately, that was enough to get the position.
Two years later, Steve Schneider requested to be bought out. Recognizing the potential in the company and Las Vegas, I became an owner. We had been Better Homes and Gardens, which in 1999 was sold to GMAC. That’s when we found Prudential. We partnered up with Steve Games and Nyda Jones Church, who are still on my board of directors. In 2004, I purchased the remaining shares of the company and became a sole proprietor.
MP: How has Prudential Americana Group evolved and grown as a company over the years to adapt to changes in the marketplace?
MS: Advancing our technology to support our sales executives is one of the greatest things we’ve done. We’ve really embraced technology to a point where we haven’t gone overboard, but we have incorporated the right technology to enable sales executives to serve their clients effectively while saving time. Agents are working hard and making less, so having the technology and making the effort to support them is very important. That’s why we pay for the technology at the corporate level and then offer it to our sales executives. Overall, we continue to embrace whatever we can do to continue to upgrade technology and make it relevant.
MP: What would you point to as your competitive differentiation in the marketplace?
MS: We transformed our company in 2001 to become a business service company. This is one of the best things and one of the most innovative things we’ve ever done. By structuring ourselves as a business service company, it allowed us to provide all types of business systems and support to our sales executives. We see each of our sales executives as running a business within a business under the auspices of Prudential Americana Group. With our systems and backend technology, we can give agents the services they need, no matter what their individual goals are. Couple that with our offering of full real estate services to consumers, and an agent is able to build their own unique business here.
MP: With your business service model, I imagine you attract serious agents who have a clear sense of how they want to run their businesses.
MS: We attract that group very aggressively and show them how they can succeed at a much greater level with us. We attract high-quality, business-minded salespeople that say, “You know what, I’m running a business here; I’m a sales executive with a real estate business and I need to have all facets of that business covered.” Prudential Americana Group helps them do that efficiently and effectively. In fact, 50% of our training is business training alongside real estate training.
MP: What are today’s consumers most concerned with when it comes to buying and selling real estate?
MS: I would have to say that the number one thing consumers want is accurate information. The one thing all consumers have today is questions—and every person and every situation is different. There are different aspects of a real estate transaction that have to be dealt with. As a company, we help supply consumers with that information, but we also advise them to talk to their accountants, their attorneys and other professionals when necessary.
MP: In your opinion, what do today’s agents need to focus on most to succeed?
MS: The number one thing an agent needs to have is a productive and positive mindset. Success starts with your thought process. This is so important because all the systems and tools available to an agent are controlled by the way they think. You’ve got to embrace the mindset that “If I’m going to survive in this business, I have to have systems and support to maximize my business revenues.” You’re not going to cost-cut your way to success. You have to invest in tools and systems to show consumers you’re aggressive and can offer more services for clients while other agents are simply retreating.