Maria Patterson: Please tell us about the company’s history in the New Haven County, Connecticut, marketplace.
Steve Calcagni: My dad started the business in 1969 and I took over in 1988. We were one office with 13 agents when I stepped in and we grew to four offices and 125 agents at the height of the market. We have been right-sizing for the past three years and currently have three offices and about 100 agents.
MP: How would you describe the company’s overall culture?
SC: At our company, we have a holistic view of business and life. We like agents who produce well but also maintain a balance as it relates to their personal life; otherwise, those agents become shooting stars and burn out. Ultimately, that’s not good economics for them or for our company.
MP: To what would you attribute your ability to survive as an independent for so long?
SC: We get to know our agents on a very personal level. We’re able to move quickly because of our size. We’re able to try things and if they succeed, perpetuate them throughout the organization. There’s not a lot of bureaucracy to slow things down.
MP: Please describe your strategy for indoctrinating new recruits.
SC: We are structured to nurture new agents and help them develop without a lot of pressure for productivity in the early months of their careers with us. We offer different levels of training. We have the Calcagni system, where the staff is enlisted to get involved in helping new agents learn the lay of the land. We also have mentorship situations where newer agents pair up with a seasoned agent and shadow them on listing appointments or open houses so that they can learn as they go.
MP: What do you offer new agents in terms of resources?
SC: We offer our agents a very robust set of tools at no cost to them, which really benefits newer agents by saving them that initial investment it takes to get started in the business. We offer them an enhanced Realtor.com presence, RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), Zipforms and the customized systems we’ve put together…all at no cost. Except for the agent’s licensing fees and their board dues, everything else is taken care of by the company.
MP: Why should an already-successful agent consider joining your company?
SC: One of the unique niche markets we serve at Calcagni Associates is new construction. In most companies, the agent world is a very flat world in terms of mobility. In our company, becoming a new construction project manager is a differentiator amongst the agents. It’s a sought-after opportunity because handling new construction offers a certain expectation of guaranteed business—something that non-project managers do not have. Going into the year, they can anticipate that six, eight or even 10 of their project listings will sell, and project managers can look forward to some stability in their earnings.
MP: How has your technology evolved to meet the demands of agents and consumers?
SC: We’ve developed some very interesting applications that help our agents and help our consumers through the process, such as Real Time Real Estate, which we built from the ground up. Effectively, this is a dashboard for sellers to see all the activities occurring on the sale of their property in real time. We developed Real Time Real Estate to keep the lines of communication open between the seller and their agent.
We are in the process of launching a new real estate application called Contract to Close. Contract to Close offers a password-protected environment where buyers, sellers, attorneys and agents can peer into the events that are occurring for that particular piece of property. This is scheduled to launch this fall (at press time).
MP: What are your plans for continuing to grow the company?
SC: The plan is to go much more to a mobile environment. I think the days of bricks and mortar don’t really make sense with the tools that are available today. New construction is clearly part of our growth strategy. We also want to locate some small offices in retail establishments. Wherever there’s foot traffic, there’s a possibility. We need the technology foundation, but where the rubber meets the road is in the personal relationship. RE
For more information, please visit www.calcagni.com.