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RISMEDIA, March 28, 2011—From RISMedia’s March issue of Real Estate magazine, Barbara Pronin interviews Mike Gain, CEO of Prudential Northwest Realty Associates, and member of RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN) about his company’s success in the marketplace.

Barbara Pronin: Mike, tell us something about your own career path and your connection to Prudential Northwest.
Mike Gain: I was born and raised in West Seattle, and I became an agent at a mid-sized company in 1977. By the end of my first year, I was a top producer and when the position of branch manager was offered to me a year after that, I accepted. In 1980, which you may recall was another bad time for the industry—with interest rates in the double digits—I took the leap with a partner and opened a start-up company. We must have been doing something right because by 1986, when the economy had improved, our little boutique company had grown to become one of the top real estate offices in Seattle, and we were attracting a lot of top producers.

That’s about the time that technology came along and changed the face of the industry. We picked up that ball and ran with it, but by 1996 we realized we had come as far as we could as an independent. That’s when we became a Prudential Real Estate affiliate, and adding their name value and top-of-the-line technology systems was a phenomenal business booster for us. But in 2002, I wanted to retire—so I sold the company, although I stayed on for two years to help transition to the new ownership. Then, just as I decided that maybe I wasn’t ready for retirement after all, Prudential called me in late 2008 and asked if I would come back onboard. I guess it was providential, because I came back with fresh energy, becoming CEO again in 2009. We just opened our sixth office in the greater Seattle area.

BP: How would you characterize your company’s position in the marketplace today?
MG: Our six offices cover three counties in a huge geographic area. The goal is to offer the best services and exposure to customers no matter where they live, and we are strategically located to be able to do that for customers anywhere in the Greater Seattle area.

BP: How, exactly, has the company evolved and grown to adapt to changes in the marketplace?
MG: Good and steady, controlled growth is certainly a major factor. We’ve been pretty conservative in good times and bad. But I think the most important thing is that we’ve always maintained a positive attitude. We keep reinventing ourselves, especially during difficult times. We understand that how we worked yesterday, last week or last year may not work today or tomorrow.

BP: What is your company doing in terms of training to keep your sales force equipped to succeed?
MG: We are always training to keep our skills sharp. We have our own real estate school, Seattle School of Real Estate, offering numerous Clock-Hour-approved courses (continuing education) as required by the state. We have experienced branch managers, sales managers and top-producing salespeople who continually mentor on specific topics, including business development, sales techniques and positive attitude to short sales, foreclosures and legal issues. Also, our tech department provides ongoing live training sessions and webinars to keep our agents up-to-date on all that is available to them.

BP: How are you attracting and retaining top-producing agents?
MG: For one thing, we provide such a positive environment for them to work in. We also maintain a “Hit the Ground Running” program for experienced new hires. Our technology team meets with these agents for personalized one-on-one training, even loading their databases for them, so they can begin using our tools and systems immediately and hit the ground running with little or no down time.

BP: How have you evolved your marketing and promotional strategies and your technology to better connect with today’s consumers?
MG: Sometimes the biggest problem is getting good, new content for our agents and our customers. We think we’ve solved that with a combination of BrokerTec System’s Property Investment Profile, building our own content, and utilizing the content from our association with RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), all of which gives us varied and robust content. And again, while we believe our technology is second to none, we cannot overemphasize the role of our back-to-basics philosophy.

BP: What do today’s agents need to focus on in order to succeed?
MG: I think there is tremendous opportunity for knowledgeable and dedicated agents to play a major role in this real estate recovery. I’ve talked a lot about how much training and technology is available to ensure that agents are informed and productive.

Today, we think it is important simply to overcome negativity. We have fun in our offices. We smile and laugh a lot. We are always looking for the next reason to celebrate. Those are powerful antidotes to pessimism and lethargy, because a positive attitude begets positive energy, and that, in turn, begets positive results.

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