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From RISMedia’s October issue of Real Estate magazine, Barbara Pronin interviews Andrew Zsolt, Founder and President of Coldwell Banker, Terrequity Realty, and member of RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN) about doing business in today’s market.

Barbara Pronin: How would you characterize your positioning in the marketplace today?
Andrew Zsolt: We are the largest Coldwell Banker franchise in Canada. We are also the largest affiliate outside the United States and one of the largest brokerages in the city of Toronto with a sales volume of over $1.2 billion in 2010. I think people perceive us as exactly what we are—a well-established and trusted company representing the full range of Toronto real estate, from downtown condos to residential estates to commercial real estate.

BP: What would you point to as your competitive difference in the marketplace?
AZ: Our mission is to help our sales reps function at the highest level of professional expertise. We have an experienced support staff committed to processing transactions, providing basic administrative services, like offers and listings, and assisting the sales reps with building their databases so that the reps can focus full time on customer needs. Our client satisfaction surveys, called Ultimate Service® Surveys, indicate that our clients think we provide excellent service. They know they are getting 100% of their sales rep’s time and energy. That’s not a commitment we take lightly, and it’s a good part of our competitive advantage.

BP: How do you prepare your sales representatives to do business in today’s market?
AZ: The reps are taught to track key market indicators, such as inventory levels, price levels and mortgage rates, in order to help their customers look ahead…to take mental snapshots of what the market will look like in the next six or twelve months. That’s the kind of expertise consumers need and want in order to make good decisions.

BP: How are your training programs equipping your sales representatives to succeed?
AZ: Between Coldwell Banker University, our customized training and so many ancillary training programs, our sales reps are very well-prepared. For example, we were one of the first brokerages in the GTA to bring the Certified Real Estate Broker designation into Canada. Virtually all our managers have the CRB designation, which is unusual. We also brought the Accredited Buyer’s Representative certification to our company. So I think it’s fair to say we are progressive in that regard.

BP: What are your plans for continuing to grow the company?
AZ: We never stop growing the company. We promote from within and we try to hire 70 or 80 sales reps every year. We’re careful about selecting the right people and we’re cautious about mergers and acquisitions. We’ve taken on a dozen or so companies over the past 10 years and we’ve learned what to look for—we’re always open to a good opportunity. But mostly, I think we grow because our business model works. We do everything possible to clear the roadblocks for our sales reps so they can focus on doing what they do best. That, in the end, is what makes them successful—and that’s the way we prefer to grow.

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