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From RISMedia’s October issue of Real Estate magazine, RISMedia Columnist Barbara Pronin interviews John Reinhardt , the President/CEO of Fillmore Real Estate, about adapting to market changes, understanding today’s consumers, and agent retention. Fillmore Real Estate is a member of RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN).

Barbara Pronin: John, I know Fillmore Real Estate began with your father, Bill Reinhardt. Did you always know you’d be part of it?
John Reinhardt: Well, I grew up in the business, of course—and on my 18th birthday, Dad handed me a birthday card with an application inside for my real estate license. I’d have to say I learned every facet of the business from the ground up, from selling to managing, even marketing. The fact is, I was excited by the business then and I’m still excited today, because the real estate market is always changing and there’s always a new challenge. The only way to keep growing and succeeding is to adapt to all kinds of change—demographic changes, financial changes, even cultural changes in the marketplace.

BP: How would you characterize your positioning in your marketplace?
JR: We are New York’s largest privately-owned and -operated independent residential brokerage—and there’s no question we are the top broker in and around Brooklyn. I think it’s safe to say we know things about Brooklyn that other brokers don’t even know they don’t know. That’s why people come to us. They know we’re on top of every neighborhood, that they can trust us to give them the best insights, the best information and the best service in town.

BP: How has the company evolved over the years to adapt to market changes?
JR: By making it our top priority to keep our finger on the pulse of the borough, which has transformed itself over the years and keeps changing every day. By maintaining the resources to do the best job of keeping an eye on the trends—price trends, migration and demographic trends, whatever it takes. In terms of size, we’ve evolved from a company with 14 offices and 125 agents a little over 15 years ago to 18 offices and over 500 agents today.

BP: What are consumers today most concerned with?
JR: Sellers want to be sure they are getting the best price possible for their property. Buyers are concerned about jobs and job security. We try to overcome these kinds of fears with home-buyer seminars and a constant stream of current, real-world real estate information that consumers can get via RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN), available right on our website. Mostly, I think buyers and sellers both want real estate agents who know the market, who are responsive and can help them make the best decisions.

BP: How has the company’s technology evolved to meet the needs of agents and consumers?
JR: We just launched a new Agent Dashboard program for our agents—a power-packed application that will help them better manage their leads and transactions. We also have a Seller Dashboard in place. It’s a fantastic tool, completely transparent, that lets sellers know instantly how many times their property has been shown, how it stacks up against competing properties and when new listings hit the market.

BP: How are you retaining these top-producing agents?
JR: We have great longevity and very little turnover. Some of our agents have been with us for 20 or 30 years. We have name recognition. We have the tools and the top-notch management, and all the resources agents need to function at their best. We also have fun. We’re like a big family here. That’s important, too.

BP: In your opinion, what do agents need to focus on in order to succeed?
JR: Mostly, you need to fine-tune your knowledge. You need to be the authority—the go-to guy in the neighborhoods you serve, and that means keeping up, and ahead of, everything that’s going on in the area. You need to know how to generate leads, to keep a steady pipeline of referrals. Then you need to know your customers. Every day is a new day, every customer brings a new challenge, and every transaction has to be handled as though it’s the only one on your plate. That’s how you get to be number one. And that’s how you get to stay there.

For more information, please visit www.fillmore.com.

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