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Dorothy Martwick, the Broker/Owner of Century 21 Action in Minot, North Dakota lets RISMedia in on her secret to staying profitable, the unique market condition in her area, and how her team of agents is staying on top.

Region Served: Northwest corner of North Dakota
Years in real estate: 18
Number of offices: 1
Number of agents: 32
Average time on market: As long as it takes to close…usually 45 days.
Average sales price: $175,000

Key to staying profitable:

I like to say our agents are the most caring and knowledgeable agents out there. We work hard to get them to the point where they know everything they possibly can about real estate and our market. If you care about your clients and have the knowledge needed to help them with their real estate needs, profitability follows.

Your top technology tool:

Smartphones, and the things we can do with them, are incredible. Our biggest problem with technology is getting experienced agents to move forward with it. We have small, in-house classes on how to use different available applications.

What is your team doing to stay ahead of the competition?

Our mission statement since we started in 1985 is to provide quality service; and with quality, growth comes inevitably. We care about people and don’t worry about growth; it just happens. We have tripled our gross commission in the last 10 years, so it does happen, but we don’t dwell on it. I dwell on taking care of my agents, and my agents dwell on taking care of their clients.

I understand your market has some special conditions right now. How is your company handling the effects of the recent flooding in your region?

It’s very hard. Traditionally, one-third of our business comes from the military, as we have an air force base here, and we had a housing shortage before the flood. But, since June 2011 when the flood destroyed 4,000 homes—about 20% of our city—it has been very difficult. Nine of my 432 agents lost their homes. A lot of our clients lost their homes and the mental and emotional stress has been very high. But there is always a bright side. We were in the midst of having builders come in because of the housing shortage, so we were somewhat prepared for the increase in demand. There is a lot of business here—it’s growing as fast as the infrastructure can keep up with it.

Have you had to change the way you do business to meet the needs of your clients in these unique and pressing conditions?

We try to be very caring and understanding of their dilemma; we often have very desperate people in need of homes as soon as possible. Probably the biggest change is that we try hard to respond now. We have people in FEMA trailers, or five families in one home. When a property comes on the market, there are a lot of buyers for it, so the quick response of my agents is very important. We’ve also had to become familiar with how to handle putting a flooded home on the market and the questions that come with it.