In the December issue of Real Estate Magazine, RISMedia Columnist Barbara Pronin interviews Ron Clarke, the President and CEO of CENTURY 21 Alliance.
Barbara Pronin: How would you characterize your company’s positioning in the marketplace?
Ron Clarke: With more than 800 agents and 14 offices in Southeastern Pennsylvania, CENTURY 21 Alliance is one of the largest CENTURY 21 companies nationwide and the second largest company overall in the Philadelphia market. We are also full-service market leaders with a complete range of ancillary services in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties.
BP: How has the company evolved and grown over the years to adapt to changes in the marketplace?
RC: We adapt to market changes effectively because we put great effort into anticipating and preparing for market changes before they happen. We consistently measure and assess market trends and conditions so that we have a picture of exactly where the market is going and how we can best use that knowledge for the benefit of our buyers and sellers.
BP: What’s on the minds of today’s real estate consumers?
RC: Sellers are concerned with whether or not to sell in today’s market. Will their properties have more value if they wait? And if they sell now, will they have a better chance to move up to the home they want? Buyers are also concerned about what will happen in the future. There is a natural reticence among first-time buyers who know they don’t have the security and job stability that perhaps their parents had. They are looking for assurance that the home they buy today will retain and increase in value.
BP: How does the company handle training to keep the sales force equipped to succeed?
RC: Our training is accomplished on multiple levels because top producers have different needs than newer agents. Also, we know there is more than one way to learn and more than one way to be successful, so our training is personalized based on the strengths and talents of every sales associate. Our managers are skilled teaching managers, and every agent has the benefit of a customized work plan and a method for self-assessment so they are always on the same page about the areas they need to focus on.
BP: How are you retaining top-producing agents?
RC: We retain them by offering value. I believe my job is to grow the company so our agents don’t outgrow us, and to figure out new ways to increase revenue that give our agents more opportunity. In addition, we do what it takes to keep them equipped with information ahead of market changes.
BP: How has your technology evolved to meet the demands of agents and consumers?
RC: We are the current holder of the CENTURY 21 system’s highest award for technology. The award recognizes that our tools and technology are not only state-of-the-art, but that we are using them in the most innovative ways possible for the benefit of our clients and our agents. Our websites are great information portals for buyers and sellers, and our agents are proficient at maximizing the value of social media to develop and manage their business. It’s that artful combination of technology, information and personal service that keeps us a leader in our market.
BP: In your opinion, what do today’s agents need to focus on in order to succeed?
RC: First, they need to develop business in new and inventive ways while also maintaining close contact with past clients, who may not only pass along referrals, but may also be their future clients. Agents need to grow their individual skill sets and discover where they perform at peak, whether it’s with first-time buyers, working with sellers or the upscale market. Also, because today’s buyers already know so much, agents need to develop an especially keen market awareness. The successful agent helps clients understand and make sense of the data so they can use it to their advantage.
BP: What are your future plans for the company?
RC: We brought in three companies in the last year, and we will always remain open to strategic mergers and acquisitions. We also opened a commercial division last year, and I’m pleased to say we have already become the fourth largest in the CENTURY 21 commercial real estate network. We are always focused on growing our relocation business as well, and on recruiting quality agents across all aspects of the company. Mostly, I think, we will continue to grow because of the quality and one-stop shopping experience we are able to provide our clients.
For more information, please visit www.c21alliance.net.