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“Agents must continually be sharpening their skills in order to be more current and knowledgeable than their competitors,” says Tracy Hutton, President of Century 21 Scheetz. In the following interview, RISMedia Columnist Barbara Pronin talks with Hutton and Mick Scheetz, Broker/Owner, about what their company is doing to stay ahead, and how agents need to focus in order to succeed.

Barbara Pronin: Please describe your current positioning in the marketplace.
Tracy Hutton: We have five offices and more than 275 agents serving metropolitan Indianapolis. We are a Top 10 CENTURY 21 company and we’re in the top three of all companies in our market. We are also a leader in the national relocation community, the sole principal broker to CARTUS in the global relocation sector, as well as a number of other premier relocation companies. Relocation makes up about 20 percent of our business today.

BP: How has the company evolved over the years?
TH: We embrace change, which is how we adapt to what the market demands, but we remain customer-centric first and foremost. We believe success is tied to effort, not the economy, and that if we continue to attract and retain sales associates who share our passion for excellence, we will grow in any market.

BP: What is your competitive difference in the marketplace?
TH: Our people, definitely. Our agents, managers and support staff simply put more effort into every transaction. It’s in our blood; it’s our corporate culture. We do over 3,000 transactions a year, and every customer is asked to fill out a quality service survey. I personally read every one of them because all that feedback keeps me in tune with what the challenges are and how well we are doing to overcome them. We also have the benefit of the CENTURY 21 brand, a recognized and established brand with a global presence that people know and take comfort in.

BP: What are today’s customers most concerned with when it comes to buying and selling real estate?
TH: Mostly, they want to be certain they are making the right decisions. They want the facts about every transaction, with no surprises along the way. They want a professional agent and honest conversation that gives them the information they need to move ahead with confidence.

BP: What is the company doing in terms of training to keep the sales force equipped to succeed?
TH: We are known in the industry for our training expertise—both the training provided by the CENTURY 21 system and the processes we have developed ourselves for new and established agents. The goal for Mick and I is to make sure that our people are aware, prepared and on the cutting edge in terms of social expectations, changing demographics, industry changes and technology.

BP: How has your technology evolved to meet the demands of agents and consumers?
TH: Technology shifts are constant, and we keep a close eye on what is new and better and how we can best utilize it. We have adopted industry-leading systems that make life easier for our customers and ourselves. We have also instituted Technology Thursdays, which are training and awareness events that ensure we are leveraging the tools, systems and strategies that best serve customers and keep us at the top of our game.

BP: How have you adapted your marketing and promotion strategies to better connect with today’s customers?
TH: We have basically abandoned print media to put our money and marketing energies online because that is where consumers are. We have a state-of-the-art listings platform with enhanced customer alert capabilities, and our social media campaigns are second to none. We believe we are innovators in the use of Facebook as a marketing tool and, in fact, our sellers become our partners on their own Facebook pages. Also, we believe in giving back to the community we serve.

BP: In your opinion, what do agents need to focus on in order to succeed?
TH: Agents must continually be sharpening their skills in order to be more current and knowledgeable than their competitors. Mick and I encourage agents to read something of industry interest every single day. Knowing what is out there and newly available may be just the edge they need to help a customer make a transaction possible.

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