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“The fact is, agents who use the right tools and provide excellent customer service are still doing well,” says Jason Waugh, president and COO of Prudential Northwest Properties. In the following interview, RISMedia columnist Barbara Pronin talks with Waugh, Chairman Bert Waugh, Jr. and CEO & President Bert Waugh III about what it takes to succeed today.

Jason Waugh
President and COO
Bert Waugh, Jr.
Prudential Northwest Properties
Bert Waugh III
CEO & President, Columbia Mortgage

Barbara Pronin: Jason, you grew up a real estate kid. Did you always plan to come into the company?
Jason Waugh: I got my real estate license when I was 19 and worked with one of our top producers during the summers while I was in college. Then I went to law school at Pepperdine University and pursued a career in the sports management business. I always envisioned coming back and working alongside my Dad, but I did not want to go to college and return immediately to the family business upon graduation. In 2005, I was at the right place to begin the next chapter of my life. Joining Prudential Northwest Properties has been the best decision I have made to date—that is, of course, next to marrying my wife, Gia.
Bert Waugh, Jr.: Jason has smart, progressive ideas, and he’s consistently assumed greater operational responsibility here over the years. I know, without question, that he is ready to assume the leadership role as president.

BP: What does that mean for you, Bert? Are you going fishing?
BW: No, not just yet. I’ll still be active as chairman of the board, overseeing all of our core companies as well as our work with Transitional Youth, the non-profit program we founded here in Portland in 1991.

BP: Jason, how would you describe the company as it stands today?
JW: As a market leader. We’ve been part of the community for over 60 years, but we’ve grown tremendously in the years since Dad came aboard. Today, we are the largest locally owned real estate services company in the region, with 21 offices and 500-plus brokers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

BP: How does the firm stand apart in the marketplace?
BW: Through our dual commitment to technology and personal customer service. We made a $100,000 investment in our first website way back in 1994, long before there was an area network, and we remain in the forefront of technological innovation in so many ways today. But we also recognize the value of keeping customers for life, and you can only do that by providing service above and beyond what is expected.

BP: Jason, what are the biggest challenges today’s consumers are facing?
JW: More than anything, there is a lack of confidence in the economy and job security. We have some major employers in our area, but consumers are understandably wary. Sellers want to get the most they can for their properties, and buyers want to get the “best deal” possible.

BP: How are your associates dealing with the current economic situation?
JW: Every day, agents tell us they’re working twice as hard for less money—and that’s true. The fact is, agents who use the right tools and provide excellent customer service are still doing well.

BP: How are you retaining your top producing agents?
BW: Jason recently sent surveys to our agents—which were answered anonymously—asking, “What attracted you to Prudential Northwest Properties, and why do you stay?” We were very gratified to learn the answers were leadership, technology, people and company culture.

BP: What do agents today need to focus on to succeed?
JW: First, a positive attitude! I believe only positive people will inspire others to entrust them with the most significant purchase or sale of their lives. Second, communication. Our clients need to hear from us consistently, and sometimes that means with no news, or news they may not want to hear. Third, improving their skill set. Consumers have access to more information today than ever before, and so we need to be more educated and more skilled than ever.

BP: Bert, how do you feel about this next phase in the history of Prudential Northwest Properties?
BW: I’ve been more fortunate and more blessed than almost anyone else I know, and I believe I could never have done most of it without the help and support of so many others along the way. But I’m profoundly confident that we’re in good hands with Jason, Bert III and Sean McCrae in charge of business. They’re bright, hardworking and innovative young men, and I look forward to the next phase in our company and in the industry as a whole.

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