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What do you think top producing agents need to focus on today in order to be succesfull? According to Ken Parrott, partner and co-owner of Coldwell Banker Heritage REALTORS®, the answer is networking. Read to see what he and fellow owner Steve Earman have to say about marketing, promoting, training and educating.

Ken Parrott
Partner and Co-Owner
Steve Earman
Partner and Co-Owner
Coldwell Banker Heritage REALTORS®

Barbara Pronin: Ken, tell us a little about your career path.
Ken Parrott: I finished my education at a computer trade school and went to work for NCR, which was then headquartered here in Dayton. Then a co-worker left to get into real estate. I decided to get on board along with a few other partners. That was more than 40 years ago, and the first year in business we did $10 million in sales volume. We grew even more after we became Coldwell Banker Heritage in 1996. Today, there are only two partners in the company; myself as broker, and Steve Earman. We acquired Coldwell Banker Heritage in 2001, which helped us grow into a nine-office company with 325 agents serving the greater Dayton area—and a thriving mortgage and title business.

BP: Where do you currently stand in today’s market?
KP: We’re proud to be No. 1 in our market, with some 21 percent of the marketshare here in greater Dayton and surrounding counties. We’re a full-service company, a one-stop shop that includes our mortgage company, Legacy Mortgage, and our title company, Home Services Title. We think we have a winning combination—quality agents and quality support staff; it’s what makes us the go-to company in our market.

BP: How have you adjusted to market conditions?
KP: All the information a customer could want is available on the Internet, so the role of the agent has changed drastically from guardian of the data to partner. Agents today need to have different skill sets, not only in terms of maximizing technology, but more importantly, as trusted counselors and advisors. We have been successful because we have been able to look ahead and meet and exceed those changing needs both in terms of service and technology.

BP: How do you stand out among the competition?
KP: The quality of our people, for certain. Every agent in every one of our offices is dedicated, well-prepared, and has a proven commitment to treat every customer as a unique individual with unique needs and goals.

BP: What has changed most about today’s consumers?
KP: Service expectations have definitely changed. Time was, a customer would drive into the parking lot and hope to get a good agent. Now when they drive in, they’ve already done their homework, and they expect an excellent agent who will stay in touch and help them stay on top of the market.

BP: How do your sales associates live up to these expectations?
KP: By giving a lot more effort. The best agents make the extra effort to not only survive, but to thrive. They block out all the bad news in the media, they know they have great market information at their fingertips, and they simply work harder.

BP: What’s your approach to training and educating agents?
KP: Every new agent trains for a minimum of 30 days, and we provide ongoing training for agents at every level so they can hone and expand their skills, whether in specialized areas like marketing, negotiation or problem solving, or making the best use of smartphones, iPads, social media and other new technologies.

BP: How are you retaining your top-producing agents?
KP: Our top agents become associate partners, which is an honorary title that rewards high achievement and loyalty. They have no ownership stake in the company, but they do receive benefits above and beyond the norm, like better financial support, private offices, dedicated staff and other things that make their professional lives easier. Also, we find that quality people attract other quality people, so the overall caliber is very high.

BP: How has your technology evolved to meet the demands of agents and consumers?
KP: In addition to the software and programs provided through Coldwell Banker, we host a live online buyer’s guide that’s up-to-date on new and sold listings and price changes—and we recently launched a new website giving customers instant access to things like open houses, property videos and information for first-time buyers.

BP: How have you refocused your marketing and promotion strategies?
KP: We’ve moved away from print to a large extent, focusing our marketing efforts and dollars where most consumers are these days—online. We use® and RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN) Resource Center right on our website, which ensures that our customers are getting all the best, most current data.

BP: In your opinion, what do today’s agents need to focus on in order to succeed?
KP: Networking, primarily—with everyone they know. But they also need a great platform to work on, the ability to act quickly on new information, and a deep commitment to understanding the needs of their customers.

BP: What are your plans for future growth?
KP: We’ve acquired a few companies over the years and we’re always open to those opportunities. But we really prefer to grow from within. We have a full-time recruiter, a great record of maintaining our agents and a roster of people who keep attracting more quality people to us.

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