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Today’s agents must be masters of adaptability, keeping up not only with the shifting market, but with advancing technology and a more informed consumer. “One of the challenges that brokers will continue to face is the fact that there are so many places for consumers to get information,” says Joe Pluscht, general manager of Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate. Read on as Pluscht and President & CEO Dick Christopher discuss what it takes to stay on top, keep a company successful and build relationships with today’s client.

Dick Christopher
President & CEO
Joe Pluscht
General Manager
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate

Paige Tepping: What has been the key to the company’s success after 50 years?
Dick Christopher: The quality, ethics and professionalism of every single person at Patterson-Schwartz may be the most important piece of the puzzle. While the economies over the last 50 years have had a lot of volatility to them, the company’s ability to adapt to the current marketplace has been just as important.
Joe Pluscht: Staying true to who we are has allowed us to transcend changes in the market and work through them to remain a successful presence in the market areas that we serve. The core values of the organization were established early and, regardless of what changes have occurred in the market, we never wavered.

PT: What have been some of the company’s most significant achievements?
DC: I think the most significant achievement is that we’ve built the company from the ground up on a solid foundation, which has been instrumental in allowing us to remain a leader throughout the years. Having been around for 50 years, it’s always been a tremendous challenge to make sure we only expand to the extent that we are capable and without overstepping our bounds.
JP: In looking at the real estate industry itself, and where our profit comes from, we are proud of the fact that 99.9 percent of our revenue comes from our brokerage business. It’s a true testament to the strength of the company that we’ve been able to survive and thrive through just our core real estate brokerage business.

PT: What is the company’s current approach to expansion?
DC: We are in a very conservative expansion mode and as we begin to adapt to the new normal, we will continue to look at expansion cautiously.
JP: When it comes to growth, it’s one agent at a time. We take the time to identify people who will be a good fit. This gives us the ability to control our expansion and ensure we are adding people who will mesh with the foundation and values we have in place.

PT: How has your definition of ‘customer service’ evolved?
DC: We do everything we can to try and stay close to the pulse of the market and provide our customers with information through the channel they prefer. To that end, our website is always changing so that we can keep up with the needs of our clients. In addition, the information that we receive through surveys from our buyers and sellers after settlement gives us the opportunity to see where any voids might exist and how we can fill them. But nothing can replace a professional sales agent. In the end, old-fashioned customer service can’t be underestimated.

PT: Which strategies are critical for building relationships with today’s clients?
JP: One of the challenges that brokers will continue to face is the fact that there are so many places for consumers to get information. By driving potential clients to your site early in the process, there’s a better chance they’ll end up coming to you when they are ready to buy or sell.

PT: What does today’s successful agent look like?
JP: With the advent of social media, people can connect and share information with one another in a way that wasn’t possible before. However, agents still need to take the time to sit at open houses, work expired listings and FSBOs and gain knowledge so they can converse with consumers and clearly articulate what’s going on in the marketplace.
DC: A successful agent isn’t necessarily one who does 150 transactions a year. Today, success is measured by the satisfaction they provide their customers day in and day out. Certainly, a healthy number of transactions is important, but what’s more important is that real estate agents judge success by how the customer feels at the end of the transaction.

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