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What do today’s agents need to succeed? According to Steve Calcagni, broker/owner of Calcagni Associates, the answer is simple: trust. Read on to learn Calcagni’s top tips for reaching and maintaining success, recruiting top agents, and creating relationships that last.

Steve Calcagni
Calcagni Associates

Barbara Pronin: Steve, let’s begin with a brief recap of the company’s history.
Steve Calcagni: My dad started the business in 1969, so we’ve been here in New Haven County, Conn., for more than 40 years. When I stepped in to run the company in 1988, we had one office and 13 agents. Today, I’m pleased to say, we have four offices—we recently opened the newest office in Southington, Conn.—and more than 100 agents.

BP: How would you describe your positioning in the marketplace?
SC: People know us as the local experts. Our overall marketshare is something like 24 percent—a gratifying accomplishment for a mid-sized, regional independent—and I think that’s a reflection of who we are and how we do what we do. The fact is, we are large enough to have clout and respect in the community, but small enough to be able to turn on a dime.

BP: How do you recruit top-performing agents?
SC: I think maybe the best answer to that came the other day from a prospective agent we were interviewing. When I asked her why she wanted to join us, she said, “You know, there are Wall Street people and Main Street people. You guys are Main Street. You live and shop right here in the community and everybody knows you and trusts you. I want to be with the company people trust. I think that’s the best place to be.” We recruit based on character far more than on skills, because the skills can be taught, but qualities like integrity, character and the desire to help others—those have to be part of the person.

BP: How do new agents build and maintain lasting customer relationships?
SC: The focus is on customer service above what is expected. Also, we have what we call our Legacy system—an internal database with complete histories on sales, listings, market analyses performed, or any other services performed for a customer by any agent in the company. So nobody inadvertently steps on anyone else’s toes.

BP: What resources does the company provide for its agents?
SC: Unlike some larger companies who nickel and dime their agents for various tools and services, we provide at no cost just about everything the agent needs to do his or her best work; customized systems, an enhanced web presence, marketing and administrative support, and access to the industry’s most current and forward-looking information through programs like RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network® (RREIN). Then there is our unique niche market in new construction. We’ve been involved in the new construction sector for well over 30 years, including taking on land, selling it to builders and managing the sales of the new homes they build. This aspect of our business provides an opportunity for our agents to become new construction project managers, assuring them some stability in their earnings as these new homes sell.

BP: How has your technology evolved to meet the demands of today’s consumers?
SC: We are fortunate to have the freedom and the real-world local experience to build technology platforms that answer the needs of our consumers and our agents. Our Real Time Real Estate system, a dashboard we built from the ground up, gives our sellers access to all the activity connected with their listings on a 24/7 basis. It allows both the seller and the agent to review what’s happening—on their own time schedules—and make adjustments in terms of marketing or whatever to ensure that activity remains at peak until the property is sold. At that point, our Contract to Close platform takes over, offering a password-protected environment where buyers, sellers, attorneys and agents can keep tabs on all events leading to the close of the sale.

BP: In your opinion, what do agents today need to focus on in order to succeed?
SC: I don’t think you can overstress the importance of trust. A reputation for truthfulness, resourcefulness and attention to detail—and a history of service beyond the ordinary—is what will bring you repeat business and guarantee you referrals.

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