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In the following interview, Broker/Owners Bill and Susan Cole—a power couple in and out of the office—explain what it’s like driving a successful team together.

Bill and Susan Cole
Realty Executives of Cape County
Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Bill and Susan ColeRegion served: Cape County and neighboring rural regions
Years in business: Susan since 1981; Bill since 2004
Number of offices: 2
Number of agents: 70
Best tip for getting the right listing price:
Bill Cole: Rely on information/comps to achieve the price point and then consult with colleagues and management to affirm you’ve got the right price.
Most effective way to motivate agents:
BC: Never treat agents like employees; treat them like the business professionals they are.
Best tip for dealing with difficult customers:
Susan Cole: Remain calm during discussions, convey understanding, and try to offer options to address the situation.
Key to working together as a couple:
BC: Define what each person’s strengths are, rely on those talents and then communicate.

When it comes to recruiting, what strategies have you found to be most effective?
BC: With our small market—we have about 80,000 people in our county—it’s crucial that we put a good product out there in terms of service. Then we look for good, ethical individuals to provide that service. Word gets around, especially when those people are embedded in community activities from church to volunteer work to supporting non-profits. Also, once hired, they should know the agency will give them time to develop to their potential.

What is the best tech tool you use to help with time management?
SC: I’m constantly using my smartphone’s calendar so everything is in front of me wherever I go. Also, when working an offer and other things requiring my immediate attention, I allow certain calls to go to voicemail so as not to get distracted.

What is the biggest company benefit in having a husband/wife team as owners?
BC: In our case, we have two totally different backgrounds, so we rely on those strengths. As a CPA, I have certain ideas and thoughts. Susan can take those ideas and process them from the perspective of an agent. We also strive to set an example as to how to work with people.
SC: Promoting a team attitude as an example to the office. If we’re having a personal disagreement about something, we don’t bring it to work.

How does working together influence your relationship outside the office?
BC: Being together 24/7 can be challenging, but having several couples who work together as teams within our company, we like to think we set a good example. Younger couples in the business could enjoy a great deal of flexibility in raising a family with both spouses in the same shop. And we know when to turn the business aspect of our lives off and enjoy each other as a couple.
SC: Although we run the company together and work in the same building every day, we each have our own business within the business to take care of, so our personal relationship is still ours. However, there’s a lot of give and take at the office that spills over into our personal relationship, so it’s important that we get along and genuinely like each other.