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Many of the top real estate companies have a secret ingredient to success: each other. In the following interview, Connie Ray, Founder and CEO of Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners, tells us how her team gets ahead by working together.

Connie_RayColdwell Banker Platinum Partners
Connie Ray
Founder and CEO
Number of Offices: 7
Number of Agents: 135

Barbara Pronin: Connie, let’s begin with a brief recap of your career.
Connie Ray:
I got my start working in my family’s real estate company, but around 1995, I began looking into the branding and other benefits the franchise model could provide—and that’s when I founded Coldwell Banker Greater Savannah Realty with 15 sales associates. Happily, we flourished from the outset, and we were able to acquire a few other businesses along the way. Before long, we were the largest and most recognized firm in a region spanning both Georgia and South Carolina. As we developed, we began doing business as Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners.

BP: How would you describe your company’s positioning in this very diverse marketplace?
I would say we are the most recognized brokerage in our marketplace—No. 1 or 2 in every area we serve. Our agents rank as top national and regional sales associates within the Coldwell Banker network, and we have been ranked by the brand as a top-20 office nationally.

BP: What would you point to as your competitive difference in the marketplace?
We are a full-service agency with a fully staffed relocation department and a new-construction site sales presence, as well as property management and commercial divisions, so our services are as diverse as our customers. We are known for being innovative—for being first on the block to recognize and respond to industry trends and changing local markets. Personalized customer service is important to us. It’s the reason we instituted our Mentor-to-Mentor program, and we are so proud to be seeing such great results.

BP: What can you tell us about your Mentor-to-Mentor program?
We know that our agents, particularly our younger agents who were born into the high-tech era, excel in using it to their advantage. At the same time, we understand the value of what we call “high-touch”—the nuts and bolts, face-to-face people skills that so many customers want and appreciate—and we know that many of our most experienced agents excel in those basic skills. So, with some great planning by Tom Woiwode, our Central Region broker-in-charge, we began a mentoring program that has quickly become the nucleus of our company culture—teaming older and newer agents to mentor one another in ways that nurture and maximize each other’s skills.

BP: How does it work in actual practice, and how does it benefit your customers?
There’s no such thing as a stupid question. That’s where it starts, basically. An older agent who isn’t using Twitter can feel free to ask how to start from someone who uses it every day. And a new agent can learn better negotiating skills, or how to prepare great, traditional listing presentations from someone who’s expert in those areas. The fact is, transactions come together most efficiently and easily when the best of technology and the best in people skills combine for a win-win result—and that’s what our mentor program is all about.

BP: What do you see as the biggest opportunity?
The market is stabilizing, the high-end market is moving again, and while the McMansion mentality is fading in the urban centers, there are a lot of young, savvy buyers coming into the market who know what they want and are ready to buy when they find it.

BP: In your opinion, what is most critical to your firm’s success path going forward?
Maintaining our edge in technology, revising our website to best meet the changing needs of customers, and making strategic investments in tools that benefit everyone and that our agents can work together to maximize. As the company’s leader, it’s my responsibility to look ahead and make the right financial and operational decisions. But for the day-to-day, I rely on the expertise of our managers and executive staff and the commitment of our wonderful agents—and on the reputation for excellence we’ve worked so hard to establish. As long as we stay true to the concepts we believe in, I have every confidence in our future.

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