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Dana Potter has been a licensed real estate professional since 1977 and opened Los Angeles-based Pinnacle Real Estate in 1985. Today, the firm’s seven offices are home to approximately 800 agents, serving several LA communities, including San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, Conejo Valley and Malibu. Central to the firm’s long-term success over the years? Focusing on an agent’s strengths to maximize the customer experience.

With 2014 in the record books as a good year for business, Potter is looking forward to focusing on his agent’s skills in 2015. “We sit down with each of our agents and try to pick out what their strengths are, almost as a sports coach would do,” he explains. “As opposed to trying to make everyone great at everything, we play off their strengths and keep them away from their weaknesses. Some agents are great at working open houses, some are great at geographic farming, others are great at working their sphere of influence. We get them to focus on what they’re really good at and what makes them unique and different from their competition.”

Potter believes one essential factor that helps set his agents apart is their emphasis on offering a high-quality home warranty to their clients. Potter’s firm typically recommends a home warranty from First American Home Buyers Protection Corporation. Potter first began working with First American in the ’80s, and received a very positive response from his clients who used the company’s home warranty product. When he opened Pinnacle Real Estate, it was only natural that Potter would continue the relationship with First American.

“Our clients and our agents really like First American home warranties,” says Potter. “This is a company that offers unique services and stands by their commitments, which is very important because once the client chooses their home protection company, we have no more say in what happens. We rely on our home warranty provider to continue to make that client happy.”

Since home warranties are a consistent part of most real estate transactions in California, working with the right provider is critical to maintaining long-term client relationships. “Nine out of 10 buyers in the areas we service want a home warranty and write it into the purchase agreement that they would like for the seller to purchase one for them,” explains Potter. “Some companies have a maximum amount they will pay and some companies use contractors that are not the best for us. What makes First American home warranties unique is that they really have the most to offer of all the companies we have seen.”

Potter and his agents are not allowed to dictate which home warranty provider their clients use. However, in his experience, once the benefits are explained and clients do their own research, they usually choose First American.

“It’s really about making our clients happy and satisfied with the home-buying and home-selling process,” says Potter. “We’re not selling many brand new homes; the homes we sell range anywhere from seven to 50 years old and things do break down—that’s just part of living in a home. You want your clients to be assured that if something breaks down, they’re dealing with a company that provides great service.

Even if we’ve done a great job for a client, if they call the home warranty company and get poor service after the closing of escrow, it ruins the whole experience and reflects poorly on our firm and agents,” continues Potter. “It’s important to maintain that great quality of service and make sure it continues on even after our job is done. First American is great at communicating with clients and agents and they have some great contractors.”

Ultimately, home warranties are an important factor in generating repeat business for Pinnacle Real Estate. “Repeat business is an important part of what we do, and what we find sometimes is that you can do a great job and go through the entire process of getting a home sold, and all of a sudden, the new buyer calls because there’s a problem. If there isn’t a home warranty, they would be calling the seller and there would potentially be litigation involved. If there’s a home warranty with First American, I never worry about it because I have found over the years that they do an amazing job in terms of servicing the client and making that client happy. That’s all part of people coming back around and utilizing our services when they’re ready to move again in five to seven years.”

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