There are many key factors to running a profitable real estate firm. In the following interview, Jim Bray, Broker/Partner with Cutler Real Estate, a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® in Canton, Ohio, gives us the rundown on how he has spent the last 48 years winning in real estate.
Region served: Northeast Ohio, Columbus and Cincinnati
Years in real estate: 48
Number of offices: 22
Number of agents: 360
Who has most influenced your success?
Al Cutler, the founder of our company, had a great impact on my professional success. I’ve been in the business 48 years, and I never left this company. Al was the person I shadowed and the one who taught me the things I needed to do to grow my career. I sold real estate for a number of years before becoming a partner in 1980, along with Al’s son, Jay Cutler, and later, Jim Camp. Today, we are equal partners—and our different styles and expertise are very complimentary.
Best source of industry/local market news:
We find great value in Steve Harney’s Keeping Current Matters—all of our people use it faithfully.
Favorite relationship-building strategy:
This business is still about people, and I was taught from the beginning that nothing really begins until you meet someone face to face. I have taken this approach throughout my career, even as we’ve become more technical and fully engaged in social media. One of the things I coach people on is the importance of seeing people face to face and knowing them on a higher level. I remind them to “call, send and see.” You have to do it all. I’m sometimes surprised by the hesitation people have these days to pick up the phone.
What are some of the current trends you see in your market right now?
We serve three very distinct markets. Northeast Ohio was hit harder by the recession and is generally a slower growth area. Columbus is vibrant and growing. As the state capital and the home of Ohio State, it continued to thrive even as the economy struggled, and we are seeing a lot of new jobs and new development there. The market in Southwest Ohio falls somewhere in between.
How does your company make its agents’ jobs easier?
We arm them with tools they can deliver that provide unique value to consumers. But it goes beyond just providing the tools. In the past, people would come to us with an idea, and we would think, “If we get just one more deal, it would pay for itself.” Then, we would throw it up against the wall and hope it would stick. Of course, that’s not enough; we have to show people not only how to use the tool, but also how it benefits consumers.
What is your favorite time-saving tool that you use on a weekly basis?
The biggest challenge for most of us is how to eliminate our time wasters. I try to avoid letting things linger on my desk and decide on the appropriate course of action as soon as something comes my way.
What is the most significant trend positively affecting your business right now?
We have youth in our management team. Our general manager Andy Camp is 40 years old and brings a fresh approach and a great energy. He is our road warrior and is actively engaged in our offices across the state. It’s great to know we have someone in the organization who can sit back, figure out what’s next and keep us moving on the right track. The tools we have implemented—like Leading RE’s Institute, DotLoop and the complete Delta Media Group system—have kept us on the cutting edge, while our use of CompensationMaster has helped us operate a lean, profitable real estate company.
When it comes to recruiting and retention, what are your best strategies in this area?
Our best recruiting and retention strategies relate to the online tools and overall support we provide; if they leave us, they go backward. Our managers do a great job of telling that story—what it’s like to be a part of our company and our family culture—which entices people to join us and stay with us.
How do you see your market evolving throughout the next year?
I’m pretty excited about 2015. It’s a great climate for business, and I don’t see any storm clouds. For all of us in the industry, it’s a year for us to buckle down and take advantage of the many opportunities that exist for growth.
For more information, visit http://www.cutlerhomes.com.