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“Having a team allows you to have a life,” says Judie Crockett of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. In the following interview, Crockett shares insight on building a successful team and thinking outside the box.

Judie_CrockettJudie Crockett
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services
Years in real estate: 36
Region served: Greater Cleveland, Ohio
Average time on market: 94 days

You were recently named the No. 1 real estate team in the state of Ohio by the Ohio Association of REALTORS® for the second year in a row. What does it take to get there?
We have a great team, and we have systems in place for everything. My husband is an engineer by trade so he implemented excellent, engineer-style systems. We have 12 REALTOR® partners who all list and sell. And this is key: We treat our people like gold. They are the most important people to us. We make sure they have their own autonomy. What that means is if, for instance, there is a delay in closing, whoever hears about the problem solves it. My husband and I have coached all around the country, and we have discovered that if you don’t delegate, you run into trouble.

We also have managers—a client care manager, even a success manager who is in charge of our social media and is on top of blogging and everything else that gets us to be No. 1 in any Google search. And we are always upbeat. It’s always the Ritz-Carlton treatment here. This all comes together to make us a very positive, dynamic company—so much so that we don’t have to recruit anymore. We attract new people who want to work for us automatically.

What is the single best advantage of having a team?
Having a team allows you to have a life. There is so much involved in real estate and the price of entry is so high today that you couldn’t compete with a team like us. We have economies of scale that make us virtually unbeatable.

What are the three basic steps to building a successful team?
You have to love the business, have a passion for it and work the trenches every day.

What qualities do you look for when hiring a new team member?
We prefer to hire agents who are new to the real estate business. I would rather hire someone with no experience to whom we can then teach our methods. That way there is no ego. Also, we look for young people who are not only people-people, but who know technology inside out.

How do you differentiate your team from others in the marketplace?
Through education. We take our people outside of the Cleveland area to teach them to think out of the box, to see what people are doing in other areas. Here’s a great example of incorporating what we learn from our peers in other areas: We heard that REALTORS® had moving vans they loaned to their clients, but no one in this area was doing that. So we bought two moving trucks that we lend to our clients and to charities. Today, our trucks are all over the area. We are also very consistent—consistently excellent in all phases of the transaction. We do team building as well and keep it fun for everyone involved.

How do you handle time management?
We have work orders for everything. If I want a picture taken or flowers sent out, instead of interrupting a manager, I put a work order in her in box. Then she does it as soon as she is free, timestamps it and puts it back in my in box.

What are your keys to succeeding in real estate?
Give all of your clients and friends help and hope—and always be positive.

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