Scott MacDonald launched Northern Virginia’s RE/MAX Gateway in 2001. The company has since become the third-largest RE/MAX agency in the Central Atlantic Region. MacDonald recently announced a major change, becoming sole owner and chief inspiration officer of the company dear to his heart. In this exclusive interview, he shares his strategies for taking the business forward.
Barbara Pronin: What prompted the decision to acquire full ownership of the company?
Scott MacDonald: My long-time partners, Brett Billington and Jason Smith, have been major forces in making RE/MAX Gateway the success it is today—particularly as savvy and strategic leaders of our most successful real estate sales teams. When Brett and Jason decided they wanted to focus full-time on client service and leading their teams, it felt like the right time to buy them out and take on the role of sole owner. They’ve been great in helping to make the transition, which has so far been very smooth and well-received by the agents.
BP: Describe the company’s positioning in your marketplace.
SM: We are the third-largest RE/MAX agency in the Central Atlantic Region in terms of sales volume and number of transactions. We have five offices and more than 180 agents serving buyers and sellers in Alexandria, Arlington, Chantilly, Loudoun, Gainesville and Lorton. We’re a full-service company offering residential and commercial properties, as well as property management services, and our e-Concierge service partners provide mortgages, home inspection and home warranty services, and more.
BP: What would you say is your competitive differentiation?
SM: We have a respected brand that people know they can rely on, with a global presence in more than 90 countries. But also, our agents have earned a reputation for being professional, well-trained and well-prepared, with superior knowledge of the local market and a deep commitment to doing the best job possible for every client.
BP: How do you ensure that RE/MAX Gateway evolves as the times dictate?
SM: By staying closely in tune with industry trends and how they may apply to our markets—and by bringing a lot of real-world knowledge and experience back from the national conferences I attend. There’s nothing I like more than masterminding with industry leaders—especially other RE/MAX leaders—and bringing all that great information and innovation back here to our agents.
BP: Describe your current market conditions.
SM: The local job market is picking up steam, and prices have pretty much stabilized, so we are experiencing some pent-up demand. Unlike some other areas of the country, we are not having to deal with tight inventory. Homes that are fairly priced and in good condition are selling quickly—some in as little as two weeks. Buyers have so much inventory to choose from right now, they have become increasingly discriminating.
BP: How are your agents meeting these diverse consumer expectations?
SM: By working individually with sellers to help them understand what’s happening in this highly competitive marketplace. We hit the data points, show them statistics and blog about the current market. Good communication and customized service are key with both buyers and sellers.
BP: How does the company keep its salesforce equipped to succeed?
SM: We’ve always been training-focused because we want to be certain our agents are the most knowledgeable in the industry. We schedule a weekly session in every office to get everyone up to speed, and we make sure we get applicable input, whether from the lender and title perspective or from another facet of the business. In terms of agent development, we are proud of our Broker Success Kit, which is geared specifically toward the kind of business planning that builds and encourages success.
BP: How are you retaining your top producers?
SM: Our company culture is such that nobody wants to go elsewhere. We have a positive, upbeat vibe going for us, and every agent brings something of value to the table. We also take every opportunity to recognize and celebrate achievement. The fact is, when you’re glad to come to work each day, nobody thinks about leaving.
BP: What do you believe are your best strategies for attracting and informing consumers?
SM: We still do some direct mail and video emails. And we have a great presence on social media. We also have a fairly high profile in the communities we serve because of all our charitable efforts. We sponsor golf tournaments, a 10K run, a breakfast with Santa, and other special events that raise funds for children’s healthcare. We are big supporters of Smashing Walnuts—an organization devoted to cracking the cure for children’s brain cancer—and I recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in support of the Children’s Miracle Network and The Last Well.
BP: And finally, Scott, what are your plans going forward?
SM: Some people might say they are going to Disneyland. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Then it was back to business, and we have a pretty aggressive growth plan in mind. We are looking to grow both organically and by recruiting the right people. We are also open to mergers and acquisitions that align with our philosophy and culture. Positive energy goes a long way—and we’ve got a lot of that.
For more information, visit www.gateway2realestate.com.