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In business, going with the flow isn’t always the best option. Read on to learn how Ray Williamson and Jamie Dawson of ERA Dream Living Realty remain cutting edge.

Ray_WilliamsonYears in real estate: Ray, 12; Jamie, 14
Region served: Raleigh, N.C. Triangle area

According to ERA Corporate, you have created one of the most cutting-edge offices in the franchise. What are the key elements?
Jamie Dawson:
We created this office to get outside of what other offices in the area are doing. We moved away from the traditional model of in-office competition between agents. Here, we collaborate, work with one another and learn from one another. When you walk into the office, the first thing you notice is how open it is. You see a big, open lobby and then a big training room all done in glass. Jamie_DawsonThis way, an agent sitting at his or her desk is looking across at his or her neighbor, providing the opportunity to talk about their needs and work together. One of the many benefits of this collaborative work plan is that we do a lot of sales off-market.

How do you recruit?
Ray Williamson:
We are pretty selective about who works with us, and we are driven by productivity. Our office has the highest productivity per agent of any office in the Research Triangle. Agents are not ridiculed for asking questions, but rather, encouraged to ask. As a result, our current agents are our best cheerleaders. Most of our new agents come from having had relationships with present agents. Working here is very rewarding in all ways because we cater to our agents.

JD: If our agents have complaints, we listen. We also have a mentoring program in order to help agents with their mindset. We know how to talk to people in a non-threatening way, and most of all, we try to help agents be their best. This may mean letting them know that they don’t have to do anything they’re uncomfortable with.

How do you attract millennials to join your firm and the real estate business in general?
It’s the work environment and the way we are structured. The open atmosphere and the spirit of working together is more of a millennial mindset. It is more group-think. Everybody has input.
RW: That goes for work and play as an office. We gave up on the traditional Christmas party years ago. For the last five years, we have rented a big house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We provide food and drinks, and we play games and music and just have a great time together outside of the office.

If you had to point to the one thing agents love you for, what would it be?
The ability to problem-solve together as a team. Everyone in this office is willing to help co-workers. We are problem solvers.
RW: We also provide an amazing place to work. We empower our agents to build their own business, and to be very productive. We give them the tools they need, like in-house marketing. Agents also love the fact that we give them their own MacBooks. We also have a really nice lounge where they can re-group, a fully stocked refrigerator and even a ping pong table.

What do you consider to be your biggest challenge?
As an operator, that would have to be the changing real estate market, and making sure we’re in the right areas. Every two to three months our marketing plans change. Also, we’re not afraid to swim against the tide. When we saw the market imploding during the downturn, we went after REOs when REOs weren’t cool. As a result, we were able to create business for our agents by having company business. This allowed us to turn adversity into opportunity.

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