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kit_haleIn the following interview, Kit Hale, principal broker and managing partner of MKB, REALTORS®, a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, in Roanoke, Va., discusses coaching, educating and training agents.

Region Served: Southwest Virginia
Years in Real Estate: 25
Number of Offices: 2, with a third opening soon
Number of Agents: 130
Best Time-Saving Trick: While it may sound cliché, technology helps us get so much more done by allowing us to work where and when needed. Having all devices synched up and being able to access necessary documents anywhere can be a real time-saver. Whether it’s using Keynote to prepare for a company presentation or working on a spreadsheet for my partners to review, having real-time access to resources and shared files is essential.

What would you say is the key to staying profitable?
I see three keys to staying profitable: recruit, retain and serve. We have grown over the years through attraction, rather than promotion. We attract top talent by positioning our firm as an independent company with a long history of serving the community. Then, we focus on retention through our services, providing our associates with robust education, marketing, coaching and risk management. We serve our associates so they’re armed to serve the real estate consumer, recognizing that our profits and success come from the real estate activities of our associates.

What are the current market conditions in your area, and how have your agents had to adapt to meet them?
In Southwest Virginia, we have not yet gotten into the frenzied seller’s market that many areas recently experienced. Currently, our absorption rate is around 7.5 months, down from 10 months earlier this year. This is a shift away from the buyer’s market we have had since 2008, which topped out in 2011 at 16 months’ worth of inventory. With this recent history, many of our people have never worked in a balanced market, so we are training them how to behave in this type of market, where a buyer’s expectations are not always met with a seller’s anxiety.

What is the most significant trend positively affecting your business today?
We are experiencing robust economic development, with several key employers moving into the area, including an auto parts manufacturer and a brewery. After having some large employers pull out of the area for various business reasons, this new activity, along with the healthy real estate market, is driving energy and growth in the area.

How are you preparing your agents for the future?
We will continue to coach them on working in a balanced market, emphasizing the importance of listening to the consumer, managing expectations of both buyers and sellers, and working toward the common goal of a successful transaction.

What are two fundamentals you feel are essential to your company’s continued success?
Keeping our associates informed and remaining focused on serving them. Through my involvement in local, state and national REALTOR® organizations, as well as local economic development groups, I gain insights I then share with our agents to help them remain market experts. And, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of our service-oriented management approach. Our associates know the value of the back office support and the advocacy we provide, and this translates into responsive, expert service for our homebuyers and sellers.

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