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All the Pieces of the Puzzle in Place for Expansion

JP Piccinini, Chairman & Founder, JP & Associates REALTORS® (JPAR)

For the founder and executive team of JP & Associates REALTORS® (JPAR), the formula for astounding growth is as simple as the concept at its core: exceeding expectations in terms of productivity and service, for both the franchisees who embrace the model and the agents who thrive under its nurturing and generous umbrella.

“I built this brokerage with the objective of providing everything a top producer would want or need,” says JP Piccinini, a former top producer himself and an entrepreneur with a penchant for excellence.

The formula is clearly working, as the full-service company he launched in the Dallas-Fort Worth market just seven years ago with less than five agents has become the largest independently-owned company in North Texas, with more than 1,500 agents in 20 offices and over $2.5 billion in current sales. With over a dozen franchises sold already in its first three months, Piccinini and his top aides—COO Mark Johnson of JPAR Brokerage, CEO Frank Gay and VP of National Development Howard Ashkinos of JPAR Franchising—share their strategies and the plans for expansion at the top of their busy agenda.

Barbara Pronin: Clearly, the company’s growth has been astounding, JP. What’s driving this impressive dynamic?
JP Piccinini: The business model we have built, which offers a 100-percent commission plan to agents and a full complement of back-office support to franchisees, continues to attract the best and brightest in Texas and surrounding states. We have high productivity standards and a service-based culture that quite simply invites success, and that’s an opportunity we now intend to offer to real estate practitioners in all 50 states.

Frank Gay: You might say we’re open for business in a big way these days, poised to offer the same kind of explosive growth opportunity we’ve experienced here in Texas to prospective franchisees everywhere across the USA, beginning with a strategic focus on the Southeast, before setting our sights on the Northeast and California.

(L to R) Piccinini; Frank Gay, CEO, JPAR Franchising; and Mark Johnson, COO, JPAR Brokerage

BP: Can you expand a bit on what sets your firm and your business model apart in terms of agents, franchisees and consumers?
Howard Ashkinos: It’s very simple. For agents, we offer a 100-percent commission plan with a small transaction fee, plus unparalleled training and a mentorship program for new agents. We also provide the latest in real estate technology, marketing and management systems to help them grow and retain their business. For franchisees, we do most of the heavy lifting, providing a full suite of back-office services ranging from accounting and compliance to the technical platform, transaction coordination, and more, to simplify day-to-day operations, allowing owners to do what they do best: recruit great agents and support them.

Mark Johnson: As a result of all this, consumers are getting a committed and experienced class of agents who subscribe to a very high standard of ethics and who have proven to do more transactions. Again, the hallmark of this company is productivity and service—for everyone.

BP: Can you describe your firm’s culture and leadership philosophy?
FG: Our culture comes from our core values. In an industry known for its high turnover, JPAR has one of the highest retention rates in the industry. Over 90 percent of our agents stay and thrive here. That’s because we hire only dedicated, full-time agents who are accountable for closing at least six transactions a year. We place a high value on training, education and coaching, and we have a strong culture of exceeding customer expectations. We also believe in the value of mentorship and conviviality. We tend to have a lot of fun along the way to excellence. In fact, the Dallas Morning News named us one of the region’s Top 100 Places to Work.

MJ: By the same token, our leadership ethic is very much one of servant leaders. We want franchisees who are experts in their markets. Our leaders and staff are here to serve the needs of our agents and to help them find new and better ways to create both a successful business and a more fulfilling life.

BP: What’s your approach to training and coaching?
MJ: We offer a core base of training and productivity schools, including a unique four-session “real estate playbook,” as well as paid upgrades for team and one-on-one coaching. We produce over 100 classes a month, both virtual and on-site, and we have a cadre of 45 mentors whose sole purpose is to guide new agents through their first three transactions. We also have specially trained and experienced mentors in each of our specialty sales divisions, which include luxury homes, commercial properties and farms and ranches.

JP: We believe that great agents are made, not born, and so training and coaching are a vital and integral part of our brokerage model—and the systems we’ve devised for them are provided to our franchisees free of charge.

BP: What are some of your most innovative marketing strategies, and how are they helping you connect with consumers?
FG: We provide a number of innovative marketing and lead generation strategies, including a new buy-side approach designed specifically to capture more listings. But essentially, we believe that great agents market themselves, and so we’re agent-forward rather than brand-forward. Since our agents keep a higher percentage of their commissions, we put a lot of resources into showing them how they can invest some of those extra dollars in creative ways that increase marketshare and position them as the go-to agents in their markets.

The executive team at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo (L to R): Johnson; Keisha York, Managing Broker/Texas; Piccinini; Gay; and Howard Ashkinos, VP of National Development

BP: What role does technology play in your agents’ success? How do you stay ahead of the curve?
HA: Technology is ever-changing, and while we believe relationships are what matter most in our culture and in our industry, we leverage technology to make things easier, quicker and more efficient for agents and brokers. We’ve developed our trademarked B.O.S.S.S. platform—short for Broker One Stop Shop System—a platform that brings all our best-in-class tools and resources together in a single hub, so that our agents can truly be all things to all customers in a way that cultivates long-term loyalty. As a result, especially when technology is combined with the mentorship/training we provide, experience shows that our agents can grow to be up to four times more productive than the average non-mentored agent.

JP: Our objective from the beginning was to provide everything an agent wants and needs, and we continue to adhere to that policy. If a new technology proves to be an indispensable business booster, it’ll become part of our repertory.

BP: How would you describe the current state of the market? What do you see as your greatest challenges and opportunities?
FG: We’re very bullish on 2019 and 2020. Even though interest rates are slowly rising and existing-home sales have slumped over the past year, we believe more and more agents will begin to question their archaic broker’s model and the value versus reward that it provides. We’ve flourished over the last several years in this booming real estate economy, and we believe that real growth will continue to happen for JPAR no matter the state of the economy.

MJ: Finding ways to create affordable housing is both a challenge and an opportunity industry-wide, but we believe our innovative strategies for agents and consumers will not only work to the benefit of consumers, but will continue to fuel the growth of our agents’ businesses and, by extension, the growth of our company.

ODASI App Launch Party (Proprietary technology founded by JPAR)

BP: What value do you place on community outreach?
JP: Everything comes back to our core values: productivity and service. As our productivity grows, we celebrate our success by helping to strengthen others in our communities. We donated over a quarter million dollars last year to a host of charitable beneficiaries, most notably the Better Futures Foundation, which takes in underprivileged youths and helps them turn their lives around. The foundation believes, as we do, in giving not a handout, but a hand up.

BP: What’s on deck for the future of the firm?
MJ: Sustained growth going forward, and increasing our influence in the industry throughout the country.

HA: To that end, we’re looking for successful brokers who are ready to grow and will be taking on more franchisees, in addition to taking our proprietary framework for success into markets that are ripe for opportunity in all 50 states.

JP: We trademarked the term “exceeding expectations” for those who seek higher standards. That includes new franchisees who want growth opportunity, professional agents seeking the best place to work, and consumers who want service beyond the norm. Our goal is to build a company so valuable for our REALTORS® that the value it brings to their business will be priceless. 

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Barbara Pronin is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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