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Vitals: Phyllis Browning Company
Years in Business: 29.5
Size: 4 offices, approximately 200 agents
Regions Served: South and Central Texas, including the areas surrounding San Antonio, Boerne and New Braunfels
2017 Sales Volume: Approximately $750 million
2017 Transaction Volume: 1,668 units

With 25 years of experience selling real estate, Jennifer B. Shemwell, president of San Antonio, Texas-based Phyllis Browning Company, has long loved meeting new people and making connections for them. Known for selling luxury homes in the area, she has successfully and strategically marketed some of the top addresses, most prestigious properties and elite estates throughout the area.

How did your market fare in 2018?
Jennifer Shemwell: Our 2018 market was strong and full of optimism. We’re still operating in a seller’s market with a slight shortage in inventory.

What is your growth strategy for the next 12 months?
JS: We’re always growing. I’ve always believed that if we don’t keep growing, we’ll go backwards. We’re in the midst of adding agents, as well as launching a commercial division and expanding our land and ranch sales. Over the last 18 months, we’ve relocated each of our offices to new spaces, which is very exciting.

What most sets your firm apart in the marketplace?
JS: We’re cutting-edge in marketing and often the first to launch new trends. We also offer highly personalized service to our clients.

What are the biggest challenges you’re currently facing?
JS: I think training new agents is always challenging. Today’s real estate agents need to know so much. They must be much more sophisticated and skilled than was necessary when I started in the business 25 years ago.

How are you preparing your salesforce to meet the expectations of today’s consumer, especially first-time homebuyers and millennials?
JS: I travel a lot, and I think it helps keep me open to new ideas. I don’t believe we know it all, and I believe in watching the next generation and taking note of how they make decisions. They will be the market in the future. When I see something that I believe is a new trend, I talk about it in the office and incorporate it into our training.

How are you updating your technology and training to provide the resources agents need to succeed?
JS: We’re constantly updating our technology. We just switched to a new cloud-based transaction management system that not only stores documents that belong to a transaction, but also related text messages and emails so that nothing gets lost in recording the transaction. We also provide our agents the latest in customer relationship management systems, and train them to use these systems to build their businesses.

How are you attracting new agents to your firm and retaining top producers?
JS: This is done mostly by word of mouth. New people come to our firm because they have a friend who recommended us to them, or they know of our reputation. This is the best type of feedback, as we know we’re serving our agents when they recommend us to friends. We make service to our top producers (and all agents) our highest priority. Our agents know that we value them, and we’re always willing to do whatever it takes to help them increase their business. We also believe in building culture through regular office meetings and social and business parties throughout the year.

What do you look for in someone new coming into the company?
JS: I look for someone who is goal-oriented, driven and motivated. It takes a certain amount of personal discipline and sheer will to make it. I also look for individuals who truly love people, communicate well and will treat clients ethically.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.