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In the following interview, Paul Ekstrom, broker/owner of Realty ONE Group Choice in Andover, Minn., discusses affiliating with the brand, generating leads, and more.

Region Served: Andover and Northeast, Minn.
Years in Real Estate: 12
Number of Offices: 2
Number of Agents: 70

What makes Realty ONE Group the best fit for you?
I was with Keller Williams for 12 years, and while I learned a lot during my time there as both an agent and team member, when I wanted to expand my business, I needed a brokerage to help me take my business to the next level. It was right then that I was approached by Realty ONE Group. In addition to the platform they have that combines superior technology, websites and marketing, I was truly impressed with the people. Real estate is a people business, and Realty ONE Group is all about the people. We have an unbelievable relationship, and they treat me like I’m the most important person in the world.

How do you stay ahead of the competition?
On the brokerage level, we’ve done it organically. I’m very well respected in the industry, and our agents tell other agents who they believe will fit in well here. We haven’t done an aggressive marketing campaign because our doors aren’t open to everyone. I believe that if I bring in even one bad egg, it’ll take us down and keep us from growing. So, we grow the right way. And while we may not be growing as fast as we could, doing it the right way allows us to bring in solid producers.

What is your best advice for new agents?
If you aren’t committed to lead generation, you’re in the wrong business. The technology is there, so we have to use it. Also, we’re the leaders in video production, so my advice is to learn to put out excellent videos, which can also be used to generate leads. Videos personalize the business like nothing else we have today in tech terms.

In what ways do you go the extra mile for your agents?
We’re kind of crazy in Minnesota. In fact, we cut holes in the ice and jump in. Last year, I convinced 25 agents to jump in with me and we raised $4,830 for childhood cancer with our Polar Plunge. I would never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do with them.

What would you say is the key to your success in real estate?
Lead generation. It’s always lead generation—and, of course, never being satisfied with the status quo. We always strive for constant improvement.

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Lesley Grand is a contributing editor to RISMedia.