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Vitals: ERA Justin Realty Co.
Years in business: 60
Size: 1 office, 2 kiosk locations and 40 agents
Regions served: New Jersey: Bergen, Essex, Passaic and Hudson Counties as main markets; Ocean and Monmouth Counties as secondary markets
2019 transactions: 246 units, 236 rentals
2019 sales volume: $100 million

Jumping into the business upon graduating from college, Jennifer Darby Metzger is celebrating her 25th year in the real estate industry. Today, she serves as broker/owner of ERA Justin Realty Co. in Rutherford, N.J. A second-generation real estate professional, Metzger has become a go-to broker in the state and has achieved some of the top state-wide industry awards.

Metzger also serves on the ERA National Advisory Council (NAC), providing strategic input and advice about emerging trends and challenges in the real estate industry.

How do you stay on top of trends and innovations?
Jennifer Darby Metzger:
I am constantly focused on staying on top of the trends and innovations in real estate. I think this is one of the biggest assets a broker can provide to their agents. Reading industry news, talking with other thought leaders in real estate, attending conferences and educational sessions, brainstorming, and taking cues from other industries outside of real estate keep me aware and engaged. Also, it’s equally important to communicate what’s happening to my agents consistently. This helps keep them “in the know” and feeling confident when working with their customers and clients. It’s a value-add for being a part of our team.

Are there any market segments/niches you’ve recently expanded into, or are considering expanding into?
Any expansion at this point needs to be smart expansion that is both strategic and organic. My goal is to have one main corporate hub with expansion markets via kiosk-style offices. Connecting with good agents in those marketplaces is key to success. I am not interested in large overhead in new markets. You have to remain agile so you can pivot quickly if need be. Adding niche streams, such as the 55-and-older market, holds great possibility for expansion. Relationships with elder-law attorneys and 55-and-over complexes that offer special amenities provide agents a path to specialize in a niche market.

What are some new technologies you’ve implemented, and how are they helping agents and consumers?
I watch the disruptive models so that we can evolve accordingly, therefore, I’ve been keeping an eye on the iBuyer market and tech-enabled companies to see if they are expanding. We have e-lead programs and many unique brokerage offerings; however, most of our tech is not necessarily the “new shiny object.” I feel that running to implement those technologies can sometimes cause more harm than good in a business that has mixed levels of adoption. Our best use of technology is slow and steady, focusing on smart tech that can help build relationships to drive our business. Virtual technology is a must. Having a high level of adoption is key, and your best tech tool is one that you will actually use, consistently, and form habits around using.

What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in the business?
The biggest mistake I’ve made may have been when I purchased 50 percent of my current company at an early age. In the evaluation process, I did not deduct my own production. At the time, I was the top producer. When you are young and eager, you don’t stop to think about the fact that it may not be a quick turnaround in terms of being in a profitable business. It can sometimes take 3 – 6 years before you make your mark and realize you’re going to be a successful broker. It’s a high-risk business, but there’s a tremendous upside if you put forth the hard work.

What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business in 2020?
I think the biggest opportunity to increase business is through improving per-person productivity by implementing great business tools and having the right people in the right seats. Leadership in a company is key to increasing business. Recruiting in 2020 is a huge opportunity. Finding focused, talented and driven entrepreneurial-spirited individuals who are eager to share their knowledge, insights and strategies will be the right fit for our team.

Keith Loria is a contributing writer to