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Michael Cole
Broker/Owner
Realty ONE Group Dockside
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
www.docksiderealtycompany.com

Region served: The coastline of South Carolina and the outskirts of Myrtle Beach
Years in real estate: First licensed in 1994
Years with Realty ONE Group Dockside: My wife Tammi and I opened Dockside Realty in 2007. We partnered with Realty ONE Group Dockside in 2017.
Number of offices: 3
Number of agents: 365 and growing
Strategy for staying motivated and positive: My wife and I usually get away each weekend to a lake house to refresh and reboot. About once per month, we will spend a weekend as a “planning session” where we map out plans and classes for our agents. This always gets me excited to announce a new program or activity.

Most important lesson learned as a broker: Don’t only focus on business. We offer many activities outside of real estate for our agents—monthly yoga classes, financial peace classes, cookouts, annual cook-offs, and more. We use many of these events as fundraisers for a non-profit that we started about 18 months ago to do work in the community.

How would you describe current market conditions? What are the effects of COVID-19 in your area?
Our market had one month that was slow—April. Other than that, it has continued to defy convention and remain a very strong seller’s market with multiple offers on many properties as soon as they are placed on the market.

How have you adjusted business practices/operations to keep business going during the pandemic?
During the height of the pandemic, we sent our staff home and would have them come in at night in order to process commission checks and earnest money checks. All other work was done remotely. Our classes and training switched to online classes and meetings rather than in person.

How have you innovated to address current consumer concerns and build relationships?
Agents began to focus more on remote showings, using video, 360-degree tours, Matterport and even Facebook Live in order to show properties. Many of our clients are out of town, so this worked well.

What is your most important strategy in terms of recruiting and retention?
This one is pretty simple. For recruiting, get on the phone and invite agents to sit down and chat casually; get the opportunity to tell your story and explain why your brokerage is a good fit for them. For retention, I always keep in the back of my mind, “What would I want in a brokerage if I were an agent here?” Having been an agent for about 15 years before opening our brokerage, I always think like an agent. I also think about it like a marriage: Treat that agent (or spouse) better than anyone else, or someone else will!

How has being part of the Realty ONE Group organization helped you navigate these challenging times?
Realty ONE Group has been amazing. Without having joined them a few years ago, I wouldn’t have had any guidance on what to expect or which direction to go in the midst of this pandemic. They provided daily Zoom meetings for months as we worked through this thing together. In addition, they have weekly mastermind sessions with some of the most amazing brokers/owners/recruiters in the nation where we can share ideas on what works and what doesn’t. Without Realty ONE Group, we would be just another brokerage in a sea of brokerages in our market (over 400 of them just in our small market). Instead, we are the largest brokerage of any other firm by double.

What’s your best advice to fellow brokers for leading during a crisis?
Be empathetic. Just because an issue doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect others. Masks and quarantining for example—while some may think it’s a waste of time or an infringement on their freedoms, others are worried and terrified for their health. Be empathetic and understand that each opinion or viewpoint is valid. Finally, to be a leader means to lead. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, but you’ll be respected and will respect yourself for making them.

For more information, please visit
www.realtyonegroup.com.

Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to maria@rismedia.com.

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