In 1973 Harold Crye “wandered” into real estate fresh out of the U.S. Army and discovered he had a passion for the business. He worked for a real estate brokerage for four years before co-founding his own company with Dick Leike in 1977. He was 31.
Today, Crye-Leike, Realtors has 3,200 agents and 113 offices in nine states: Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma. The company continues to grow: last month, it expanded into the Knoxville, Tenn., market.
Crye-Leike is the sixth largest brokerage company in the country by closed transaction sides, according to the latest Real Trends rankings. The company is a member of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World.
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What agents look for in a brokerage is leadership, stability, and the tools to be successful, he said, adding that part of that is in helping them devise a business plan – but not dictating it.
Agents don’t usually have a business plan when they come into Crye-Leike, he said, and therefore, the brokerage provides a business coach.
One of the brokerage’s biggest challenges is keeping agents up to speed on technology, which has changed dramatically in the nearly four decades Crye has been in the industry.
The brokerage offers an internal designation – Social Networking Professional – that has been spurring agents to take on social media marketing. To get the designation, agents must complete an in-house social networking course and garner a significant number of followers on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
The brokerage has also tried to tackle what Crye said is an industrywide issue brought on by tech changes: timely online customer service.
Instead of calling agents on the phone, customers now “send us emails and find we’re not responding to those emails in an expeditious fashion. As low as 30 percent of those emails are being responded to in a four- or five-hour period. If you’re not responding in that period they’re probably off to the races with somebody else,” Crye said.
In response, the company has developed a department where full-time employees respond to online inquiries quickly and pass the contacts on to agents.
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