by Rick Reardon, ERA Reardon Realty

As a real estate broker, my agents are my clients. This has been my driving philosophy from day one, when I took over the business from my dad in 2000.

Back then, we were a small but reputable firm in Jackson, Michigan, doing about $13 million in sales volume annually. After assuming the helm, I set a wild goal: to become the No. 1 firm in our marketplace, which involved moving up 17 places!

Fast forward 16 years and that goal has been achieved: in 2015 we did $133 million in sales volume.  And I can attribute that success to one word: service.

It breaks down like this: I serve my agents so they can serve their clients.  A collective culture of collaboration grounded in a commitment to service distinguishes our company from our competitors and contributes to an almost zero attrition rate. We consistently maintain a near perfect customer satisfaction rate. We read customer reviews out loud at sales meetings which not only provides a high degree of transparency but creates a standard to which all team members aspire.

I view my job as making my agents’ jobs as easy as possible. We have a marketing director/trainer who works with agents on a daily basis to help them improve their business. We help agents establish teams so they can move their business to the next level.  We implemented a new leads management system that is informed by the ZIP codes and price points where our agents want to be doing business.

Because we work collaboratively, we are able to handle both sides of a deal for about a third of our listings. Our agent productivity is well above the national average at 16 deals a year, and our focus on business planning has resulted in a 30 percent increase in production year over year.

Our growth has been consistent and sustained which is why I’m especially proud that in the last five years we’ve earned three nominations as top all-around company in the ERA system.

We’re also open to zigging when others zag. We recently partnered with a local coffee house franchise to open a co-branded real estate office and café. It’s is a new area of town for us, providing access to a new clientele, but it’s also a low-pressure way to provide insights and assistance to potential clients.

A commitment to service above all else also extends to our support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, ERA Real Estate’s philanthropic partner. We’ve raised over $100,000 in the last 10 years by hosting a beer and wine tasting that has become the community’s must-attend event.

Make no mistake: I wanted to be No. 1 in my market. But my No. 1 goal was to be the best real estate company we could be; my No. 2 goal was to be No. 1.

We focused on being the best first, and everything followed suit.