Some people look at the housing market and think the sky is falling. But real estate agents Frank and Carol Menard see opportunity in uncertain times. Or, as the duo tell us, “After every crash there is a boom!” The industry veterans recently opened their own business, the Frank Menard Realty Group, in New Hampshire. Frank (pictured) took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about launching and operating a small realty group.
ISBB: What made you decide to open your own real estate agency at this point in time?
Menard: The economy being what it is, like most people we took a close look at our bottom line and found that working for a large franchise was very costly. An analysis of where our business comes from revealed that we were paying 42 cents on the dollar for a brand name. Yet we could only attribute 1 percent of our business to being connected to the brand.
As the owner of a small business, how does your day-to-day life differ from when you worked for a large organization?
Frankly, there is very little difference. Real estate is a relationship business; not much time is spent in the office. We typically do marketing and administrative work in the mornings from our home office. The afternoons are spent showing properties and networking. It’s the same routine we would follow if we were based out of a franchise office.
What advantages do small real estate agencies have over the big guys?
Personal attention and accessibility is paramount. Got a problem with my service? Well, you are speaking with the owner, problem solved. That being said, with today’s technology there’s not much a big company can do that a small company can’t duplicate. By virtue of our size, we are more nimble and quick to respond to our clients’ needs.
Does your experience in the industry help your new business in any way?
Being veterans is a huge advantage. Most of our business — 90 percent — comes from our database of relationships with prior clients and business associates. We are not competing with the big-box companies. We are providing hometown service for our community. We could not make this venture work without those relationships.
What, if any, special steps are you taking to get your new business’ name out there?
We use a mix of techniques and media to be recognized in our community. Old-school techniques (such as newspaper, direct mail, and personal networking) are blended with more cost-effective methods (such as websites and social networking via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter). Reputation helps, but you have to maintain a visible presence.
Do you use metrics or data tracking in your business?
Tracking is vital. I try to keep to the basics. Identifying the activities that produce the best results is imperative — and once you identify the activities, do them consistently. This is a 90-day business: What you do today will pay you back with a closed transaction in three months.
Can you offer any advice to people who want to strike out on their own in the real estate business?
Don’t be afraid. We talked about this for several years before making the move. Make sure you have enough resources (money) to take you through the lean times. Keep your expenses down without sacrificing services to your clients. Most importantly, have a plan and a strategy by which to implement it. Learn the ropes, build solid relationships, then take the step on your own if you want.