Broker/Owner, CENTURY 21 1st Class Homes
Region served: Northwest suburbs of Chicago
Years in real estate: 36
Number of offices: 1
Number of agents: 55
Motto/work philosophy that you live by: If you want something, work for it. You can be anything you want to be.
Lesley Grand: What is it about Century 21 Real Estate that attracted you to the brand?
Carol Mellander: First, the CENTURY 21® brand is the most recognized and respected name in real estate. I could be affiliated with anyone, but when you couple the brand’s global presence with the tools they offer, the franchise is second to none. The ongoing training we have access to makes it unbeatable.
LG: Please describe your management style.
CM: I’m here for my agents each and every day. And because I worked as an agent for a long time prior to becoming an owner, I identify with the agents, understand their needs and encourage them to talk freely. My concentration is on the agents, so I work hard to make sure they have anything and everything they could ever use, from drone videos to PowerPoint presentations. Real estate is a relationship business, and while it may be a bit old school, I think it’s important that I meet face-to-face with my agents and that my agents meet face-to-face with their clients. I know my stuff, and I take the time to listen. This company is my family.
LG: The culture within your offices is said to be extraordinary. How have you achieved this type of office culture?
CM: I think the greatest part is that we’re one big team. And we all get along. Many of the agents have been here for 20 years or more, and seven different languages are spoken within the office. In addition, we’ve created an atmosphere where everyone is treated the same. We also have a good division of experienced agents and younger people who are very techie. That being said, we’re all very compatible.
LG: What is your best advice for hiring and retaining the best agents?
CM: When it comes to hiring, I sit with possible new hires and talk to them for as long as it takes. To be a good REALTOR®, they have to be able to communicate. Not everybody can be a salesperson, but by taking the time to talk to them, I get a good sense as to how interested they are, and how they might fit in at the company. We offer ongoing training and education, which is so important as far as retention. Technology is constantly changing, so we have to keep agents up to the moment with what’s what. We also train on everything from how to list property to the nuts and bolts of writing a contract. Looking beyond the mechanics, everyone loves the culture here at CENTURY 21 1st Class Homes. We’re all equal, and no one is above anyone else. And if anyone needs help, I’m always available.
LG: In what ways do you give back to the community in which you work?
CM: We give back to the community by working with a local food pantry and participating in apple pie giveaways. It doesn’t matter who you are. Our only question is, “Where is your heart and head and soul?”
For more information, please visit www.century21.com.
Lesley Grand is a contributing editor to RISMedia.