We interview Dr. Stefano Calafà today, the founder of Via dei Colli real estate agency, which in January 2014 joined the Great Estate Group’s project network.
Dr. Calafà, can you describe this year’s partnership with the Great Estate Group’s project in just a few words?
The year was certainly very positive, well beyond expectations; a great increase both in terms of turnover and the number of sales. This was mainly due to the increase in buyers’ enquiries and sale agreements generated by the Great Estate Group’s network. About 70% of the total turnover originated from buyers/sellers where the buyer or seller was procured through the Great Estate Group. 5 sales in total were successfully completed thanks to the Great Estate Group.
With the Great Estate Group, thanks to its considerable advertising investment, I certainly could reach a much broader client group than I could ever have done with just the Via dei Colli real estate agency. 3 sales were concluded with buyers who were referred to Via dei Colli by the head office, in response to property adverts managed by my agency, published by the Great Estate Group on various networks, including internationally. A sale was completed in partnership with the Group, who managed the buyer. And finally, a sale was completed on a property procured through the Great Estate Group.
The Great Estate Group methodology gives individual real estate agencies the opportunity to view the entire database of properties for sale, expanding greatly the chances of finding the right property for the individual buyer. The management of which remains with the chief agent who opened the negotiations. It is obviously not the same as selecting property from a portfolio of only 100 or 1000 properties and this allows you to retain more buyers.
The property schedules must comply with well defined standards, both at the photographic and provided information level. The single agent, in consultation with the Group’s internal management system can view each property’s documentation, including those not directly managed by them. This allows the agents to form a precise idea of the properties they do not even know. The spirit within the group is highly collaborative, and there is a constant flow of information between the various agents.
In light of what has just been said, how can I say no!
The Group has, in my view, succeeded in the difficult task of finding an optimal balance between structure and flexibility, between independence and collaboration and equity and services offered.
Great Estate provides the single estate agency partner with tools and a very well structured working methodology, that help with the various processes of estate agency work. This is achieved with the utmost professionalism and competency. At the same time, the group is far removed from the classic franchise’s coercive methods, which impose a unique sales PNL method, corporate identity and “brainwashing”. Everyone in the group has their own style and uniqueness, with the knowledge to secure sector professionals, and not that of apprentices and novices.
Each agency is independent and retains their own brand, logo and presence in their area, without any particular constraints in terms of area coverage; it’s a policy of common sense. Collaboration between the individual agencies is still the main aim, with the exchange of information, reports and customer service from one office to another.
The royalty structure is primarily based on the results which are certainly fair. The Great Estate group offers tools and promotional networks, especially abroad that really work. This could only ever be replicated by individual real estate agencies at exorbitant costs.
Unfortunately, the economic situation is still very bad and this forms a very strong gravitational field that sucks all operators in the real estate sector down; in order to remain financial secure, there must be a constant drive and high energy level.
The mistake that many estate agencies make is to cut the promotion and advertising budget as this lowers the probability of the number of properties on the market. There are good opportunities, often untapped, to approach foreign countries as potential markets for the purchase of Italian property, which the Great Estate Group did years ago, with a percentage of foreign clients, currently close to 65%.
Property marketing is increasingly evolving and with the professional standards currently required by the markets, this has become difficult to manage within a single estate agency. Dedicated professionals like photographers, graphic designers, IT specialists for optimizing keywords and translators are all required. Inevitably these command high costs if we don’t collaborate together in some way.
Some estate agencies that are closing down are in fact a healthy reduction in the number of improvised estate agencies who set up at the time of the boom. For the serious professionals that are in difficulty, I cannot recommend enough to try to adapt to the times, with regards to the promotion of their properties. In addition to using a well structured approach in the management of their work.
New contacts can be tens per week but without a working methodology, there is a risk that these contacts get lost in time without bearing fruit. The work of the estate agent is multifaceted and this is absolutely essential to be able to manage all the aspects required without any difficulties.
These difficulties make us stronger and crises should always be seen as an opportunity.