Consumers, on average, stay in their homes for 8-10 years. The real estate transaction only comprises 60-90 days of that time. To truly connect with the customer for life, Janice Miller provides services beyond the transaction itself.
Miller began her real estate career in 1980. In 1995—when she was producing $18 million in sales—her broker passed away and she decided to start her own company.
“The other agency in town didn’t want me because I was doing things differently,” explains Miller. “I was using warranties and billboards and I had an assistant. I was doing a lot of self-promotion, and that wasn’t normal in the real estate world.”
It might not have been normal back then, but times have changed, and Miller’s business—ERA First Advantage Realty—is thriving, with nine offices and 172 sales professionals in Southwest Indiana and Kentucky.
As the industry evolves, Miller thinks it’s more important than ever to have ancillary businesses. “If you’re not in the title business, you need to find out why you’re not in the title business. Then, look at why you’re not in property management and why you’re not doing warranties.”
Miller has been doing warranties since the start of her ERA franchise.
“We believe in home warranties for one reason, and that’s to help our customers,” says Miller. “When they buy that home, something will go wrong, and we want to be there to help them get through that process. I want to build a relationship where that customer will always come back to us because we helped them through that process.”
While many real estate companies use warranties from multiple providers, Miller insists there’s a special synergy when using the same company for your entire organization. “Since we do so many warranties, they really know who we are, and they’re always ready to help us help our customers.”
When the market fell during the last major recession, ERA First Advantage had a lot of large homes they couldn’t sell. In cases where they did sell, sellers were taking huge losses. It made sense for Miller’s company to pivot and suggest leasing properties instead of selling, so they created their own property management business. “Not only did that create a nice income stream, but people were also able to hold onto their properties and then sell once the market became favorable again.”
ERA First Advantage also has its own insurance company, offering both home and auto insurance. In most locations, there’s a dedicated insurance agent.
“It’s a natural fit,” says Miller. “They may already have an insurance agent, but we can always ask if they’d like a competitive quote.”
Miller says that 99 percent of her business decisions are inspired by what she hears from other ERA brokers. She visits other brokers and vice versa, and the community exchanges ideas on how each can succeed in their own market. One broker said, “‘You need a title company.’ And I believed him,” says Miller. “I believed in him and his vision for my company, and looking back, that has probably been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
The title company, to this day, has proven a huge revenue stream for ERA First Advantage.
For Miller and ERA Real Estate’s national executive team, success runs much deeper than just revenue streams.
“It’s about increasing the amount of service and keeping sales professionals, and, by extension, brokers, at the forefront of the real estate lifecycle,” says Dave Collins, chief operating officer of ERA Real Estate.
“Some agents say, ‘That’s just going to cause me more work,’” explains Miller. Her reply is simple: “That’s your job. That’s the goal—building a customer for life by using ancillary businesses.”
For more information, please visit www.era.com.
Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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