True leaders are not afraid of change; they welcome it. They are oriented toward the future instead of focusing on the past, and are open to new ideas about better ways of doing things.
Maxine and Marti Gellens, the highly successful mother-daughter real estate team for Prudential California Realty in La Jolla, have been industry leaders in real estate sales both on the local and national levels. They've been the top producers in the La Jolla market several years in a row and consistently have ranked among the Top 10 agents in the nation for Prudential every year for more than a decade, outproducing 45,000 sales persons.
One of the reasons why they've been able to achieve such success is because they decided early on to incorporate the use of technology into their business in order to help them work smarter and more efficiently.
Back in the late 1980s, before the dawn of cell phones, agents' tools of the trade consisted of a phone and answering machine, a fax, a courier service and a pocketful of quarters for feeding pay phones.
Today, many are using wireless personal digital assistants, home and office voice mail, home and office computers, pagers, laptops, e-mail, Web sites, and even online virtual tours.
The dynamics of real estate sales are changing dramatically, influenced by the speed at which people and information move today, and agents must be able to keep up with the accelerated pace in order to have success.
The Gellens team has never been afraid to try something new and different when it comes to their business. Maxine was among the first agents in San Diego to utilize a mobile phone instead of a landline, and the team was the first locally to put up a company Web site and offer virtual tours of their listed properties. Technology has provided them with the edge they need to be at the top of their profession and to provide the best client service. The results speak for themselves.
"We absolutely would not have had the same success we've experienced over the years without the use of technologies," Maxine explained. "We've realized that to succeed in this business, you have to be online, otherwise you'll be left behind. Without these tools, you simply can't provide the client with an appropriate level of service."
It's not as if these ladies are technology geeks who must have the latest and greatest technological advancements with all the bells and whistles. They use cell phones, fax machines, voice mail and e-mail to communicate regularly with clients, and use their Web site and virtual tours to list and show properties, respectively. None of these tools are highly advanced but they are certainly enough to give the business a global presence and allow the team and their clients to be as efficient as possible in terms of time management, expense and energy.
The Gellens team chose to embrace new technology, rather than fear it, because of the many benefits it could bring them and their business. They knew they wanted to be at the top of their profession, to provide the best client service possible and manage their time more effectively, since both mother and daughter wanted to devote more time to family.
Using some of the latest technologies, like virtual tours through their Web site, helps them show properties without the usual legwork. It makes them appear more professional, business-like and contemporary, all of which improves their chances of attaining positive results.
"We've committed ourselves to being the best, and technology is part of that commitment," Marti said. "Because of where we are in this profession, we have many demands on our time, we must be responsive and meet client expectations, and we are extremely service-oriented. Our use of technologies helps us manage those elements so that as sales people we can focus on obtaining the best results."
The Gellens team says the use of technology in their business affords them more mobility so they can cover more ground yet still be productive, saves them time, makes them more accessible and accountable to clients, and adds another dimension to their business in terms of their ability to communicate and perform at the highest level of efficiency.
The only real change they had to make in their overall business approach was simply being more aware of, and open to, the technologies available to them and how to incorporate those resources into their daily operations. Maxine says that having a younger partner who already had a working familiarity with computers and the Internet also helped make the workplace transition smoother.
Some real estate professionals simply have not kept up with technological advancements, or have either feared the changes they bring or the expense they create. But Maxine reminds them of the adage that says in order to make money, one has to spend money. Spending it on technology for business purposes makes good business sense.
"Technology is one of the few products that you actually have to invest in to be in this business," she said. "You can be as low key and low tech, or as extravagant as you want based on your clientele and the needs of your users. You can even do it yourself, but you have to do something. It's an absolute necessity if you want to work smart and project a degree of professionalism."
In the end, the use of technology alone isn't any guarantee of sales success. Most often, optimum results are achieved when it's combined with good old-fashioned people skills and face-to-face client service.
"Meeting personally with clients will always have its place in this business," Maxine said. "Technology won't ever substitute for that. But it does have the ability to significantly enhance the buying and selling experience for both the client and the agent."
And as a team committed to quality performance and continued success, that's the edge they want and need.
Maxine and Marti Gellens are located at 1299 Prospect St., Suite 203. For more information, contact them at (858) 551-6630 or visit them online at www.gellens.com.
Barrett is head writer at Beck Ellman Heald public relations.