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REAL Trending  Special Edition: Leading Through A Challenging Market

Apr 24, 2020 7:42:23 AM

Communication and transparency are two of the most important things Miedler wants to offer its franchise brokers. From online masterminds to Facebook Workplace and video messages, tools like these are key to Mielder staying in constant contact. Find out what Mike Miedler, CEO of CENTURY 21 Real Estate doing to mitigate the losses from the coronavirus.

Tracey Velt:

In this special edition of the REAL Trending Podcast, we're speaking to real estate leaders on what they're doing to minimize the impact of the coronavirus on their businesses. We'll talk about actions they're taking, lessons learned from 2008, and more. This is Tracey Velt, Editor and Chief of Content for REAL Trends. Today we're speaking to Mike Miedler, CEO of CENTURY 21 Real Estate. Welcome, Mike.

Mike Miedler:

Hey, Tracey. Thanks so much for having me on.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah, so I know that Realogy has taken quite a few steps already, but why don't you tell me a little bit about what the business steps that CENTURY 21 has taken to immediately lessen the impact on the company?

Mike Miedler:

Yeah, absolutely, great question. First of all, I appreciate seeing the Real Trends 500 out today. I think one of the big things that we're trying to do as an organization, I think probably what all great leadership does is certainly try to communicate, and over communicate, and keep people focused. In times like these, and what I've done over the last literally three, four, five, six hours here is make calls and send text messages to a number of our Real Trends top 500 list makers.

And so that's been a good distraction and a congratulations to a lot of people, and they're certainly excited by it. But I mean, just from a CENTURY 21 perspective, obviously we've done a lot over literally the last few days just to make sure that we are hunkering down and getting our folks focused.

Mike Miedler:

And I think obviously, like I said earlier, Tracey, communicating with them on everything that we see going on in the marketplace. And I think that that comes with being transparent and just giving them updates on everything that we have happening. As an example, just for our CENTURY 21 leadership team, and at Realogy, we have a conference call literally every half hour from 5:00 to 6:30 just communicating all the issues and all the opportunities we're seeing as this rapidly fluid environment continues to change.

And I think being very communicative and very transparent is obviously one of the top things that we're trying to do as a brand to our broker owners, but also to our agents, and also our broker owners down to their agents and customers.

Mike Miedler:

And so one of the things that we've done is put everything up online from a training perspective virtually and have a ton of just best practice sharing, masterminds, and coaching sessions, who are, again, for brokers, for owners, for managers, for recruiters, for agents, for everybody in the CENTURY 21 family to feel more connected and to continue to get them focused where they can make a difference and actually in areas that they control. So it's those types of things that I think are important, especially when there's so much uncertainty out there about the business world or the people from local economies.

Tracey Velt:

Right, definitely. And so tell me a little bit about how you're communicating with your agents and your broker owners during this time. Are you doing videos or virtual meetings or ... Tell me a little bit about how you're handling that.

Mike Miedler:

Yeah, I mean, and I think it's everything. So what's really been interesting, Tracey, is over the last couple of weeks here, specifically in the last few days. I think a lot of people have been pushed way outside their comfort zone and have learned technology, have learned video, have learned social media, and become experts in areas they never felt comfortable doing before.

And so it's all of those things. I have been on the phone and video conferencing with folks as far away as China. Just last week, six days ago, we were on the phone with all of our international companies and masters from as far away as, like I said, China, Portugal, Spain, the UK, Canada, Mexico.

Mike Miedler:

We're doing a lot of video and I think the investment we've made as an organization, from a CENTURY 21 perspective in our technology in we are big users of Microsoft Teams. A lot of people are out there with Zoom meetings. We use Facebook Workplace as our kind of communication platform, because so many people are familiar with the Facebook foundation. We've used that to communicate and keep our people in touch. But I got to be honest with you, I'm a little bit old school and that I just love picking up the phone-

Tracey Velt:

Okay.

Mike Miedler:

And just dialing. So it's been a wide spectrum, but I think it's the most important thing right now.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, great. And I know obviously the coronavirus crisis going on right now is very different from the 2008 downturn, but there are things that you probably did as a company that are really helping you lead through this current chaotic time. So what are some of those things that are really helping you right now?

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Mike Miedler:

Yeah, I think it's kind of a focus on what you can control, right? So stepping back a little bit. I think obviously communication is important and, and that is as we dig into numbers and look at trends and things that are unfolding very quickly, I think that's absolutely important. But I also think it's ... We are in a world right now where it's much different as real estate entrepreneurs and agents than we were in call ... A week ago.

And I think that we are actually, our value as a real estate community has actually gone up because of the uncertainty that's out there. And as real estate professionals, because of that uncertainty, consumers are looking to us, and looking to us significantly more than they did a week or two ago. And I think making sure that our agents are understanding that sales ... Service always happens first, and then sales follow.

Mike Miedler:

And I think what we're trying to focus our agents on is that they need to be out there helping their consumers, helping their communities, and putting service first at this time. And then the sales will follow down the road. And I think that obviously as we look at the numbers and you look at some of the trends that are happening, depending on what area of the country, things are moving in different directions.

Some places feels like business as usual, and some places, some of those numbers have dried up. But I think what we're trying to do for our real estate professionals is keep them focused on the things that they can control in order to ... Whether it be have business today, or have business in the future that will keep that business flowing for them.

Mike Miedler:

Another big part is obviously having financial discipline I think is important right now. There's a lot of great stuff coming out I think from the government, and it seems like the markets are getting excited by that, and flowing in the right direction, but as small business owners and entrepreneurs around the country and across the globe, I think one of the most important things you can do right now is to make sure that you're looking really deeply at what expenses are out there, what cash needs to be spent for today, versus what you should probably do from a keeping your powder dry and being a little bit more conservative, understanding where some of the trends in your local market are headed. So I think that's probably key right now is your financial management. But more importantly, focusing your team and your agents on how they can continue to win win business.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. And it makes a lot of sense. And I know because this is a lot different than 2008, many brokers feel like there's going to be a flood of inventory coming on the market once the crisis has passed. Have you seen any indication that that might be what happens, or pent up demand out there?

Mike Miedler:

Yeah, I mean it's interesting. I just talked to one of our brokers up in the Seattle area just yesterday. And I think whether you hear Laurence Yun at an NAR perspective, talk about it or many of the local brokers and owners out there. I think everybody feels that from a housing perspective, the strength of the housing market is there.

I mean, there's still the demand that exists. When I read Real Trends, something that is, I think is very true in this country is that we continue to not have enough inventory for the marketplace that's out there and the demand and the desire.

Mike Miedler:

And so my heart of hearts feels like hopefully this is a V-shaped event, and that it's a speed bump. For how long, we don't know. Just to take a page out of what we're hearing from CENTURY 21 China and we have close to 30,000 sales professionals there and close to 5,000 offices who have gone through this that are four or five months ahead of us in all this. They've seen that V shaped curve, and are starting to come out on the other side a little bit stronger right now.

Mike Miedler:

And so we're hoping that we get back to that same exact place as quickly as possible here in the US, but I do think that we're going to wind up doing ... Call it ten months of sales or nine months of sales in a five or six month period. And I feel like these strong enough indicators out there and hopefully with what the government's doing here in the latest news, not just for small business but for 1099 folks, I think hopefully we'll be in a good spot.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I'm thinking positively as well. So you had mentioned a couple things before that you are recommending brokers do, which is kind of hold onto your cash and look at your budgets and that. Are there any ... Is there anything else, any other words of advice you have for brokers who aren't really ... Are uncertain right now and anxious?

Mike Miedler:

Yeah, I think opportunity's definitely going to present itself as well. You don't want to, you don't want to sit there and look opportunistic. But again, if you put serving and your community and your agents and your consumers first, I think there will be a strong opportunity for good broker owners to look at the marketplace and do things differently.

I mean, this could be an event where we start saying to ourselves, "Hey, do I really need 5,000, 10,000, 30,000 square feet of space to hold my agents? Or can we work more virtually from home and cut expenses". But I would say that there is certainly going to be opportunitY that existS in this market and that brokers should be having those conversations with people across their marketplace that they feel like they might offer a certain opportunity to grow, or increase other people's businesses.

Mike Miedler:

So I do think that this will pan out for a lot of folks if they keep their eyes wide open. But I think at the end of the day, it goes back to what I was saying earlier, it's like being as transparent as you can with your people, with your employees, with your agents, with your consumers, communicating as frequently as you possibly can. Whether that's daily, or twice a day, or what have you.

And staying ahead of any issues, right? And bringing solutions to issues, versus just raising the issue. So there's a lot of things I think that brokers can learn from this, and actually help catapult their business based on what the market is presenting them.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, great. And my final question is, let's just set the numbers aside for a moment. Tell me how you're feeling right now?

Mike Miedler:

Yeah, I'm feeling positive. I, again, I think I was saying that your attitude and your mindset to starting your day or your business or anything that you do in your life is probably the most important thing. And I think we've got to worry about and look at what we can control as a people and professionals and individuals for ... obviously the health and safety of our communities, and our families, and our agents, and our brokers, and everybody throughout this country is the most important thing.

And we are certainly a resilient species , and a resilient country, and a resilient industry. And I got this from Steve, but this too shall pass. We've just got to kind of stay focused on the things that we can control, and keep a positive mental mindset. And like I said, consumers out there need us more now than they ever have, and we've got to put that service to the consumer first. And I think we'll wind up being in a very good spot as soon as we get over the speed bump.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, great. Well thank you, Mike. I really appreciate your time. I know this is a crazy time for you, so I know you're really busy, but thanks for taking a couple minutes out to talk to REAL Trends.

Mike Miedler:

Thanks for the opportunity, Tracey.

Tracey Velt:

Yeah, and I will talk to you soon.

Mike Miedler:

Sound good, take care.

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