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REAL Trends Game Changer: Scott Lauri, Co-Owner of ERA Central Realty Group in New Jersey

Jun 17, 2020 6:50:41 AM

Scott Lauri, co-owner of ERA Central Realty Group in New Jersey

136.4% Growth between 2014-2018

Taking a leap of faith with some strategic acquisitions helped Lauri build his brokerage. That acquisition coupled with a strong training program helped Lauri and his team grow. Find out his lessons learned in this informative podcast.

Tracey Velt:

This is Tracey Velt, editor in chief of content for Real Trends. The Real Trends 500 data shows that there are a handful of brokerage owners who consistently achieve high growth year after year. These brokers were selected to be 2020 Real Trends game changers. Today we're speaking with Scott Lauri, broker-owner of ERA Central Realty Group in New Jersey to find out how they managed almost 136.4% growth between 2014 and 2018. Welcome, Scott.

Scott Lauri:

Thanks, Tracey.

Tracey Velt:

All right, so why don't you tell me a little bit about your brokerage, when and how it got started?

Scott Lauri:

Well, really we have two paths for our company. One that was began by Anne Davis in 1986, when she started her real estate company to foster a culture of teamwork, education, and shared expertise amongst each other.

Then in 1998, my family opened our real estate company to take advantage of the growing technology in real estate. In 2015, both our companies merged and now with Anne's daughter, Stephanie Villanova, we both operate the company together as it is today.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, great. So obviously achieving that type of growth over the past four years is an incredible accomplishment. So tell me about those years. We had mentioned mergers and acquisitions. Tell me a little bit about your philosophy going forward.

Scott Lauri:

Yeah, we've grown from both acquisitions and also organically. Acquisitions have made up probably about 60% of that growth with most of it being us merging our two companies together in 2015, but we also did make a smaller acquisition in 2018 of another company. And our organic growth is extremely important to us, and we feel we do that through our agent marketing support that we do, our coaching and training to make that all happen.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. So obviously in every entrepreneur's life there's an aha moment, the moment you realized you needed to change the way you were doing things in order to grow or scale or needed to stop doing things and get creative in your business plan. So what was your aha moment?

Scott Lauri:

When I look back, I see three large aha moments that changed the path of the company. One was early in my career when I first took over operations of the company in 2002. About a year later I was thinking, what am I doing here? The company isn't really making any money. I'm also the top agent. Should I join someone else or should I keep doing this? Well in the next 12 months, I recruited about 18 agents into the company and I kept doing this.

My next aha moment was in 2013 when I acquired my largest competitor in my market that was double my size. I had been wanting a different office location and looking at what buildings were available for sale and decided to throw a dart at the wall and see if it sticks. So I figured maybe I could acquire another real estate firm instead of acquiring a building. So I called the broker and 90 days later we closed that merger.

Tracey Velt:

That's great.

Scott Lauri:

Yeah. My next aha moment was merging with Stephanie and Anne's company, which more of a gradual realization that us together as one company could be a force in our market.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, well great. Well, let's talk more specifics about your growth. So what did you and your leadership team do to create such growth? And tell me a little bit about your recruiting, your business practices and your culture.

Scott Lauri:

Like I said, a lot of that growth was from us joining our two companies together. About 60% of it there was our growth, but the rest of it has been our organic growth through really the training that we offer our agents, our staff support, our managers coaching our agents. We feel that when an agent chooses to hire us as their broker, we can help them amplify their business to the next level.

Tracey Velt:

Okay. And your cultures, when you did merge, were your cultures similar to begin with or how did you manage through that?

Scott Lauri:

Yeah, we felt our cultures were very similar, being very family orientated, very local owners, and really caring about our agents, our community, our results. We felt that all ... it has to align, otherwise an acquisition's going to be very, very difficult and we've been very lucky through the years. Each of our acquisitions have been acquisitions that aligned our cultures together with the company that we were coming together with.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, great. So my last question is, if you could offer other brokers some advice when growing their businesses, what would it be?

Scott Lauri:

My biggest thing is taking a leap of faith. And what I mean by this is whether it's an M&A transaction or doing a new initiative in your company, there won't be a perfect decision where 100% certainty, you know it's the right thing to do.

There will be a time when you just need to take that leap of faith that you and your team have reviewed what you're going to do, and it's either right or wrong for the company, for the agents, or for your staff. Don't get me wrong, taking that leap of faith can be pretty scary to do, but it can be a pretty exciting thing to do too.

Tracey Velt:

Okay, well great. Well Scott, congratulations on being named a REAL Trends game changer and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today.

Scott Lauri:

Thanks, Tracey.

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