Brokers in Focus: 'We're really a marketing and branding company'
Emily Clark, president of Robert Paul Properties, discusses her top goals for the year and why agents should pay more attention to the industry.
When Emily Clark was named president of Robert Paul Properties in September 2019, she stepped into a role — and a brokerage — defined by its commitment to service. The founding principle? Hand-pick a group of talented, knowledgeable and determined real estate agents, then support them in every way possible as they serve clients throughout Cape Cod, Greater Boston and Coastal Massachusetts.
And that focus hasn't changed. After taking over the position from longtime Robert Paul president and mentor Wissy Wendt, Clark made it her mission to continue the company's legacy of impeccable service paired with sustainable, long-term strategies for success.
You are selective about your agents — what do you look for, and what are your recruiting and retention strategies?
Our brokerage has been "invitation only" for quite some time, though we've started to open up a little more to qualified agents who are experienced and meet the needs of the brokerage and clientele. We hire full-time agents, not agents who are looking at real estate as a side business. We really make sure they are 100% motivated to build a business and want to be with us.
Our approach is to stay connected and build solid relationships with our agents and clients. That's most important. We are a relationship-driven company and not a transactional-driven company.
A lot of our recruiting and retention philosophy is about making sure we always provide a very high level of support to our current agents, and that in turn helps us retain and recruit because our agents become good referral sources for us.
How did your view of brokerage operations change when you took on the role of president?
In the business cycle of real estate, everything leads with sales, and that starts at the top. You move into operations to build the tools, technology and support necessary to retain agents, and that ultimately moves into marketing.
Robert Paul Properties is really a marketing and branding company that happens to sell real estate. We want to make sure we provide the top level of service and marketing to clients and agents. We have an in-house marketing team, and an in-house, full-time social media director who supports and works with the agents and the brokerage, and it's proven to be a very successful model.
How has mentorship influenced your career and leadership philosophy?
Mentorship has been vital to my success. Coming into this role, I had run other companies, but Robert Paul Properties is a very unique model.
I always worked very closely with [former president Wissy Wendt], and I'm very fortunate to have learned from her. Wissy and I needed that time together so I could understand how Robert Paul Properties operated and how the brokerage has been able to achieve continual growth ever since the company began.
Working alongside her was key to understanding her philosophy behind the brokerage — what works, what doesn't. It was also fun to be able to come in and bring new ideas and integrate them with her many years of experience within the industry.
What are your top 3 goals for the rest of the year?
Buyer agency: We're putting strategic initiatives in place and training agents so they're able to show their true value to buyers, are comfortable with buyer agent contacts and are able to discuss how compensation is driven. With the recent news about the lawsuits and the MLS, it's even more pertinent in our marketplace, so I'm glad we are trying to get ahead of that now.
Differentiation in marketing: Digital marketing is so important, and we've done a really great job of increasing that over the last few years. We're looking to start building new direct mail programs catered to individual agents with a focus on personalization.
Measuring our KPIs: It's critical for us to continually track our numbers, see where we're growing and show how we compare to market statistics. I'm pleased to say we are outpacing the market in solds, new listings and overall volume — and watching these numbers helps ensure we continue to grow.
It's an interesting time in our industry. It's easy for agents to get caught up in the transaction and not think about what's going on around them, but I really recommend agents pay attention to what's happening in the industry overall. It's a really big place with a lot of moving pieces, and right now, it's vital for agents to have a higher-level understanding, and when necessary, turn to their associates and brokerage for advice.