Real Estate Agent Magazine sat down with Martha Gentry the founder of The Gentry Team. Martha has been #1 agent in Pinehurst and Moore County in North Carolina for over 20 years.
REAM: What motivated you to pursue a career as a real estate agent, and what were the initial steps you took to enter the industry?
MG: Desperation! My husband and I were both laid off from Eastern Airlines during a massive employee cutback in the early 70’s due to the nationwide gas shortage. We had a new house, new car, a two year old and a two week old. We went from both of us having a great job to neither of us having a job at all – overnight! My husband decided to take a job offered to him in his small hometown as a farm foreman – he grew up in that community in a farming family. I took a job as an assistant to the Realtor who sold us our home. The difference between our current income and what we had been accustomed to earning was the impetus for me to go into real estate. Even though I was cripplingly shy, I felt like it was the only opportunity I had and so I went for it. In retrospect, what seemed like a disaster turned out to be a great blessing in disguise even though it certainly didn’t seem like it at the time.
REAM: With over thirty years of real estate experience, what pivotal moments or lessons have you found most valuable in shaping your expertise in the industry?
MG: Trust yourself. Never give in to fear.
REAM: Can you provide insights into the innovative team approach you’ve developed within Martha Gentry’s Home Selling Team? How does this approach contribute to delivering unparalleled service to your clients?
MG: Early in the development of my team, I realized the importance of plans. While I was still personally doing each function myself with only an administrative assistant, I wrote down every step I did for every job from taking an incoming call, preparing a listing agreement, scheduling appointments, etc. Most importantly scheduling follow up activities for each job was crucial. We continue to ‘question” our plans today, continually trying to improve them.
REAM: What was the inspiration behind creating a specialized team to cater to various aspects of the real estate transaction process? How does each team member’s specialization enhance the overall client experience?
MG: About five years into starting my team when we were beginning to have a good bit of success, I hired Bob Cocoran from California as a coach. At the time this was quite an expense for us and he came and spent a week with my team, observing us individually and as a group. At the end of that week, his number one suggestion was that I needed to stop working with buyers and work only with sellers. At the time, I had several Realtor team members who were working with buyers. I was doing all the listings and continuing to also work with buyers. I was convinced that we would suffer financially if I stopped working with buyers but Bob assured me that the opposite would happen and he was right. It look almost a year for me to finally make the break but it was the right decision.
REAM: Your team’s remarkable achievements, including being the top Moore County Real Estate Agent for eight consecutive years, are impressive. What key strategies or practices do you attribute to consistently achieving such high levels of success?
MG: Actually, my team has been #1 in the Moore County market for 25 years – every year. It’s a record that we’re really proud of. The strategy of implementing excellent, well-thought out plans consistently with every transaction has been the basis of our success. Also, our follow-up plans for staying in touch with our “Nearest and Dearest” is one that has been very valuable to us.
REAM: Being ranked among the top 1% of Real Estate Agents Nationwide and being listed among the 50 most outstanding Re/Max Agents in the United States is a significant accomplishment. What qualities do you believe differentiate your team and contribute to these remarkable rankings?
MG: It’s important to have people, both Realtor partners and administrative partners who are in sync with your values and are completely dedicated to the people we help. Each team member “owns” their position and is responsible for what happens as a result. If you look at our testimonials, many times multiple team members are mentioned, not just the listing or the selling member and I think that speaks to a unified team experience for our buyers and sellers.
REAM: Could you share an example of a particularly challenging real estate transaction that your team successfully navigated using its innovative and specialized approach? What were the key factors that led to a positive outcome?
MG: We try very hard not to have challenging situations and most of the time if we have followed our plans, they don’t happen. When things happen that are outside of our control, constant communication with our clients is how we can generally solve any problems. Most people want to be heard and understood no matter what the issue is.
REAM: How do you maintain the balance between providing highly professional service and ensuring timely responses to your clients’ needs within the fast-paced real estate industry?
MG: We have a great answer time during office hours with all three of our full time administrative partners answering the phone quickly if our front desk person is tied up on another call.
After hours, our buyer team responds to evening calls on rotation. On the weekends, we have a weekend coordinator who works both Saturday and Sunday. In other words, people calling our team will generally get to speak with a real person!
REAM: Given your experience, what advice would you offer to individuals looking to enter the real estate profession or establish their own successful real estate tea If you are new in the business, you need training – lots of it – before you are competent. If you’re staring a team, choose wonderful people and treat them well.
REAM: What is something your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?
MG: I’m very introverted and have always been painfully shy. People are astonished when they know that.