APOLLO BEACH — If there was any time for broker Craig Beggins to give himself a break, it would be right now.
The real estate market has been hot. Buyer demand and prices have been high while mortgage rates and inventory have been low. The number of single-family home sales in Florida was up nearly 18 percent at the start of this year compared to the same period in 2019, according to Florida Realtors.
It’s been a seller’s market, ideal for Beggins’ nearly 400 real estate agents throughout the Tampa Bay area.
“Right now the market is very strong and everything works,” said Beggins, the head of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises, in an interview before the coronavirus outbreak took hold and began to slow transactions. “You can get business hanging out at Publix. You can get business hanging out at a bar. You can get business going ‘for sale by owners,' you can get business calling expired listings."
So, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Beggins, who began his business 27 years ago, might take a more hands-off approach with his agents in this climate. But Beggins isn’t one to take a backseat — and that is likely why his local Century 21 affiliate landed No. 1 in the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces for midsize companies.
Beggins’ employees have long commended their boss and his focus on training. Beggins makes sure to keep education fresh and relevant.
“There’s not a lot of focus going on right now,” Beggins said, referring to real estate strategies. “Where if they focused on one thing and got really good at it, they’d get better results.”
So, Beggins is in the midst of unrolling training to help agents hone in on one tactic to grow sales by four transaction per quarter. Some will focus on social media and networking, others will use software to track expired listings among other niches in the market.
But while Beggins updates his training, he doesn’t veer too far from the roots that have helped his company land on the Top Workplaces list for the last 11 years.
For the last few decades, Beggins and his team have started every weekday morning meeting with music, clapping and chanting: “HAVE FUN! MAKE MONEY." It might seem wacky to outsiders, but agents there say they like the chance to loosen up.
“They don’t let you just sit,” said Carolina Paige, who works from the company’s main office in Apollo Beach. “It sets the tone to wake up, get up and get in a good mood.”
That’s no small task at 8:30 a.m. Marketing Mondays focus on self-promotion and social media. Fridays focus on writing contracts. Every meeting is live streamed. Each of the eight offices, from Madeira Beach to Tampa, gather to watch the meetings, to chant and march. The meetings are posted to an agent Facebook page for those who couldn’t attend the session in person.
A lot of Realtors get into the business for flexibility, so Beggins and his team provide that while still offering regular training and coaching.
Real estate agents are independent contractors paid by commission, but they rely on brokers for support. At some companies that could mean a business card, maybe a desk. But employees at Century 21 Beggins say they have a team behind them.
Paige spent 15 years working as a recruiter, most recently in health care, before moving to real estate. She’s only been at Century 21 for the last 18 months, but quickly secured her place in the company. Paige made top agent within her first quarter on the job, meaning she was among the top 25 percent of sellers out of hundreds of others.
“It was scary to make that move,” she said of her new career. “But there’s always someone willing to help you. I have confidence when I serve my customers because I know I’m not alone.”
There are sales managers and success coaches who will meet with agents one on one. Every Saturday, agents can take clients on Beggins’ boat to give them a glimpse of waterfront living to help seal a sale.
The bulk of Beggins’ employees have been at the company for several years. Although their positions might not be inherently as flexible as a Realtor, director of agent care Susie Brush said the 40 regular staffers are encouraged to put their families first. They have generous vacation packages and flex time.
Brush has been with Beggins for the last 14 years, but recalls previous jobs in stuffy corporate offices. At Century 21. things are always light and fun.
Her office neighbors Beggins', who finds time to unwind with his office mate: his rescue dog, Lilly.
Beggins brings her into the office any day he isn’t scheduled to travel. She’s regularly sprawled out, asleep, behind a baby gate.
She’s definitely the office’s cutest perk.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
Century 21 Beggins Enterprises is a real estate firm based in Apollo Beach.
Location: Eight offices from Madeira Beach to Tampa
“I am able to help people and earn a good living by doing so.”
“I feel I am part of something and can do as much as I want or as little.”
“I get to do what I love, with flexible hours and the best support there is.”