Crye-Leike Boasts of Growth

By Linda A. Moore

lmoore@gomemphis.com

June 17, 2003

 

Ask Harold Crye and Dick Leike, the founders of Crye-Leike Realtors and they’ll say they didn’t plan to grow into the 10th largest residential real estate company in the nation.

Crye, chief executive officer, and Leike, president of the 26-year-old company, will say the sales associates should get the credit for the company’s growth.

They just provide the support to make it all happen.

“Meeting the customers’ needs, that’s how we grew,” Leike said.

The company was recently ranked 10th in the nation by Real Trends Inc. among residential real estate firms.

Real Trends (http://www .realtrends.com/home.asp), based in Littleton, Colo., provides news information and research for the residential real estate industry and publishes biweekly and weekly newsletters.

“We’re not really in the real estate business,” said Crye, despite a national ranking that says otherwise.

Their real business is to provide customer relationship management services for the sales associates through a network all aimed at making buying and selling real estate easier.

It’s a process that can provide title information, mortgage services, set up appointments, find a painter and in some markets, even get the utilities turned on.

“Home is your refuge,” Leike said. “In your home you don’t want to have to face all those things of the world.”

When Crye and Leike started their company in 1977, becoming one of the largest firms in the nation wasn’t the goal.

That happened through the work of their associates.

“We saw opportunities in the different communities and the Mid-South area,” Crye said.

An agent with experience in Bartlett prompted the opening of the first branch office in Bartlett. There are now 20 offices in the Memphis area.

Eventually, with the Memphis area covered, they opened the Nashville office 11 years ago, Chattanooga about 5 years ago and Little Rock less than a year ago.

During that time, business grew and began to offer other services like marketing, acquiring a title company, mortgage banking facilities and creating the home services division, and the a seven-day-a-week appointment center.

“We provide the system,” Crye said.

The sales associates take it from there and make the sales.

The company is now expand ing its Little Rock operations and isn’t talking about future growth plans.

“We’ve got plenty on our plate just to keep those things running,” Crye said.

The growth of companies like Crye-Leike is a reflection of the changes in the real estate market, said Steve Murray, editor of Real Trends.

For the last decade commissions from consumers have fallen from a national average of 6.1 percent 11 years ago to 5.1 percent today.

And technology has made it more expensive to do business, he said.

As a result, many midsized firms have been squeezed, leaving large firms like Crye-Leike and small niche companies that may focus on specific neighborhoods or price ranges.

“Ours isn’t the first and it won’t be the last industry to go through this,” Murray said.

Another trend influencing the industry is the consumer’s desire for a more one-stop shopping approach, like Crye-Leike’s, he said.

A study conducted for Real Trends found that 82 percent of consumers were strongly inclined to look for agents and companies that offered settlement services, like title services, but only 10 percent felt similarly about homeownership services like painters or contractors.

The good news, Murray said is that there is no evidence that consumers are losing out because of the internal changes in the industry and that many smaller companies can pool their efforts to provide more of the services larger companies are adding and that consumers are looking for.

– Linda A. Moore: 529-2702 Copyright 2003, GoMemphis. All Rights Reserved.