So, I’ve read about Crye-Leike

So, I’ve read about Crye-Leike
Crye-Leike agents gather for a family portrait with owner Harold Crye, (l-r) Front Row: Paula Reid Jones, Sandra Jones, Babs Price, Max Jones; 2nd Row: Karen Cowan ( Office Administrator), Pinky Francis, Nicki Milligan; 3rd Row: Dot Clark, Emory Williams, Jim Francis; 4th Row: Tim Moran, Harold Crye, Bob Baker. (Photo By Smoke Signals Online)

Business News – Smoke Signals Online – News From Big Canoe

By Bennett Whipple

You probably caught last month’s press release on the opening of a new real estate office in our midst, but, for Pete’s sake, it didn’t tell us how to pronounce the name!

When I first spotted the sign out in the Foothills area I thought it was some European pharmaceutical house opening here for direct sales to this ultimate consumer market in Big Canoe.

But, thanks to Babs Price, who arranged to have Harold Crye fly down in his Citation jet from his home in Nashville, this report aims to fix the name problem. And it’s really not that complicated.

Crye is easy, like in “cry.” Harold is a good old Arkansas boy who settled in Memphis and made it big in the real estate business with his partner Dick Leike. The other end of this two-part nomenclature problem pronounces his name like “like” and he’s another son of the South, hailing from Atlanta.

So, as sales manager Emory Williams puts it, “Think ?cry like’ a baby,” and you’ll get it right and remember the name.

All the way to the bank

And that’s probably what Harold and Dick have been doing all the way to the bank, as the saying goes, with their sales volume in 2008 of $4.2 billion on 25,281 transactions. That’s down 26 percent from 2007’s $5.7 billion on 32,500 transactions, but not bad considering the housing market’s collapse.

No numbers yet for 2009, but Harold anticipates that sales volume will be down another 20 percent this year.

No doubt they’re counting on expansion growth to keep those numbers up, and Georgia is definitely on their mind in pursuing this game plan. Now with eight metro Atlanta offices, Harold hopes to grow the number to some 40 or 50 offices this year.

Big in the South

While you may not have heard the name before, Crye-Leike Realtors ranks No. 6 among the nation’s top 500 largest residential real estate brokerage firms and No. 3 among the nation’s 144 privately owned and independent firms, according to REAL Trends, Inc., the leading provider of information and analysis for the residential real estate industry.

According to Crye-Leike’s website, the company has more than 3500 sales associates in 120 branch and franchise offices in an eight-state region including Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina.

After opening the office in Marble Hill on March 1 with four agents, there’s been a rush of eight more agents to get on board. What’s the attraction? What sets Crye-Leike apart?

Harold says it’s staying focused on real estate: “We’re not developers.” Also, he cites keeping in touch with our offices as a reason: “We’re not absentee owners.” He noted, for example, that, in addition to the Smoke Signals interview, he used this trip to visit the company’s Atlanta offices.

Real estate is local

He says also that the company has a unique corporate structure. They believe that real estate business is local. That’s why it’s divided into seven regions giving each area the ability to offer a full menu of services according to the needs of the particular region.

Also, the company has an in-house, full-time marketing department and director to support sales agents with customized marketing plans and sales material.

Asked about the compensation factor, Harold would only say that the company has a “fair commission schedule.”

Then, if you want to know more, the company’s website provides a long, long list of answers to the question: “Why Crye-Leike.” So, there are many reasons that seem to set the company apart and explain the “rush.”

But to name one more, Babs Price likes the sales-help feature of Crye-Leike’s unique “Smartline.” Harold describes it as a 24/7 service that provides immediate detailed information about properties on the market. By dialing in the street address on your cell phone, you can receive a curbside voice description of the property.

And, what’s even better, Babs says, is that the sales agent is notified when a potential customer dials one of your listings and you can follow up immediately.