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Looking back on thirty years at Century 21 with Bob Tenace

A 30 year Century 21 veteran

Because we study trends in real estate and frequently focus on brokerages, we have noticed a rise in the independent brokerage, a move we are behind in large part. But one trend we are seeing is agents bouncing from brokerage to brokerage in search of the golden key that opens the proverbial pipeline of leads. Some agents are jumping ship from the indie brokers and going back to big box brokers, citing brand visibility and stability as a top reason, while many are leaving national franchises in search of indie brokers that are more tech savvy or have a different model altogether.

This left us wondering if there were people left that had been with their brokerage since their early days. We tracked down one of CENTURY 21’s oldest Realtor not by age but by years with CENTURY 21, Bob Tenace. He is the owner/President of CENTURY 21 Tenace Realty who has been with CENTURY 21 since 1980, a far cry from the ship jumping of today. Tenace serves South Florida with his 300 agents in two offices and CENTURY 21 Tenace Realty has closed over 25,000 transactions for over three billion dollars, so what exactly has kept Tenace with the same brand for all of these years?

We interviewed Tenace who was working, even though we suspect he was on vacation (do the hardest workers ever stop?).

Joining CENTURY 21

Q: What year did you join C21? What drew you to the company? Where were you prior to joining C21? 
I joined Century 21 Real Estate LLC in June 1980. Prior I was a sales manager of a Century 21 office from 1977-1980. When I decided to open my own office, I knew I needed the image and brand that Century 21 offered.

What has kept you at C21 all these years?
Recruiting and training was and is the secret of success and Century 21 helped me understand this early on and I’ve never stopped. Also, Century 21 has always been a leader in many aspects of our business from recruiting to training to technology. Sure there have been bumps in the road… But the leaderships teams I’ve worked with at the corporation are very dedicated, keeping our brand in the minds of our customers and bringing the best tools and technologies to our system.

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Changes along the way

How has the culture of the real estate industry changed since you joined C21? 
The culture of real estate is constantly changing. 30 years ago we were the keepers of the MLS and everyone had to come to us. Today it’s so different with the internet. But, even with the consumers having access to all home data (i.e., listings and sales), most still seek out a realtor to complete their home purchase.

What are the main technological changes you’ve witnessed during your C21 career?
Office models have come and gone. With the “traditional” office still working today as it did 30 years ago. I’ve gone through “sheet listings” to the “MLS books” to the “Internet.” I think how we use the Internet for our listings along with how we can now deliver training over the Internet.

Does staying put give you a competitive advantage?

How does your being at the same company for so long give you a competitive advantage? How do you feel about the trend of agents hopping from brokerage to brokerage?
Consumers prefer consistency and agents prefer consistency. Our agents and clients have known us as Century 21 Tenace for 30 years. And, now we are preparing for another 30 years as my son is being groomed as our companies future leader. Regarding the trend of agents hopping from brokerage to brokerage… To clarify what is really happening is that agents are leaving the small offices and some of the newer franchises that can’t deliver the services and support that larger more successful brands that can. I believe the stronger will get stronger and agents should affiliate with a strong company.  Agents today realize it’s just not about commission splits.

Connections, advice, and more:

Who have you met along the way that has most highly impacted your career?
One of the benefits of Century 21 is that, over my 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to network with our best of the best owners/managers and have been able to share best practices. I’ve had and still have connections with many great operators and we still share our concerns and good working ideas.

What book(s) do you believe all Realtors should read?
There are many. But my suggestion would be for agents to read “Should I Quit Real Estate” by Floyd Wickman.

What advice do you have for new agents entering the profession in a down economy? How can they best survive?
The down economy is the best time for an agent to start in the real estate business. My advice for new agents entering the profession in a down economy is to  learn the basics:

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  • Learn that listings are the key to success
  • Understand that you must prospect
  • Affiliate with a national brand like Century 21 – It will help you grow your career

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.


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