CEO Corner: Mike Prodehl, president

Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell and The Real Estate Group

Lessons remembered—learn from leaders where tomorrow’s opportunities and threats lie.

by Steve Murray, publisher

From 2006 to 2015, no REAL Trends top 100 ranked brokerage grew more than Mike Prodehl’s firm. Through three different, sizable acquisitions, the firm grew over 252 percent. REAL Trends caught up with Prodehl to find out what circumstances led them to lead all major brokerages in growth through a very difficult period.

“I give a lot of credit to my father who oversaw the company at that time. He showed that by acting quickly and decisively to reduce costs and saving capital were the smart ways to navigate the downturn and be positioned to grow when the signs became more positive,” said Prodehl. “While we suffered losses for several years just like most others, we didn’t go into debt, because we had reserves. That also set us on the path both to restructure our company and, with help from Coldwell Banker, make several strategic acquisitions in the past five or six years.”

Office Redesign

We asked Prodehl what other changes he was making. “We’re slowly converting our offices from the traditional private-office–based structures to more café-style offices—it makes sense. We’ve done this over time, and it’s made us more efficient, and, in some regards, more attractive as a place to work,” he says.

Prodehl started as an agent with the firm and spent eight years as an agent, moving on to spending many years fixing and building sales offices. “I had a sense that we could do this (convert the offices). The idea wasn’t accepted by all of our agents, but most could see sense in getting away from the old office layouts to something more friendly and open.”

Moving Forward

We asked what Prodehl wanted to focus on going forward. “We need to free up our agents from mundane paperwork duties and give them the ability to spend more time with their clients. So, we are automating as much as possible with CRMs and dotLoop. [We’re also] providing other training and support with the goal of making the transaction as easy as possible for both our agents and their clients and customers. We’ve built an operational network where our agents can use any office, and all the systems will be the same. It builds relationships and openness.”

But above all, says Prodehl, “we’ve retained the operational and financial conservatism that my father instilled in me and the leaders of our company. Now that we have over 50 offices, 1,250 agents and 200 employees, we may not be as nimble as we were, but it doesn’t mean we can’t remain careful with where and how we spend funds.”

He adds, “I’ve always viewed my role as being at the bottom of a pyramid, not at the top. Everything that goes on in our organization flows down to the leadership team and me. And, while sometimes the issues are rather mundane, to someone in our organization it is important, and we act accordingly.