The competition had three categories – small, medium and large businesses – and the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company was named the number seven best place to work in the large business category. Lucky number seven!
We sat down with President and CEO Jim Fite to learn about the nomination process, what makes the company such a fantastic place to work and their goals for the future.
C21: CENTURY 21 Judge Fite was just named one of the “Top 100 Places to Work” in Dallas/Fort Worth, how are these winners determined?
JF: Someone nominated us, but we’re not sure who. We were contacted that we had been nominated last spring. They immediately sent out a questionnaire to all of our employees. Out of 510 surveys sent, 273 of our agents and staff responded. They gave over 420 comments! The paper then compiles all the survey results from the nominated companies and determines the rankings.
C21: How many other local businesses were you competing against?
JF: 1,275 companies were nominated across three categories: small, medium and large businesses. We were in the large business category (500 employees or more) and we ranked #7 on the list.
C21: Congratulations! Your parents started the company and now you and your sister are leading the charge. What are the advantages of a family run business?
JF: There is certainly a vested interest in the quality of service when your name is on the door. It feels like every client is important . Your whole life is invested in it, as opposed to working for another person. We have a very family culture here. When someone joins, I send an email with the subject line, “Welcome to the Judge Fite family.” We build that culture from the day they start with our organization.
C21: What do you think makes for a great office culture?
JF: My perception is it’s important to go overboard in the area of communication. Keeping our people informed, promoting the good, or if it’s not so good, talking about how we can improve. Always looking to exceed expectations. Getting a positive customer experience.
C21: How do you work to ensure that commitment to service?
JF: CENTURY 21 does a quality service survey after every closing. We see those results online in real time. I can look at our whole company’s results any moment of any day. In our company, I have a staff member who prints out every survey, every day, and puts them in my mail box, hard copy.
I have a stack at least a half inch thick every day. I walk in to my office, bring them to my desk and I read every quality service survey that comes back. I circle the overall rating, I read the comments and I write a personal note to the agent. I put them in my sister’s inbox, she reads them, makes her comments and then each manager gets their people’s surveys. They will take them back and read them and then they will read the survey in front of their peers.
Our company’s quality service rating year-to-date is 96 percent.
C21: How do you maintain that standard of excellence across 20 offices?
JF: We survey our employees every year in August. There are 100 questions on the survey. We take that information to our annual strategic planning meeting. We then develop the plan for the upcoming year and beyond based upon what our people say about us.
Each group of managers (22 managers) across four groups, meets before the annual meeting. At the meeting they give a report from their individual group and we then plan for the future. My point is, it’s bottom up – from agents to staff to the management team.
Once management signs off on our plan for the year ahead, we to talk to our agents about what we’re going to be doing in the coming year. They have our commitment based on the survey they filled out.
C21: How important is training when it comes to establishing a great place to work?
JF: It’s absolutely important. We have brought in Brian Buffini to our company. We have 150 -250 agents who have gone through the Buffini program. Every new agent goes through the Peak Producer program. We have a 12 week program for all new agents that meets every Friday. We also have coaching with our managers. Every manager is a certified mentor through Peak Producers. Our managers coach on an individual basis. Then we have the CENTURY 21 brand for online training for additional specialization.
C21: Will you leverage this new “Top Places to Work” achievement to recruit top producers to the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite team?
JF: Absolutely. It’s already being done. We’re trying to go viral in social media. We communicated it internally, the paper released a video on Sunday and published the full list on Monday.
The video will be shown at all of our sales meetings this week. We encourage our agents to share on their social media channels and share with their sphere of influence. We have posters for all of our offices. The news will go up on our website. It’s also now in my email signature.
C21: That’s excellent. Congratulations to the whole CENTURY 21 Judge Fite team. We are proud to have you as members of the System.