Talking Shop: Lance Gutersohn of Peak to Peak
February 25, 2014
Lance Gutersohn, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Peak to Peak, 78491 U.S. Highway 40 in Winter Park and 63331 U.S. Highway 40 in Granby
How long have you been in business?
Licensed in 1978 before graduating high school, selling real estate almost my entire adult life. Opened RE/MAX Peak to Peak in Tabernash, July of 2009, Winter Park 2011, Granby 2013
How did you get started in this business?
Biggest barrier in Grand County?
“The fact we do not have a transportation system that serves the entire county .”
Peak to Peak
My father was a real estate broker, who put partnerships together. He and seven others started Meadow Ridge Condominiums back in the 1970s. I think I got the bug while in High School and then had an opportunity through an Intern Program with Cherry Creek Schools and RE/MAX. I was selling real estate three weeks after graduation.
Business mission statement
Every day, I just practice what mom and dad taught me, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you"; the rest has just worked itself out.
Success in the mission
As a company we have surpassed anything I could have imagined, with unmeasurable success in many areas. We are well respected, well placed in the business community and have great knack and ability to sell real estate.
How do you cope with Grand County's seasonal surges?
Like everyone else, you learn when not to fight it and go with the flow. Work hard during our peak seasons and play hard and enjoy where we live in the off-seasons. Our business is strong during on-season and slower in off-seasons, so it allows us to also take time off and travel a few times a year as well.
What do you think is the biggest business barrier in Grand County?
The biggest barrier is the fact we do not have a public transportation system that serves the entire county, allowing people with transportation needs to come and go on regularly scheduled routes. In order for our community to become sustainable, some type of taxing mechanism needs to be put in place to create a transportation district. This district could then utilize Grand County's current infrastructure of two rail terminals and two County-owned airports, which are currently well under-utilized.
How does your business give back to the community?
Most everyone in our company is involved with at least one nonprofit or community charity. We work here, live here and give here. Personally, I was previously involved for well over 10 years as Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber Chair. Twelve years on the Winter Park Music Inc. Board, Twelve years on the Intrawest Advisory Committee, currently serving as Chair for the Grand County Economic Development Committee and have sponsored the Annual Fourth of July Celebration in Fraser for the past 10-plus years.
Give examples of how you are environmentally responsible.
We try as an office to conserve energy and recycle everything we can. We also encourage green building whenever we have a say or input.
How do you support other local businesses?
By selling real estate, we create a buying cycle with new second homeowners. We do our best to promote our local businesses and help our new owners spend their money here in Grand County. Many of our brokers have great partnerships with other establishments that want us to promote their business.
How do you feel about direct competition?
Without competition, we would just be another real estate company. Competition allows us to do a better job and fight for our business. It also allows us to look better to the consumer, who ultimately wins because of it.
How do you market yourself?
Consistent campaigns are the best way to keep yourself in front of the public. Billboards are hard to come by, but sure work! Local news print has been great for us, as well as the Internet and personal websites. MyGrandBackyard.com is where I direct my personal traffic, which allows me to show all aspects of myself and my business.
What's the main thing you have you learned in your years in business?
Just do a good job, be honest, trustworthy, responsive and proud of what you do. Reputation is everything and with a bad one, you might as well pack up and find another place to live. It's a small Valley and word travels fast. I have lived here since 1982 and don't plan on leaving.
Who is your biggest business influence/mentor?
My office superstar Kristen L. Meyer, who mentored under me at Century 21 for years and now astounds the real estate community with here sales production. We have both shared in great success and I admire here commitment and ability.
What do you think is the most significant economic driver in Grand County?
The current answer is snow, which is something out of our control. I would like our biggest economic driver to be the people and new and bigger business. There is so much that we have to offer as a county, outside of skiing. It would be nice if there were a few more large employers of some sort, which could smooth out our ups and downs. Without Infrastructure and transportation, it can't really happen on any scale.
If you could go back in time and start up your business venture all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have spent more money and opened up earlier in Winter Park then I did. Opening in the middle of the Great Recession, I was scared to death to spend much of anything.
What's the best compliment you received from a client?
Repeat business and/or a referral
What do you consider to be your biggest mistake in business?
Not giving myself enough credit, not having enough confidence in who I am and not knowing when not to listen to others!
What organization(s) is (are) most useful to business owners?
Anyone who is in business and is not a member of their local chamber of commerce is just kidding themselves. It is the cheapest and best way to get to know the people and businesses in your community. Put all the politics and personal feelings aside and buck up! Also, community nonprofit involvement is crucial. Reach out and give some of your time to a couple organizations.
How much of a role does technology play in your business?
Technology is power and we use cutting edge technology all of the time. Whether a smartphone of tablet, whether the newest computer or camera, we always are looking to new tech.
What are the technology challenges in your business?
Fast Internet away from the office
What's the general key to making a client happy?
Availability, Responsiveness and Honesty
Is their any certain trend you've noticed in consumer habits lately?
Buyers are really taking advantage of the market conditions and they have a very interesting attitude. Confidence is much higher then it was, but they are still looking for the deals.
What are some tricks such as signs or window displays that you've noticed work in attracting customers to your front door?
Good advertising, red and blue chairs in front of our business, and location, location, location.
What are some ways to keep up staff morale?
Paid vacations, surprise days off, gift certificates for dinner
What are some ways you train your staff on an ongoing basis?
Webinars and computer training. Keeping up with technology.
If you could give advice to a novice entrepreneur, what would it be?
Believe in yourself, study your market, ask your Economic Development office for help and crucial information. Join your local Chamber