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Expanding the residential broker/client relationship.

Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy recently unveiled its real estate Concierge Service. The new service is meant to provide a higher level of service for real estate buyers and sellers in New York City.

Dana Williams has been named Concierge Services Director for the four offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights which Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy serves.

"We have created an elite network of real estate service providers to eliminate much of the legwork for our customers and clients in selecting contractors, painters, electricians, plumbers, decorators, cleaning services, dog walkers, assisting with utility set up, etc. Now our clients and customers can call us, their real estate concierge, just as they would a concierge in a luxury hotel," said Willjams, who had her own business assisting clients in overcoming similar headaches over the past few years.

"This is one of the many benefits of dealing with our firm," said JoAnne Kennedy, president of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy. "Our concierge service will help find a reputable mover, cleaning company, floor sander, painter, etc., so that the moving or home alteration process is less difficult. Now we have made it easier and simpler with one phone call to our concierge."

The service is for anyone who has listed their property with Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy or is working as a buyer with one of the firm's 115 agents in its four offices.

"We cannot think of a more appropriate city in which to offer a real estate concierge service," said William M. Hunt III, president of the East Side Coldwell Banker operation. "It is designed for the busy New Yorker who appreciates the value of true service. Whether it is the busy investment banker or the Silicon Alley entrepreneur, New Yorkers are just too overworked and always on the go."

The service is also unusual because it is available to anyone who has used Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy in the past to either buy or sell.

"We want people who have used us in the past to feel they are part of this family," said Williams. "This service allows someone to use our real estate company not only to get one job done, but also as a resource for life. We want them to come to us for anything related to home services."

The new service is likely to be particularly helpful to relocation companies whose transferring executives often need another level of help with their move.

"While we already handle over 500 referrals yearly into our offices, we expect this new service not only to enhance those individuals' experience with us, but also to lead more Relo companies to call us," said Stephanie Coburn, vice president and Relocation Director, as well as manager of the West Side office.

From the real estate agents' point of view, the new service is a boon. For years, real estate agents have been asked for recommendations on contractors, lawyers, mortgage brokers, painters, etc. and have given clients their Rolodex, often with mixed results. Now Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy agents not only have someone who keeps a data~base of such providers, but who also checks to be sure they have references, are licensed if necessary, have proof of insurance if necessary, etc.

"We try to do a thorough check," said Williams. "We check with the New York City Business Bureau, the respective professional licensing departments if applicable, and their references to see if there are any complaints lodged against a vendor. We only accept someone who has been referred to us."

Indeed, the Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy Concierge Service chooses its vendors by "word of mouth" referral only. "We do not just go to the Yellow Pages and start calling. We only deal with people whose reputation is such that it leads someone to recommend them to us. Initially, we got the referrals from our agents, and now we are getting them from others. The program is growing," said Williams.

Initially, Williams is focusing on 12 key types of services, but eventually will expand to even more. She also tries to keep the number of vendors to three for each service so as to maintain quality control.

The program is supported by national advertising being done by Coldwell Banker and seen Sundays on all major networks. In addition, a sophisticated Internet-based computer data-base allows Williams to keep track of all the clients enrolled in the program, her vendors, and who needs what to be done when. While Williams does not supervise the actual work done by a vendor, she does check to be sure the client or customer is happy and that the vendor did well by them. If not, the vendor is out of the program.

"Vendors pay a small marketing fee to belong to the program," said Williams. "They view the marketing fee as similar to paying to be in the Yellow Pages, but we bring a much more focused and willing customer to them than a blind call from the Yellow Pages,"

According to data Coldwell Banker researched, 80 percent of home-buyers plan to make some major home improvements to what they are buying and many plan them during the first year of ownership. For instance, during the first year of owning a home, a buyer needs a hardware merchant 75 percent of the time; a painter or wallpaper hanger 57 percent of the time; and a lighting merchant 35 percent of the time. Also, 79 percent of all home-buyers plan to make some major home improvements such as the following: bath/kitchen remodeling, 32.1 percent; flooring/carpeting/tile, 38.5 percent; heating/air-conditioning, 16.8 percent; new windows, 15 percent; carpet cleaner, 25.1 percent; cleaning service, 13.4 percent; electrician, 25.9 percent; exterminator, 5,6 percent; furniture, 60.3 percent; and window treatments, 57.2 percent,

The above information was compiled from survey responses of "Getting to Know You" welcoming package recipients throughout the United States. The survey results were coded, edited and tabulated by Beta Research Corporation, an independent market research company in Syosset, NY, using standard research products.
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Title Annotation:Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy Concierge Service
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jul 28, 1999
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