A Help-U-Sell Real Estate broker/owner since 1999, Richard Cricchio practically pioneered the set-fee concept in his home state of Hawaii.
When he first opened his office, Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties, he had to educate the public on the set-fee concept. “People never wanted to pay a percentage but when offered an alternative, they thought something was wrong,” he said.
That’s something Cricchio can relate to. He visited several Help-U-Sell offices during a four-year period before deciding to purchase an office of his own. “I couldn’t believe it could work,” he said. “It’s a different mindset to understand how you could profit by not collecting a percentage.” After looking at the offices’ different business models, Cricchio said a light bulb went off.
His office’s business model capitalizes on Help-U-Sell’s set-fee concept. Because of the copycat brokerages that have popped up on the island of Oahu in recent years, Honolulu Properties doesn’t charge extra for anything. “Our fee is our fee. That has helped us stay competitive,” Cricchio said.
They have also worked to keep their name top of mind on the island, which Cricchio describes as “one big neighborhood.” He runs TV ads, does strategic print advertising and distributes mailouts, but it’s probably his weekly radio show that gets the most attention. Cricchio began doing the talk show in 2002 at the suggestion of the station’s morning show host, whom he met after sponsoring an event the station held. The show has proven so popular that listeners rallied to get it back on the air when Clear Channel ceased local programming. Cricchio said the show covers real estate trends and news and answers listeners’ questions. He keeps the attitude light and doesn’t always pitch Help-U-Sell during the show.
Cricchio’s goal for 2012 is to complete 300 transactions. “I think the market’s ready now,” he said. His office closed 91 transactions in 2011, as of Dec. 29.
He plans to drum up more business by increasing his appearances at home shows and hosting more buyer and seller seminars.For new brokers, Cricchio encourages optimism and a strategy. “You have to believe in the system,” he said. “You can’t get caught up in the day-to-day stuff. Make a plan and really stick to it. It’s still the best business you can be in.”