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Landing Out-of-Town Buyers/Users/adamp/Desktop/Nov_mag_pics/youInc

In his first year of business, Bruce Jorgensen sold 135 homes, worth $58.5 million. Pretty impressive considering he spent only half of that year in Florida. The rest of the time he was in Minneapolis–St. Paul.

Bruce Jorgensen, owner of The Jorgensen Group in Fort Myers, is a retired United Airlines pilot who discovered a passion for property sales. His offices in both Florida and Minnesota exist on a virtual plane—the Internet and radio airwaves—as well as on a bona fide aircraft (a Bonanza A36), in which he travels between his homes in both states. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been difficult for Jorgensen, who is licensed in both Florida and Minnesota, to build a robust customer base that stretches from North to South. The Jorgensen Group is also affiliated with Prudential Metrowide in the Twin Cities. Here’s how he gains and maintains customers in two different worlds:

1. Take to the Airwaves
When Jorgensen launched his brokerage business, his son Greg, who had previously sold advertising time for a Minnesota radio station, joined him. Greg is Jorgensen’s partner and the host of his real estate show, “Everything Real Estate.” The show is broadcast on air from 9 to 10 a.m. each Saturday on 1570 AM (KYCR) in Minneapolis, and online at www.brucejorgensen.com/RealEstate Radio.html. Greg records the show in Minnesota. The show’s name mirrors its discussion offerings: everything from the benefits of investing in Florida real estate, to market trends, to owning a second home stress free.

(Individual listings aren’t mentioned.) Old shows are archived on the company’s Web site, and to hear them, people have to register their contact information, which goes into Jorgensen’s database.

While not cheap—he spends about $100,000 for a year’s worth of shows—consider that Jorgensen says all his business is derived from the show and Internet site hits.

In fact, one of his customers first heard the program on a Saturday while traveling to his cabin in northern Minnesota. He was intrigued because it dealt with Florida properties and he had a home in Cape Coral. Two days later, he called Jorgensen and said he’d be a repeat investor if treated well.

Jorgensen did treat him well—he suggested a home right next to his own in Fort Myers. The customer bought it sight unseen and, as promised, has become a regular customer.

According to Jorgensen, it isn’t unusual for his customers to buy homes sight unseen.  However, because he’s dealing with very high-end homes, on occasion he will fly customers out to see luxury properties.

2. Develop Referrals
No question about it, one of the first steps in infiltrating another state’s market is to infiltrate the real estate professionals there, Jorgensen says. 

He gets the word out by visiting open houses, which he calls “a perfect platform to recruit agents.” He also attends real estate networking events. “I talk to people, as a Realtor® from Florida who’s at a real estate function in Minnesota.

“We have seminars on Florida real estate and advertise that on the radio. And we also invite agents to come and talk on the radio in a real estate forum,” Jorgensen says.

Most, if not all, of these customers come to him either through the radio, Internet hits or the referral program, he adds.

3. Promote What You’d Buy
Because customers are so far away geographically from the properties they view online, Jorgensen assures them he won’t sell anything he wouldn’t consider for himself. His home in Fort Myers is in a popular golf community, and he often refers customers to properties there.

4. Honesty Is the Best Policy
When the hot real estate market started to cool down, Jorgensen did a radio program with his son, advising people to buy homes they “would love to get stuck with for a while.
“I said, ‘Right now they’re doing well down there, but you want to be careful.’ It was good that I did that, because I sold a lot that year. [Some] people got nervous, but they didn’t go in with [unreal] expectations. We promoted it right,” he says.