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Women in Business: Q&A with Ann Davis & Stephanie Bellanova, Broker Associates | Owners ERA Central Realty Group

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Ann Davis & Stephanie Bellanova have been working alongside each other as a mother/daughter team since 1986 when Ann opened ERA Ann Davis & Associates. Ann, a Realtor since 1977 and Stephanie since 1990, share a broad range of experience and in that time have seen their company grow to what it is today.

Now three offices strong as ERA Central Realty Group, with offices in Cream Ridge, Bordentown & Freehold, they both bring their own unique skill set to the management of their company. Ann's unparalleled expertise and years of experience along with Stephanie's knowledge base of real estate technology, tools & systems make them the perfect team.

Serving four counties in Central New Jersey: Monmouth, Mercer, Ocean and Burlington - their locations have grown into a major force in the area as they continue to maintain high standards for their agents while providing 'Service Plus' for all clients and customers.

HOW HAS YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE MADE YOU THE LEADER YOU ARE TODAY?
ANN:
Growing up as a farm girl, learning the value of a good work ethic from my parents, loving the land, learning the value of land and home, honoring family and country, I believe set me on my way to real estate and eventually owning my own company.

STEPHANIE:
The leader I am today came from my experiences growing up in a real estate office and family. Always at conferences, hearing keynote speakers and panels with top agents and brokers each year shaped me and gave me a priceless education in this industry and in life.

HOW HAS YOUR PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT EXPERIENCE AIDED YOUR POSITIONS AT ERA?
ANN:
My previous employment experience is very diverse
a. I was the single employee at a finance company; I took applications for loans, received payments on loans, did the bookkeeping, made collection phone calls, notified the "chase" man when loan payments were 15 days late. It was quite an experience; diverse customers, etc., I grew up quickly! People skills were a necessity, and they STILL ARE!

b. As an employee at Southern BEll Telephone, I used a switch board and used plugs to connect the calls after I answered with "number please". That experience readied me for phone etiquette.

c. For sales experience I was a Mary Kay representative. Presentation skills were learned.

d. In my thirties I finally realized my destiny when I received my salesperson's real estate license in New Jersey and went to work for a small independent broker. Since I was one of only three full time associates, I accompanied him on all appointments. That was my training. I also did his office work for him. I learned what I would do to improve a real estate office. He actually agreed with me and we planned to purchase an ERA Franchise together, but it was not meant to be I suppose, since at the last minute he decided that he and his wife wanted to retire soon and not grow the business. He stayed as an independent broker and I was left to go forward on my own. The rest is history.

STEPHANIE:
I have no previous employment experience! I've worked for and with my mom in her real estate business since I was in 8th grade.

WHAT HAVE THE HIGHLIGHTS AND CHALLENGES BEEN DURING YOUR TENURES AT ERA?
ANN:
The only challenges we have had since joining ERA in 1987 have been market related, such as the savings and loan crisis, followed by 10 years of recovery, followed by a boom market, followed by another crisis! The highlights have been fantastic leadership, great events and fantastic growth.

STEPHANIE:
For me, the highlight of my time with ERA has been witnessing the entire network come together in ways not just related to real estate. This happens through different training classes, events, etc. - this past year I joined up with a group of brokers who decided to run a Tough Mudder for Wounded Warriors. It was crazy and I've never done anything like it before in my life! But now, I feel even more empowered and bonded with a great group of brokers.

HOW IS ERA USING TECHNOLOGY AND TRENDS TO ITS ADVANTAGE?
ANN:
ERA has always been the technology brand and has always been a frontrunner in taking advantage of all technology and its trends. Its technology, its collaborative nature and its agent focus were the reasons I chose ERA in 1986-87.

STEPHANIE
Technology in real estate is not just about putting apps, programs and platforms together for the industry. I believe that ERA has it right because they look more to what any given specific piece of technology is going to do to enhance the EASE with which agents and brokers can conduct their business. It's not about the next shiny object, it's about implementation.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN WHO ARE LOOKING TO ENTER THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS?
ANN:
My only advice to women who want to enter real estate business is, "You can and will be a success if you love people, can remain flexible, have the support of your family and remember to share the love of real estate with everyone you meet.

STEPHANIE:
My advice would be to make sure you have support at home. Real estate can be a demanding business on your emotions and time. Support from your family will carry you through.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
ANN:
Maintaining a work/life balance becomes a habit, I think. Family must be a part of your business, they must remain engaged with you in your work. I tell all agents that family must always come first. Make appointments with your family just as you would with clients. It is not easy, but well worth working at.

STEPHANIE:
With four kids, maintaining work/life balance has been my life's work! I went through years of emotion and guilt - wondering if I was doing the right thing putting the kids in daycare or missing a school play plus not feeling 100% focused at work many times. I have found that the key for me is scheduling. I am serious about blocking out time for home and work and when I am at either place, I'm there 100%.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIGGEST ISSUE FOR WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE?
ANN:
I do not believe there is an issue for women in the workplace. Women can be their own worst enemy.

STEPHANIE:
I believe that the biggest issue for women in the workplace is work/life balance, especially if they are mothers. Even with the most supportive spouse, we are moms first. Sometimes it's not just the scheduling challenges, but the emotional challenges we face with not being at home or work 100% of the time. We have to continually strive to be the absolute best we can be at both jobs.

HOW HAS MENTORSHIP MADE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL LIFE?
ANN:
My first broker was my mentor, even though at the time I knew nothing about mentorship. I realize now that my father was my best mentor for life itself! He taught me that only doing your best is acceptable and if you have the ability, anything less than 100% is not satisfactory. He also taught me that any job that is worth doing is worth doing right.

STEPHANIE:
Mentorship is something that happens organically in our company and at ERA. I have had so many "mentors" over the past several years and they are simply agents and brokers at other ERA franchises who are there to brainstorm, guide and truly care about my results without a formal title or structure to that mentorship. We take the same approach with our agents. Caring about their success as much as our own. Truly priceless.

WHICH OTHER FEMALE LEADERS TO YOU ADMIRE AND WHY?
ANN:
Never thought about it much, but I actually admire Barbara Bush.

STEPHANIE:
I admire my mother because she's never let being a woman stop her. She considers all people equal and believes you should be judged on your merit, not if you are a woman.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE OF ERA?
ANN:
My hope for ERA is we finally get the name and recognition in the real estate industry that the brand deserves.

STEPHANIE:
I hope that ERA continues to stay on the course they've been on for the past five years. We look forward to holding fast to our heritage and our culture while growing the ERA name and recognition. There truly is no other real estate franchise out there like it and the world needs to know that!