Marco Di Quinzio was working in a downtown Halifax restaurant, decorating a dessert for a customer, when it happened. His boss scolded him for using too much whipped cream and chocolate on the plate, insisting he was wasting money.
It was time for a change. Di Quinzio wasn’t sure what career he wanted to pursue. But he was sure he had one solid talent: people skills. “I am a service guy; I love service,” he says. “I will go to a restaurant if the food is not great, if I get tremendous service.”
On the advice of a friend, he looked into real estate.
That was almost 11 years ago. He is now a salesperson and co-owner of Press Realty. Besides selling and buying homes for clients, Di Quinzio says he wanted to create a particular type of company focusing on customer service, loyalty, trust, and the buy-local movement. For example, local firms produced all of the company’s marketing, signs and logos. Its blog features profiles on local start-ups, local events, and small businesses.
What do you do as a real-estate agent that is different from what others do?
I saw in real estate there were all these competing brokerages that were doing it for cheaper, offer this, offer that, as incentive for the public to use them. I thought that’s a good motto for certain people. But there is a certain segment that says, “I don’t want a deal. I want the deal to be a good job. I want it to be done right.”
How has the industry changed since you started?
When I got in, it was possible just to have a cellphone. Over [the last 11 years], it has come to if you didn’t have a smartphone and you weren’t replying to your emails and not responding to all this stuff, you were being left behind. In an effort to keep up, people started to think about the relationship not being as important as the technology. A lot of us, even in real-estate and service industries, we don’t always want to talk with people. Well, for me, I started to realize you still want that strong relationship and that strong relationship is never going to be replaced by technology.
What has changed in the Halifax housing market?
You’re coming to me, you’ve been shopping and thinking about it, you have access to information on an unprecedented level. You’re not really coming to me to see what’s available, you’re coming to me to make sure you don’t make a mistake. That’s a huge shift. It used to be I was your tour guide. Now, I’m not your tour guide, I am your consultant… Once in awhile we are able to uncover something through our relationships with other agents, other sellers. But for the most part, you are coming to me with your shortlist. That changes what your expectations are for me.
Have your experiences working with people now differed from working with people in other service industries?
I thought when I first got into the business, I could just show up and hug everybody and they would open-arms accept me and they would trust everything I say. I had to get used to the fact that in this business, people don’t see me, they see a sales guy. He’s going to try to swindle me, he’s only out for the money, he’s going to take mom’s house and sell it for cheaper. And I realize very quickly with people is that we are very suspicious that somebody’s intentions are not good, so we are very guarded… I started being more sympathetic to people in those situations. When people call to try to sell me something, I will hear them out and a lot of times, once they get more comfortable, they start sounding like themselves and you can have that relationship.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned over the years in real estate?
It’s forced me to really focus on the most minute things about me. Most of the time we go to work as an employee and we know here’s my job description, here’s my salary, here’s what I have to do to get a promotion. Well, in real estate it’s a double-edge sword because every day you can choose what those factors are, because you are your own boss. And being an optimistic person, you think, great, I don’t have a boss, I can do whatever I want. The flipside of that is, now you can do whatever you want, so how are you going to go out and keep yourself accountable and do all the things you need to do to work hard.