Elite Property Research LLC is already on its fourth office space.
The 3-year-old company previously occupied two offices in a downtown Bradenton high-rise. But the spots were on the opposite sides of the building, which meant employees had to travel between them all the time.
“That was just not ideal anymore,” says founder and CEO Savannah Francis. At the beginning of February, the company moved to a space on Cortez Road that can easily accommodate its staff of 25 and allow for future expansion. “That was the goal — to have room to grow,” says Francis.
Elite Property Research LLC has already come a long way since its start as a one-woman, home-based operation in January 2014.
The company works with title agents and other clients to provide information on any unrecorded liens for things like code enforcement violations or unpaid utilities that could impact a property after closing. It looks into properties in the local area and in other parts of the country, and has more than 100 regular clients it deals with on a frequent basis.
“I tell my people all the time that we are not paper pushers, we are researchers,” says Francis. “And we pull rabbits out of hats all day long.”
The firm's revenue has grown more than 550% since its inception and 250% in the past year. “In this industry, if everybody's doing what they're supposed to be doing, it doesn't matter who you go to — you're going to get the same information,” says Francis. “But it's the experience you have during the process that makes the difference. If we're building relationships with people, if we're giving them great customer service and accurate information, they're going to continue to come back.”
Elite Property Research does a lot of its work in Sarasota and Manatee counties and elsewhere in Florida. It began expanding into other states as a result of client requests and now has satellite offices in New Jersey and Virginia. Francis covets more of a national presence. “And there's a whole lot of Florida we haven't touched,” she says.
Employees are assigned to different geographic areas, managing work in either a specific county in Florida or another state. (Francis has found that other states have more state-driven rules and regulations, while in Florida more is done at the county level.) “That not only helps them become familiar with those areas but also helps them build relationships with the people in those cities, counties and states,” she says.
Francis strives to create an environment where her employees enjoy coming to work every day. The 32-year-old mother of three allows staff to bring their kids to work on days when school's not in session. “We laugh about the fact that when school's out we're like a day care,” she says. “We'll stick the kids in the conference room and put a movie on and they'll just hang out. But it's great for me and great for my staff, because people don't have to call out of work because their kids are off school.”
When building her staff, Francis has taken a chance on people other employers might have passed over — and been highly pleased with the results. “What we do is not hard. It can be taught pretty much to anybody,” she says. “When I started the company I really was looking to create opportunity not only for myself but for other people. It wasn't solely about money.”
Francis sees other areas her company could enter, but there's no rush. “I would love to get into some other products in the real estate industry, but those are kind of on the back burner until we really figure out and plan how we want to handle that,” she says. “Until then, we're working on mastering what we've got.”