By Kevin Canessa Jr.
If you’ve driven along Kearny Ave., you’ve no doubt seen the Coccia Realty office. And no matter where you go in town, you’ve seen its neat-looking signs on lawns of homes for sale.
And it’s not just in Kearny. There’s a big reason why Coccia signs are seen so often — it’s because for more than 50 years, since 1961, when Joseph Coccia Jr. first opened the agency to this day under the ownership and leadership of John “Jan” Kwapniewski — Coccia has always represented the very best there is in real estate.
Kwapniewski first got his real-estate license in 1985 — and then, just four short years later, he bought Coccia Realty and became its president.
Since that time, he’s opened four more offices — in Lyndhurst, Rutherford, Madison and Montville — and has expanded what was once a single-office entity into a real-estate powerhouse that employs more than 100 agents. And, by April 2015, there will be two more offices: one in Secaucus and another in Clifton.
Many of the agents speak more than one language, too, and that’s critical in today’s world. Speakers of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Polish will find an agent who can speak in their native tongue to make the home buying or selling process that much easier.
So just what is it that makes Coccia stand out from the rest? Well, for starters, Kwapniewski has never forgotten what it’s like to be new to the business, and as such, he imparts his experience and knowledge to his team as a mentor and coach. He does everything in his power to ensure all of his employees are the best-trained and most knowledgeable in the industry.
And because of Coccia’s connection to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, that training is the best in the business, he says.
“The training Better Homes and Gardens offers is outstanding,” Kwapniewski said. “And it’s constant. They offer our agents live training, live webinars, pre-recorded seminars and weekly training on issues in the industry that are that are critical.”
Because of his style of leadership, and because of the topnotch training available to his agents, Kwapniewski says he’s always been able to attract the highest-quality talent to come to work for him.
“My goal always has been and always will be not to have the largest quantity of agents, but the strongest quality,” he said. “I don’t just hire anyone — and I am not afraid to let someone go if they’re not willing to work with our standards. But when there are people who can focus on our mission — people who are committed to learning, those are the people I want working with us.”
Kwapniewski says it’s also important to note that some of the best agents are those who have been well mentored. He says each new agent is managed and mentored by a superior.
“To be really good agent, you’ve got to mentored and nurtured,” he said. “And it takes about two years, in reality, for that mentorship to develop into something special.”
Why hook up with Better Homes?
While Kwapniewski has the statistics to prove he’s got the most sales and volume in our readership area, he says he wanted something more for the business. He really didn’t need to rebrand Coccia as most already know the Coccia brand and name. But he opted to rebrand to reinvent what he’s already succeeded at.
“They were after me for at least three years,” Kwapniewski said of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. “Their business model was fresh and put together by some of the brightest minds in the industry. And with the power and support of their branding, overall, it’s better for the consumer — and a win-win for the agents because of the aforementioned training.”
In-house marketing and advertising
One of the other major areas where Kwapniewski says Coccia is different from the rest is that agents are not asked to perform social media or advertising on their own. He’s got a full-time social media expert on staff who does all the Tweeting and Facebook work. And, the company pays for all advertising.
Many other agencies demand agents pay for their own advertising and require them to do their own social media branding.
“Not with us,” Kwapniewski said. “Our agents’ job is customer service and to negotiate deals. We’ve got our own back office that does the brokerage, marketing, advertising and promotion. We don’t ask our agents to spend their own money. Others do, and in many cases, the agents don’t have the money to be spending. If it’s between putting food on the table or marketing your house, you know the choices they have to make.
“That is never the case with us. We do it all for them. And it benefits our people and our consumers.”
To get in touch with Kwapniewski, call him at Coccia’s Kearny office at 201-997-7000 or stop in at 636 Kearny Ave., or visit www.cocciarealty.com.