Roger Pettingell is a real estate agent serving the Sarasota and Manatee areas. He specializes in waterfront and luxury properties. He has had more than $2 billion in sales volume since starting his real estate career in 1985. In 2020 alone, he closed over $175 million in private property sales.
Early in his career, Roger’s people skills made him a top producer for Coldwell Banker®. He has vast experience, going through the 2005 housing boom and 2008 Great Recession. He holds the highest Sarasota County single-year sales record.
His hard work earned him the title of top REALTOR® for Sarasota and Manatee counties for the past 11 years. He was named REAL Trends #1 Real Estate Agent for Longboat Key, Bird Key, and Sarasota. He also received titles as #1 Coldwell Banker Agent for Sarasota County, the state of Florida, and the southeast region. He was named to the Society of Excellence in 2014 by Coldwell.
After graduating with a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Guilford College, Roger went on to join Arvida as a marketing manager. His work there quickly shifted into real estate sales within two years.
However, Roger is a valued member of Sarasota for much more than just his real estate work. He has spent time on the advisory boards for Child Protection Center, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc., and the Ringling Museum. He has also participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters and Sarasota Adopt-A-Family.
As an experienced Sarasota luxury real estate agent, Roger Pettingell says most of his success comes from offering top-notch customer service and using cutting-edge marketing tools.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Well, I didn’t start in real estate. I love animals and thought I was going to be a vet. However, I realized I work well with people, and I was drawn to the marketing industry. Real estate almost fell into my lap when Coldwell acquired my company.
I had moved from marketing into real estate for Avida in 1985, and they later merged with Coldwell in 2002. By that point, there was no denying what I was going to be doing. I realized my skills were perfect for being an agent because I knew how to pinpoint the needs of my clients and showcase what I’m selling.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I work with a lot of people on any given day. I have a team of five now, so my first task each day is checking emails to see if anything is pending. Next, I look over my calendar to see if I have specific appointments or meetings. Every day my schedule changes, and I love that flexibility. I’m not stuck in an office all day—I’m out looking at properties or talking to clients about a listing.
I think I would get bored very quickly in an office setting. I enjoy interacting with people and being outside in the Florida sun too much.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Usually, I just start researching how to make it happen. I’m used to jumping on new tech and trying out new things. So, when I get an idea, I kind of run with it. Of course, now I have a team I can run ideas past first. But, I feel like sitting on ideas leads to a sluggish work approach, and it’s hard to be productive if you do that.
When I get an idea, I ask myself what new tools I can use to make it happen. It’s easy to get stuck using the same tools by habit. I think asking myself if there is anything new I can use to bring my vision to life keeps me from staying stuck.
What’s one trend that excites you?
In the short term, we’ve been in a low inventory market for a while now. But we are starting to see an uptick in available properties. That excites me because I love bringing new options to my clients.
As far as long-term trends, I’m excited about the social media trend. Technology has made it so much easier to reach more people. If a client contacts me looking for properties, I can send them Ariel video footage that a drone took of a gorgeous oceanfront property or countryside farm. I mean, this is the kind of stuff I really couldn’t have even dreamed up 35 years ago when I was just getting started. There was no Facebook, Youtube, or LinkedIn. We certainly didn’t have access to high-def, remote-controlled cameras. This is just a completely different ballgame, and I love it.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Action over talk. So many salespeople are great at talking. They could sell you the Brooklyn bridge, right?
But, what makes me more productive is that I’m doing a lot for my clients. We make every sale a boutique experience. We start with a one-on-one meeting that helps us assess the goals and property in question. We use cutting-edge marketing tools and tech security. Everything we do is done with the utmost care for the client. It’s all as efficient and technical as possible, really moving everything forward quickly while getting every detail.
It’s easy to be lazy here and there or feel stuck with a fear of failure—but I’ve learned to jump on board and throw myself into whatever I’m doing. I think that’s served me well because I don’t have a naturally aggressive personality—so it’s a good balance.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I probably would have gone into marketing or sales in college. That might be the biggest change for me—the realization that I wanted to work with people. I would tell my younger self to capitalize on those skills earlier. I’m not sure what that would’ve changed in my career trajectory, but I think that would be my most significant piece of advice. Oh, and I’d probably tell myself to buy stock in Microsoft and hold it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It might be my approach to tech. I guess this is changing now, but I’ve always been one to jump on the newest tools and tech opportunities to help me with my work. So many people drag their feet when they have to learn a new tool, software, or machine.
Back in the day, I was the first person in my office to buy my computer. I go to tech conferences as often as possible. I’m active on social media. I started REALTALK™ in 2014 and has over 300 episodes as well as other video content.
People are starting to catch on—especially many of the younger agents. But, I’d say that was one area where many people held out, and I felt alone in my push for a while.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Maybe you could talk about spending time with family. For example, “Finding the perfect balance between personal and business lives. Sometimes, you think you can just go and go, but getting to a point where you can work hard and be successful while enjoying life with your family is best. That time spent with children as they grow can be fleeting and passes by so quickly. Now that my oldest son is on his way to college next year, it’s a great reminder of the importance of being present and spending quality family time.”
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Taking a boutique approach to clients has helped my business grow. In this industry, you need referrals, and nothing grew those referrals faster than clients who felt cared for. Our approach is very personalized, but we are also very mindful of our clients’ time.
I have a natural knack for really getting to the heart of what someone needs. So, when I approach each property listing or buyer, I can hone in on what is required. What does the property offer? Who needs that property, and what will they want to know about it? Who is selling that property, and what do they need to get out of it? Stopping to answer those questions means I can tailor my approach to that situation.
If I can get to the heart of someone’s motivations, I’m going to make a sale. And, not just make a sale—but I’m going to make them happy with their transaction decision (buying or selling). It’s not just about getting that signature on an offer—it’s about making sure all the pieces come together to get them exactly what they want.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on, I realized that not every property was suitable for every person but that there was someone out there for every property. What I mean by that is that you can’t try to force a buyer into a property that isn’t right for them. Sometimes, you get a gut feeling as an agent, and you have to go with that. If you don’t, you risk an unhappy buyer who ends up with buyer’s remorse.
So, in those first years, my failures were trying to sell and not understanding the bigger picture. But that changed pretty quickly, and I realized that every property would have a buyer; you just have to find the right person for the right fit. That’s made my business flourish, so I think early failure helped me become a better salesman in the end.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Get into something where people aren’t using tech as much as they could. I recommend looking for where high def video and social media might not be used because people in that industry aren’t used to doing it that way. That would be the right business move. Learn an advanced skill and figure out how to incorporate that into a traditional business.
I think car lots could learn from what we are doing in real estate. I know their products sometimes go fast, but keeping up with the listings and doing a virtual experience for the buyers could help bring in more people. No one wants to sit down and spend four hours haggling over a car, worried they are getting the short end of the stick. So, I guess that’s my business idea—open a car lot and then create a unique online presence with sticker prices and updated inventory right there. Tech makes this so easy to update in real-time these days. Take high-def pictures of what you have and turn it into the most convenient experience ever. Take that a step further with excellent customer service, and you’d have a million-dollar business.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Probably a dinner out with my wife. It’s great just to connect and relax. As a business owner and entrepreneur, it can be hard to put down the office—because it’s right there in your pocket all the time. But, the mental load will get to you—especially in such a volatile and explosive market like what we’ve been experiencing lately. Stopping to appreciate those connections and relationships should be a top priority, or it tends to go on the backburner.
I suppose the best business purchase I’ve made recently was either software or attending a convention. But, I’m always looking for ways to expand or change with the times.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use FaceTime to show our properties to buyers in real-time. I think that’s been a huge factor in our business—especially with COVID. We were using it way before COVID, but that part of things was a pretty seamless transition. We are used to working with out-of-state clients or busy professionals who don’t have time to do first walk-throughs on properties.
FaceTime lets us go over the property in real-time and get to know our buyers better. We even get FaceTime showing offers.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I know “How to Win Friends & Influence People” is kind of a salesman’s cliché pick, but it’s exactly that kind of approach that has gotten me where I am in my business today. If you haven’t read it, I recommend going for that one.
What is your favorite quote?
“Take the attitude of a student; never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.” – Og Mandino.
- Always get to the heart of your customer’s needs before selling them anything.
- Make sure your approach is thorough and still efficient.
- Stay on top of the newest tech trends to offer the best to your clients.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.