Mike Miedler’s first job out of graduating from West Chester University of Pennsylvania was at Century 21. Now, over two decades later, the New Jersey native has been named CEO of the company that gave him his start in the real estate business.
“I think it’s an opportunity for me to basically continue what I’ve done with the Century 21 organization for over 21 years,” Miedler told Inman, about taking on the new top leadership role. “I started here literally out of college and have worked in so many different capacities and know so many different agents and brokers throughout the network.”
Miedler told Inman he’s stuck with Century 21 all of these years because of the people and the system the franchisor has in place.
“It’s an iconic brand that’s been around the industry for many years – probably the originator in the space of real estate franchising,” Miedler said. “And it’s continued to evolve over the years. I’ve seen a ton of different changes from the day I walked in, in 1998, and Century 21 has been leading the pack almost every step of the way.”
Miedler will take the job over after outgoing CEO Nick Bailey stepped down, saying he wanted to spend more time with family and move back to Colorado, as the company announced this week. Under Bailey, Century 21 undertook an ambitious rebrand, which has been polarizing with some resistant to the change and others celebrating the refresh.
Miedler is also a big fan of the recent rebrand and told Inman there’s no consideration of going back to the old logo and branding.
“We have a phenomenal, progressive, forward-looking brand,” Miedler said. “Like many different brands that evolve over time, whether it be Starbucks, or Holiday Inn, or Southwest, hundreds of great, iconic brands like ours continuously evolve and it’s a new look for today and we are full speed ahead.”
He also addressed some of the naysayers that have been vocal in their opposition to the change.
“Of course people don’t like change, but I think over time, they’ll adapt to it,” Miedler said. “From my seat, or my seat formerly, people in the industry and the consumer love it.”
Bailey was also credited with changing the culture for the better at Century 21. Miedler told Inman that Bailey brought a certain, “swagger,” to the role of CEO and to the company.
Miedler’s main objective at Century 21 over the last several years has been to lead the growth team. He was named chief growth officer early in 2018 and has achieved a three-fold increase in franchises sold since 2014. The past three years have marked the highest years for franchise sales since 2006 and the company’s global office count has expanded 18 percent year-over-year in from 2017 to 2018.
Miedler’s focus is not necessarily on finding new or underserved markets, but bolstering the company presence in its existing markets.
“In that time, I did the largest – and a handful of some of the other largest – deals that the Century 21 brand has done from a franchise standpoint with my team,” Miedler said.
“About 50 percent of the work that we do, 50 percent of the business, is not necessarily growing by going into dark or underserved markets,” Miedler added. “It’s by helping our existing broker base grow their businesses, become more profitable and expand on their strategies and dreams for their companies.”
Miedler will also be tasked with keeping a legacy brand and agents and brokers working under the franchise model, at a time when there’s more disruption in the industry than ever. He’ll need to ensure Century 21’s value proposition is clear and worth it for agents even as competition rises in the form of venture-fueled brokerages such as Compass, and venture-fueled brokerage alternatives like Opendoor, Zillow Offers, and even Century 21 parent company Realogy’s new iBuyer effort.
“There’s obviously a lot of different options out there and there’s always something for somebody,” Miedler said. “You can look back to even the 70s and 80s with other versions whether it be Help-U-Sell or some other discount models that exist or have been out there.”
Century 21 is under the umbrella of Realogy, along with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA Real Estate and Sotheby’s International Realty in Realogy’s portfolio of real estate franchises.
“What we are able to provide is a leadership position, a platform, tools, technology training things that agents need as the basics of this business,” Miedler added. “Really as hard as this business is, its really about the basics – the constant blocking and tackling that you need to do be successful in any sales industry. That’s what we’re out there looking to provide.”