Want a free wreath at Christmas? First, stop by Wes Freas’ place in Potrero Hill. You’ll have to make it yourself, but Wes is happy to wine and dine you in the process.
Zephyr Realty San Francisco’s Wes Freas loves his clients – that’s obvious from the minute you meet him. He’s not one of those agents that buyers and sellers never see again.
Freas grew up in a small northeastern Pennsylvania town and, although he has spent most of his adult years in big cities, such as New York and now San Francisco, he has managed to maintain the small town culture. It’s an attractive quality, and makes the man very easy to be around.
After earning his bachelor’s in fine art he went on to get a teaching credential. Freas taught junior high for five years (that right there ought to earn him a medal) and then decided to make a career switch and went into the hospitality industry – hotels specifically – where he remained for 20 years. He credits his hotel industry experience with nurturing his latent customer service instincts that have blossomed further during his tenure in real estate.
Freas doesn’t employ a staff, which is typical of a customer-service oriented agent. He enjoys the hands-on interaction with his clients, most of whom become friends after the deal is closed. He does use independent contractors, however, for things such as staging, photography and other marketing tasks.
Freas typically closes a dozen deals a year, evenly split between buyers and sellers. When one considers how much each of those 12 commission checks works out to (remember, he works in San Francisco), Wes is doing a-ok.
Outside of work, Freas gives back – big time – to the community. Aside from coordinating the annual San Francisco LGBT Center’s fundraiser, Wes coordinates Zephyr Realty’s Project Open Hand delivery route once a week.
For those who aren’t familiar with Project Open Hand, it’s an all-volunteer organization that delivers groceries and meals to homebound San Franciscans with HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and other critical illnesses. They also serve the city’s senior population. Freas came to Project Open Hand by tagging along with a friend who was making a delivery. He says he found the experience quite humbling. “Imagine that the only hot meal you may have is one that is delivered to you by a stranger. In some cases it may be the only human contact you have that day. I have been delivering ever since, as well as coordinating my company’s weekly delivery schedule.”
Wes isn’t all about work, though. In fact, one of the things he likes best about his real estate career is that it allows him “the freedom to be independent and successful while allowing for a full personal life.” That personal life includes travel, hiking and skiing.
Freas estimates that 60 percent of his business comes to him via referrals. The only marketing he does for his business is to advertise in the neighborhood newspaper where his office is located and some direct marketing to his farm.
While he doesn’t think of it as marketing (he says he has too much fun to consider it work) Freas holds an annual wreath decorating party for his past and present clients. No small affair, he begins the week leading up to the annual soiree by cleaning out his large garage. Then, in true San Francisco sophisticated style, he sets up long, white-linen-covered banquet tables: one holds an amazing array of food, another for the bar and one for large baskets full of wreath decorations.
His clients show up en masse for the event, and even the kids get involved since Wes also makes a point of buying small wreaths especially for the little ones to decorate. He laughs when he points out that people have so much fun, some have even become competitive, trying to make the evening’s most festive wreath.
This party illustrates perfectly Wes Freas’ commitment to client retention, although he would add that to succeed in real estate also requires the ability to both communicate and listen, “along with patience and empathy,” qualities he has in abundance.