For Dino Groumoutis, customer service is in his blood.
Groumoutis, who helped with the family business, A & G Pizza Steakhouse and Lounge, for years, has moved from the restaurant business to the full-time real estate business.
“When we sold the restaurant, I said that I would like to do this full time because I enjoy doing it so much,” Groumoutis said.
The Groumoutis family sold A & G in July 2016 to Jake and Britni Kawa, after more than 40 years in the restaurant business. Now, Groumoutis, 46, has his hands full with time at Creston Realty, his new real estate office.
Groumoutis earned an associate degree from Southwestern Community College in business, which he has thoroughly used since.
While helping his family with A & G, where he would cover most jobs such as cooking and business, Groumoutis of Creston worked part-time selling real estate.
“I had sold real estate on the side since 2001,” Groumoutis said. “I was with First Realty for a number of years, and when Carol John, the owner, sold it to Retta Ripperger, it went to R Realty. So, I’ve been in the same office for 16 years.”
While there, Groumoutis sold residential, commercial and agricultural properties. Things, however, haven’t changed a whole lot.
After opening Creston Realty in March, Groumoutis did not change much from what he did previously. Though, it was different now that he owned the business, rather than worked in another brokerage.
“It was different in the sense that before, in my other business, I didn’t open that. My parents opened that, and I was born into that. So, there were some learning points along the way,” Groumoutis said.
Groumoutis was unaccustomed to getting the proper paperwork and tax documents and such, but received assistance and research from various locations, such as Ripperger and the Iowa Association of Realtors.
He also had to find a location for the storefront. In the end, he chose a building just south of the railroad tracks and several blocks east of South Elm Street, located at 118 W. Union St. The building, with three overhead doors visible from the outside, was remodeled, painted and decorated thoroughly with the assistance of Groumoutis’ family.
“Starting out, ideally you’d like to be on the highway or something like that. But, real estate’s different in the fact that people do a lot of their research online and then call you when they’re ready to look,” Groumoutis said. “So, the location, to me, I didn’t feel was as important.”
Groumoutis said he likes the uptown Creston locale, and a friend of his owned the building, which he now rents. The inside includes a front office area and several offices east of that, with a break room and storage space.
Groumoutis also said his office manager, Carrie Schuler, was instrumental in helping him open the business.
Something that hasn’t changed is the property types Groumoutis deals in.
“We deal with residential, first and foremost. Then, commercial and agricultural, farms, land,” Groumoutis said.
Residential properties are what Groumoutis called “the bread and butter” of his sales. He suspects about 80 percent of his work is in the residential arena.
“The best way to find out what somebody is looking for is just to sit down and listen to find out what their wants are, what their needs are,” Groumoutis said.
Groumoutis also has sold commercial properties, which generally involved someone he knows personally or has had past business dealings with.
“There’s some other things that need to be looked at, I suppose, but mostly I feel that it’s more the paperwork and the tax stuff that makes it (commercial properties) different,” Groumoutis said.
Lastly, Groumoutis also deals in agricultural property. This property is “just a different animal,” according to Groumoutis, because it takes into consideration variables such as soil numbers. Split somewhat evenly, commercial and agricultural property sales make up the remaining 20 percent of work Groumoutis does.
“It’s been great,’ Groumoutis said. “It’s a little different. There are people that we’ve tried to advertise to and let them know that, ‘Hey, this is what I’m doing now and I’m not at my former brokerage.’ So, that’s been turning around slowly.”
“My day can include so many different things. I’m not just sitting here. You know, I might leave five or six times to visit with people and show properties,” Groumoutis said. “So, it’s not the same thing every day and that kind of breaks it up.”
When it comes to his work, Groumoutis never gives up on the customer service he is so accustomed to providing.
“I like helping people find the right property for them. There’s something there. I take pleasure when someone has that, ‘Oh, this is the house for us’ moment,” Groumoutis said. “I like that the best.”
To contact employees at Creston Realty, stop in between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments outside of normal business hours can be made by calling the business at 641-278-1484. Employees can also be reached online at CrestonRealtyLLC.com.