Selling Ridge Manor

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Selling Ridge Manor

June 19, 2017 - 10:03


Sign welcoming motorists to Ridge Manor, Florida east of the intersection of U.S. Route 98-Florida State Road 50, Croom-Rital Road and Kettering Boulevard. Note the bridge for the Withlacoochee State Trail in the background. Photo by DanTD

Mr. Robert G. worked for Roland International which sold Ridge Manor Estates in the early 70s. He was recruited by Roland International right after he took the real estate license exam. They dined with potential recruits at the Governor’s Club in Fort Lauderdale and told them about the sales opportunities they offered. The headquarters for Roland International was in Miami near the corner of 79th Street and US 1.

“The industry was a lot of fun. I had three four hour shifts 5 days a week. The shifts were usually 10AM-2PM, 2PM-6PM and 7PM-10PM (for buyers out west),” said Robert.
Robert explained that excitement was the main tool used in sales calls.

“Before every shift there would be a meeting to get us all excited,” he said. There were teams for each shift. The team manager would conduct the 15 minute pep meeting prior to the shift.
A team consisted of 6 or 7 “phone freaks,” said Robert. Women in the front office conducted cold calls. These cold calls were actually leads that Roland International purchased from other developers like Deltona. If the women thought they had a potential buyer on the hook, they’d send in one of the salesmen. The salesman’s phone pitch was called “the front.” If a buyer indicated interest, they would mail out paperwork and information to them. A week later the salesman would call them back for what they called “the drive.” The drive was when they tried to close the sale.

“It was all about a story and all about excitement,” said Robert G. To sell Ridge Manor he explained that the story had to do with how close it was to the interstate and Tampa as well as the potential for growth.

The salesman would get $300 for selling a 1.25 acre parcel with 5 homesites for $4995. A buyer had to send in the first $50 downpayment to be considered sold. Robert said that 10 - 20% of buyers cancelled within a short period of time, and an amount was deducted from the salesman’s pay. There was also a lot of turnover, where buyers wouldn’t make payments and the property went back to Roland International.

After a successful sale a “loader” would call the buyer to sell them a larger parcel- usually over 10 acres. A loader was the heavy hitter salesman often with a lot of experience and talent.
In reaction to the swamp scandals of the 50’s and 60’s, where buyers were basically conned into purchasing swampland with no access, the state of Florida required developers to minimally provide road access and drainage for the properties they sold. That was the extent of infrastructure provided by Roland International.

Roland International, formed in 1969, then merged with a foreign for profit company under the same name in November 1971. They were active in Florida until 2004, when they failed to submit an annual report to the state.