September 29, 2022
How do you create a winning culture? Ben Fox, broker and co-owner of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Journey, explains how he helps foster an environment where everyone can reach their full potential.
It takes more than casual Fridays or monthly happy hours to build a winning workplace culture. It takes a clear vision from leadership, and the commitment from everyone makes that culture work every day, in countless ways.
Here at Anywhere, our company culture is built on the idea of empowering everyone’s next move. Our Winning Behaviors are how we bring our culture to life:
Obsess About Growth
Focus every day on making a big impact and accelerating growth. Prioritize the most important things that create value for customers and shareholders. Aim high and take big swings informed by data.
Always Find a Better Way
Explore and embrace what’s possible. Always make things better, faster, simpler. Be candid, curious, and agile. Challenge the status quo and pressure-test assumptions.
Relentlessly Focus on Talent
Be the reason we attract and keep phenomenal people. Expect and perform with uncompromising standards of excellence, ethics, and accountability. Empower yourself and others to continually learn, improve, seek diversity, and thrive.
Achieve Exceptional Results
Take decisive action and deliver on your commitments. Move with speed, plan for the unexpected, overcome barriers, and be resilient. Leverage facts and the wisdom of others to get the best results.
Thought Starters for Brokers
Finances, marketing, recruitment…when you’re running a brokerage, it’s easy to let the day-to-day challenges monopolize your time. If it seems like you’re too much “in the weeds” to focus on your big picture goals, here are some questions to ask yourself. They will keep you focused and allow you to map out your ideal workplace culture more effectively as you grow in size and scope.
1. How would you define the culture at your brokerage? How has this evolved since you started?
2. How do you foster a growth-oriented culture at your brokerage? What does that mean for your agents and their businesses?
3. What does “always find a better way” mean to you and your team?
4. What tips do you have for motivating your team to continuously raise the bar and get results?
5. How do you continue to build the capabilities of your team, and ensure everyone feels heard, supported, and recognized?
Encouragement and approachability
Fox gave us his answers to the five questions. His answers shed a lot of light on how to create a workplace culture where everyone is empowered to do their best work.
How would you define the culture at your brokerage? How has this evolved since you started?
The culture within our brokerage can best be defined as “approachable.” From our leadership to our sales associates to our facilities, it is important for all elements of our organization to be approachable. To be successful as a sales organization, our community must feel welcome in our presence and that rolls up (through the sales associates) to the leadership.
Since we started three years ago, we have maintained this as a focal point and we have expanded this focus to be community facing. We have even created an agent position, titled Special Events Coordinator, to organize our efforts within the community. From scheduling our agent volunteers for events, to finding new opportunities, she has become our liaison to community organizations. She routinely receives invitations for us to participate in local events and “bring the fun.”
Also, we created an art gallery to draw the community into our Bentonville office. We call it the Gallery on 6th and it is focused on affordable, local art. We gear it towards individuals who may be traveling within the area, looking for a souvenir or for investors looking to decorate their nightly rentals with art featuring local attractions. We have special art installations every few months and regularly have 200+ people attending. It creates face-to-face opportunities for engagement with our agents in a completely neutral environment that is both approachable and entertaining.
How do you foster a growth-oriented culture at your brokerage? What does that mean for your agents and their businesses?
We very much lean into the Better Homes and Gardens core value of Growth, defined as “becoming an increasing influence on the communities that we serve.” This is my favorite of our Five Core Values, and the one that can tangibly be measured.
We are extremely fortunate to have such wonderful tools and marketing materials, provided by Anywhere and BHGRE. As we focus on influencing our community, we ALL collect names and contact information and put them into the Moxi system. At every event, we have some type of giveaway that requires registration. We distribute the names to the agents who volunteer for the event and, at the least, these new contacts receive our monthly newsletter and other focused marketing from the agents.
In short, we focus on growing our databases and deepening our connections within the community. These two focuses have a direct effect and positive impact on our agents and their sales. Competing agents in our marketplace notice the increased sales of agents who affiliate with us, and in most onboarding interviews, I hear from the newly affiliated agents that they can’t wait to participate in our community activities and invite their clients to attend our functions.
A facet of our approachable culture is that everyone is incredibly encouraging. We celebrate everyone’s wins and are always encouraging and motivating each other. This is by design. As we interview agents, the most important qualities that we look for are they must be both positive and professional. We can train on everything else, but these two common bonds roll up to encouragement and approachability.
What does “always find a better way” mean to you and your team?
In today’s world, we hear words like “uncertainty” and “downturn.” We work very hard to find a better way to convey information to our agents, our spheres, and our community. When we couldn’t do live open houses, we found a better way to do them online (zoom meeting broadcast live on Facebook that had four agents showing properties and me as a host) and we ended up with thousands—yes thousands—of views.
When the news gives us a negative headline about the market, we find the positives. That’s the news that we highlight and distribute to our spheres. To our entire team, finding a better way is akin to accenting the positives and truly being leaders in our marketplace. With our clients, we point out the opportunities within a constantly changing market, ease their worries, and give them an encouraging plan.
What tips do you have for motivating your team to continuously raise the bar and achieve exceptional results?
In our organization, we have created a special group that we call The Champions Circle. It is designed to excite and motivate agents of all experience levels and give them something to strive for. Each year, we reward the agents (and a plus one) who earn their way into The Champions Circle with an all-inclusive vacation.
After our first year, we traveled to the Dominican Republic with 26 friends. In three weeks, we will be headed out on a 7-day Alaskan cruise with 43 team members! Next fall, we will take the 2022 winners to Costa Rica.
This has been an incredible investment in motivation and retention. We also find that it builds comradery in ways we never expected.
How do you continue to build the capabilities of your team and ensure everyone feels heard, supported, and recognized?
A cornerstone of our business, and a way to meter our growth and sustain a high level of service to our sales associates, is our Steering Committee. It’s made up of a diverse group of agents.
If a staff member or sales associate doesn’t feel comfortable coming directly to leadership with a question or concern, the Steering Committee is there to hear them and to be their voice to management/ownership. Additionally, the Steering Committee reviews new programs, software, training calendars, listing presentations and other widely used graphics and provides management with great feedback prior to any company-wide rollouts. They also help in selecting charities and events that we will support and participate in throughout the year.
The Steering Committee is a high-level way to ensure everyone feels heard, supported, and recognized.
During our bi-weekly Huddles (sales meetings are so 1986), we allow everyone to speak up about wins, losses, opportunities, and appreciation. There are heavy moments, business discussions, and we all learn from each other. Then, to keep it light, we end each Huddle by sharing our funny WTF moments of the week. These stories are always a hit and leave everyone giggling about how interesting our jobs really are, every day!
In closing, striving to be the most inviting and approachable leaders we can be flows through our sales associate culture and into the market. It results in retention, repeat business, and an increasing influence on the communities we serve.