by Tami Bonnell, CEO, EXIT Realty Corp. International

In real estate, rarely are rankings of people or companies uniform across the board.  What algorithms are used? How much do advertising dollars influence the findings?  Instead of looking to external sources for validation, how about instead we measure ourselves and determine our own success based on our track record of doing what we said we were going to do?  The measure of a person is his or her character and the measure of a company is its heart.

Last fall, I discussed an article in which Arianna Huffington reported that top CEOs pledged to deliver long-term value to all stakeholders and consumers, invest in employees, and support the communities they serve.  At EXIT Realty, we decided who we were early on and all those things still ring true.

We were way ahead of our time. Today, two-thirds of the industry is female.  For years, two-thirds of EXIT Realty’s leadership team has been female.  Our Spirit of EXIT Dollar-for-Dollar Matching Program charitable initiative connects our people to one another and to the communities they serve. But at the very core – at the heart of this business family of EXIT – is our culture.  There are companies that use culture as marketing jargon and there are companies that live it. We live it.

One of the most significant examples of this occurred during the recession.  We asked ourselves, “Who are we as a company?” and we decided that we would have to sell and think our way out of the recession. We decided that the human element was valuable and while other companies were cutting staff to appease investors, we took the position that our people were too valuable to lose.  EXIT Realty Corp. International did not lay off a single staff member during the recession.  In the field, we added more education, systems and tools.  We were a shoulder to lean on when our people needed a shoulder.  We were in it together and together we worked our way out.  We’re a business and because we watch the bottom line, we turn a profit every year, and the value we place on our people is how we do it.

Today, industry-wide, many companies rack up losses year after year and we’re witnessing a massive turnover in leadership.  But how can you be sure-footed if the ground keeps shifting? Personally, I would never follow someone who hasn’t been a success in the business.  I think it’s vitally important to look at who you’re following and why you’re following them.  The bedrock upon which all of EXIT’s growth, culture and innovation is built is leadership.  The same team that blazed the trail is the team leading today’s prosperity and tomorrow’s advancements.  Every EXIT Associate and the clients they serve are backed by experience, dedication and a proven commitment to people first.

At EXIT Realty, we feel corporately responsible to build a company that’s self-sustaining and strong for the people to whom we made a commitment; one with a solid financial foundation so they have a place to grow. Being a privately held company affords us the flexibility to give our people choices and autonomy:  the choice of charity they support, the autonomy to become work-optional by earning single-level residual income in addition to closing transactions. The resulting culture of mentorship means they can’t wait to share what works so everyone feels part of the whole.  For our people to grow we must continually add value.  We pour into our leadership and head office staff, our regional owners, broker/owners and their support staff, and of course, our agents who are the true assets of our corporation.  They then pour into their clients and the communities they serve.  We’ve proven that it’s possible to build a wonderful company with wonderful people and create joy in our work by helping others and still make a profit.

And at EXIT Realty, that’s our measure of success.

 

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