The UNBrokerage Forges Ahead in Q3, Crushing Growth Predictions, Launching New Platforms and Programs
By Paige Tepping
Editor’s Note: This is the cover story in the June 2020 issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine. Subscribe today.
“Waking Up to Win.” It’s an everyday kind of attitude. It’s how Realty ONE Group began, and it became their rallying cry during the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the spring. The company’s focus was not just on surviving the days when the world was closed for business, but instead, thrusting the organization and the careers of its professionals into overdrive.
Do What We Always Do COVID-19 has had devastating effects, the most tragic of which is the loss of life. With it, the fast-spreading virus also brought fear, isolation and economic turmoil. But within this calamity, we saw the best of the human spirit as people turned their grief into determination—determination to see and do good, and a determination to persevere.
How do we turn our new and uncertain environment into success? How do we make it an opportunity to rise above and be better than we were before? To be the best of the best? These are questions Realty ONE Group leadership has consistently asked in its pursuit to be one of real estate’s most revered brands.
Believing that you start every day with a determination to win, work hard, stay humble and lift each other up is an everyday attitude for the company’s employees and growing band of affiliates around the U.S. and Canada. What started as a “coolture” of caring, success and fun has led to a charge to make Realty ONE Group one of the first real lifestyle brands in the industry.
More than just providing a product or service, a lifestyle brand works to inspire, guide and motivate people, actually affecting the consumer’s way of life. That’s a big goal, but the leadership team at Realty ONE Group is determined to reach it, and their resolve has only been strengthened through this event.
Because Realty ONE Group already had a mindset to persevere and win, there was no need to pivot at the onset of the crisis. Instead, it was full steam ahead.
Faith Over Fear Kuba Jewgieniew, CEO and founder of Realty ONE Group—which is celebrating its 15th anniversary—is the son of political refugees from Poland who immigrated to the United States decades ago. As a true sign of patriotism and gratitude for the opportunity to start a new, more prosperous life, Jewgieniew’s father joined the U.S. Army and was deployed to Korea in the 1950s.
“My parents worked hard, earned their way to happy and healthy lives and always treated people with the utmost respect,” says Jewgieniew. “This country gave my parents a chance, and we will forever be grateful.”
It’s a gratitude that has always led Jewgieniew to appreciate others, just like his counterpart on the executive team, Realty ONE Group’s President, Vinnie Tracey.
“This business has always been about the people for me,” says Tracey, who in his more than 35 years in real estate has built deeply personal relationships with professionals from all brands. “When your goal is to help people succeed no matter what, the environment you’re operating in doesn’t really change that.”
That’s why, when the virus began to take hold of our world, Realty ONE Group’s leadership and staff put a new plan in motion to help its real estate professionals settle in with a “Faith-Over-Fear” mantra. The goal was not just to help agents survive the pandemic and get to the other side, but to help them be better than they’d ever been before, busting through the doors as soon as they opened again.
“Worry doesn’t change anything; it really just clouds your mind with negativity,” says Jewgieniew. “It’s like sitting in a rocking chair—there’s a lot of activity, energy and motion, but zero progress.”
Progress is what the company was determined to make during a time when others would sit, watch and wait. Not only did Realty ONE Group sell more than a dozen franchises during the pandemic, the group also hosted virtual recruiting meetings open to all real estate pros. The approach was sensitive, given the timing, but direct, clearly demonstrating the YOU-first focus that is the crux of the company’s business model.
“Our model puts more money in the agent’s pocket while still providing unparalleled support,” says Mike Clear, Realty ONE Group’s chief operating officer. “While this situation came with a new set of challenges that none of us could have anticipated, our value proposition was put on display, and the response was spectacular.”
Clear oversees Realty ONE Group’s human resources, marketing, coaching and learning, and product and development teams, all of which were instrumental in moving the company forward during the last few months with new website launches, new training and a host of new marketing assets.
“It’s not about how you manage during these times,” says Clear. “It’s about having the foresight to know there will be new opportunities ahead as a result of your current experience. And we knew we’d be more than ready.”
Trailblazing ‘Always-On’ Communication It didn’t take long—no more than 10 days, in fact, before the first stay-at-home orders began to roll out—and the company began to act, launching Zoom Town Hall meetings for real estate professionals in the morning and for broker/owners and managers in the early afternoon. By now, Zoom meetings are the norm, but Realty ONE Group was one of the first in the industry to host them and, per the company’s coolture, all real estate professionals were welcome. The calls consistently averaged between 500 and 600 for the agent Town Hall and 100 for the broker/owner and manager version.