Colin Bradford feels empathy and trust, above all else, are key to committing to leadership and building teams. That’s because the co-owner and team leader at Prestige Realty Group follows the idealism of Simon Sinek's being fully focused on your “why.”
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” Colin explains. “The why discovery is the exercise we go through to define the core purpose and values that brings any person to their goal,” Colin says. “My why is to create environments of trust and empathy so that everyone can become the leader they wished they’d had.”
My Business Magazine interviewed Colin Bradford to find out more about the why discovery and how it changes the way their real estate agents work with clients.
MBM: The Prestige Realty Group, as part of Keller Williams Realty Centers, is known for its high energy, ethical real estate agents working in the Greater Toronto Area and Durham Region. You’ve built a great reputation. How and why are you changing your business now?
Colin Bradford: I’m sending a message to real estate agents about positive change and growth.
My objective is to expand the Prestige Realty Group across Canada. My focus is on building teams, creating culture within those teams and working with agents on their leadership. I’m out to change how teams are created in our industry by using the systems we’ve developed to support and empower agents by putting them first.
MBM: How are teams being built now?
Colin Bradford: The perception, even among realtors, is that most teams in real estate are built on money, ego and being “number one.” After I was able to articulate my why, and talked to people about it, I found that successful teams are actually about people helping each other out with the greater goal of helping their clients. I meet a lot of agents who are great at buying and selling houses, but when it comes to building a team or leading others, they are terrible at it. I am on a mission to help realtors be better at their craft and inspire them to become the leaders they wish they’d had.
MBM: What kind of agents are you recruiting as you expand to create offices across Canada?
Colin Bradford: We want agents who are passionate about the community they live in and want to be part of something bigger than themselves. We get people who call us and want to be part of our team and we go through a rigorous selection process that isn’t based on numbers. Numbers don’t tell you about contribution, about motivation, or about leadership. We look for character more than we do at numbers. Integrity and authenticity are key characteristics. Our philosophy is that you have to be able to sleep at night and work to support your clients.
MBM: Will what works in Toronto and Durham real estate work in Niagara? In the oil patch and on the Coasts? What does this mean for the industry?
Colin Bradford: True leadership coaching is adaptable to any part of the world. Between myself and Jennifer O’Kane, our co-owner and operations manager, we have a fully transferable structure that can be applied everywhere. The industry as a whole needs to change. I feel the way the teams were being built, the only people who were being recognized were the ones with their names on the signs. I didn’t believe that those working behind the scenes were getting the recognition they deserved.
When Jenn and I started, we said, ‘let’s build a team we would like to join.’ We make sure an agent has all the tools in the tool box to go out and have a successful business. We use leadership coaching models that you can’t get out of a text book.
MBM: Why is a supportive team system so important in real estate?
Colin Bradford: It’s important for everyone involved! The individual agent working alone will be obsolete soon because it is so hard for the individual agent to make it without support. They want a work-life balance, but if you are a full time agent, you are not going to get that. Buyers and sellers can hire a team for the same price that they can hire one person. When they hire a team, they have more coverage, more access to specialists and support. That’s especially important because the product that we are selling usually represents the most valuable asset that clients own.
MBM: It’s easy to see how a supportive team is necessary when the market is slow, but is a team as necessary when the market is hot?
Colin Bradford: That goes back to the team culture of trust and empathy. Numbers don’t pull you out of a hard or slow time. People on your team will pull you out. At the Prestige Realty Group when we win, we win together. When we lose, we lose together. Everyone gets an opportunity to work any listing we get. Not everyone can get paid, but that’s not an issue. The issue is getting the support and the coverage our agents need. We have an exceptional level of service standard that has to be met and we are constantly raising that bar. The more support our agents have, the more our quality of service increases.
MBM: It’s easy to see how that benefits agents and clients, but it isn’t the typical attitude. Where does your mindset come from?
Colin Bradford: My mindset comes from my core values and from knowing my purpose. I value people’s time more than I do people’s money. That’s where my values come in. We can always earn more money, we can never get more time. I recently lost myself and was trying to figure out what was important to me. That happens when you’re not in the world you are meant to be in. I believe that the skills we teach allow agents to feel they are not alone.
Real estate can be a very lonely business. We teach our agents that the worst can happen and you are still going to be OK. The highs are super-super high, but the lows are super-super low. When you have a strong team, they will be genuinely happy for you during the highs and be there to support you through the dark times.
MBM: How do leadership skills, personal goal setting and team building ultimately help agents help clients to find the right house to live in, or to sell the house they have?
Colin Brafdord: I am responsible for the agent and the agent is responsible for the client. When I support the agent, then their confidence goes up and the service to the client goes up. I want the agent to sell the houses. I want to make sure they have all the tools they need.
MBM: Is the “why” in that tool box too?
ColinBradford: Yes! It’s the first tool that we roll out to use. When you can build your business around your “why” you have ultimate fulfillment, energy and motivation. If it’s just about money, you will never have fulfillment, you’ll just be left wanting more money. Finding your purpose is the core of everything. That’s the way I describe the “why.” A lot of people talk about their why at the surface level, but the source is found in the common words we all use to describe the high times and the low times in your life. We use the same words when we are going through both periods. I found that my word was trust. I felt best at times when I felt trusted and I felt worst when I felt I couldn’t trust anyone. That takes us to the trust that builds integrity in our business. You must do your due diligence for the buyer and obtain full disclosure about any renovations. You need to be honest and authentic to your buyer and to your group of agents.
MBM: As you recruit people to work with as you expand, are you looking for agents who already know what their “why” is, or those who are open to finding their “why”?
Colin Bradford: Both! The “why” is about the discovery of your purpose and finding true fulfillment. In real estate, it’s common to hear people say, ‘you’re only as good as your last transaction.’ There is no fulfillment in that. That’s just about money. But, if you were working with someone who never thought they would be able to buy a house, and you helped them make it happen? That’s where you’ve made an impact on someone’s life. That is where you will find fulfillment. And the agents who do that are the ones we want to work with. We want agents who want to make an impact and, we want agents who want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Kate Baggott's technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review at MIT, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun, and on the Business to Business News Network
Kate is the author of two short story collections.
PRESTIGE REALTY GROUP
117 Wellington Street East
Aurora, Ontario L4G 1H9