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Realty Executive’s Justin Bailey on growing by making the ‘big feel small’

Today’s RealTrending features Justin Bailey, CEO of Realty Executives Associates in Knoxville, Tennessee. Bailey changed his internal messaging and made several key moves to scale his real estate brokerage growth. Find out how he strengthened his culture when he grew to 750 agents.

Here is a small preview of today’s interview with Justin Bailey. The transcript below has been lightly edited for length and clarity:

Tracey Velt: When Realty Executives acquired Bailey & Company, how did you create raving fans of your agents? What are you doing to make them happy? What is the key to retaining these agents? There must be something there that they’re getting from you, that is more important than money. Obviously money isn’t always the number one reason why someone leaves a brokerage. In fact, it usually isn’t the number one reason. Talk to me about that.

Justin Bailey: Yeah. I completely agree with you. I think more times when I sit with agents and I say, what made you decide to come to our firm? Oftentimes, rarely, is it a money decision. There are a lot of places in our market you can go that are a lot cheaper than we are. Steve Fogarty, past president and CEO of the company, said, “I want you to help big feel small.” What he meant was that the culture created at Bailey & Company was one where everyone felt like a family.

You can do that with 50 agents. My growing pains in this role are, gosh, it’s so much harder to do that with 750 agents. That was one of the tasks he gave me, to make big feel small, because as agents had left here to go other places, one consistent message he heard was that they felt lost, and they felt like they were just a number.

When I tried to put together some kind of plan with my team, we wanted to make sure no one at this firm feels like they’re just a number, and we have to make sure that people don’t feel lost. Some of that looks like assigning agents to staff. We have 55 full-time staff who are responsible for different people. Just in that, they’re going to make touch points so that they know they feel like they’re a part of this community.

We changed some of our internal messaging. One thing people used to say was, welcome to the Realty Executives family. When I came over, I said, we’re too big to call it a family. Families are something that people get, whether they like it or not, and oftentimes they can be dysfunctional, maybe not all the time. We really tried to shift that to the word community. Community is something that you choose, and oftentimes they’re really big. We tried to look at Realty Executives as almost like a small town, and we wanted to make sure that people felt like they had something that they were connected to and a part of. Whether that’s they helped put on the awards presentation that we’re a part of, whether that’s connecting them with, our office staff. You can’t go to a Realty Executives office on a Friday without bumping into a happy hour.

Those little things that make people feel invited, welcome, and known.

RealTrending features the brightest minds in real estate. Twice a month, brokerage leaders, top agents, team leaders, and industry experts share their success secrets, trends, and lessons learned navigating this ever-changing industry. Hosted by Tracey Velt and produced by Elissa Branch.

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