By Connie Adair
The brothers Pilarski are celebrating the 35th anniversary of Re/Max Realtron Realty, but instead of looking back or stopping to celebrate the milestone, the forward-thinkers are looking ahead to the next 35 years. And they’re doing so with their usual enthusiasm and optimism.
Toronto brokers/owners Alex Pilarski and Richard Pilarski told their adult children (five out of six are working at Realtron) that, “There’s good news and bad news. The good news is you get to run the business. The bad news is you have to wait another 30 or 40 years,” Alex says. Likening themselves to Queen Elizabeth, they don’t intend to give up their thrones any time soon. “They’re not going to take me alive,” Richard jokes.
With the enthusiasm and optimism of a startup, the seasoned professionals are continually working to build their brand.
“The brand attracts people to the agent so we work to have the best brand,” says Alex.
And they do that by staying on top of the latest ideas and innovations to help their agents work smarter not harder and beyond better.
“I’ve never seen a management team take such proprietary interest in its agents’ success. Alex and Richard take pride in their agents succeeding,” says director of marketing Louie Bettio. “They are disruptors, offering the ultimate client-centred experience.”
One of their latest innovations is the Realtron Social Media Co-Management Program. Social media is a great way to promote business but many agents are too busy or not technologically advanced enough to handle it. By letting Realtron co-manage, agents get to concentrate on what they love most – selling.
More than 250 agents have enrolled in the program, which creates original content and posts it on the agent’s business page weekly. Agents can then share the content on their personal social media.
Realtron also offers four free custom videos per year, which is unheard of, says Bettio.
General manager Cam Forbes has been instrumental in implementing, growing and managing Realtron’s Agent Incorporation Program, which provides dedicated administrative staff to support newly incorporated agents. Re/Max Integra has 100 incorporated agents and of that, 54 are with Realtron.
Podcast Real Talk With Realtron, hosted by Richard’s son, Jeremy Pilarski, offers agents and consumers secrets and tips for navigating the world of real estate. The podcasts are offered in different languages, reflecting the demographic of its agents and clients.
#BeyondAbove takes the “residual memory” of Re/Max’s Above the Crowd campaign and takes it one tier above. Bettio says many agents have already adopted #BeyondAbove, which will include videos, posts and memes that will be promoted on social media platforms.
Luckily, plans weren’t slowed by the virus. Re/Max is an international company and does a lot of overseas business, so virtual tours, electronic documents and other technology were in use long before COVID-19. However, Alex says the virus sped things up, with people who had not adapted to technology trying it out. (And new protocols were put in place so business can be conducted with safety in mind for consumers and staff alike.)
In this business partnership, Richard is the idea man. Alex says Richard has never missed a Re/Max International convention, which he has attended “not for fun but to gather ideas.” Conventions keep the company fresh, at the forefront of technology, at the forefront of what’s new and provide a way to see how the business is changing, says Alex, whose job is to assess the ideas and make them a reality.
However with conventions out of the picture, at least for now, the brothers and Bettio have weekly meetings to look at “what we’re doing and the results but we’re always looking at opportunities and what else can add value for our agents,” Alex says.
As for keeping on top of technology, their children keep them abreast of the latest in social media and opportunities. Richard has three of his children in the business – Jeremy, Karen and Tracy. His fourth, Robyn is an actress.
Alex’s two children – Jason and Stephanie – are both in the business.
The key to the brothers’ success? Trust. “We’ve been in business for 45 years and have never had problems,” Richard says.
They’re still good buddies. Ask Richard what his best idea has been to date and he replies: “Teaming up with Alex.” Their career choice and friendship fuels them.
“We trust each other,” Alex says. “We have differences of opinion, but whenever one brother has strong feelings about something, the other supports him.”
He also credits their parents. “Our parents did a great job. I don’t know how they did it. We have big egos. We want to be the best, but it doesn’t hurt our ego to be wrong. We learn from our mistakes. We’re more interested in moving forward than looking back.”
Their goal is to continue to be a guiding light and help good agents become great. They do that by listening to their agents and providing what they need and want. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “There goes my people. I must follow them for I am their leader,” Alex says.
And the brothers Pilarski will continue to be innovative and to have fun doing what they love. Their career choice and friendship fuels them. Here’s to the next 35.