June 2019 will mark the 20th year of David Medeiros’ and Delio Oliveira’s partnership as co-founders of Re/Max Real Estate Centre, an Ontario firm named Canada’s No. 1 Re/Max brokerage for the most closed transactions in 2017.
But when the duo ventured into their business in 1999, they weren’t sure how far they’d get. Back then, both Medeiros, 30, and Oliveira, 33, were experienced Realtors and top agents within Re/Max at its Cambridge, Ont. office. They thought they had what it would take to launch their own brokerage business. When they resigned in June to firm up their partnership, their manager warned they would go bankrupt by Christmas.
Today, their company has offices in 16 locations across the province with 734 agents and counting.
Medeiros admits that getting to this point was a tall order. In the nascent stages of their business, they struggled to operate their brokerage with few clues about the level of detail required to run one. In their first year together, they sold real estate, ran the brokerage and recruited non-stop, he says.
“We had no administrative background and we didn’t realize how much capital it would take. The hardest was to recruit agents,” says Medeiros, “because we were two young guys with a new office, so agents doubted us.”
And yet, their company went from 25 to 75 agents within the first 12 months.
Medeiros followed a meandering path to real estate. At 14 he spent his summer and Christmas holidays and March break working at a Brampton construction firm, alongside his cousin who was a lead hand. At 18 he went to college. General Motors’ diesel division in London, Ont. was his next port of call. A few years later, he joined his family’s specialty grocery business in Cambridge. In short order, a family friend introduced him to the real estate business.
At the age of 10, Oliveira immigrated to Canada with his family from Azores. He worked at a company in Cambridge making vinyl for the automotive industry. Eventually, he too joined the promise of the real estate industry.
The pair met at the Re/Max office in Cambridge, where their careers took off.
Medeiros credits his staff and managers at Re/Max Real Estate Centre for the company’s success. Their broker and manager, Louise Stephens, joined the company in 2014 after 25 years in real estate sales and management, and was nominated Manager of the Year for Re/Max Ontario/Atlantic region in November 2017. She quickly followed it up by bagging the Manager of the Year award for all of Canada in the same year.
In 2014, Stephens got the green light to initiate a new training and mentoring program to benefit Realtors at all levels. “They allowed me the freedom to develop the ‘90-day Commit to Success Challenge’ – an in-house program for new and seasoned Realtors that includes one-to-one coaching, lead generation training, open discussions and accountability,” says Stephens. The program has rolled out across all 16 of their locations, training upwards of 500 agents. “It helped with not only being able to set those agents on their path to success, but also created a huge cultural synergy where agents from different and diverse markets were working with each other,” she says.
The creation of their training program was a defining moment in Stephens’ career, and one of the key differentiators that makes Re/Max Real Estate Centre stand apart from its competitors.
Over the years Medeiros has seen the real estate industry evolve in leaps and bounds. But between then and now, the change that has affected the real estate business the most, he believes, is the impact of technology.
“Back then there used to be MLS books. There was no such thing as social media. Prospecting was done through door knocks and print ads,” he says.
Today, buyers understand pricing well. They are equipped with most of the knowledge they need. “The quality of service has to be that much better,” he says.
Re/Max Real Estate Centre has invested heavily in staff and social media management over the past five years. Most recently, it launched Broker Bay – a cloud-based appointment and scheduling software that acts as a repository of all and any real estate information.
In addition to the 90-day training program, the brokerage is spearheading another coaching program. Realising the potential of video marketing in the industry, the company houses three in-house video studios.
Re/Max Centre’s agents have embraced video. The company plans to house studios in 10 of their 16 locations. “We don’t just give them a space and a green room and ask them to shoot their own video. We help them to get a good-quality video out,” says Medeiros. Then they help agents market that video via social media.
As the company grows on a steady trajectory, Medeiros says his people personality is the perfect yin to Oliveira’s matter-of-fact yang.
“Oliveira is special because his training and systems enable him to sell over 100 houses a year,” he says. While Medeiros is the go-to man for nurturing relationships, agents turn to Oliveira, the company’s broker of record, to tap into his how-to knowledge for dealing with buyers, conducting listings presentations, attending an inspection and understanding lawyers or mortgage brokers.
“He has a lot of systems in place that we can now duplicate and pass on to our agents,” says Medeiros.
Averaging one new location every year since it was formed, Re/Max Real Estate Centre has plans to expand to five new locations within the foreseeable future. Their success indicates that brick-and-mortar brokerages aren’t going out of style any time soon. Looking back at the naysayers in their past, Medeiros says, “We used the discouragement then as a good motivator. We did what we had to do out of desperation. We knew we had to make it work.”