Three Toronto real estate teams have joined forces in a unique initiative.
DeClute Real Estate, the Wright Sisters Group and the BREL team have come together to form Union Realty, which the teams say is an unprecedented real estate industry innovation, harnessing the power of collaboration to create a more consumer-centric experience.
Rochelle DeClute, broker and co-owner of Union Realty, said the new model is based on collaboration and not competition.
“First of all, it’s just teams. There are no individual agents. So, it’s a little bit different that way. The teams collaborate together,” says DeClute.
“The traditional brokerage model exists to serve all Realtors, whether they work as solo agents, partners or teams,” she says. “It’s often an agent-centric environment with a focus on attracting new agents. Yet this environment doesn’t always encourage people working at the same company to collaborate and share best practices which, in addition to being a more enjoyable environment, pushes people to succeed and ultimately serve their clients better.”
DeClute says the “team of teams” approach brings the core strength of each team together through agent training, shared resources and a unified leadership group. She said all clients of Union Realty teams will benefit from the experience of DeClute Real Estate, the systems and sales processes developed by the Wright Sisters Group, and the leading-edge digital marketing delivered by the BREL team.
“Everyone maintains their same brand, their former names,” says DeClute. “They completely remain independent and have their own team environment and their own brand . . . The brands are very distinct and very different. So, they all attract very different people.
“The leadership in each of the teams is very different as well and what’s different is the skill-set in each team.”
In training sessions, the three groups openly share proprietary information about technology, lead conversion, reputation management and best practices.
“What we found was being able to collaborate with other team leaders and sharing training across the teams and sharing our best practices, our agents are able to kind of get to the next level,” says DeClute. “They’re able to be a little bit more confident, a little bit more successful and we’re able to offer more to our agents that we couldn’t as a solo team.”
The three groups promote each other’s listings.
“We all work together to sell houses. We’re not looking to enhance our business by building a brokerage. We’re all working together as a team. A consumer would have the benefit of the three teams working behind the scenes,” says DeClute. “We’ve got a marketing department that’s second to none because we have a marketing co-ordinator as well as marketing staff who work together collaboratively sharing best practices on each of the listings.”
Services such as copywriting, photography and concierge can be shared among the three groups. While each of the groups has its own staging company, they work together. A 12,000-square-foot warehouse is full of items to stage homes. Between the three, there are four moving trucks, six designers and three sets of staging staff.
“Anything that needs to be done to service that listing, we have the staff between the three of us that we never drop the ball. That works quite well,” she says.
Between the three groups, there are about 25 salespeople.
DeClute says she foresees inviting other realty companies to join Union.
“I had nine calls the first day we announced it. I’ve had calls every day since. We have met with a couple of other teams. I think the most important thing is we’re looking for people who share our values,” she says.
“We’re happy to share and work with people who do a very good business, who share values with us and who are able to collaborate with us and can offer something that we can’t offer. And we can benefit each other that way. It really isn’t based on going out and selling franchises. That’s not what this is about. It’s about being able to collaborate to make each other better.”
Brendan Powell and Melanie Piche led The BREL team to #83 out of 500 of Canada’s fastest growing companies in 2018 as ranked by Canadian Business magazine.
“The idea is to have a bunch of people working together and collaborating rather than being competitors,” says Powell, broker of record and president of BREL. “We’re trying to turn the traditional brokerage model on its side or upside down, whatever you want to call it.”
Powell said that as far as he knows no one else in Canada, and perhaps even in the U.S., is doing what Union Realty has come up with as a brokerage model.
“Traditionally, a brokerage is at the top and you’ve got either agents or teams underneath it and we are both supported by but also feeding the beast up top above us. The idea of what we’ve tried to create now is a situation where the brokerage literally exists to support the teams… The host brokerage is there to serve us, rather than the main goal for a typical brokerage promoting its own interest, making a profit and growing and promoting their brand. But (with Union) we all have our own brands, we are all promoting our own teams at our own ends and making our own profits and the brokerage exists solely to support that goal.”
“At the end of the day, we’re all here to provide the very best service to our clients. This new model gives us the opportunity to hone our strengths and push ourselves in new ways, all for the benefit of our clients,” says Melanie Wright of the Wright Sisters Group.