“On Thursday, March 12th, we were huddled in our Melrose office for a scheduled office meeting. The energy around the room was different. News of COVID-19 had started to heat up and become more real. By the end of the day, announcements came of school closings and a possible closing of the registry of deeds. It was at that point that we began putting a communication plan in place. By Monday morning, we had closed our offices and were hosting “daily relentless focus” Zoom meetings with our agents, keeping them informed and providing them with guidelines on how to serve their clients in the safest possible way.” Christine George, President of Marketing and Business Development, Leading Edge Real Estate
Providing inspirational leadership during good times is easy. Creating a company culture that is sustainable during times of crisis–that’s not something that real estate companies typically focus on. When the pandemic hit, Leading Edge Real Estate was ready. They had already built out agent support systems, articulated everything from their value proposition, and nurtured a company culture of community and inclusion. The leadership team quickly wrapped their arms around their agents, virtually, and hit the ground running to make sure everyone would survive and thrive.
Resolve Forged Through Past Experience
Long before COVID-19’s impact, Leading Edge was laying the groundwork for handling any tough situation that might develop. An independent brokerage with 11 offices in Massachusetts, the company maintains a clarity of mindset around values and purpose. The leadership team does constant work on thinking ahead, educating agents and finding new ways of doing business. They are structured as a high-touch organization, allowing them to help agents adapt to changing market conditions and business practices.
Experience forged the crisis management plans at Leading Edge. Past challenges spawned well-articulated systems for agent outreach, messaging, and mobilization. Agents had been trained and prepared to look immediately to the company’s leadership to provide information and guide them. And the leadership team is a true team that works harmoniously to best serve the agents and light the way forward.
Charting a Path Through a Pandemic
The company took decisive action for COVID-19 on March 23rd. They published an open letter announcing everything was moving virtual, and they closed their offices. No in person meetings, open houses, or private showings would take place. The leadership team shifted their communications and education plan to match the new business practices they were putting into place for the agents. In fact, they make time each day to call agents directly, checking in on them and offering advice and assistance.
“The steady leadership of Steve, Paul, Eileen and Linda during this difficult time has been critical to my ability to continue working, and thriving, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been incredible to see them in action throughout these rapidly changing circumstances. They have quickly and repeatedly reinvented our business practices, and provided us with up to the minute market data and new tools we need to continue to serve our clients during this continually evolving crisis.” Martha Brown, Leading Edge Agent
Tools and Training for Virtual Transactions
The company immediately empowered agents to sell virtually. Leading Edge provided tools and training for virtual open houses, virtual staging, and wireless funds transfer. A photography partner even has a ‘robot camera’ to create contact-free professional photography, 3D tours, and floor plans. Leading Edge agents had everything they needed to be able to list homes with minimal in-person contact, and easily transact with sight-unseen buyers.
Leading Edge agents are also able use RealScout’s buyer graph tools for up-to-the-minute data on buyer demand and market insights. Since historical market data can’t be exclusively relied on to make sense of the current real estate environment, finding new methods of looking at market data is important. The collaborative search tools are critical when agents and buyers are working together virtually.
Nurturing the Work/Life Balance
Leading Edge Real Estate views their agents as their clients. The company’s core values center around seeing each of them as a whole person–not just a real estate agent. Leading Edge baked in work/life balance. The relationship between Leading Edge and the agents goes far beyond real estate, and helping them weather any hardship.
“At Leading Edge, everything we do, we do in the spirit of serving our agents and clients. We believe that happy, healthy agents are productive agents. So when it comes to support and education, we take a holistic approach. Even before COVID-19, we were providing self-care practices through yoga and meditation, group walks, gratitude journaling, etc. We’ve also built a strong sense of community by supporting one another’s personal successes through our weekly Saturday Social posts on social media and through discussions in our private Facebook group. We understand that without life there is no work so taking care of oneself and family is a critical component to professional success.” Christine George
One of their recent morning standup calls included their ongoing group yoga practice. Except this time, they came together on Zoom for a videoconference. The brokerage has the same sense of community, but are just using different methods to nurture it.
Poised to Thrive
“In extraordinary times when many agents and brokerages are paralyzed, Leading Edge rises, innovates and unifies. Stepping up once again, our leadership delivers value nothing short of what could be considered life or at least sanity-saving. Naturally, they’ve led in terms of navigating the business amidst the pandemic via forging new policy, innovative technology and pivoting strategies. But their impact on each and every agent on a personal level, redefines culture and community in the workplace. The bond forged within the company is now stronger and deeper than ever, because of their tireless efforts. As a result, we’ve never been in a better position to thrive personally and professionally.” Bill Butler, Leading Edge Agent
With real estate now operating as a primarily virtual business, there’s no way to know if the traditional, ‘normal’ methods will return. But Leading Edge equipped the whole company to remain in front of any future disruptions, empowering their agents to succeed and thrive in any environment.