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Better Homes and Gardens with Sherry Chris

Sherry Chris, President & CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

A new brand is coming to shake up the Australian real estate marketplace. Wildly successful magazine and TV staple; ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ has a cross-platform reach of more than 3.5 million people across print, digital and social media, with the magazine being one of the most popular in Australia.

Better Homes and Gardens will soon open their real estate offices across the country, providing lifestyle, styling, renovating and gardening content, as well as traditional real estate sales and leasing services.

Sherry Chris, one of the key real estate influencers in global real estate, and the President and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate explains why the brand has decided to expand into Australia and what it will bring to our real estate industry, which we haven’t already seen.

Launching only a decade ago in the United States, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has made a splash around the world. With prime focus on their consumers’ needs, the team at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate aims to provide exceptional customer service.

The brand now has close to 400 offices with over 12,000 agents across the US. Sherry says, “We’re in Canada, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and now of course, Australia, followed by New Zealand. We’re currently talking to a number of other international prospective brokers that are interested in the brand because we look at doing things differently, not the same.”

Sherry says, “When we launched 10 years ago, some very large companies came to us that were with other brands, competing brands and said, ‘t's time for us to change’. So, in launching, we were able to build what I call anchor companies that had many offices, and in some cases, thousands of agents made the switch, and we helped them grow. So, part of what we've done over the past 10 years is find companies that wanted to affiliate with us. Growth oriented companies, that want to be better, that want to be more profitable, where the agents want to be more productive, and earn more, and be better at their job selling real estate.”

As a consequence, Sherry says, “We've helped our brokers and agents grow significantly because of our tools and technology, way of thinking and outreach to the end consumer."

The Triangle Of Success

Sherry believes that focusing on the customer and being authentic differentiates the market and ensures success.

Sherry says, “It's like a triangle. It's the brand, it's the broker and agent, and it's the end consumer all working together to achieve an incredible result. The home is your biggest asset. It's that way everywhere. So, you want to entrust the to somebody who's going to get you the best net return.”

She adds, “The numbers that I see show that over 90% of major family decisions are made by the woman of the house. So, a soft brand does well in areas like that. I think more than a soft approach, the approach is an authentic approach. Authenticity is one of our core values. So, what we like to say is that, here we are, and we're actually going to do what we say we're going to do. So, that takes that soft approach up to another level. It's not just about the transaction and the GCI; it's about providing that exceptional customer service.”

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate doesn’t just focus on excellent customer service; they also focus on providing a great experience for the people who work with them. Sherry explains, “From day one, when we brought new brokers in, we wanted to provide that exceptional customer experience for them as well. So a small thing like fresh flowers on the boardroom table and a gift for everyone who has taken the time to come and look at our brand, goes a long way. And that’s what people want. They want to be surprised and delighted when they meet with you. This has really done well for us.

“For anyone reading this, if you do one thing differently, forget about joining the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand. We'd love you to consider it, but make this industry a better place by just stepping it up a bit and taking a moment to do things better.”

Who is Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate looking for?

There has been strong interest locally and the company is interested in people who are culturally aligned with the core values of the Better Homes and Garden’s brand. Sherry says, “We interview brokers and we have our own unique way of doing this, and we don't just bring anyone in. And so what we do is we look for brokers who are looking for change and are also culturally aligned. They share our core values. Our passion, authenticity, inclusion, growth and excellence. Each of those words means something very important to the brand. So, when I personally meet with every broker that is looking at joining the brand, one of the first things I say to them is, ‘This is what we stand for. What do you think about that?’ If the broker owner says, ‘That's what I stand for too’, then I know that we can go down that path together. Occasionally, I meet with brokers that don't feel that we stand for the same things, and so they shouldn't be members of the Better Homes and Gardens real estate network.”

The multimedia brand seeks agents who have potential to become a better agent within their current community. They are seeking agents who want to provide a higher level of service to their clients; those who are looking at the status quo and aren't completely satisfied with it. Sherry says, “One of the things I would personally like to do here in Australia and beyond is share the best practices of what we believe consumers are looking for, to help raise the bar in our industry.

I was attending the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, the Inman conference last month, and I hosted a session called ‘Meet the Leaders’ which is basically a table where you sit down and people come to you and talk to you. I sat down and my table was suddenly filled with Australians. And they said, ‘We're attending the conference. We know the brand is launching, we want to learn more’."

It is expected that the first Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate offices will open their doors in Australia towards the end of 2018 and in New Zealand in 2020.

Why Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is working

Consumers love the Better Homes and Gardens brand. It brings an enormous amount of goodwill to the marketplace. Sherry believes the multimedia brand has gained traction in the real estate space so quickly due to the legacy of the brand. Furthermore, the real estate franchise provides four things that the contemporary consumer wants ensuring agents and agents and brokers are very keen to work with a company that expounds such values and vision.

1. The consumer is dreaming today about the next phase of their lives

Everyone loves and understands the Better Homes and Gardens brand, along with the aspirations and dreams it represents. We have a real thirst for creating a sanctuary at home and the magazine inspires and assists the realisations of those dreams. Sherry says, “At Better Homes and Gardens, we're able to help move that dream forward and help them dream by all of the rich content that we have, and interesting information that we're able to provide.” She adds, “In Australia, if we look at the overall media reach, it's about 7.3 million, which is huge. The magazine reach is over two million. So, the brand awareness is incredibly high. When I compare that to the US, the brand enjoys 96% brand awareness. What that means is, if you walk into a room of 100 people, 96 people not only know the name ‘Better Homes and Gardens’, but they understand what it stands for.”

2. The brand shares the values of the consumer

The core values of Better Homes and Gardens are passion, authenticity, inclusion, growth and excellence. Sherry says, “Today's consumer looks for brands that actually put a foot in the ground and stand for something – they want their brands to say, ‘This is who we are and this is what you can expect’.” Consumers know what Better Homes and Gardens stands for and want to be a part of the brand.

3. The consumer is looking for exceptional customer service

Sherry knows that the contemporary consumer is not seeking average customer service - that's what everyone else provides. She says customers want exceptional customer service. At Better Homes and Gardens, she says they ask, “…how can we surprise and delight the end consumer? Every day, I try to surprise and delight our brokers and agents and help them think about how to do that with the end consumer.”

4. The consumer want a socially responsible brand

Sherry says, “Our research tells us very strongly that they're looking to align themselves with brands that are socially responsible.Brands that are giving back to the world. We do that at Better Homes and Gardens. We have a charity that we're closely aligned with. About two years ago, I met a young man, a young millennial who was starting a charity. It's called the New Story Charity. He along with three other millennials founded what I call a ‘next generation charity’. One of the things that really drew me to it is that 100% of all of the money raised actually goes towards building homes. The charity itself is funded by some wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and others who really feel the importance of giving back as well. If you raise $6000, you’ve actually built a home.”

The charity provides home ownership and shelter for people around the world who do not have the opportunity to do that. Sherry says, “I thought it was a great tie in. I was looking for a charity that we could work with that would really be meaningful, and would fit into our core values as a brand. What we've done with New Story is that we've just completed an 80 home community in El Salvador. There's a lot of poverty in El Salvador. In fact, I visited there several times and many families live in dirt huts, dirt floor huts. It's just terrible. No running water, no electricity.”

Sherry continues, “So, we have, through our network, and friends and family, raised enough money to build 80 homes. It's a community. It's not just a house or 80 houses. It's a community where people can feel a part of a community and they can build on that community aspect. Now, what we're doing is t tracking their health; we're tracking their increase in monthly income. Part of my personal goal is to take all of this that we've been able to do and go to other companies, both inside and outside of real estate and convince them to help as well in building communities around the world. I'm very personally passionate about it, and our brokers and agents are too because many of them have contributed. Each home only costs $6000. It can be modelled all over the world. Right now, communities have been built in El Salvador, Haiti, and one is being built in Mexico. But it can translate all over the world. I'd love to personally be responsible for helping build communities all over the world with this wonderful charity.”



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