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Sharing values and vision with Bret Calltharp

With Bret Calltharp, Director of Talent attraction for better gomes and gardens real estate.

We live in a period of collaboration and one of the most interesting partnerships in the real estate space is Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. Owned by Realogy a global leader in residential real estate franchising and brokerage with brands including CENTURY 21, Coldwell Banker, Corcoran and Sotheby's International Realty, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate launched in 2008.

Bret Calltharp, Director of Talent Attraction for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, where he drives and supports individual franchisees growth tells the story, “The Meredith Corporation, who's the publisher for Better Homes and Gardens magazine, licenced the name for Realogy to use for our brand. Sherry Chris, came over to be the first and still the only CEO we've had and we’re having some fantastic growth and success ever since”.

Bret has seen it all – riding both the booms and busts of the economy and the real estate industry. He says, “Originally I ran a RE/MAX group down in Southwest Florida, so I was there for the boom and bust and the recovery and I've seen how real estate's changed cyclically”. He has seen the value in a strategic partnership and how it has enabled his brand to remain relevant and competitive in an ever changing and expanding environment. The brand leverages off the very well loved and regarded magazine, which reaches 40 million readers a month and embodies ideas of a nourished loving home and garden. Bret says, “A lot of times if you look at what the brands do, why should I as a consumer care about this brand when I'm not buying a house or if I'm not selling a house? We are consumer-focused, consumerfacing, so we are part of these folks life 365 days a year.”

At a time when consumers value authenticity, the Better Homes and Gardens brand is the right product for the right time. Consumers trust and share its vision and values. Bret says, “There's so many computers and so much more e-mail and everything else, - you miss that human element. I think people are pushing back a little bit and you're seeing across all industries that, "I want to do business with companies I like, I know and I trust," We’ve built that trust with the consumers, not just in America but in Canada and around the world over the last 75 plus years. I think we are able to, and our affiliates are able to, take advantage of the trust that we've built as a brand on the magazine side and the lifestyle side and kinda tie that one almost like the superhero cape to what they do, just to kinda give them an extra advantage in the marketplace”.

There are tangible benefits for customers and agents by being associated with the magazine – a feature that attracted Bret to his present role. He says, “I was in Vancouver, British Columbia. We had 600 agents, eight offices. We did about $6 billion in volume. We were number one multi-office sales for RE/MAX I think seven out of eight years. One of the things that really attracted me to this brand is what does the brand do to make our agents better? What can they do to really have a tangible effect on their business?”

He says, “All of our agents, can send out a magazine for $US13.25 a year. Every single issue has their label with their picture, their name, their phone number, 'Compliments of.' They also, on our digital marketing centre, can go in and actually create newsletters etc. and import content from the writers at Meredith and Better Homes. If you want to do a monthly newsletter, instead of just putting in market stats and whatever they can click and say, "Okay, I want an article about getting your home ready for the winter." Click, click. Do I want small, medium or large article? Boom, it's done. They can change it or they can keep it the same. We have royalty-free photo library that they can take advantage of. They've been very good at sharing that content with us so that we can share it with our affiliates and our agents and brokers and they absolutely take advantage”.

Bret believes that having access to broader Better Homes and Garden brand and content enables his agents to engage in quality relationships with existing customers. He says, “In 2008 the National Association of Realtors did a large study of agents and they found that 91% of the respondents had never contacted the buyer or seller again after the sale. There's so much business that is lost every year by people not staying in touch with past clients. The agents get busy, they get drawn into what I call the tyranny of the urgent where they're just constantly reacting instead of being proactive. This is a way that they could very easily write that ship and stay in touch with their past clients because if they're not, I guarantee you another agent in their marketplace is and that's probably who that person's gonna buy with the next time”.

Eager to see agents focus more on fundamentals of selling rather than focusing on simple magic bullets, Bret says, “Statistics show that 8% of buyers, 6% of sellers found their agent online and over 65% found them through referrals, past clients”. Brett wants agents to be more creative thinkers and he tries to “Help them to do the best that they can to leverage their time, leverage their brilliance, their greatness, their network, their sphere. People think, "Oh, I only buy a house every six, seven years," but how many people do you know who are buying a house during those six or seven years?”

He continues, “I think with products like Real Satisfied they make the reviews much more transparent so you can see who the good agents are and who's the not so good agents, I think we're going to continue to see, hopefully, agents stop looking for that magic website or that magic technological bullet that's going give them an edge and generate an extra hundred leads, whereas they'll use proper techniques and they'll be able to convert a higher percentage of their leads and be more profitable”.


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