CEO & Co-Founder
President & Co-Founder
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Toronto Realty
Region served: Greater Toronto, Ontario
Years in real estate: Mark: 9; Blair: 9
Number of offices: 3, with two more launching this year
Number of agents: 140
What ultimately drew you to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices?
Mark Wadden: We were always the anti-franchise guys, but we were a little bit handcuffed because we couldn’t be in all markets. Our success over the years caused us to be approached by every franchise around, but we immediately liked Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. The leadership team has been unbelievable when it comes to the support they provide and their response time. And then there’s the brand itself; Warren Buffett plays to all markets.
Blair Johnson: We ran Blue Elephant Realty, a small boutique firm, for seven years before making the switch just as the pandemic hit last March. While we had a great business prior to affiliating with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, combining the two has created an even greater business.
Please describe your culture at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Toronto Realty.
MW: We’re always on the search for continuous improvement. That being said, don’t come here if you want to make a lateral move.
BJ: Due to the pandemic, we’ve had almost no in-person interaction this past year, which has caused us to be very innovative. Not only are we young, but we’re always looking at new things—and we’re obsessed with giving our agents the newest and the best.
How would you describe your management styles—and in what ways do they complement one another?
MW: Out of the two of us, I’m more structured, which has allowed me to focus on building the leadership team. Blair—the brains behind our marketing and technology—has defined how the brand is going to be positioned here in Canada.
BJ: While my leadership style centers around leading by example, going out of my way to lend a hand wherever it is needed, Mark excels when it comes to giving people direction. Not only is he very clear at delegating and finding the right people to do the right things, but he also works hard to create an all-star team.
What is your best advice for recruiting and retaining agents in today’s competitive environment?
BJ: The best way to recruit is for other agents to see what we offer, so it is fair to say that we attract agents. As far as retention, we have great online services, a huge social media presence and a lot of visibility. We have made a conscious decision to let our services do the talking. What separates us is the digital aspect. We are a do-it-for-you company. We provide the service and take care of everything our agents need digitally, which allows them to stay on top of their clients. It’s the signature part of our business.
What changes have you had to make given COVID restrictions in your area?
MW: We’ve been on lockdown longer than any place in the world. Operating this way since March 2020, we’re staying connected by staying in touch—all of which is being done digitally. We immediately transitioned to a digital workflow that has allowed us to talk/Zoom at least once or twice a week.
For more information, please visit www.bhhs.com.
Lesley Grand is a contributing editor to RISMedia.