Region served: Greater Tidewater/Hampton Roads, Virginia Years in real estate: Susan: 20; Barry: 36 Number of offices: 4 Number of agents: 64
Lesley Grand: As husband and wife owners/managers, how do you make it work?
Susan Jenkins: From the beginning, Barry and I agreed that we would be different than most other brokerages in that we wanted to be broker-centric rather than agent-centric. We have 13 members on our admin staff, and they do everything for our agents. Agents typically have to take care of so many things, but when we take all of that off their plates, we’re left with the highest and best use of our people.
Barry Jenkins: Susan and I have worked side by side for the last 30 years. Everything we do, we do together, but if one of us feels strongly about something, the other will defer. For instance, Susan was interested in getting the area HUD contract, which wasn’t something I placed a lot of value on—but it has really propelled us forward.
LG: How does Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate help you stand out from the competition?
SJ: With Better Homes and Gardens, not only are we part of a great tradition, but also, we’re able to provide our agents with phenomenal back-end services. Better yet, the brand is all about inclusiveness and providing opportunity. When we joined Better Homes and Gardens, we only had 13 agents, but they gave us a chance.
LG: What are the three words that best describe your management style?
SJ: Servant leadership, collaboration and accountability. Everyone has talent, but it’s up to us to unearth that talent. I come from a long Native American heritage, so to me, it’s all about the community coming together and contributing…rather than just myself. We allow people to grow and have potential without criticism.
BJ: Faith, big picture and resources. When you work at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Native American Group, part of the money you earn goes to the poor and needy. I want our agents to know that they are part of something bigger than just money. I also instill in our agents that they should be a resource rather than a salesperson. And, perhaps most importantly, both Susan and I come from poor backgrounds, and we were given opportunities along the way, so we pay it forward by doing the same for our agents.
LG: What motto/work philosophy do you live by?
SJ: Living out my faith. I try to go out and find people to share with so that they find a better way. You could say that we are investing in people. Money can only be spent once, and you can’t take it with you. But if you can influence someone’s life, that’s for eternity.
BJ: I strive to find what someone is good at and make them great at it. We want people to have happy hearts, and they do. People like being here.
LG: Where do you stand in terms of opening back up as the pandemic begins to subside?
BJ: We were deemed an essential service, so we kept our offices open the entire time. While a lot of neighboring firms cut their office and admin count, we doubled down and committed ourselves to holding the team together in order to keep going.