Four years after being named one of the Top 30 Influential Women of Houston in 2017, Ige Johnson was approached by a fellow entrepreneur receiving the same accolade. That’s when she heard six words that motivate her to this day: “You paved the way for me.”
As the broker/owner of RE/MAX Generation in Texas, the team leader of a top-producing, all-female real estate team and a mentor to budding entrepreneurs, Johnson’s drive for success is unstoppable.
She’s not alone. The RE/MAX network—with a presence in over 110 countries and territories, and more than 140,000 agents worldwide—has long had a reputation for attracting full-time professionals dedicated to delivering results and closing transactions.
“The RE/MAX network is composed of ambitious, inspiring professionals with diverse outlooks all around the world,” says RE/MAX Holdings chief financial officer, Karri Callahan. “It’s one of the many reasons why nobody in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX, as measured by residential transaction sides.”
True leaders emerge when their desire to excel is coupled with a professional environment designed for reaching—and exceeding—goals. At RE/MAX brokerages, aptitude, attitude and a track record of success help define these leaders. And these leaders, in turn, help define RE/MAX. Perhaps it’s why RE/MAX has the “No. 1 Most Trusted Real Estate Agents,” according to a BrandSpark® study in the USA* and Canada,** and has been named the No. 1 real estate franchise brand for 13 years by the 2021 Franchise Times Top 400 (previously the Franchise Times Top 200), which ranks the largest U.S. franchises.
That sentiment has held true for the global real estate franchisor since the beginning. RE/MAX Holdings Vice Chair of the Board and RE/MAX Co-Founder Gail Liniger emerged as a trailblazer in 1973 when she took a seat at the table as the first RE/MAX employee. Alongside RE/MAX Holdings Chairman of the Board and RE/MAX Co-Founder Dave Liniger, the pair set the framework to sustainably develop a real estate powerhouse on every inhabitable continent. They assembled a leadership team, established offices and attracted agents with the condition that the person assuming the role was the best qualified candidate, regardless of gender—a concept not widely adopted at the time. Today, approximately 52% of RE/MAX agents globally—and 47% of all RE/MAX franchise owners—are female.
Leveraging an affiliation with the now-iconic hot air balloon logo, leaders within the RE/MAX network follow in Gail Liniger’s footsteps as they redefine the boundaries of building business in the residential, commercial and luxury sectors.
The RE/MAX business model, which empowers affiliates to conduct business their own way, inspires entrepreneurship and leadership of all kinds.
Aligning With the Brand
“RE/MAX was always a dream of mine,” Johnson reveals. “I told my colleagues, ‘We are professionals. And RE/MAX is the home of professionals. So, we need to go to RE/MAX. I was ready to make my business bigger and better.”
“You either go big or go home,” she remembers saying as she and her business partner prepared to leave an independent company and open their own real estate brokerage.
RE/MAX Generation is now thriving under Johnson’s creative direction and leadership. Since aligning with the RE/MAX brand, she boasts an impressive collection of accolades, including RE/MAX Broker/Owner of the Year in 2020 and Super Trailblazer for the Top 50 Black Professionals and Entrepreneurs of Texas in 2021. Johnson’s journey, however, hasn’t happened alone—she prides her brokerage on its culture of mentorship, and measures success by the successes of those around her.
Johnson channels the way she guides RE/MAX Generation and emulates it throughout the greater Houston community, too. She founded the nonprofit organization Women on the Move, which provides mentorship for women in the workforce and connects those exploring a new career field—like real estate—with an advisor in that space.
Guiding RE/MAX Initiatives
RE/MAX, part of the RE/MAX Holdings family of brands, operates alongside ancillary real estate offerings including Motto® Mortgage, the only national franchisor of mortgage brokerage services in the U.S. Callahan, who has helped navigate RE/MAX Holdings through expansion for more than eight years, plays a critical role in the company’s growth initiatives.
“A fundamental transformation started back in 2016 when we launched Motto Mortgage, and it has continued with more recent technology platforms—like loan processing company wemloSM and AI-powered lead-generating app First®—that we’ve acquired to bolster the value propositions of our two franchise brands,” Callahan explains.
Alongside Callahan in the RE/MAX Holdings C-suite is Chief Operating Officer Serene Smith, who is responsible for corporate strategy, culture and alignment. Together with other top leaders within the company, Callahan and Smith guide the decisions and direction of RE/MAX. In Smith’s 15-year tenure with RE/MAX Holdings, which began with a senior manager role, one of her proudest accomplishments is having been a catalyst in the attainability of data.
“We made the decision four years ago to build an internal Enterprise Business Intelligence department dedicated to helping the organization become more data-driven. That decision spurred us to form our data company, G37SM, which has made transformational advancements for RE/MAX technology tools and provides exponential value to our affiliates,” Smith says.
As a harbinger in the brand’s technological revolution, Smith reflects the company culture of seeking solutions that work for all stakeholders.
“A great strength of our executive leadership team is being open to looking at situations from all sides,” Smith says. “We try to always consider a variety of viewpoints and perspectives.”
Growing to New Levels
RE/MAX brokerages vary in size, with some spanning multiple states—like RE/MAX Results in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Brenda Tushaus, the franchise’s chief executive officer, oversees 47 offices and supports more than 1,300 agents.
“I worked in the IT department for RE/MAX Results, began assuming higher roles and started to make a noticeable impact in the brokerage’s success. People would tell me, ‘You’re going to be the CEO someday,'” Tushaus recalls, having turned a vision into reality.
During more than 21 years as a RE/MAX affiliate, and nearly four in her current role, Tushaus has been instrumental in facilitating acquisitions that keep the Midwestern franchise growing. Despite the brokerage’s tremendous size, she works hard to foster a “small brokerage culture” and establishes programs to ensure the wellbeing of agents. Two years ago, Tushaus launched a diversity, equity and inclusion committee dedicated to advocating for fair housing, promoting equality and increasing education on related matters.
Adoption of RE/MAX tech tools is a top priority for her as well.
“We support all of the tools provided by RE/MAX, LLC,” she says. “Our agents love having the ability to customize ads and access platforms that provide predictive analytics.”
These tools include the innovative First app, which helps identify contacts in an agent’s network who are most likely to list their homes; digital advertising platforms for creating customized ads; a branded content creation platform; the brand’s proprietary technology ecosystem and customer relationship management; and a dashboard of luxury home marketing tools and concierge services designed to streamline business.
Under Tushaus’ leadership in 2021, RE/MAX Results affiliates completed more than 28,000 transaction sides. Results like this speak to the quality of the brokerage, but also to the productivity of RE/MAX agents. On average, RE/MAX agents closed more than twice as many transaction sides as all other agents (15.4 vs. 7) among the 1,000 brokerages with the highest sales volume in the 2021 RISMedia Power Broker Report.
Leading by Example
An attorney turned real estate pro, Kendall Bonner, broker/owner of RE/MAX Capital Realty and owner of Motto Mortgage Resource in Florida, says she has two passions under the real estate umbrella: technology and marketing.
“I never knew that social media—a medium that combines them both—would be something I would embrace in the way that I have,” Bonner says. “My mindset is a model I call ‘Learn, Test, Teach.’ I like to learn new things that can be useful to myself and others, test them out to ensure they work, and then teach them.”
She adds, “I support and encourage technology that enhances the consumer experience without replacing the most essential asset of the transaction: the agent.”
Social media has become Bonner’s key to connectivity as a leader. Through building her online personal brand, “Improve Your Hustle,” alongside the RE/MAX name, she is able to teach agents valuable lessons and skills, and produce consumer-facing content that helps alleviate the stresses of the home-buying and -selling processes.
Bonner shares that gratitude is a guiding principle for her leadership.
“When you live a life in gratitude, it benefits others and yourself equally. I remind all the people around me how grateful I am for them every day,” she says. “Gratitude leads to empathy, and living with these two qualities at the core of everything I do has really helped me build loyal relationships with the people I work alongside.
“My ultimate goal is to help other people be amazing.”
“RE/MAX is a wonderful avenue for me because it allows me to spread my wings and have new experiences, yet still conduct my business the way I want to,” says Pamela Banks, an agent with RE/MAX Prestige Realty in Florida.
Many RE/MAX affiliates impact the industry by filling a leadership role in local, regional or national real estate organizations. Banks is one of those leaders, having served as the 2021 National President of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, a network affiliated with the National Association of REALTORS® dedicated to advancing women as leaders in the real estate industry and in their local communities. She champions agents getting involved in adjacent communities and organizations for the connections and opportunity to make a positive impact.
“Oftentimes, people think they don’t have time to volunteer. Honestly, you don’t have time not to get involved,” Banks remarks. “You learn so much when collaborating with people who have different perspectives.”
Banks’ proudest accomplishment in her time as the organization’s president was the establishment of an international initiative that provides women in other countries more opportunities to get involved with real estate. Under her leadership, members of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® helped jumpstart local women-led real estate organizations in parts of South and Central America and provide ongoing support. She also helped establish an online global mastermind group of women to share experiences from all corners of the world.
Community involvement, and especially giving back, is integral to RE/MAX culture.
In 2021, RE/MAX agents and offices around the world banded together on Global RE/MAX Day, the network’s day of service, to donate goods, clean up neighborhoods, feed families and continue raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®, the brand’s philanthropic partner of 30 years.
“What’s so impressive to me about RE/MAX agents is that they are ingrained in their local communities. On a daily basis, and through hardships like natural disasters, the network always comes together and finds ways to help each other,” Callahan reflects, noting that RE/MAX affiliates have donated more than $170 million to CMN Hospitals in the U.S. and Canada since 1992. “RE/MAX fosters a unique culture, and it stems from the values—and entrepreneurial spirit—on which the company was built.”
Adding to that unique culture is the willingness of agents to share skills in an effort to strengthen the industry and the brand. That, says Smith, is what RE/MAX is all about.
“RE/MAX is the place for building businesses and communities—and we’re honored to provide a platform for everyone. Gail Liniger really created a foundation for women to achieve anything they set their minds to, and that energy will be woven into the RE/MAX culture forever.”
*Voted most trusted Real Estate Agency brand by American shoppers based on the 2022 BrandSpark® American Trust Study.
**Voted Most Trusted Real Estate Agency brand by Canadian shoppers based on the 2022 BrandSpark® Canadian Trust Study.
***2021 analysis of the average number of transactions closed by more than 52,000 active RE/MAX agents in the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec) who joined RE/MAX on or after 1/1/2012.
For more information, please visit remax.com.