Relocation Spotlight: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene
By Michelle Sandlin
On the Move – Houston Chronicle; May 15, 2015
Pattie Huey leads a very successful team as the director of relocation and business development for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene. During a recent conversation, she explained that running an effective relocation department requires a multidimensional, cohesive team that works hard to support one another.
Simply put, Huey said, “Relocation takes a village.”
Following are excerpts from our conversation.
MS: What does it take to meet the demands of the relocation client of today?
PH: It takes a village, and that village consists of a lead person who is out there making the contacts and holding all of the pieces together, while staff members work in the background fielding calls and monitoring the information. Relocation has become more of a logistics business, with a lot of performance metrics that have to be monitored and reported, so you need to have a very strong group of people with the right skillset. You must also have the support within your company from the owners, brokers and managers in your offices.
MS: What other departments within your company touch relocation?
PH: Relocation is really an involved process. Our department also works hand-in-hand with the accounting and marketing departments, and with the owners of the company, the brokers and the agents. Then we also have to relay any information about changes in third-party business to all of your managers.
MS: What role does training and education play in making sure that your team stays on top of their game?
PH: Our relocation training is ongoing, but we also have specific third party certification programs that have to be completed based on the calendar. I have almost 300 agents on my relocation team, and a staff of 12 people who have to correlate the training and bring it together. My staff shares in the training based on their particular backgrounds and strengths. As the relocation director, I do the policies and procedural training, and the rest of my staff shares in teaching agents how to best handle the business and to understand changes with the third parties.
MS: Is relocation a 24/7/365 job?
PH: Yes, but this is where we bring in that other very important piece of the team, which is the agent. Our agents are on seven-day-a-week schedules, but our relocation staff is not physically present in the office everyday. We keep normal office hours, but we stay connected through email, texting and phones during the hours we are out of the office.
MS: How would you describe your leadership style?
PH: I believe in empowering the people who work for you. I have the great fortune of working for an owner/broker who shares my thinking on leadership, which is that if you hire the right people, and you trust them and train them properly, that you have to give them the space and the freedom to do what they do best.
MS: How do you keep everyone engaged with each other as it relates to the relocation business?
PH: I have to make sure that all of these moving parts are connected. One thing that we’ve done is to create an internship program so that my staff can spend time basically walking in the shoes of a relocation agent. They have to go through everything from doing a BMA (Broker’s Market Analysis), to inspections and closings. They work in the office with the agents, so they are fully integrated in the process. In order to connect the dots, it’s important to make sure that the agents know us, and that we know them and can be empathetic to what they’re going through. We have also invited all of our managers to do reverse internships with us.
MS: What does having such a cohesive team means for your relocation clients?
PH: This is a service business, but with such a high volume and all of the reporting and metrics required, it could be really easy to lose that service piece. So, if we work as a village and have support from the agents’ side and the owners’ side, then I think that it is definitely conveyed do the transferee and allows us to maintain that service piece.
MS: What is the biggest challenge facing the relocation buyer moving to Houston today?
PH: I think the challenge right now is that we are in a bit of a shifting market, and because Houston has so many different types of communities, pricing is definitely moving a little bit in some of those areas. So, the important piece here is the agent, who can provide a lot of market specific education upfront. I think this is very necessary because our markets are very fluid.