Wendy Forsythe, the new COO of HomeSmart International, was the featured Business Leader Spotlight on the Money Radio 1510AM Business for Breakfast program. The show speaks to financial topics and business news. Wendy talks with radio host Mark Asher about HomeSmart International and her new leadership role within the company.
M: Tell us a little bit about your business acumen and where you came from.
W: I have been a serial real estate professional. I started selling real estate when I was in college getting my business degree and have been in the profession ever since.
M: So you’ve always been in the real estate game. You were managing a big brokerage out in California, correct?
W: Yes, I’ve been fortunate to have had several different roles, but I managed a large national brokerage, helped launch a national franchise here previously in the U.S. and then was excited to get the opportunity to join HomeSmart.
M: So how does that come up? You’re doing your thing– was it a recruitment type thing? Everyone knows HomeSmart and it’s growing really quickly.
W: It was. So like many industries, there are industry conferences, so I had the opportunity to meet Matt Widdows at various events– who’s our founder and CEO at HomeSmart– and have been a fan of the company as I’ve watched it evolve and grow since it launched back in 2000. I’ve been on the sidelines watching what the company has been doing and have really admired the growth, the culture, the business value proposition that the company has. It was then brought to my attention that the opportunity was available and was able to make it all happen and move to wonderful Scottsdale.
M: You said 2000 is when Matt founded it. Here we are 17 years later– one of the fastest growing brokerage firms, top 20 in the country, number one in Arizona and now located in what– 15 or 16 states across the US?
W: Yes, absolutely. We currently have over 14,000 real estate professionals across the country that have chosen to partner with HomeSmart to build their businesses, so we’re very fortunate with that and it just goes to show the value proposition that we offer really resonates with the real estate professional, which then helps the consumer out there who’s buying and selling.
M: I always wonder what differentiates you from some of the others and the names that have been around forever? Because a lot of times a REALTOR® just needs somewhere to hang their hat– this is who I’m with– and sometimes we see REALTORS® jump around, but a lot of yours have stayed with HomeSmart International. Why? What’s the differentiating factor there?
W: It’s the combination of really understanding where the market is today and the tools, services, technology and support that we’re able to offer that real estate professional in building their businesses. And as you said, they have a choice. They can hang their license anywhere, so delivering a high level of service to that agent is what makes them want to come to HomeSmart and want to stay at HomeSmart.
M: There are real estate professionals who have “made it”, right? They’ve got their business, maybe they have a team– they also come to HomeSmart. And then you have the person that [says], “Hey I’m starting this brand new career. I just got my real estate license.” So tell me the difference between the two or is there not much of a difference when it comes to HomeSmart?
W: There’s a difference I think in what each are looking for at different stages of their career, as you can imagine. So for the seasoned real estate professional or that team, they are really looking for a high level of leadership– think of it as business coaching or executive coaching. Of course they’re also looking for the financial side of it and what are they paying and what is that return on investment that they’re getting with the brokerage company they join. Those are two areas that HomeSmart really excels for that high producer or team leader.
On the other end of the spectrum, that brand new agent is really looking for a lot of support. They need training, they need the ability to call somebody right away when they have a question and get that answer so they can relay that level of service along to their clients. And we offer that, so it’s really a business model that just hits both those spectrums in the business.
M: 200 percent growth. From 2000 to 2017 this company has gone to the top. Did you say to yourself, “Just don’t screw this up, just keep it going.” Or what do you feel? I know they see future growth– everyone wants to grow– even if you’ve grown in great numbers you still want to continue to grow. Is that part of your role? Just making sure this thing keeps going up and up?
W: Absolutely. We plan to continue growing, to continue offering great service to our agents and to buyers and sellers in the market. And yeah, you’re absolutely right. When you step into a role with a company like this, you do have to say to yourself, “Ok, don’t mess this up!”
M: Right, because at some companies you may take over and they’re a hot mess and you’re here to fix all ills. This is not the case.
W: This is not the case. That’s part of what appeals to the opportunity for me– is that it’s not a turnaround situation, it’s not that hot mess situation– it is that sort of rocket ship situation where the company is on the rise and really just getting started. We’ve perfected here in Arizona– the business system we offer to the real estate professional– and now it’s just about continuing to expand that across the country.
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