Jill Butler founded RedKey Realty Leaders St. Louis in 2012—an independent real estate agency created on a foundation of love, service, and fun. In addition to growing 300 percent in their first year, RedKey has consistently and significantly outperformed the market in both sales amounts and volume. RedKey opened a second location in West County in 2015 and is now considered one of the largest independent real estate companies in St. Louis. Jill was named 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by the state of Missouri and St. Louis chapter of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®. She has held an officer position for the Women’s Council of REALTORS® and serves on the St. Louis Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors. Learn more at redkeystlouis.com.
Preserve Company Culture in Times of Growth
Learn how to stay true to your core mission even when you’re adding offices, setting up new divisions, recruiting agents, and hiring staff.
June 6, 2016
Growing pains are a bittersweet reality that every successful business must face. Specifically, growth presents challenges and opportunities for organizations in the area of corporate culture. I can tell you firsthand that it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of expansion and lose sight of why your business was founded in the first place.
Your unique company culture is likely one of the main reasons you’re experiencing growth, so it’s imperative to maintain your vision and mission as you expand. A recent study from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business revealed that the majority of executives say corporate culture drives profitability and contributes to a company’s ability to thrive in the modern business world.
How do you ensure the corporate culture you’ve worked so hard to build extends to new locations and is communicated to new agents and employees? Below are the four ways my company, RedKey Realty Leaders St. Louis, has been able to grow rapidly while also preserving an innovative culture.
1. Rely on your core philosophy.
One of the most helpful ways to preserve culture is to frequently remind yourself why your company was originally founded. What differentiates you from everyone else in your industry? The answer to that question is probably your core philosophy. It’s the foundation of your business, and it must be agreed upon and ingrained in the business model in order to create a lasting culture. RedKey, for example, was founded on the basis of love, service, and fun. Our leadership team continually referenced those core values during our rapid growth phase, and that core philosophy continues to be the basis of every decision we make. Having a strong company philosophy helps you to refocus and stay on track. It also helps to guide your team through growth and maintain the corporate culture that got you there.
2. Communicate values.
It’s important that every agent and employee understands the mission and values of your company. That’s why a key characteristic of a strong company culture is effective communication. When leadership makes it a priority to consistently communicate the organization’s philosophy, internal processes inherently run more smoothly and goodwill is generated. At RedKey, we hold weekly sales meetings no matter how busy we are. Through these meetings, we’re able to ensure that all agents are behind both immediate and futuristic goals for the company. We also facilitate internal communications through regular email newsletters. And we have an advisory leadership board made up entirely of agents who are tasked with providing input and feedback.
3. Recruit for cultural fit.
Growing with the right people who have a compatible philosophy is fundamental. This can be difficult during times of rapid growth when new hires are needed quickly. A Columbia University study shows that the probability of job turnover at an organization with a high-performing company culture is just 13.9 percent, whereas the likelihood of job turnover in a low-performing company cultures is 48.4 percent. Turnover is expensive and can significantly affect the performance of an organization. Taking the time to recruit and hire the right people will save you headaches — and money. For example, at RedKey, we are careful that each person we bring on board is committed to providing the best service possible to his or her clients. When hiring, we often ask ourselves, “Would I want to sit next to this person on a cross-country flight?” If the answer is no, they probably aren’t a good fit.
4. Make it a priority.
During rapid expansion, broker-owners and managers tend to feel the brunt of growing pains. When you’re on deadline for signing leases and deciding who will fill the new office, culture seems like the last thing you should worry about. So how do you make it a priority when there are dozens of other important tasks competing for your attention? RedKey’s leadership was able to tackle this by simply being mindful of the fact that it would impact our success. In order to focus on preserving culture, we determined which tasks had the biggest impact on growth, and then we took ownership of those tasks and delegated everything else. Through collaboration and delegation, we were able to not only more clearly define job roles but also ensure that every team member remained on board with the company’s vision and next steps.
Undoubtedly, corporate culture is a big piece of why you’re growing, and it’s essential for continued growth. Make sure it doesn’t get lost on the sidelines. Ensure veteran and new team members are on the same page and continue to prioritize and share your cultural foundations. That way, corporate culture will be a competitive advantage as you expand — and you’ll still like working at the company you founded.