Growth mindset 101 – HousingWire

The year was 2019. I was working hard to make my mark as the Midwest Regional Director for Franchise Sales for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC, the national franchisor. It wasn’t a job I was overly excited about, but I knew the training and field work would help round out my resume. It was the most stressful job I had ever had but I was starting to find my groove. All that changed when I got a call in late November from a former colleague, asking me to consider a VP of Operations position with a CB affiliate. Fast forward to February 17, 2020, and that is the real beginning of the story.

How it all began

I was hired by Coldwell Banker Premier Founder and CEO, Steve DuBrueler. My mandate was simple – grow his company that had been successfully doing business since 1994. Some see Steve as a man of few words. However, the words he does use are sometimes profound. The way he viewed his market position at that time was, “too big to be small and too small to be big.”  Steve felt that he had most of the problems of a larger brokerage but the resources of a smaller company, and therefore was not able to solve many of his issues. At the start of 2020, Steve had five offices with about 75 agents. He felt that twice the GCI would change the game and open new opportunities. Growth was the only path he was willing to accept. Going back or staying put never crossed his mind.

Thankfully, my background helped to align my philosophy with Steve’s. Growth could provide us with new talent, economies of scale, and access to better technology. The challenge was that growth isn’t something that should just happen. We needed a plan. We had to make sure that the infrastructure was prepared to support the larger organization. We also needed to spend some time refining systems and processes to ensure smooth implementation of our plans. Five weeks later, a global pandemic stopped us dead in our tracks. Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened in terms of preparation and planning. All I had to do now was solve all the challenges that we faced on our new path. 


  1. Chicken or the Egg?

When planning a growth strategy, it’s important to understand the general order of how things should progress. It doesn’t have to be exact, but a good idea sure does help. In our case, the question was one of infrastructure. I had been given a large amount of geography to explore and no real limits on the size of companies to consider. Do we beef up our support staff and technology in anticipation of growth or do we bootstrap our way to competence? This is where my CEO and I are both opposite and complimentary, like a Yin Yang symbol. I am a planner, and he tends to be more on the take action side of the spectrum. However, if we could blend our styles, we might be able to find a happy medium.

  1. If you build it, will they REALLY come?

The next challenge we faced was around efficient processes. I consider myself to be process-oriented, thanks to my many successful years of systematically selling foreclosures. It can be monotonous work, but it teaches valuable lessons around processes and efficiency of time and resources. Our processes were functional, but they needed to be modernized and reimagined. If we were going to spend the time focused on that, I had to make sure there was a reason for the effort. We needed to bring on more agents and buy some companies!

  1. Assembling the team

This CEO had just laid down a mandate to more than double the size of his company, just for starters. This was not going to be a small feat. We needed help! As amazing as our staff was, there was no way 12 people could handle the concentrated growth we sought. What were our skill gaps? Where could someone help make us stronger? The right hire can send your plans into overdrive. The wrong ones can stall your progress or even end the race. Talent is the greatest asset a company has. We had to find the best people for the job!

More to come

Growth is vital to the long term success of any business. However, growth can be painful, expensive, and emotionally draining. Failing to plan ahead for challenges will cause delays and could even cost you a deal. In the next article, we will look at how my team approached these challenges and the path we took to the next chapter in our story. Until then, start thinking about what growth could look like for you.

Stephen Meadows is the Chief Operating Officer and Associate Broker at Coldwell Banker Premier.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire’s editorial department and its owners.

To contact the editor responsible for this piece: [email protected]

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