President and CEO
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties
How did your past experience with partnerships lead you to forming a joint venture?
Gretchen Pearson: In the past 35 years in this industry, I have found that partnerships are the best way to improve the customer experience. When the mortgage and real estate side work in sync, whether that’s through a marketing service agreement (MSA) or a joint venture (JV), we can create a repeatable, unified customer experience. When I moved out of branch management in the late ’90s, I grew my career and, eventually, my brokerage through numerous formal partnerships. When we formed our brokerage in 2005, one of the first things we did was put an MSA in place. We were starting a new business, and we wanted to get our company off the ground. Partnerships like MSAs and joint ventures give you the tools to expand your business with a partner who shares your values. I’ve had positive experiences with all of our partnerships, especially our most recent joint venture with CMG Financial.
What made you decide to form a joint venture partnership?
GP: I found that larger companies with existing mortgage relationships were gaining a financial advantage on us. Our joint venture partnership was our defense mechanism, giving us the ability to stay competitive. Even though our team was smaller, a joint venture partnership gave us the ability to speed up the transaction time and cut costs, delivering a better customer experience.
What led you to select your joint venture partner?
GP: When I met with the leadership at CMG Financial, one of the first things I was asked was, “What do you want to do?” A joint venture partnership succeeds because both entities are working toward a common goal. If your joint venture partnership does not begin with an exploration of both partners’ goals, it will not achieve long-term success.
Another thing I look at is the potential partner’s existing relationships. Does the partner maintain other long-term partnerships, or is it regularly changing affiliations? Do its existing partnerships tend to grow or end within a few economic cycles? Referrals matter. Talk to your potential partner’s existing partners to find out more about their relationship. Find out what is working and what is not. Your ideal joint venture partner should complement your services and enhance the customer experience.
Did you meet your financial expectations with your joint venture partnership?
GP: We had an incredible launch; we outperformed our expectations and continue to outpace our growth. We’ve set lofty goals for this year and are continuing to recruit and prepare for another busy year. Even facing the economic hardship of the pandemic, our partnership enabled us to withstand and adapt. We were able to increase our marketing spend, invest in formal training programs and still financially withstand market cycles.
How do you convert agents to work with your joint venture?
GP: My agents are always looking for ways to improve the mortgage transaction for their clients. One of our core values is to create the change we’d like to see in this industry. Through our joint venture partnership, we gain access to exclusive products that elevate our customers’ experience. Real estate is a relationship-based business. Clients return to agents they’ve trusted in the past. The same applies to agents and lenders; agents who are satisfied with their joint venture experience will keep doing business together.
To see the full interview, visit www.cmgfi.com/jv-partners/BerkshireHathaway-drysdaleproperties.
Chris George is the CEO of CMG Financial. For more information, please visit cmgfi.com/jv-partners.