Jason Waugh doesn’t believe he is in the real estate business. Instead, the president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate views himself as a business partner of an extended team.
“Our brokers are CEOs and entrepreneurs, and they are the ones in the real estate business,” he said. “As a company, it’s our mission to serve and support them, and our contribution is the resources and tools that allow them to achieve their professional goals.”
A 2022 winner in The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Top Workplaces competition, now in its 11th year, Berkshire Hathaway provides a menu of home-related offerings including mortgage loans, insurance and relocation services, as well as the real estate services for which it is best known. . Founded in 1948, it had a 2021 sales volume of $4.5 billion.
Full list of Top Workplaces 2022 winners
The team praises a number of workplace traits that allow them to do their best work as “CEOs,” from robust training to flexibility, combined with support when needed. Vicki Comer, a principal broker and branch manager who has been with the organization for 32 years, said that the Berkshire Hathaway leaders model professionalism and integrity, while keeping the unique needs of agents at the forefront.
“They create opportunities for us to achieve success by providing the support and connections that make brokers’ lives easier,” she said.
In keeping with the theme of agent as CEO, Comer said that the team appreciates the flexibility to work when, where and how it best suits their goals and client base. “We are all allowed the space we need to coordinate our work activities in a way that’s appropriate at any given time,” she said.
Yet that doesn’t mean they are on their own, she added. “We have a huge reservoir of technology and resources that helps agents build their individual business, along with ongoing training suitable for both newer and seasoned agents.”
Although Berkshire Hathaway has approximately 50 employees and 500 brokers spread among 25 offices in Oregon, it prides itself on being a “flat” organization, which means that the senior executive team is accessible to all team members.
“Being available creates open lines of communication; people feel comfortable coming to us with questions or airing grievances when they arise,” said Waugh.
He frequently visits the various offices for open dialogue about whatever is on the minds of agents or support staff – whether it’s about the company, their office or the industry in general.
“Our business is always changing, and we try to offer a sense of realistic optimism,” said Waugh, characterizing the most recent market as “a heck of a decade.”
He notes they have a cadre of agents who have never been through a down market. “It’s important to give them perspective, which they in turn can share with customers, because it’s our responsibility to be the calming, informed and educated voice in this process, which is typically already emotional, based on what’s motivating buyers or sellers to initiate the transaction.”
While real estate is, by nature, a results-focused business, Waugh said they are intentional about celebrating milestones beyond sales figures, such as birthdays and company anniversaries. He prioritizes the personal touch by sharing a video or handwritten message on these notable days.
“I consider the agents and employees to be my customers so I want to serve and support them to create an exceptional experience, which they will then be more inclined to pass on to their customers,” Waugh said.
As a business partner, Waugh knows that means consistently considering their needs. “Our actions show we are sincere when we say we value people over production and that relationships are as important as results,” he said.