Alan Mason remembers the moment he was certain he’d succeed as a real estate broker.
‘It was the August long weekend,’ recalls the Broker of Record at TrilliumWest Real Estate Brokerage, ‘and it was brutally hot outside. And I was installing theatre-room insulation in the ceiling of what’s now our brokerage at Stone and Edinburgh. I’d been building the brokerage — literally building it piece by deliberately-chosen piece with my own hands — for months already. And I was so hot. And so exhausted. And I’d given all I had over the past months working nights– 10pm ’til 4am sometimes — after full days as an agent. And I was spent.’
And that’s when it hit him.
‘I realized,’ Alan notes, ‘that the reason our brokerage will succeed is because I was — and continue to be — willing to work as hard as possible to get things done right. While most folks in my industry were undoubtedly enjoying their cottages that August long weekend, I was sweating all over theatre-room insulation.
‘To make things right in an industry ripe for change.’
Indeed, there are a lot of things that Alan — a character so intensely-driven by a near-perfect balance of marketing, metrics and community that you can almost hear the gears turning in his head — wants to ‘make right’ with the local real estate landscape.
Beginning with the long-held perception both within and without the real estate world that the industry is at its foundation a cut-throat sales game where agents are pitted against agents and brokerages against brokerages — all too often at the expense of clients.
As Alan notes: ‘The industry will succeed only if it puts collaboration overcompetition. We are an industry built on the concept of co-operation and every day real estate professionals work with one another representing buyers and sellers. It only makes sense if these professional dealings are grounded in a sense of collaboration, community and the betterment of everyone involved. If what we are doing inspires others to work in a similar fashion, then I am all for that. It helps our industry grow.’
The sense of collaboration and community that Alan’s trying to foster among his agents — which have grown to over forty since the brokerage opened not even a year and a half ago — is modelled by the brokerage’s deliberate focus on giving back to local non-profit organizations (TrilliumWest presentedKidsAbility with a cheque for over $20,000 last year) and working with local businesses as much as possible. Case in point: the creation of a series of short videos highlighting Guelph’s diverse neighbourhoods by renowned(and Academy Award-nominated) producer Erin Faith Young, Erin’s husband Andy and local photographer Andrew Goodwin.
Simply put, the videos are jaw-droppingly gorgeous and absolutely emblematic of how TrilliumWest is raising the bar across the local real estate landscape. Take a look at trilliumwest.com. And while you’re there, revel in the professionalism, ease-of-use and clean design of the brokerage’s website. ‘Whatever it takes to make a potential client’s life easier to navigate local real estate listings and opportunities,’ notes Alan. Indeed,TrilliumWest’s web presence is what drives everything at the brokerage.
Adds Alan: ‘While other brokerage’s rely heavily on sites like realtor.ca to promote their listings online, TrilliumWest relies on realtor.ca for less than 2% of our online traffic. We don’t rely on external sources to do marketing for us. If a client hires us to do the job right, so we like to handle that ourselves. We study the metrics and we put all of our marketing efforts behind the methods we know deliver the very best results for our home-owners.’
The result? TrilliumWest isn’t based on the more traditional brokerage model that charges its agents rent for office space, paper — even coffee.
‘I’m not a landlord,’ Alan states resolutely. ‘Instead, my job as broker is to work for my agents by helping them do their job better. We love to help promote them, their properties, strengthen our brand in the community, and lead by example. We like to think of ourselves as a marketing company that sells real estate.”
Not to say that TrilliumWest doesn’t have any office space at all. Indeed, the brokerage’s home at the corner of Edinburgh and Stone is beautifully-appointed with a relaxed, laid back vibe. It’s all a blur of open spaces, sliding glass doors, minimalist white leather furniture, local artwork and a small army of shiny silver Apple computers. Like downtown Toronto in Uptown Guelph. (A shout out to Thomas Aldridge of Manhattans Pizza Bistro Music Club who coined the term ‘Uptown’ to refer to Guelph’s ‘South End’. And look out for an article about Guelph’s ‘other downtown’ coming soon.)
And while TrilliumWest has no plans to slow down its sophisticated web and social platform, Alan’s next big strategic move for the brokerage will be cemented in bricks and mortar — with an innovative (disruptive, even) twist. Specifically, TrilliumWest is in the midst of launching TWStore, a gorgeous street level presentation centre that’s to be located just beside the current brokerage (which will be transformed into the agents’ ‘clubhouse’ — replete with ping pong table) that will allow potential home buyers to pick up information and watch videos about all new housing communities being built in and around Guelph — no matter the builder.
‘Right now’, observes Alan, ‘if potential homeowners want to find out all about new communities being built locally, they’re forced to drive to each presentation centre to get the information they want. Theoretically, they could spend all day driving from site to site.’ Alan goes on: ‘It’s our plan that TWStore will provide the most up-to-date, pertinent information on all the new communities being built — as well as provide all the amenities (and more) of typical brokerages.’ He adds: ‘Our mandate is to work with local builders to help promote their homes and ensure the very best buying process for everyone who stops in atTWStore. The coffee is always on and we will always be talking Guelph real estate at TWStore.’
Alan concludes: ‘I know we are on to something here. We are doing things our way, not the way things have always been done in an industry very slow to adopt change. We love promoting Guelph and sincerely hope we are helping to grow a more livable city. And we’re having a whole lotta fun doing it.’