Brad Bondy prides himself on his hands-on approach to personal accountability with clients – so he’s found ways to keep the “I” in team while expanding his business
By David Weedmark // Photos by Steve Pomerleau
Born and raised on a family farm just a few miles from Amherstburg, Ontario, the site of his current office with RE/MAX Preferred Realty, Brad Bondy has worked in the region’s struggling automotive industry and at a local chemical plant. When his last employer followed many others in the Windsor area by closing up shop, a human resources rep reviewed Bondy’s career aptitude test and urged him to go into sales. Bondy heeded that advice shortly after his 40th birthday and became a Realtor – with RE/MAX.
The local real estate market was still booming when he was studying for his license in 2006, but the bottom fell out just as he was launching his business. The Windsor-Essex market – once the automotive powerhouse of Canada – was crippled by the same economic fallout as Detroit, its neighbor across the river.
Looking back, Bondy feels he was fortunate not to know any differently, and for his experience working in the automotive industry during a transitional period.
“To me it was a great time,” Bondy says. “I was just happy to be working.”
Glen Muir, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Preferred Realty, remembers those early days in Bondy’s career very well. Like many who work with him, Muir speaks with a certain degree of awe when describing Bondy’s work ethic and energy.When someone’s got that much energy and tenacity, you know they’re going to be a successClick To Tweet
“I never saw someone do as much prospecting as he does,” Muir says. “The way he reaches out to people is incredible. When someone’s got that much energy and tenacity, you know they’re going to be a success.”
Bondy, a self-avowed sports nut, hits his share of home runs, but his game relies more on steady, consistent singles that help keep up his average. His average listing last year was $183,000, which mirrors the average forecasted for the Windsor-Essex region this year, the lowest in Ontario as projected by the 2014 Housing Outlook Report from RE/MAX in Canada. In neighboring London-St. Thomas, by comparison, the average 2014 sale price is projected to be $250,000. In Kitchener-Waterloo, it’s projected to be $330,000 and in Toronto it’s $550,000.
What Bondy lacks in big-ticket sales, he makes up for in volume, selling 220 homes last year. He attributes his success to friends and family, loyal clients and the same values his parents taught him on the family farm: hard work, honesty and treating people well.
He doesn’t set personal sales goals, doesn’t rush to calculate his commission after a sale and doesn’t pay much mind to sales awards. When asked if he expects to win the Diamond Award this year, Bondy – normally a talkative man – is suddenly at a loss for words.
“I know I’ve earned Chairman’s Club,” he says as he scans the many plaques on his wall. He looks to Sales Associate Diane Schultz, his newest team member, for guidance. “What’s the Diamond again?” She reminds him and he says, “Yes, I’m on track for that.”
Bondy seldom wears a suit and tie for work, preferring that his attire match his more informal, relaxed style of working with people. His sales philosophy is simply to work hard, greet everyone with a smile and let nothing distract him from what’s most important for his business – getting out and talking with people one on one.
EARNING CLIENTS’ APPROVAL
Referrals have been a key component of Bondy’s success since day one. His very first listing was a $37,000 mobile-home property. He asked for referrals before his sign was even on the lawn. The clients put him in touch with a relative, which resulted in a $165,000 listing. Within a few weeks they gave him the name of another relative, which led to a third listing for $530,000. All three houses sold within three months.
Bondy makes a point of contacting past clients three or four times a year to ask about their families, their new homes and how life is treating them in general. If he doesn’t see them at a community event or on the sidewalk, he calls them.
Moreover, Bondy seldom walks away from a conversation without reminding the person that he’s always available to take on more business.
He’s not badgering clients for referrals, he says, but rather keeping himself top-of-mind by asking them to simply mention his name if an opportunity arises – no matter how large or small.
“I’m never too busy,” he says.
To maximize his time with current and prospective clients, Bondy relies on his assistant, Heather Harber, for most of the behind-the-scenes work, like tracking contracts, managing deadlines and taking photos.
“He’d rather be developing relationships, which is where he really excels,” Harber says.
“Clients love Brad. He’s very approachable and everyone knows they can call him anytime.”
Bondy has about 50 listings at any given time. It’s just about the right amount for maintaining his client-centered focus.
“I want to make sure everybody’s taken care of,” he explains. “I don’t care if they’re asking me for a $50,000 home or a $5 million home. To the clients, that home is their personal triumph, whatever it may cost. So I treat each person the same. You have to care about people first. The sales come after that.”
BUILDING A TEAM
For someone who places so much emphasis on taking personal care of clients, it’s understandable that the decision to expand his business was a difficult one for Bondy.
“I never wanted anything to do with a team,” he says. “I always wanted to take care of every single person’s needs myself. But at a certain point it wasn’t physically possible. People would refer me, refer me and refer me. I was so busy that the paperwork and setting up appointments was all-consuming – I had absolutely no life. It was time to make a change.”
He began by hiring Harber five years ago. His mother, Betty Bondy, also comes in to work part time. He hired two other part-time employees who help him put up signs and make deliveries. Last October, Schultz joined the team to help work with clients, show homes and manage listings.
It took three months of her persistently contacting him before Bondy agreed to team up. She would call and send text messages every couple of days, asking if he had made a decision yet – a tenaciousness Bondy admired.
By the time they made the deal with a handshake, Bondy was certain Schultz had the business ethics and personal integrity he could count on.
“A person’s values are the No. 1 priority for me,” he says.
In the first several weeks, it did take Bondy and his clients some time to get used to the partnership.
“Brad would ask me to help someone,” Schultz recalls, “and they’d say, ‘No, no. We want to work with Brad.’”
Describing herself as Bondy’s assistant, rather than his partner, made it easier for clients to work with her. Bondy, however, needed daily encouragement to let go of the tasks he had always taken pride in doing himself.
Schultz says the turning point was when Bondy and his wife, Luisa, were able to take a much-needed vacation.
“When they came back, Brad could see I was able to hold down the fort,” Schultz says. “That was a big step.”
Few people could keep up with Bondy’s work ethic or schedule. He usually gets up before 5:30 a.m., watches some sports with breakfast and is in the office by 7:30. And it’s not unusual for him to call or text his team members at 9 or 10 at night.
“It’s a great living, but it’s not a nine-to-five job,” he says.
With a good team assembled, Bondy can now take some occasional time off with the confidence that his clients won’t be neglected. He spends that time off with his family – Luisa and their daughters, Jessica and Sarah – whom Bondy says support
“It’s not just about me,” Bondy says. “It’s about everybody around me. They make me successful.”