Christy Budnick serves as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, a global residential real estate brokerage franchise network. Berkshire Hathaway Home Services provides real estate brokerage services, mortgage loan origination, franchising, title insurance/escrow, and closing services, home warranties, property insurance, casualty insurance, and relocation services. In her role, Budnick oversees the global real estate brokerage franchise network which is made up of more than 50,000 real estate professionals and nearly 1,500 offices throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, India, and The Bahamas. The network, among the few organizations entrusted to use the world-renowned Berkshire Hathaway name, brings to the real estate market a definitive mark of trust, integrity, stability, and longevity.
Budnick is listed amongst the Swanepoel Power 200 (SP 200), ranking one of the 200 most powerful and influential executives and leaders in the residential real estate brokerage industry.
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Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Christy Budnick: Thank you for having me! My name is Christy Budnick, and I am the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, a global residential real estate brokerage franchise network with more than 50,000 real estate professionals and nearly 1,500 offices throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, The Bahamas, and India. Our franchise network is made up of more than 50,000 real estate professionals and nearly 1,500 offices. We are proud to be known as the most respected, trusted, and financially strong real estate franchise across the globe.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Christy Budnick: I definitely didn’t! I began my real estate career at the age of 11 when my mother earned her real estate license. By then she was a single mother of two young girls, so we were the marketing department, open house helpers and whatever else needed to be done, it was truly a family business. By the time I went to college and my mother opened her own real estate franchise, there was one thing I knew: I did not want to get into real estate. But it has a way of pulling you back, there is something really special about helping people find their home or sell their home in order to move to the next stage of life. I joined my mother’s company, Florida Network Realty, nearly 20 years ago and never looked back. She has always been my mentor and taught me and my sister the meaning of hard work and serving others.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Christy Budnick: I used to be terrified of public speaking and I mean hands and voice shaking, wanting to run out of the room nervous. As a matter of fact, I gave up a lucrative sales position as a mortgage loan officer to become a sales and leadership trainer in order to get over my fear of public speaking. Thankfully I did, it was the best decision I ever made in my career.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Christy Budnick: I’ve had a lot of people ask me what an entrepreneur is and how to become one and the definition basically boils down to a person or persons who is willing to take the financial risk to start a company in order to reap the financial rewards. I think it is really someone who sees a need and has a desire to make a difference in the way the need is filled. In our case, my mother chose to focus on, “Raising the level of professionalism in northeast Florida,” and to this day that is her company’s focus. I believe that some of the characteristics of an entrepreneur include greater willingness to take risks, client-focused decision making, a strong work ethic and constantly wanting to learn and grow.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Christy Budnick: A supportive and inclusive culture is extremely important, and I am very grateful that is what I experienced growing up and early in my career. As a leader, it is my job to discover talent and grow people even when they may not see it in themselves. I am grateful that a light has been shined on this topic and that our company values diversity, equity, and inclusion.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Christy Budnick: Excellent question. A leader can be disruptive in the post covid world by not buying into a lot of the noise that is being made by upstarts and instead, doubling down on your value proposition and delivering on it really well. In real estate, during any market ascent competitors enter the market and in this case, some entrants include companies underpinned by private equity firms that don’t require a profit and instead trade on wall street and still others that are touting that the future of real estate is solely online. As soon as the market becomes a bit softer, we find that these extremes slowly die off and that suddenly investors and wall street desire to turn a profit and become risk-averse.
I believe that the best way to disrupt the disruptors is to strengthen our skills, relationships, and service and double down on the fact that a low frequency, (buying or selling every 8+ years) high risk (most expensive investment most buyers and sellers will make) requires a seasoned professional who is well trained, coached, made real estate sales a career and has aligned with a company that is here today and will be tomorrow provides clients with the comfort that they need during a real estate transaction. The 200+ items that need to be researched, negotiated, handheld, interpreted, and more in order to make it to the closing table cannot effectively be handled by an algorithm, although I do believe that technology can help us do our job better and more efficiently.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Christy Budnick: I have the best job on earth, I help put people into homes.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Christy Budnick: There was a time when our team made the decision to deploy a new website platform. We thought that we did all of the right things to make sure it was the best choice; we hired a consulting firm that we had worked with in the past that specialized in technology platforms, and they conducted an exhaustive needs analysis with us, after which they made three recommendations. One of the three seemed to shine above the others so we asked for a list of clients that we could reach out to that had implemented the solution in the last 6 months, last 12 months, and 2 years and called each to obtain feedback.
We implemented the solution, and it was by far the worst thing we had ever implemented. Our network agents were up in arms, our customers were frustrated and despite our best efforts, we could not get the kinks worked out to our satisfaction. Approximately 30 days into it, I made the difficult decision to pull the plug. I explained to our team that, although we did everything, we knew what to do to make an informed decision, it didn’t work, and that I was sorry for the aggravation, wasted time, and most important, unhappy clients.
There were two silver linings that came out of this: although we marched down the path with the new web provider we hadn’t shut down or burned any bridges with our old provider, so I went back to them and asked them to help us quickly redirect our site. They were wonderful and within hours had redirected our site and nothing was broken, we were back up and running. The second positive thing that came out of it was that our sales associates really appreciated our honesty and actually sent emails, texts, and phone messages to the team saying thank you for having the guts to pull the plug and admit when something doesn’t work. I will always remember that learning opportunity!
You are the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, certainly you have plenty useful qualities but let’s ask you a question that yields unexpected answers. What is your most useless talent?
Christy Budnick: I can wiggle my eyeballs, my nearly 11-year-old daughter finds it very useful and funny!
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Christy Budnick: ‘The Career that Almost Wasn’t’ (and subtitled) ‘Thank You, Mom!’
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Christy Budnick for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Christy Budnick or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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