A nurturing corporate culture is crucial, regardless of the industry one works in. In real estate, though, it’s often dictated by the managing broker, who can influence the overall environment. Jenny Ames, CEO & license partner of German-based brokerage Engel & Völkers in Chicagoland, spoke to Chicago Agent magazine about why she wanted to open up her own firm in Chicagoland and build her own culture.
Ames had been selling for more than 25 years when she joined Engel & Völkers. She began her career at a high-end boutique where, as she puts it, she worked with like-minded colleagues with a similar value system. “They were dedicated to professionalism, integrity and service to our clients,” Ames told Chicago Agent magazine. “There were only 35 brokers in the office and I loved it. I thrived. The brokerage world has now evolved into these mega offices with hundreds of people, with varying levels of training and standards of quality.”
Ultimately, her path led her to open up the Chicago branch of Engel & Völkers, where she found herself surrounded by colleagues who shared her desire to collaborate and build each other up.
“When I was introduced to E&V, my ‘aha’ moment was when I went to a company conference in Seattle. I was in the room with their advisors, and I was like, ‘Wow, I found my people, I found a company where the values align and our expectations in our network are all similarly compatible.’ This is a company where everyone who comes on board goes through training to understand the brand story.”
Ames said that since her agents receive the same exact training, this contributes to a positive, cohesive and productive office culture.
“Our marketing is consistent and my training as a licensed partner is the same training as all the other partners in the country,” she said. “Our goal is to hire advisors who do a minimum of 12 transactions a year, so it’s like earning a paycheck! It’s truly thinking about what you’re doing as a career. We do accountability groups and mentoring. When we bring people over we build this circle of training, regardless of whether they’re a rookie or a high producer. We want to ensure they feel a lot of love and support and hit the ground strong.”
Beyond training and support, Ames also noted the importance of a brokerage office’s physical space. “We want people to stand up a little taller when they come into our door,” she said. “We call us a shop — our office looks like a jewelry store and is decorated like a home. There is a sense of pride in being here because it’s about doing it right.”
Perhaps most important is Ames’ dedication to ensuring her office is a space where relationships between colleagues can be shared. “We created a safe place for people to be open and collaborate,” Ames said. “There are a lot of offices where people feel like they’re competing against the person sitting next to them. That is not our mindset. Collaboration is key. If you join our firm, you agree that you will support our colleagues.”