Phipps Realty in REALTOR® Magazine
"The Secrets to Success in a Family Real Estate Business"
by Nicole Slaughter Graham
Just out of college, with a few media internships under his belt, Matt Phipps had a decision to make: pursue a career in journalism with a large media corporation or join the family real estate brokerage.
“I realized I had a unique opportunity to extend another generation to my family’s business and a strange confluence of events inspired me to join in,” Phipps says.
He had already returned home for the summer and was helping out at the brokerage after graduating college in 2003. The role, he says, gave him the opportunity to make a direct impact, helping families realize their dream of homeownership. That year, he also lost his grandfather, also a real estate professional with whom he had a close relationship.
Phipps brought his own strengths to the table, working with some tech-savvy friends who could help the brokerage distinguish itself in the marketplace by gaining traction in the digital space, which, back in 2003, was just blossoming.
His grandmother, Joyce, a mother of five with an entrepreneurial spirit, started Phipps Realty in East Greenwich, R.I., back in 1976. Matt and his father Ron Phipps attribute its success to the unwavering commitment Joyce made to running a business shaped by a strong code of ethics, mutual respect, and a focus on treating the client with the same care as a family member.
These guiding principles are the makings of a solid foundation for a successful family brokerage. Here are other considerations and parameters that need to be in place so everyone can thrive.
As principal broker, Ron Phipps says he realizes he might have to make the decision at the end of the day, but he will not do so until everyone is heard, and all points of view are considered.
“First and foremost, we’re really good at identifying what the problem is,” Ron says. “We back away from the edge and we talk it out. And then we pause and circle back a bit later to figure out what makes sense.”
Put Ego Aside
“If you have to be in control and always right, being in a family business is tough,” Ron says.
The Phipps family, instead, believes in and capitalizes on what they’ve termed “cross-generational mentorship.”
“There are a lot of relationship-building tactics and business practices that I learn from Ron,” says Matt Phipps, “and I’ve helped us become more tech conscious. There are times when we lean on our junior agents and they know they can lean on us as well.”
Matt likens the evolution of Phipps Realty to two music groups: “When I started we were like the Bee Gees, a successful family group with tight harmonies. With the expansion of our team, we’ve become more similar to the Wu-Tang Clan, a larger collective of talented individuals with a diverse set of skills from various neighborhoods, cities, and towns mutually obsessed with providing the best real estate service for our communities.”