Community Culture the McGrath Caloundra Way

Jodie Hedley-Ward has always been a firm believer of the ripple effect and the McGrath Estate Agents Caloundra co-owner hopes their large investment in a new community-friendly office and the success of their Community Giveback Program will continue to have positive flow-on effects.

It is her drive and determination to create a culture of collaboration, high energy, and support for like-minded professionals that saw Mrs Hedley-Ward recently named Corporate Business Woman of the Year at the 19th Annual Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Awards.

Mrs Hedley-Ward and husband David took over the former Civic Video store in Bowman Road in November last year. The Hedley-Wards had run a successful real estate business in Kawana Forest that had grown from three employees to 12 before they decided to connect with McGrath in January last year.

They now have 20 staff and a purpose-designed office space that is akin to a stylish boutique environment, with large meeting rooms, a dedicated area for community groups to host seminars, and a coffee machine at the ready.

Mrs Hedley-Ward says they spent six months searching for the right premises and loved their new location as it is still close to the CBD while offering ample dedicated car parking space for them to host events at the premises

“From the very outset, we wanted to have a space that very much blurred the lines of what a real estate agency should be,” she says.

“This is at the core of what we do, thinking of how we can help the community. Winning the award was a wonderful confirmation of my belief in the ‘power of nice’. You truly can do the right thing and care deeply for people whilst achieving great things in business.”

The Hedley-Wards implemented a Community Giveback Program during the changeover to a McGrath agency. The scheme works with the agents putting up $250 from their commission for each sale, which is then matched dollar for dollar by the agency. The vendors are then able to choose a charity dear to their hearts to receive the $500 donation.

By June 30, the program raised $25,000 for 45 charities. Mrs Hedley-Ward says the program is another way they are thinking outside the box to connect with their clients and others in the community. In fact, the program has helped smaller, niche charities that usually fly under the radar to get a real leg- up.

“It breaks down those walls and it’s been unreal to get to know people on a whole new level, it’s not just about the sale of their house,” she says.

“We are not a traditional real estate. We pride ourselves on collaboration with local business and connecting with our customers and really holding their hands throughout the process of selling and buying their homes. We don’t just sell houses and walk away.”

When Mrs Hedley-Ward was given a chance to speak at the Australian Real Estate Conference, she used the platform to encourage agents to put the ‘real’ back into real estate.

“I had a lightbulb moment while looking at the acronym AREC during that conference and by the time I got to speak on day two, I demonstrated that if you take the C off the back and place it at the front, it spells CARE and that’s what we should all strive to do. Those who are genuine in their actions will shine through,” she says.

The property industry in the agency’s zone is among the healthiest in the state, constantly topping the Real Estate Industry Queensland stats for lowest rental vacancy rates and least days on market for properties, but Mrs Hedley-Ward’s passion and focus is not on sale figures or the state of the industry that she knows inside and out.

Instead, it is on the potential for all businesses in Caloundra to get on board the wave of investment and innovation that is creating a strong collaborative business community.

“Caloundra is changing so much and it is evolving so quickly, it’s such an exciting time for Caloundra and it’s great to feel like we are on board with something amazing that is taking place,” she says.

“There is a real shared energy and a huge boost in arts and culture and the fabric of the community and it’s a palpable energy of people wanting to take it to the next level.”

Mrs Hedley-Ward says she will use her time as an ambassador for the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network to fulfill a goal to speak with 52 groups in 52 weeks.

“I intend to help in any way I can to enhance this already phenomenal group to even greater heights,” she says.

“McGrath Estate Agents plan to be here for a very long time and we have built a team that shares the same values and empathetic culture. For us, it’s the people first and if you get the people right, it all flows from there. At the end of the day, the real satisfaction lies in doing thing for other people.”