GC Realty & Development LLC didn’t always support rental property investors with property management services. The Chicagoland company celebrates 20 years this September by looking back at how far they’ve come.
“Initially, we wanted to get into commercial real estate, but there weren’t many opportunities for that at our level,” said Mark Ainley, one of GC Realty’s founders. “Then someone asked us to list a luxury home. After we sold it, we thought maybe that was our niche, but we never sold another one.”
Then, the housing market crashed in 2008. As property values plummeted, many owners opted to rent out their houses since they couldn’t sell them. Because GC Realty needed to pay their bills, Mark said they reluctantly agreed to manage these rental properties.
It turned out they’d found a need in the market to fill. By 2012, GC Realty was managing 250 rental units. But they had zero processes in place. When they did try to put anything in place, they struggled to manage them.
“We were always hustling,” Mark said. “We didn’t have a lot of vision back then. Out of survival, we just went wherever the opportunity was that day without any real longer-term plans.”
With a staff of just 11 people, everyone had to wear a lot of hats in the business, and things were chaotic.
Mark knew they needed to do something to get organized. He joined networking groups, attended multiple classes, and did tons of research looking for solutions. When GC Realty’s newest partner, Clifford McCue, came on board, he and Mark read Traction and started considering Running on EOS™.
After several false starts with other systems and coaches unfamiliar with property management company needs, GC Realty eventually connected with Professional EOS Implementer® Pam Kosanke in 2017.
By that point, GC Realty & Development comprised two separate businesses: a property management company and an investment side. They decided to run both businesses on EOS.
Mark said their first few meetings with Pam were painful, especially for his get-stuff-done-now business partner. They struggled to slow down and talk about vision and core values as “real work” piled up.
It was through setting up The Accountability Chart™ and using that terminology that created a shift in mentality.
“I walked into a room one day and realized I never would’ve hired some of these people,” Mark said. “It’s crazy how it all came full circle with our culture. Having the structure of EOS in place helped us flush out the people who didn’t belong.”
The structure and accountability that came with Running on EOS scared off a handful of people who preferred things the old way. Mark and Clifford started to see who wanted to be part of the team. Mark said they also realized a few people on the leadership team were simply warm bodies. They weren’t leaders, nor did they want to be.
Seeing outdated roles and empty seats on The Accountability Chart helped push them into action. They updated existing job descriptions and created a hiring strategy to get the right people into those seats. That process took a long time (years) but panned out.
Mark admits they still don’t get everything right. But they’re much more intentional about who they bring on instead of just hiring people they’d want to hang out with.
Today, the team has grown to 61 people, including local and virtual staff. More importantly, the organization is much more aligned as the leaders intentionally try to create an inclusive work environment.
For example, they’ve made transitions to encourage more staff engagement, like making remote staff part of departmental meetings. Now remote staff attend weekly Level 10 Meetings™ where they contribute, share news, and participate in making decisions with their local team members.
“We still mess up forecasting and setting the right Rocks, but we’re getting better every quarter,” he said. “The leadership team is really on board with spelling out milestones and how each person on their team contributes to meeting them.”
Mark attributes much of their success to using EOS Tools like The People Analyzer® to hold each other accountable, even during periods of fast growth. He said using the Tools helped the leaders rule out people they didn’t want to work with. It also helped them identify those people faster. With the wrong people out of the company, Mark found they could build an environment where camaraderie flourished.
“EOS made us buckle down and focus on the soft stuff,” Mark said of core values and company culture. “In the end, that ends up being the only stuff that matters.”
All that “soft stuff” translated into hard numbers.
Today, GC Realty manages 1,500 rental units and has three businesses under its umbrella, adding a brokerage division to property management and investment. The company grew revenue from $2.2M in 2017 to $9.6M last year. During that time, they also were named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies four times.
“I always tell anybody who runs a business to use EOS,” Mark said. “Even if there are only two people on their staff, EOS gives you the framework to plan and grow.”