Partnerships often provide a great platform for growth and success for businesses of all sizes, large and small. My company Pacaso’s business model is based almost entirely on partnerships, from community leaders, bank partners, real estate agents, stock brokers, or even local businesses ranging from lawn care, house cleaners, and other service providers.
More importantly, the relationships between a business and its customers and employees are also partnerships. They are probably the most important associations of all. But getting the associations right can be difficult. I wanted to share some examples of partnerships in our business at Pacaso and reflect on some of the best practices I’ve learned over the years.
One of the secrets to Pacaso’s rapid growth is our early investment in building partnerships with real estate agents around the world. We have forged significant relationships with well-known brokers and agents, including Engel & Volkers, RE/MAX, and leading real estate teams like Altman Brothers in Los Angeles or Roh Habibi and his team in San Francisco. With these partnerships, both parties have much to gain. Real estate agents and teams have credible brands and networks of potential buyers and are local market experts in their craft of selling real estate, which brings us a lot of value. We also provide them with great value because we have a tool and service that adds value to their clients: empowering families to unlock second home ownership at a lower cost than traditional second homes or downsize their home ownership. existing.
Likewise, we’re always looking for ways to partner with local businesses, whether it’s a furniture maker, an interior designer, a local bookstore to stock our home shelves, or a winery. Where I live in Napa Valley, we often refer Pacaso owners to local brands we love, like several friendly wineries we have around town, like John Anthony Vineyards. It’s great for wineries because they grow their business and club memberships and it’s also great for us because we can give our owners special access.
Our newly formed government advisory board of current and former elected officials is another great example of a valuable partnership, as we draw on the many years of experience of leaders to inform our community policies and strategies that add a wealth of strategic insights to Pacaso. It is also valuable to them because we are working together to be part of the solution to the housing crisis facing many of these communities.
Partnering with nonprofit organizations or causes allows you to make an impact beyond your core business. Through second home co-ownership, we reduce competition for single-family homes in target communities. To go even further, we form partnerships with local organizations like the Teton Board of Realtors Community Housing Fund and Burbank Housing to support their efforts to create affordable housing.
Here are some ideas I’ve learned over the years about what’s important when building and maintaining partnerships:
First of all, it must be a win-win. This means that both parties must derive a lot of value from the partnership. This can be more difficult when two companies are of different sizes. When you have a very large company and a small startup, it’s often difficult for the small company to offer enough value to justify the big company’s time. Occasionally those partnerships can work, but more often than not, I’ve seen the best partnerships with companies that are similar in size or have very complementary value to trade with each other.
Partnerships often develop over many years. For example, before my first company, dotloop, partnered and merged with Zillow, I had been building that relationship with the Zillow team for four years before then. In the early years, it was just about building the relationship without knowing what kind of partnership opportunities might come up in the future. I found that it was really helpful in building the relationship and it translated into a powerful partnership over time. Don’t expect these things to happen overnight.
Always seek synergies in the mission and alignment in financial interests. Our partnership with real estate agents is a great example of this. We are both focused on healthy prospective homebuyers to make their dreams of homeownership come true. They get paid and Pacaso also earns a commission as a result of that transaction. We are highly aligned on our mission and goals, as well as our financial interests in the transaction.
Above all, I think it’s always helpful to remember to lead any relationship, partnership or otherwise, with a generous mindset. Recently, my good friend Tom Ferry, who is a noted real estate coach, spoke with our team in Pacaso. We were talking about referrals and he shared that he should expect to give value three times before expecting anything in return. I think that’s a great way to think about how you approach any relationship, especially partnerships. When you think about growing your business or career, don’t underestimate the power of great partnerships.