As you walk down the halls of 276 Merton’s open-concept first floor office, you can’t help but revere the influence the Bosley family has had in shaping Toronto’s real estate history. A portrait of William H. Bosley – he founded the company in 1928 and is notable for his role in setting up the Toronto Real Estate Board and the Ontario Real Estate Association – commands immediate veneration. So do several other framed accolades and photographs of generations of Bosley men who have grown the family tradition through the thick and thin of the real estate business.
The original brass sign reading “W.H Bosley & Co.” still adorns the walls of the establishment. The vintage sign is an apt juxtaposition to the new Bosley management team, who hand over juicy leads to their agents with a swipe of their latest smartphones.
As the fourth generation Bosley, Christan Bosley is part of the new management team that is poised to foray into the digital era. “Our company is 90-years-old and now we’re ready for a change in direction,” says Tom Bosley, Christan’s father and president of Bosley Real Estate.
Christan was only 10-years-old when she embarked upon her real estate career at Bosley Real Estate. Despite her illustrious family lineage, her career at Bosley started from the ground up when she oversaw alphabetising files during summer holidays. “They said they’d pay me $5, but I said $2 would be fine too,” she says. That’s when she learned her first critical lesson in real estate selling from Bill Statten, the company’s former CFO. “Bill taught me to negotiate up and never down,” she says.
In ushering the digital transition, Christan is joined by Michelle Dunkel, the company’s VP of finance/relocation. A CA, CPA by training, Dunkel is the financial brains of the operation. She also comes from a family of real estate agents known to the Bosley clan. Growing up, she played golf with Christan, while both went to the University of Western Ontario. Back then, Tom and his wife Ann Bosley foretold that a day would come when Michelle would be a significant part of their family business. Before the inevitable occurred, Dunkel completed rewarding stints at Ernst & Young and Capstone Infrastructure Corporation (formerly known as Macquarie Power & Infrastructure Income Fund).
“Michelle embodies my business philosophy,” says the Bosley patriarch. “Have fun and make money. Michelle sits up on the third floor, down the hall from me and laughs most of the day. It makes all of us comfortable and happy, and she’s great with the books.”
Bill Johnston, manager at Bosley Real Estate, will help Christan and Dunkel hold the fort at their Merton St. branch. Among his achievements spanning over 30 years in real estate, Johnston has been TREB director, president of the board from 2010-2011; and a director of CREA between 2012 and 2014.
Having straddled between digital and traditional marketing for years, the company is ready to begin their tech transition by bringing Salesforce onboard. “Salesforce is going to be a fantastic change to Bosley’s digital ecosystem. It is going to give our agents and managers the power to manage their day-to-day interactions with their clients within one platform,” says Paul Manio, Bosley’s marketing manager. With Salesforce’s CRM, the company will replace its current manual process of vetting and assigning inquiries with an automated system that will allow agents to connect “our clients to the right people faster and in real time,” says Manio.
To customize information for their clients, the company’s agents will also be using Pardot – a marketing automation tool that provides clients information catered to their behaviour as a buyer, a lister, a renter or a landlord.
Manio says social media researchers have found that 71 per cent of consumers are likely to share their positive brand experience with their social network. While traditional print marketing provides adequate circulation and distribution data, digital and social media marketing provide copious real-time data for targeted advertising based on user profiles, behaviours, experience and engagement. “Having this information will allow us to tweak our marketing efforts as needed and evaluate what campaigns are doing better than others, giving us the power to focus our marketing spend on those with better results,” he says.
Mano says the company is not doing away with traditional marketing practices completely. While radio, print and events will still be a part of the marketing mix, “the piece of the pie in traditional marketing will start to look a lot smaller,” he says.
Under Christan Bosley and Michelle Dunkel, Bosley is heralding a new leadership to whom technology is second nature. Their entire lives have been shaped by the everyday use of it. “In us you get a generation who is not technology resistant. We like it, we use it, we grow with it,” says Christan.
Retirement is a word quickly dismissed by Tom Bosley, who maintains that he is simply stepping back to let the next generation pick up the reins of this family-owned business. He will continue to remain in the role of president, ensuring that while the company is championing a new era of technological advancements, the traditions that built it are kept intact. “You don’t really leave a family firm. You just leave it in better shape for the next generation,” says Tom.