It’s the end of December 2019 and the Parkbench downtown King and University office in Toronto was empty. The founders moved to Kelowna, BC. They decided that everyone at the company can also work from home, or from wherever they wanted.
Just three months later all of Canada was under lockdown. Businesses shut their doors. Thousands lost their jobs. And the people who remained employed were all forced to work from home.
Luckily the Parkbench team had already made the necessary changes for a work from home environment.
While 2020 looks to be a year your average Canadian company will want to forget, Parkbench made it one for the record books.
Let’s Take A Look Back At 2020
Parkbench started 2020 with only 14 employees. As of early January 2021, Parkbench employs 75 full-time staff. They continue to grow their team month over month, to keep up with the demand for their services.
Parkbench added team members to almost every department. In March 2020, Parkbench’s sales team had 2 full-time employees. And now? 55 full-time staff split between account executives, team mentors, managers, and sales development representatives.
While other companies were firing in 2020, Parkbench was hiring.
“I’m so grateful to everyone who joined our team in 2020. Hiring and training over 50+ people remotely wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. But our team is amazing and the people who joined us this year are all incredible individuals who are here to learn and grow with us”Amanda Newman, Co-Founder of Parkbench.com
Growing & Thriving
Thousands of real estate agents claimed areas and joined Parkbench in the last 12 months. It’s clear why Parkbench needed to expand its team so quickly. Launching tens of thousands of hyper-local neighborhood platforms, and taking care of their current client base of real estate professionals requires them to have the right people, in the right positions.
How and why did Parkbench have a record-breaking year, in 2020 of all years?
Co-Founder Grant Findlay-Shirras says,
“Realtors need what we have now more than ever. A way to connect with their community, a way to add value to their community, and a way to stand out from their competition. We were built for this. Realtors can no longer get by with spending money on leads and advertising. They need to connect with their communities as humans. We have been helping realtors do this for 7 years now, but in 2020 it became more obvious than ever that Parkbench is what realtors need to be doing”
Within eight months of 2020, co-founders Amanda and Grant Findlay-Shirras grew their company to five times its size. And they did it remotely from the top of a mountain in Big White, British Columbia. Grant and Amanda encourage their team members to do the same; work from wherever they would love to work from.
Working from anywhere brought freedom to the Parkbench family. Employees have options they never had before. Team members are taking months to be with their families in places like Costa Rica and are still able to keep to the same work schedule. That’s something an office job doesn’t allow for and most bosses don’t promote.
A lot of companies are claiming that remote work shows a drop in productivity. Amanda and Grant are seeing the opposite. The switch to work from anywhere has attracted elite talent to their growing company. The team consists of self-starters and motivated and hungry individuals who appreciate the freedom they are provided.
Even with the massive growth in 2020, they’re still looking to hire 50-75 additional remote team members in 2021. Parkbench will focus on hiring the very best in sales, customer service, and marketing.
If you want to work from anywhere in the world while adding value to a growing Canadian company that supports and builds local communities, then Parkbench could be the best place for you!
Who They Are
So what is Parkbench exactly?
Parkbench dedicates itself to helping local real estate agents across North America connect with their community.
At its core, Parkbench is a relationship-building and prospecting tool for Realtors. But it’s not for just any real estate agent. It’s truly designed for community-minded professionals who strive to connect and support the people, businesses, and local professionals in their area.
So, how does it work? Parkbench provides a hyper-local online platform that a realtor can use to strengthen ties to their community and build a network of local homeowners.
The platform is a catalyst for connection, an item of value, and a unique tool for a realtor who wants not only their business to thrive, but their entire community to thrive as well. An agent will use Parkbench as a tool to meet more people in their community through their unique Local Leader System©.
On top of that, Parkbench aggregates hyperlocal news, events, businesses, and deals which both users and realtors can use to stay up to date with what’s going on in their area.
The thing about Parkbench which makes it truly unique is that it provides exclusivity for its sponsor. Standing by their mantra of highlighting the “Go-To Realtor” in every community, the platform is exclusive to one agent per area. The only exception is that teams and brokerages have now started taking full advantage of what Parkbench has to offer.
“Parkbench gives me the opportunity to come from contribution and support my community. I’m grateful for the referrals that come from featuring community members and small businesses on the website.Jane Castillo – Realtor® Keller Williams – L.A. Harbor
As Parkbench grows, they are earning recognition for their culture from prestigious organizations across North America.
Awards & Achievements
Parkbench earned a coveted spot on the 2021 Best Workplaces™ in Canada List! A title that hundreds of companies compete for, annually.
This award came after analyzing Parkbench’s workplace, culture, and management in comparison to some of the best companies in Canada to work for.
It’s not just based on unique benefits given to staff, but rather the staff’s overall opinion of the company. All employees submitted their feedback by filling out a 10-page survey on life at the company and its culture. Ranked against other businesses, Parkbench earned the award of TOP 50 Best Places To Work in Canada.
What makes this all the more interesting is to consider that Parkbench is a fully remote team. Building this type of company culture, through Zoom, is certainly an outstanding feat.
Ways they stay connected- Sharing Skills
Even though the Parkbench family is out of the office, it’s clear that the culture is stronger than ever! The team stays in close contact through Zoom, Discord, and email. Sharing daily updates not only with clients but with each other.
Parkbench’s team does morning challenges together, weekly mindset and growth classes, book clubs, and is planning to do virtual group personal fitness classes, with the goal to roll this activity out to their agent community in the future.
As a lot of the team members specialize in a variety of unique skills, in 2021 Parkbench team members will be hosting monthly Zoom meetings to teach their skillset to the rest of the team and Parkbench clients.
The REACH Canada Accelerator Class of 2020
Another great achievement in 2020 came when the REACH accelerator, backed by the National Association of Realtors, selected Parkbench to join their program. REACH Canada is a high-growth business accelerator program within the Real Estate Industry focusing on companies with high growth potential.
Thousands of companies each year apply to the REACH accelerator. Only 8 were accepted into the Canadian class of 2020/2021. Companies including DocuSign, Modus, and Kangaroo are all part of REACH accelerator’s portfolio, with DocuSign having a huge impact on safely signing, sending, and securing confidential documents in the cloud.
Parkbench plans to be the company that replaces door knocking and cold calling with their new and fun community prospecting system.
What The Future Holds
Parkbench is on a mission to repeat and increase the success they had in 2020. They are preparing to launch a fleet of exciting new features to make 2021 the company’s best year yet.
Introducing Concierge Service
Realtors have some of the most hectic and demanding schedules of any profession. Parkbench wants to give them back one of their most valuable resources, time.
The Parkbench Concierge Team is designed for that reason specifically. They’re tackling an agent’s workload to keep them focused on doing what they do best: building relationships. Throughout 2021 the Parkbench Concierge Team will offer services to agents including video editing, interview booking, social media management, community outreach, database nurturing, one-on-one coaching and more.
This is on top of the existing extensive daily group coaching schedule that Parkbench already provides its clients. Adopting a 5/5/5 coaching philosophy, Parkbench provides five coaching sessions a day, for five hours per day, five days a week. Whatever an agent needs to learn to be successful, there will be a session (or coach) available to teach them.
Bringing Success To Clients In 2020
Parkbench generated hundreds of client success stories and 5 star reviews throughout 2020.
Success Story Of The Year
The most compelling story of 2020 comes from the success of realtor Debbie Donaldson. She worked directly with Parkbench Community Manager Jessie Olsen. Through the Parkbench system, Debbie connected with a homeowner who was interested in selling her farm.
Before she left, Debbie told the woman to check out her Parkbench website. The woman absolutely loved the site and was impressed with all the support Debbie was giving to local businesses. As a result, she chose Debbie to be her agent to represent her 2.5 Million Dollar Property. Over two dozen other realtors were competing for the listing but it was Debbie’s unique value proposition and attitude that got her the multi-million dollar listing.
This is the power of being a hyperlocal agent. These agents are truly doing something different and adding incredible value to their communities.
“Debbie is an amazing example of just what can happen when you focus on contributing to those around you, helping support local professionals, and choosing to be an approachable and locally-minded real estate agent. I feel blessed to have her as a part of our family!”Jessie Olsen, Parkbench Community Manger
Though Parkbench zoomed through 2020 (literally), the company is more than happy to say goodbye to the year that was. The team has set its sights on continuing to thrive, grow, and succeed through 2021.
And the company knows that there are opportunities to expand the platform into new industries that are desperate for success during this time of uncertainty. The team will continue to grow, to offer their real estate partners more services, content, and support than ever before. And they’re determined to build and promote local businesses even further. By stimulating and supporting local communities, the success will carry over to a state, province, and nation-wide level.
Everyone at Parkbench is excited to see where 2021 will take them and they hope you will join them on their journey.