There’s Jay-Z and Beyonce. There’s Posh and Becks. And then there’s Matt And Gretchen Territo.
Matt and Gretchen, a successful husband and wife REALTOR® team out of St. Augustine FL, are steadily gaining celebrity-status in their beachside community – and you’ll be surprised to learn how.
Since April of 2018, the independent real estate couple has been promoting small business owners and local organizations with free marketing exposure through their Parkbench neighborhood website.
Now, St Augustine residents can search their neighborhood on Parkbench.com to find relevant news coverage, events, businesses, and even Groupon deals offered by local retailers. A weekly newsletter keeps subscribers updated with the latest and greatest St. Augustine has to offer.
But that’s not all. The website also includes a neighborhood blog with helpful articles for local residents in search of recreation, housing, and health solutions close to home.
As the exclusive Parkbench sponsors for St. Augustine, Matt and Gretchen seek out interesting locals to interview in person. The interviews are published as a feature article or video, giving local residents fresh insight into the businesses, organizations, and issues shaping their community.
Nothin’ But Love For St. Augustine
According to Matt, his interviews are a unique way of sharing his love of St. Augustine with others, while supporting causes and businesses he and his wife believe in:
“Here in St. Augustine, neighbors are growing concerned with algae blooms which are killing sea life in Florida waterways. Although they haven’t impacted yet, we want to keep our water extremely clean. Adam Morley, a young guy running for District 24 is an advocate for our water so I interviewed him and promoted him because I believe in him. Frank Diaz, founder of Broken Arrow PTSD Dive Foundation Inc, told me that a veteran called him with a loaded gun and needed someone to talk to. I interviewed him. So the fact people know us and see us and talk about interviews we’ve done is great for the community and teaches us more about the neighborhood we live in and serve.”
St Augustine, often described as a small town with a metropolitan feel, attracts some 4 million visitors annually. World class cuisine, entertainment and beaches can all be found within close proximity, surrounded by historic, colonial-era architecture and lush scenery throughout the year.
Despite the low inventory of homes for sale, St. Augustine is a hot seller’s market. Matt and Gretchen use their in-depth knowledge of the city’s local businesses to help buyers and sellers make the best investment possible.
“Buyers want to know about the intangibles, secret spots, nearby amenities and hidden gems that add value to a community. Sellers want someone with an expert knowledge of the local market. Our Parkbench website is a great way to show prospective clients what St. Augustine is all about.”
A Dream Come True
Matt and Gretchen, proud adoptive parents of 2 young boys, (Carson, 2 and Brock, 5 months) moved to St. Augustine 6 years ago. In that short span of time, they both consider St. Augustine a “dream come true”, ideal for working and raising their family.
Says Matt of their decision to live and work in St Augustine:
“It really was destiny. More than 20 years ago, I was a visitor to the St. Augustine community, enjoying the surfing and other water activities. I just fell in love with the lifestyle and never forgot the experience. My dream of owning a home here finally became a reality when Gretchen was relocated to St Augustine for business.”
A former Marine Corps Infantryman and Cleveland native, Matt gained considerable experience as a general contractor for 18 years before transitioning into real estate full-time. In his first year of business, he successfully earned $4M in sales revenue.
Matt’s wife Gretchen, previously a Regional Director of Sales for an educational software company, always had a passion for staging and beautifying interiors but didn’t transition into real estate until March of 2018.
With their combined passion for flipping properties, Gretchen and Matt quickly established themselves as a powerhouse couple. Despite having her hands full raising 2 babies, Gretchen built a $2m+ pipeline within her first few months.
Together the good-natured couple enjoys a comfortable lifestyle, socializing frequently and hosting neighbors as often as they can. They make time to enjoy St. Augustine’s many outdoor events and beachside attractions, forming new friends at every turn.
Getting To Know The Neighborhood
Today, the pair take considerable pride in being the exclusive Parkbench sponsors for residents of St. Augustine Beach. Reaction from local business owners, according to Matt, has been largely enthusiastic.
When asked about their process for selecting interview candidates, he explains:
“Gretchen reaches out to people organically and simply invites interesting people. I send them the questions in advance and schedule them based on the response time from each. There’s been no shortage of interviews. The business owners have loved the interviews. Business owners are subscribing to the newsletter. They comment on recent interviews. With each one, we gain referrals for more interviews and it keeps growing.”
Matt credits his success to good relationships, and a willingness to help others:
“When you’re in this business, which is so economy-driven, you can’t simply be transaction-driven. Our success was based on relationships, not advertising, marketing, or business savvy…People buy from you because they trust you. My first year we were extremely fortunate. We did over $4M in volume in the first year, all word-of-mouth. This year we’re on track to do even better.”
Despite their considerable success, Matt and Gretchen chose not to rely on conventional marketing tactics alone to grow their business. Their experience with online advertising and print convinced them that relationships rather than advertising were the key to growing their business.
“ We love to socialize. There’s no restaurant or business that I don’t know…When I’m riding down the beach I usually run into a handful people I know. We enjoy walking in the evenings as well, attending community events. Before the kids, we had a 4th of July party every year watching fireworks. We’d rather have friends who become clients than the other way around.”
Matt and Gretchen joined Parkbench.com in March of 2018. They were immediately impressed by the company’s community-minded focus on helping neighborhoods grow.
As Gretchen explains further:
“Their platform makes it easy for us to provide value beyond our real estate expertise. St. Augustine is…where we are raising our children. We want to be seen as the local area experts and a viable resource. If we do right by them, then when the time comes, people will feel confident in coming to us for their real estate needs.”
With its focus on relationships rather than transactions, Parkbench is currently the only service of its kind that empowers real estate professionals to become ‘local leaders’, a term the company uses to describe agents committed to being neighborhood specialists.
The occasional skepticism they encounter from incredulous business owners is rare, but understandable.
For Matt, the benefits are obvious:
“Obviously, some folks are skeptical because they can’t believe we’re doing it for free. We benefit from a better community, not for the money. Eventually, I’ll have success as a trusted agent.”
While both Gretchen and Matt are still adjusting to parenthood, they plan to continue expanding their website with more interviews, blogs, and deals for local residents.
“…I’d like to add more humor to my Parkbench website. I volunteer every year as a bartender for a local Hootie and the Blowfish concert so I’m also going to try and get Darius Rucker to discuss his charity every year.”
Local business owners can visit Matt and Gretchen Territo online to book a feature interview.
Are you a local real estate agent? Visit Parkbench and claim your area today!