Real estate firm changes name after 40 years
A family business that has been part of the island’s real estate scene for 40 years has changed its name as it moves forward through its second and third generation.
Shrubb Realty is the new name of Roderick DeCouto Real Estate, which moved from its long-time home on Reid Street to nearby Chancery Lane two years ago.
Judy Shrubb, daughter of the late Mr DeCouto, is president of the company. She and her husband, Peter Shrubb, have owned and managed the business for the past 20 years.
A third generation of the family are also part of the team; the couple’s children Matt Shrubb and Kristen Ahmed are both agents.
Mrs Shrubb and her son, Matt, explained the changes that have been transforming the business, starting with the change of the company’s name.
“My children keep me on my toes and finally convinced me that even answering the telephone with such a long business name sent people to sleep,” said Mrs Shrubb.
Her son added: “Every thing nowadays has become a bit simpler and cleaner, that’s the model of the modern world.
“Roderick DeCouto Real Estate was long in the tooth — just answering the phone or writing e-mails. And there were still people calling for or looking for Roderick DeCouto.
“There were a lot of different factors to push forward with the new name. It keeps things concise, simple and also keeps the family heritage.”
The name has changed, but the company has retained its distinctive Bermudian roof logo design.
Moving with the times has also meant a new-look website, featuring easier to navigate pages and listings, map and street-view options to help clients locate properties, and the introduction of QR codes. The matrix bar codes also appear on agents’ business cards and on property detail handouts.
Mrs Shrubb’s son has a background in mechanical engineering and an interest and familiarity with computer coding. He played a role in the website redesign and other technology improvements. He said the QR codes “allow easy access to information about a listing, and a single button method for a client to add an agent’s information to their contacts”.
Mr Shrubb added: “A client can scan with a phone camera and add all their agent’s details. On handouts you scan the code to pull up the webpage with all the information.
“I find transparency is such a big thing in the world these days. We like to offer full transparency, so we have estimators of what the closing costs are likely to be, what you can afford. We try to get as much information to our clients, so we’ve made that a big feature of our new site.”
It is a big change from how things were in 2000 when Mrs Shrubb became an owner of the business. Back then, there was no website and e-mails were a rarity, while the advertising of properties was primarily through the pages of The Royal Gazette and in the large window display at the company’s office.
Mrs Shrubb said: “It was also very much a face-to-face way of doing business. Now it tends to be more arms-length until you get to the crucial point where you have people interested to go and view.
“As I am beginning to understand and learn, a lot of the younger people like to shop online, stay at home and do it on their computer on a Saturday night or Sunday morning with their coffee in front of them.
“Today, it’s all about facts, they want to know where it is, what’s the cost, give me the facts. That’s what people are comfortable with.”
The other members of the Shrubb Realty team are Jeff Payne, Barbara Willis, Linda Tailford and Diana Heslop.
When asked what differentiates Shrubb Realty from other real estate businesses, Mrs Shrubb pointed to the experience of the team. She is a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s real estate division, and a past chairwoman.
She added: “I was taught by one of the veterans, and one of the earlier realtors to establish themselves. And having owned and run his company for 20 years, from my point of view, we do have the experience.”
Her son said being a smaller firm means Shrubb Realty is more cohesive with strong communication between agents.
He said: “Some of the larger firms wait for the Wednesday morning debrief to talk about things, but since we are closer knit we are constantly talking about things as they come up and getting a better lead on things.”
Mr Shrubb said the team members bring a variety of perspectives and backgrounds to the process, which helps clients. As an example, he mentioned his sister’s background in interior design, which can add insight for a client viewing a property.
While his own mechanical engineering background and exposure to architecture and interior design, also comes in useful when advising clients.
“I’ll go down to the pump room and I’ll love it, then I’ll see a beam and love it,” he said.
“I’ve always loved the looking at houses part, and the design part. When we are looking at places, I can give clients a bit more in depth insight.
“Like, when we look in a pump room and I see galvanised or I see PVC in there — I can tell them that’s all looking good and they don’t need to worry about that. It helps give them a different insight.”
Mrs Shrubb said one reason she has stayed in the business for 20 years is that she is a people person who enjoys meeting, understanding and helping clients. And regarding the company’s office on Chancery Lane, where it has been for the past two years, she said: “We think this a really welcoming space where they can come in and have a chat, have a coffee, and get some ideas.”
• Shrubb Realty has a website at https://shrubbrealty.com/
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