Paul Hayman | Founder of Fivewalls
Success leaves clues.
Finance Strategists sat down with Paul Hayman, founder of Fivewalls. He shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the insight he gained from running the business.
Who is Paul Hayman?
Q: Who are you and what’s your background?
I was born in Belleville, Ontario and I have spent the last 30 years in London, Ontario. After attending Ivey Business School I obtained my CPA at Price Waterhouse in Toronto. Most of my professional life was in the FirstService group with a large subsidiary called TFC. TFC provided home services throughout North America primarily through a franchise network of 1700 franchisees and 15,000 subcontractors. Over the course of 20 years, we grew TFC from $20 million in system-wide sales to $1.6 billion.
I now serve as CEO for Fivewalls, a company that helps home buyers and sellers find local real estate agents in Ontario, and provide executive consulting to a select group of organizations in Southwestern Ontario.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?
I believe that a well-rounded executive should take influence from a number of people in their personal and professional journey. I feel very fortunate to have experienced so many terrific individuals in my life. Therefore to pick just one person would be a disservice. However, my family upbringing set the stage to be a constant learner. The fundamental value of always striving to be better by constantly learning from my experiences, the wisdom of others, and personal reflection has been fundamental.
The philosophy of learning is entrenched in Fivewalls. It makes for a terrific culture. Rather than dwelling on our mistakes, we explore our challenges and use our learning to move forward. Every voice at Fivewalls has a valuable perspective. Personally, I am learning every day from the team. It makes it a very enjoyable place to work and it only makes us better every day.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself when you were in your twenties?
Remember to be patient and breathe through the unanticipated challenges which are going to present themselves with every startup. I have done approximately 15 startups in my professional life. Every time they start slower than I anticipated and there are curveballs I never dreamed of. When I launched Fivewalls to help people find a trustworthy real estate agent online, this was no different.
What I have learned over the past 5 years with Fivewalls was that the concept of finding your ideal real estate agent online was ahead of its time. The trend of searching and choosing a local real estate agent online through a trusted service like Fivewalls was pretty new back in 2015. The trend to online shopping of products and services from trusted sources has really picked up since Covid hit.
Fivewalls has also reminded me of how important it is to have a trusted and dynamic team that all have a common goal of making the company better.
Q: What is Fivewalls?
Fivewalls matches real estate agents in Ontario with home buyers and sellers. We have built profiles for an exclusive group of local real estate agents in Ontario who have been vetted to ensure that they have the experience to handle all sorts of real estate deals. Many real estate agents from leading brokerages such as Royal LePage, RE/MAX, Century 21, and more, have applied to be a part of the Fivewalls network. As we focus on working with the top agents in the industry, Fivewalls only accepts the top 10% of real estate agents as partners after conducting interviews and background checks.
Fivewalls’ real estate agent profiles show real estate agent reviews, customer ratings, home buying services, home selling services, and years of experience. Currently, we partner with real estate agents in the Greater Toronto Area and Southwestern Ontario (Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, and London).
Q: What makes your company different from its competitors?
Fivewalls has a unique process in helping home buyers and sellers find real estate agents in Toronto and the rest of Ontario. Fivewalls screens real estate agents all over Ontario by ensuring they have past transactions in local areas and collecting reviews from real customers. Because there are over 56,000 real estates in the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board alone, our work in screening for real estate agents who have local experience, work full-time, and have a proven track record to show are critical in helping people find the right person to work with. Fivewalls only works with the top 10% of real estate agents because they do most of the real estate transactions in a year and have more expertise compared to others. Asides from the transactional experience, Fivewalls also cares about how professional a real estate agent is on the emotional side of the transaction.
Q: What led you to start Fivewalls?
When I thought of how important buying or selling a home is, it really bothered me that so many people were burned by real estate agents who were unprofessional or experienced. The large majority of real estate agents in Ontario were and still are, part-time. Homebuyers and sellers have a burning need for a competent, real estate agent they can trust. So, I started Fivewalls to give them the best chance of finding an ideal real estate agent in their local neighborhood.
I wanted to have an easy way for any person to evaluate the competency of a real estate agent. A place that was objective and transparent. Traditionally people have picked real estate agents based on who their friend or family knows, or even just a bus sign. They had to use these sources because there was nothing else available. I created Fivewalls to provide home buyers and sellers with objective data, independent reviews and publicly hold the real estate agents accountable for their performance.
My belief then, as it is now, is that a strong real estate agent makes all the difference. It truly allows the buyer to obtain the house of their dreams and the seller to sell their house for the best possible price. At the same time, the vetted, professional real estate agent ensures the experience is excellent despite the stress that can occur during the negotiation process.
Because I also had decades of experience working with franchisees who operated their own small business I wanted to help these hard-working full-time agents. From my prior professional life, I really learned to understand how challenging it is to run your own small business. Full-time real estate agents are no different. We built Fivewalls to support these vetted terrific agents. Technology in the real estate industry is rapidly changing and at the same time, real estate agents are finding it more and more difficult to connect with new clients.
Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?
At Fivewalls we are constantly asking this question: “what matters most to home buyers and sellers?” In the digital, virtual world it is really interesting to discover more about millennial home buyers or sellers. The online world is very dynamic and highly influenced by FANGS. We have to ensure we not only offer a terrific trusted service but also ensure the UX and UI experiences are world-class. That is what our customer has come to expect regardless of our size. This is challenging, fascinating, and fun all at the same time.
My team at Fivewalls is young with varying cultural backgrounds and expertise. We openly debate how well we are meeting the needs of our customers and what we must do to improve. We have to be a learning organization every day. We must bring excellent thinking to the discussions and leave our ego at the door. Every voice has an important perspective.
At the same time, because we are a double-sided marketplace company, we must consider the needs of our other customer – the real estate agent. How can we find and work with the best in the industry? How can we showcase their skills, local knowledge, and reputation? It is a ton of fun and so meaningful to search out the answers to these questions and then implement them into our Fivewalls philosophy, business processes, online systems, and culture.
Q: Where do you see things headed for you in the next 5 years?
The next 5 years are going to be very exciting. I thoroughly enjoy working in the “gray” and coming forward with creative options and solutions. I see Fivewalls evolving for not only real estate agents but also other service providers which assist and support the home buyer or seller. We see ourselves being integral in the transition from one home to another home. The purchase or sale of a home is one of, if not, the most significant financial transactions for a person or family. Fivewalls believes a professional real estate agent who truly knows local areas can be of significant help during this process.
Fivewalls puts certified and vetted real estate agents in contact with those needing trustworthy realtor services. Fivewalls Certified Agents work hard to provide great experiences and their reviews can prove it.
Learn more at fivewalls.com.