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Last Update: Sunday April 11, 2021

Key Idea: Hold On To Quality People

Ebby Halliday says that great people will stay in a learning and growing environment.   

Key Question:


Find ways to keep the productive people on your team.

Q: Why is employee satisfaction so important?

Satisfied or happy workers are productive workers. As business owners, we need to make sure our employees are satisfied as part of taking care of our customers. If the employees are dissatisfied, our customers will not be treated well. How do we keep our employees level of satisfaction high? We only need to do three things:

  • Follow the golden rule: treat all employees with respect.
  • Provide them with the necessary resources such as capital, financial and human, to meet our expectations and do their jobs well.
  • Compensate them fairly.

If we do these three things, our employees have nothing to worry about. We have established a work environment that optimizes their chances for success and positions us to hold them accountable to the highest standard.

Q: How does a business owner best recognize and reward the valued employees of the business?

A: Time after time, studies have shown us that we are all motivated by more than money. Sure, compensation and benefits are important, but the recognition and reward initiatives that a company undertakes also have a significant effect on employee morale and loyalty. These initiatives do not have to be costly and generally are not. They do, however, have to be public. Bringing an employee into your office and telling him or her how much you appreciate them just does not have the same effect as a public demonstration. We see these public demonstrations in a lot of small businesses. The plaques on the wall with the engraved plates for each “Employee of the Month” and the parking space reserved for the special employee are two common examples. Highlighting employees in the company newsletter or website is another effective way of recognition.

Think about it

Would your employees say they work in a worry-free environment? What reward and recognition programs do you have in your business? How do you publicly acknowledge the value your employees bring to your business?

Clip from: Ebby Halliday built a business and a legacy.

Dallas: Ebby Halliday is a legend in this city.  She started her business in 1946 with nothing but the love of her family. Classic Americana, this is a rags to riches story. She went from the Great Depression to create a multi-billion dollar business.  She is truly one of today's pioneers and quiet heroes. .Today she has over 1500 independent realtors, hundreds who have become millionaires on her watch.

Ebby  will tell us how she broke through the gender barriers long before there ever was a feminist movement, how she found the person who replaced her at the top and why she gave the company to her employees.

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Ebby Halliday Real Estate

Ebby Halliday, Chairman

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Business Classification:
Real Estate

Year Founded:

Hold On To Quality People

HATTIE: It seems like you've built your organization on people who are family or people who stay with you so long they become family.


HATTIE: But what I mean...

EBBY: We're the home team. That is the secret, I think, of our firm. We are family.

HATTIE: (Voiceover)

PETEY Parker runs the relocation department.

PETEY PARKER: First of all, we're all `Ebby-ized,' and Ebby tells us to work for her, we are an extension of her. What I've learned from her is that good standard ethics 53 years ago--we're still working with that good service. We're working with that ethical sense that says it's better to lose a transaction than do anything that would be unethical. It's better to have the respect of our peers, of the corporations we work with, of the families we work with. That's much better than the dollars we receive.

EBBY: (During gathering) Thank you. That was just wonderful.

PETEY: (Voiceover) She herself has the quality to shake your hand, look in your eyes and say, `You're at home with me.' And that's a quality. Everybody tells her their whole life stories. Everybody says, `Oh, we know Ebby,' and sometimes they've just met her. But they feel, and she makes them feel, that they know her and she knows them and she cares about them and about us.

HATTIE: And I just read that you've given 49 percent of your stock to the employees. Why would anybody do that? I mean, why don't you just take a big fat check from some outside investor and walk away?

EBBY: I didn't want to do that. I felt an obligation to the people who have helped build this business. (Excerpt from gathering)

HATTIE: You'd wrestled with this decision, and it was clear to you that it was the employees who built this business.

EBBY: Well, there was never any doubt that I didn't want anybody else to have our business.



HATTIE: I'm Hattie with Small Business School.

LEONORE: Oh, hello.

HATTIE: What's your name?



HATTIE: I'm supposed to come around and say hello to you.

LEONORE: Well, I'm glad you did.

HATTIE: I'm wondering what you do here at this company.

LEONORE: I supervise the accounting department under the controller.

HATTIE: You run the numbers?

LEONORE: That's right.

HATTIE: Have you been here for a while?

LEONORE: Going on 52 years.

HATTIE: Fifty-two years!

LEONORE: Fifty-two years. Goes way back.

HATTIE: So you came right in the first year--well, the second year the company was founded.

LEONORE: That's exactly right.

HATTIE: Now are you as open with your age as Ebby is now?

LEONORE: Surely. I think when you get to my age you have to be proud of the fact that you reached it.

HATTIE: Well, how old are you? LEONORE: Yeah, well, in two weeks I'll be 83.

HATTIE: Do you still feel good coming to work every day?

LEONORE: I feel great. I love it, which is why I don't retire. I mean I enjoy it so much, and, yeah, I wouldn't think of retiring.

HATTIE: I want you to talk about the concept of retirement, to convince people not to do it.

EBBY: I'm not an authority on that. I think each person--some people are old at 57.

HATTIE: They should quit, right?

EBBY: And some people have other things they'd rather do. So I don't think that I should tell people when to retire. I can tell people why I want to die with my boots on.


EBBY: Because there's nothing I'd rather do. I like what I'm doing. And there's certain things I haven't finished yet.

HATTIE: What haven't you finished yet? EBBY: Well, I want to build our reserves up, way up...

HATTIE: In case we get another down...

EBBY: take care of--we are a state-of-the-art operation now. All of our offices are either new or updated. Our technology is great, but needs upgrading all the time. The cost of operating this business is increasing all the time because the earnings of our independent contractors are higher levels, higher levels. The bottom line is diminishing, and I want to anticipate all of that so that we'll be in good shape.

HATTIE: Do you think wanting to do more, seeing more on your agenda, having more goals to check off is what keeps you so young?

EBBY: Well, it's what keeps us digging. 

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