HomeLife Realty Services and Sears Canada have entered into a partnership that will allow HomeLife’s agents to provide buyers and sellers with major discounts on appliance packages, as well as Sears gift cards.
“It’s the first time we’ve done something like this on a scale this large,” says Ed Pupulin, director of international business development at HomeLife. “We’ve had marketing partnerships with national brands in the past, but this is by far the largest in scope.”
The HomeLife-Sears partnership is being launched with Sears at HomeLife’s annual symposium in Toronto in November.

It allows HomeLife members to offer clients who are buying or selling homes “good, better, best” packages for kitchen appliances that are equivalent to the commercial pricing packages Sears makes available to contractors.

“It’s a fairly substantial discount,” says Pamela Murphy, vice-president, licensed businesses at Sears Canada. “The packages are put together at much lower than market rates (and are) lower than sales prices in most cases.”

Packages will be available for stainless and white appliances and for condominium-sized appliances. The package lineup will change regularly to ensure only up-to-date refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers and microwaves are offered. Overall, about 12 packages will be available.

In addition, the partnership allows HomeLife agents to give clients closing gifts in the form of pre-paid branded Sears gift cards.

“The synergy is there between the two companies,” Pupulin says of the partnership. “We’re both national companies with, for the most part, the same customers. Why not combine forces, branding-wise, and offer more to our joint customers?”
Sears has worked with real estate brokerages before “but not at this scale,” Murphy says. “It makes sense from the perspective that we can have a whole new channel of customers to be able to sell our products through. Also, HomeLife has a good reputation. They’re coast-to-coast. It made sense.”

Murphy says the appliance packages are exclusive to the Kenmore brand, but that customers interested in other brands can receive incremental discounts. Sears sells such appliance brands as Whirlpool, Samsung, Bosch, LG, KitchenAid and Electrolux.

She says the appliance package is ideal when agents are talking to home sellers and say “you know, you kind of have to upgrade your appliances. Your home’s not going to sell with that lovely almond 1980s stove, and you know what, we’ve put together a good, better, best package” of appliances.

The gift cards can be loaded in amounts ranging from $5 to $5,000 and agents can purchase multiple cards.
Gift cards will be appreciated by buyers who are looking for everything from furnishings to small appliances, and sellers staging their homes, says Adam Price, director of brand marketing at HomeLife. “What it is, is an incentive to reward (customers) for loyalty or as a closing gift,” he says.

The partnership with Sears will add to the lead generation tools HomeLife offers to its members, Pupulin says. Agents will offer the appliance packages and gift cards as part of their listing proposals and marketing pieces.

HomeLife’s more than 8,000 agents will be provided with “templatized” marketing pieces that they can customize with their contact information. Agents can incorporate HomeLife-Sears branding in their marketing materials.

In addition, a landing page on the HomeLife website will be added to explain the program and agents will receive regular email updates about the partnership. “We’re also going to be pushing heavily on social media as well as some print advertising,” says Price. “Anything that we do marketwise in the next little while is going to include the partnership with Sears.”

Price believes HomeLife members “will be ecstatic with the ability to offer (clients) discounts on appliance packages (and) a whole new system for rewarding their loyalty in presenting them with closing gifts.”

The value proposition of the program is “incredible,” he says. “It’s unlike anything that our competitors offer.”

Price says the November launch date of the program is strategic to ensure members are prepared to market it in time for the busy spring market. “We’re making sure they’re ready for 2017 and know this program inside and out.”

He adds the partnership could also give access to Sears customers and there is potential for in-store marketing opportunities for HomeLife. There may also be the possibility for HomeLife agents to offer clients deals on Sears home services.

“This is just phase one,” says Pupulin. “We’re looking at a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Sears. We would like to be partnering with them for many years to come. We feel that this is a huge benefit for our agents to be able to attach themselves with the name of Sears, a company that’s been in Canada for so long.”

Pupulin adds that he is not concerned about Sears Canada’s recent financial woes. Same-store sales have fallen 7.4 per cent and 5.5 per cent in the past two quarters compared to 2015, and the retailer posted a $91.6 million loss in its second quarter.

“We’ve been following what Sears has been doing for the last couple of years. We are 100 per cent behind them in the moves that they have made.”
He has seen the retailer’s recently unveiled new store format and “they just look fantastic. They have done a phenomenal job in preparing themselves for the next century of business. We believe in them 100 per cent or we would not have entered into this.”

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