In the old days, Welcome Wagon representatives would wheel by the homes of newcomers and drop off gifts from local residents and merchants.
A few years ago, Chattanooga had its very own modern version of the Welcome Wagon – Cortney Hewitt. She didn’t hitch horses to a wagon and transport gifts to transplants, but she did provide new homeowners with coupons and advertisements from local businesses after they relocated.
A marketing professional by trade, Hewitt purchased a Welcome Wagon franchise after several years in corporate sales to return to her roots. However, her business wound up being merely a steppingstone toward real estate and her work today as director of marketing for The Jay Hudson Homes Team at Keller Williams Realty Chattanooga.
That’s a few more words than “Welcome Wagon,” but Hewitt makes saying them sound easy. It’s all in day’s work, she laughs.
“It’s my privilege to promote the amazing team we have at Jay Hudson Homes, whether I’m coordinating client events or supporting our work with nonprofits,” she says, sounding like she’d rather talk up the team than herself. “I also market our listings to make sure they’re seen in the best possible light.”
This is probably easier said than done, as Hudson’s team consists of five busy licensed agents who collectively sold more than $13 million worth of real estate in 2019, as well as an executive administrator who’s also licensed.
Not only that, but the ever-shifting tides of real estate force Hewitt to continually develop and deploy new marketing strategies as she promotes the team’s agents and their listings.
“Change is my biggest challenge as a director of marketing,” she says. “Once I have the bullseye in my crosshairs, the target will move, so I’m constantly having to figure out new ways of reaching and interacting with people.”
The main weapon in Hewitt’s arsenal is her creativity, she says. This is evident in a new video series she developed for the Jay Hudson Home’s Facebook page titled “Your Helpful Home Minute.”
Hewitt plans to interview a variety of local tradespeople such as plumbers, handymen and pest control professionals, all in an effort to provide a resource for homeowners and keep Hudson on everyone’s mind.
In the first video – which clocks in at a lean one minute and 33 seconds – Hewitt interviews Maryann Page-Azambuja of Choice Home Warranty about the importance of hiring a licensed HVAC professional to clean a home’s unit.
Hewitt is also preparing an article about 20 home repairs she says every homeowner should know how to do.
“I love being creative and connecting people to resources, especially new homeowners who are moving to Chattanooga and don’t know anything about the city,” she says, suggesting her days as a Welcome Wagon lady are not entirely behind her.
Hudson says Hewitt’s ideas for growing his brand never fail to impress him. “We aim to provide a high level of customer service and help the local community,” he says. “Courtney understands my vision and works hard to deliver our message.”
One aspect of Hewitt’s job that does come easy to her is working with nonprofits to help spread Hudson’s name throughout Chattanooga. Currently, she’s working with the local Ronald McDonald House to make the team a gold sponsor of the charity’s annual golf tournament, the Chattanooga RMHC Golf Classic, which is scheduled to take place in October.
Hewitt also works with the Chattanooga Chamber on behalf of Hudson’s team. Her current role involves serving as a Chamber ambassador that – no surprise here – welcomes new businesses to the community and helps them celebrate their grand openings and anniversaries.
Hewitt also devotes a portion of her personal time to volunteer work. She especially enjoys calling bingo at Ashwood Square Retirement Community.
“It’s fun and educational to spend time with our seniors,” she says. “They have so much knowledge and wisdom to share.”
Hewitt is a Central Pennsylvania native who made her way to Chattanooga via the University of Alabama, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.
She arrived in the Scenic City in 2004 and instantly fell in love with her new hometown. “Everyone I met was super nice and very welcoming,” she adds. “That made me feel at home.”
Hewitt landed a job as the marketing manager for Marketing Alliance Group in Dalton, Georgia, which later promoted her to sales. After 10 years with the company, she decided to return to marketing, so she purchased the Welcome Wagon franchise.
In 2016, Hudson approached Hewitt about becoming his team’s director of marketing.
“I was impressed with Cortney’s energy and professionalism,” Hudson recalls. “I knew she’d make a great addition to the team.”
It didn’t take Hewitt long to say yes.
“I felt like it was perfect for me,” she says. “It challenges me every day, I grow every day and I still help people. I absolutely love it.”
Hewitt says Hudson is more than her employer and his agents are more than her co-workers – they’re her second family.
“They stood by me and supported me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018,” she says, adding that she’s now cancer-free. “They’re amazing.”
Hudson says Hewitt in turn serves as a strong role model for him and the other agents. “She’s overcome many challenges, and during these times, kept a positive attitude. I’m blessed to have Cortney on my team.”
Hewitt also says her family – including her husband of 12 years, Russ, and their twin 10-year-old sons – are amazing.
“My husband is my rock. He’s been by my side through it all – in both sickness and in health.”
With her immediate family and her work family surrounding her with support and love, her city providing her with a home she adores, and her job giving her work that’s both challenging and gratifying, Hewitt says she feels fortunate.
“I’m glad I made Chattanooga my home, and I try every day to make others feel the same way as they move to the city, or as they move from one part of the town to another.”
It sounds like Hewitt’s days as Chattanooga’s very own welcome wagon are not behind her.