Choosing the right brokerage can bring big positive changes to your business and your life. But choosing the wrong brokerage can result in disappointment and disruption. I’ve discovered one important activity almost every agent skips in their process of choosing a brokerage. This activity will not only make all the difference when it comes to choosing the right brokerage for YOU, but it may also change the entire direction of your career.
As the leader of a mid-sized brokerage, I’ve interviewed hundreds of agents. Many were a good fit for us and we have had great success here. I’ve recommended many other agents to other local brokerages I thought would be a better fit for them than us. In any case, over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how these agents could have made better decisions about which brokerage was the right fit for them.
The problem I’ve seen so many times is that most agents go into the process of choosing a brokerage without having put any real thought into the goals they have for their real estate business, how they want to run their business, and as a result, what they need from their brokerage. In this blog post, I will explain why this is so important, and I’ll give you 10 highly thought-provoking questions to ask yourself, to clarify what is most important for YOU. Finally, I’ll share six quick examples of agents who asked themselves these questions, and which specific brokerages ended up being the right fit for them.
If any or all of those questions are important to you, keep reading! Or you can view this information in video form below!
Understand What Types of Systems and Support You Need from a Real Estate Brokerage
Many agents never stop thinking about how they want their business and life as a real estate agent to work. For example, there are ways to do business that involve managing and motivating other people, and other ways that allow you to focus only on what you love to do and are best at. There are ways to do real estate that will grind you up and leave you exhausted and poor, and other ways that will enable you to get ahead and retire with plenty of money in the bank.
Depending on how YOU want YOUR business and life to work, you’ll need very different types of systems and support from your brokerage. Below, I’ve listed 10 key questions (plus 17 more BONUS questions) that will help you gain a clear understanding of this for YOURSELF. Let’s dive into these questions and get you one step closer to where you want to be in your career.
(You may want to print these questions out and make notes on them, which will be helpful for the next step)
For each of the questions below, ask yourself which choice is right for you… then ask yourself WHY? What are you hoping to achieve (or avoid) by going in that direction?
1. Are you looking to make (a) a full-time take-home income from your real estate business, or (b) would a few commissions each year be all you really need?
2. What parts of the real estate business are you great at and love to do, and which parts are you either not good at or don’t like to do (or both :)?
3. Do you have a preferred way of acquiring clients? In other words, do you prefer referrals, advertising, social media, farming neighborhoods, or calling FSBO and expireds? Or a mix of many methods? What makes you prefer that way of acquiring clients?
4. Do you want (a) to manage all aspects of your business as you grow, or (b) would you rather focus on bringing in the business and have support (professionally hired, trained, and managed by someone else) for other parts of your business, as needed?
5. Is building your own team an important goal for you? If so, is that more because (a) you want to lead other people or (b) because you want to maximize your income?
6. How important is it for you to (a) have control of your time, especially your evenings and weekends, and to be able to take a vacation and be fully unplugged and still be sure your clients are being well taken care of? Or (b) do you not need “downtime” and are fine with responding to client needs whenever needed?
7. Are you more interested in (a) developing your OWN systems and processes for your business, or (b) do you want to plug into pre-existing and proven processes and systems?
8. With regard to marketing, do you (a) consistently develop your own creative marketing campaigns in advance so you always have a reason to call your sphere of influence, or (b) would you really rather have someone else do a great job of that for you?
9. Which is more important to you, (a) recognition of your sales volume and number of transactions or (b) maximizing take-home income?
10. Is minimizing the amount of money you pay the brokerage (a) the main priority to you, or (b) are you willing to pay the brokerage more if you are getting a good return on your investment from that money?
17 MORE BONUS QUESTIONS…
1. Are you (a) expecting (or hoping) that a brokerage will bring value to help achieve your business goals, or (b) feeling that brokerage for you is mostly a place to fulfill the legal requirement to “hang your license” while you run your independent business?
2. Is it (a) important for you to have a highly-skilled, accessible broker-in-charge or (b) is BIC support something you rarely ever need?
3. Do you (a) value having other successful agents around to collaborate with, or (b) already have all the knowledge and motivation you need?
4. Is it (a) important to have your brokerage near your home? If so, how close is close enough? Do you want to have an office? Or (b) is it okay if the office is a bit of a drive, but you still want a physical office in which you can interact in person with other agents, or (c) is a virtual brokerage (no offices, virtual training, and meetings) right for you?
5. Are you (a) interested in mentoring other agents (eventually or now) and having input to continuous improvement at your brokerage, or (b) do you have too much already going on that you would not have time for this type of activity?
6. Regarding finances, do you tend to (a) live paycheck to paycheck (and maybe owe back taxes), or (b) have at least some savings and pay more-than-estimated quarterly tax payments, so you don’t have to worry about tax surprises each April?
7. Do you feel (a) there is a possibility of new and much more effective ways to run your real estate business, or (b) are you satisfied that you already know the best ways to run your business?
8. Do you feel that (a) your brokerage’s brand name recognition is very important to your ability to successfully acquire clients, or (b) your brokerage’s brand name recognition doesn’t make much of a difference?
9. Would it be important that (a) your brokerage enforces minimum production standards to motivate you and ensure you are surrounded by successful agents, or (b) no, that wouldn’t matter because either you work independently or you associate with the agents you choose, regardless of what brokerage they are a part of?
10. Are you the type to refer other agents to your brokerage? If so, is it important for you to be (a) rewarded financially based on their performance, or (b) are you fine with being thanked only with non-financial appreciation?
11. Are you (a) good at tracking and documenting your revenues and expenses for tax purposes, or (b) would it be helpful to have that built into the services provided by your brokerage?
12. Do you feel that (a) the only way to serve a client well (and to build a relationship with them) is to do everything yourself, or (b) it could be possible to maintain your relationship with the client and provide them with good service if you delegated much of the client service to highly-trained professional licensed agents following a well-documented process?
13. Is your business philosophy more (a) “I’m open (and even eager) to spending money on systems and support that give me a good return on investment” or (b) “all costs are expenses, and they should be cut if possible”?
14. When it comes to selling (i.e. acquiring clients), would you (a) rather have methods to find your own clients, (b) pay for leads or referral fees for clients from someone else, or (c) not sell at all and partner with a “team leader” to help serve their clients? Are you okay with (a) selling your services to friends, or would you (b) rather deal mostly with people you don’t know other than their interest in buying or selling?
15. Regarding your earning goals, which statement is “more you”: (a) I only need so much, and wanting more is greedy and maybe even wrong, or (b) I want to earn as much as possible because it gives me freedom, and the ability to give money away to good causes?
16. Do you feel that (a) every activity in your business is of equal value, or (b) there are some activities that produce much more value for you than other activities? If so, what are those activities in your business?
17. Do you feel individual branding (meaning other than your personal name and photo, such as a business name and logo specific to you, in addition to the name and logo of your brokerage) is (a) important to you, or (b) not important to your success (beyond your personal name and photo)?
Identify the Real Estate Brokerages that Provide the Systems and Support You Need
Now that you’ve done such good thinking, underline or highlight your top three to five answers to the questions above that point to the most important factors for YOU. Next, do your research to uncover which brokerages specialize in providing the types of systems and support that will help you do business and life the way YOU want to.
TIP: Some brokerages try to be “all things to all agents”, which means they are mediocre at everything, and you don’t want to be mediocre, right? The goal of these firms is a high agent count — they will accept almost anyone. They haven’t fine-tuned any approach to doing real estate. They don’t have core values agents need to conform to, no expectations agents need to meet, or minimum production standards. They just want tons of agents.
You need a brokerage that specializes in what YOU need. Here is an example.
“DASH Carolinas” in Raleigh NC is run by a great guy named Quentin Dane. DASH is great in one specific way of doing real estate: purchasing Zillow leads and training their agents to convert them into closings and commission checks. If you are into that, you’ll do GREAT at DASH. If you are not into that, they’ll suggest a different brokerage that might be a better fit. They’ve sent agents to us, and we’ve sent agents to them. DASH knows what types of agents are right for DASH. They don’t try to be everything for everyone. That’s the kind of brokerage you want.
Once you’ve identified several brokerages that provide the kinds of systems and support YOU need, it’s time to interview the leaders of that brokerage, and several agents who have been there for several years.
Use These Tips to Learn the Real Priorities of Each Real Estate Brokerage
Now that you know what you want, don’t compromise! You need to find out what each brokerage stands for compared to what you want.
HERE’S HOW: As I mentioned earlier, many brokerages simply want high agent count, and during interviews they will try to find out what you want, then tell you they’ve got the “perfect systems and support” for that. You need to find out what they really think, before you tell them what you WANT. So, don’t tip them off about what you hope to hear from them. Ask them questions to learn who they really are and what they really think.
Notice the questions in the second column give away what you want the brokerage to tell you, whereas the questions in the third column make it necessary for the brokerage to commit to how they really think a real estate business should be run. You want to be with a firm where their leaders think the way you want them to; not a firm that tells you what you want to hear.
The best brokerages will be straightforward about their answers without regard to what they think you want to hear. They only want agents who are a good fit for them. They are focused on being great at one way of doing business, and if what they do great is what you want, that’s the place for you.
I hope that after all your good research and interviewing, you will be confident in your next choice of brokerage. Let’s take a look at a few real-life examples of how agents chose the brokerage they joined
Example of Agents and The Real Estate Brokerages They Chose
We have had several hundred agents come to talk with us, many of them were a perfect fit for us, and others were a fit for a different brokerage. These examples are based on our conversations with real agents (although we have changed their names here to protect their privacy):
- For Makoto, the most important priorities were: (i) learning to build her own team, (ii) freedom and encouragement to build her own brand, (iii) potential for passive income, and (iv) a library of systems and processes to choose from. For Makoto, the ideal choice was Keller Williams Realty.
- The important priorities for Anna were: (i) reasonably high earning opportunity, (ii) having processes and systems to plug into, (iii) not having to find her own clients, and (iv) having an out-of-home office. Being an onsite agent at Fonville Morisey Barefoot New Homes ended up being a great fit for Anna.
- George cared most strongly about (i) being able to work from his home office, (ii) having his own personal brand and logo, (iii) relatively low-cost brokerage, and (iv) he had no need for close BIC support. For George, eXp Realty was the perfect choice.
- As a newer agent, Becky told us she needed (i) great real estate transaction training, (ii) a brokerage with very strong national brand recognition, and (iii) a very good BIC with plenty of time to train her and oversee her transactions. Becky made a great decision to join Berkshire Hathaway (Coldwell Banker would have been another excellent choice).
- Finally, as a mother of two young children, Katya values: (i) being home weekends and evenings, (ii) high minimum production standards to ensure she’s surrounded by successful agents, (iii) having proven processes and systems to plug into, and (iv) a CRM that supports working by referral. For Katya, Relevate Real Estate ended up being the best choice.
Which Real Estate Brokerage is Right for You?
Choosing the right brokerage is a difficult decision. The right systems and support will set you up for big business growth, and hopefully more time to enjoy life with family and friends. The wrong decision will result in disappointment and disruption.
You now have 10 questions that will help you understand exactly what you need from a brokerage for it to be the right fit for you. Once you’ve got that figured out, you can do the research to identify which firms that say they provide systems and support you need. Our research revealed that all brokerages actually fit into one of 10 different types, each claiming to offer unique advantages for agents. If you feel the results of that research might help you, you can check out this blog post right here.
We already introduced you to DASH Carolinas as one quality choice for agents who want what they do well, but we haven’t discussed who is a good fit for us here at Relevate. We focus on systems to do business by referral, and helping agents with marketing and client service support. We are not the right brokerage for every agent, but we’re the perfect fit for agents that want what we specialize in providing. If the research you do about us, Relevate Real Estate, pumps you up, click the link below to schedule a time to chat.
In the meantime, if you felt this blog post was helpful, subscribe to our email list to be notified whenever we publish more content like this. Also, I’m interested in knowing what was going on inside your brain as you read this blog post. Write your thoughts or questions in the comment section below and I’ll reply ASAP.
If you are an agent in the Triangle Area of North Carolina area and you’d like to visit with us to learn more about Relevate Real Estate, click HERE to set up a time to talk with us.