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28
Apr

The Boutique Advantage Part One

The average real estate agent in Canada earns less than $20,000 per year.  And like most sales type functions, 10% of the agents do 90% of the work. Our firm consists of about 180 agents. Most make considerably more than the average. They work full time and are committed to providing professional and full service. In 22 years of being in business, I dare say I have never experienced a more cohesive group of individuals. Our firm stands out in a sea of mediocrity.

One of the keys to our success has been the deep care and support for our sales force. There are some that believe that this is a numbers game. Hire as many agents as you can, because you know statistically that only 10% are going to be performers. Our company believes in training, support, encouragement, and access to higher learning.  If, given all the support, our agents still struggle, then we have to re-evaluate their time with us. At the end of the day, we are interested in being the poster child for the best real estate company in the country.

Undoubtedly there is a shift in the brokerage business. I have talked about this before in previous posts.  Smaller companies are losing market share and the big regional and national companies are getting stronger. Their recruitment strategies are approaching aggressive. However the underlying ideas have not changed. Bigger is not necessarily better and while concern for the bottom line is staggering, the general consensus is that the larger companies are looking for quantity and not quality. Multi level marketing as a recruitment idea simply passes the buck. Eventually someone has to do the work.

 As a small boutique company it is next to impossible to compete with the big nationals when it comes to recruiting and advertising. But there is no reason to throw in the towel. If done right, I believe boutique companies can have an overwhelming advantage.  First of all, they are not bogged down in multiple levels of management. They have the ability to adapt and change gears quickly. Second, they can embrace and initiate technological advantages easily and third, they can create better niche advertising and marketing efforts.

After the realignment in the brokerage business happens I believe the true standout will be the boutique, refined, mid sized, and niche company that offers its clients a unique value advantage.  They will have built a near cult following of agents and customers.  The level of professionalism and service will be recognized and admired. So, how is the boutique real estate office going to stand out? I am going to answer that in Part Two. Of course, I would appreciate any thoughts you would like to share with me.

The views expressed in this blog may not reflect the views and opinions of Bosley Real Estate Ltd.

22
Apr

The Big Picture

For the past two weeks I have been managing our company’s downtown east office while the manager is away. One of this week’s tasks was running the weekly meeting. Agents are strongly encouraged to attend as it is a good opportunity to connect with the people you are working with and share stories and information.  Beside the usual reviews of open house activity and new sales and listings, I centred the topic of discussion on the global nature of business.  Our business is real estate, more specifically selling houses and condominiums.

To demonstrate what I meant by global, I set up an example of two agents at a party talking to someone who was considering selling their home. The first agent talks about how historically low interest rates are and how demand is strong. When asked about the future, the first agent believes everything will be good as long as interest rates remain low. The second agent has taken the time to study markets all over the world. He has a clear understanding of the implications associated with grow in the U.S. as a result of modest gains in employment and tax credits to first time buyers. He has taken the time to read the U.S. Fed Report because he follows it on Twitter.  He knows that things are “ramping up” in the U.S. He knows that both the east and west coasts are seeing modest job growth and slight improvements in the low end of the real estate markets. He demonstrates to the potential client that not only does he have an understanding for the local market, but knows the economics of the business in general. He comes across as the more professional agent and is likely to make a lasting impression. Not only can he comment on interest rates, but he knows the factors that contribute to rate hikes. The second agent has demonstrated that he is a leader in his field.  

The fact of the matter is that whether it is real estate or furniture sales, you will always come across more professionally if you have an understanding of “The Big Picture”.

A good manager/broker/owner understands the need to fill in the blanks for their agents. It is one of the support mechanisms that need to be displayed constantly. The goal is simple; provide the information and the tools necessary to make your agents stand out. 

In my next post I am going to talk about other ways we can support our agents. The information in this post may or may not represent the views of Bosley Real Estate.

19
Apr

Developing A Brokerage Brand

I am always impressed when a flyer comes in the mail from a realtor who has thought long and hard about the message he is sending out to the public. He, or she, has worked hard to create and develop the skills to specialize in a particular market, like lofts, or downtown condos, or maybe investment properties.  The agent has a great website that ranks high in various search engines and he blogs about the ins and outs of the market he specializes in. This agent has created a one person brand. They have demonstrated that they have the knowledge in that particular market and therefore become the “go to” person.

I am thinking about a few people in particular as I write this. These people have invested in creating wonderful brands.  Their brands actually outshine their brokerage. In fact, for the most part, many of their clients don’t even know what company they work for. For them it doesn’t matter what the company brand is. They are simply looking for the biggest split. Of course that might change. If any of the agencies they work for decides to embrace the “pay for service” model in an effort to build more business then their clients could conceivably ask for a smaller basket of services and a lower commission.  If that happens, their business may be compromised along with the bottom line.

The question is; do brokerages exist simply to manage the affairs of realtors?  The answer is probably yes, but by no means should we, as broker owners and managers, continue to accept the status quo. The truth is that for many years the general public probably didn’t see much difference in service or offerings between most of the larger companies. Obviously there are a few brokerages that have done some niche branding but over the coming years I believe the public will strongly factor in the brokerage brand into their decision making process. Is your brokerage a price slasher or does it deliver experienced and professional full service? One thing is for sure. If your company offers discounted services it can’t reverse its direction and become a full service brokerage.  If your full service brokerage is going to flourish, then it needs to establish an emotional tie with people, not just through the hard work and dedication of its agents but through its commitment to the community and the real estate business as a whole.

Obviously if you are going to steer your company to be a discount broker then build your brand accordingly. But if you want to be a full service brokerage then your primary goal is to promote your company’s “worth” to the public. What will it be that makes your company shine above all others? Is it your dedication to the industry or your unique advertising and marketing abilities? Is it your history in the market place, or the fact that your agents are full time top producers? Simply put, you need to have unique story.

 It is not enough to be the number one brokerage in your market place. To get on top and remain on top, you need to support your managers and agents. They are the backbone of your brokerage. You might have a great “brand” but if it can’t live up to the promises it makes, then it is destined to fail. In future posts I will touch on some of the initiatives brokerages have used to distinguish themselves in the market place.

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Bosley Real Estate.

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