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Posts tagged ‘boutique real estate’


How Important is Your Real Estate Brokerage to your Business?

real-estate-officeThe idea for this post popped into my head on the eve of our quarterly new agent training class that we affectionately call Bosley U. For a little background, it was developed many years ago as a way to quickly ramp up new agents so that they could hit the ground running. Not only do they learn the art of negotiation, but we include panel discussions with top agents in the firm who talk about marketing and best business practices. To round out the program there is a property visit and an actual CMA has to be prepared and then there are three big sessions where we roll play a buyer meeting and a listing appointment and then a multiple offer session. It can be intense at times but also a lot of fun. In my opinion, agents come out of the 5 week program with more experience than someone who has been practicing for two years. As I like to say, OREA teaches the moves but Bosley U teaches you how to dance.
The forgoing leads me into a discussion about the value of the brokerage to the overall success of the agent on the street. Certainly how you start your career is critical to your success but after that, does the company remain as important? There are many schools of thought on this. Some would argue that the brokerage is just a necessity to selling real estate. While the law requires an agent to belong to a brokerage in order to buy and sell, the brokerage also provides some much-needed back-end support. At he very least there is a manager or broker/owner to oversee the running of the trust accounts, make sure the phones get answered and appointments get booked and provide some experience to answer questions or provide that next level support if required. With basic services agents run their own business, pay minimally to the “house”.
The flip side to the simplest licence holder model is the full service brokerage who takes a bigger slice of the commission but also provides more services. These services include, but aren’t limited to, things like broker loading, typing offers, education and office meetings, marketing services, printing, and maybe even access to significant technology, social media or a worldwide referral network.
Then there is everything in between with different brokerages offering different baskets of goods or services with a hundred different commission splits. Any new agent will find that wading through the choices is one of the hardest decisions to make. Then there are the myriad of other things to think about….Does a company’s perceived values line up with you as an agent? What about culture? Are you one who prefers a boutique brand over a national or international brand? Do the colours and style of the brokerage logo appeal to you? What about location? Parking? desk space? How professional are the business cards, buyer and seller packages and all other associated collateral material? The list is endless. In fact, there are even a number of single agent brokerages out there who just don’t want any association with a branded brokerage at all.
And what about the public? Our clients? do they care about the brand? Maybe? I used to work for a brand with luxury roots so people would call me because they thought their home met those requirements…they often did not, but having a prestige sign on their front lawn meant much more. Others chose a recognized brand because they had the lion’s share of listings in a particular neighbourhood. Still others wanted the brand that they imagined to be the most tech savvy. At the end of the day however, experienced agents would argue that clients rarely hire them because of the brand they work for, rather a combination of sales and marketing experience, reputation and market share.
So, is there a definitive answer to how important a brokerage is to your business? I asked many experienced agents this question and got a rather consistent response. Look and feel was important. lead generation was a big deal. Freedom to try new ideas. Smart and supportive management team. Culture played in to a lesser degree.
There is another factor to consider…The sub brokerage. While other industries allow independent contractors to incorporate, real estate brokers are currently excluded in Ontario. In response to this some brokerages are allowing for the creation of sub-brokerage models. The paperwork is excruciating and complicated but for experienced and successful agents it is an imperfect work-around. Unfortunately only a handful of brokerages have either the skill or impetus to incorporate this business model into their operations.
Of course in the small amount of research I conducted, the topic of splits was not even brought up…and here is why. Agents who see no value in a brokerage and prefer to run their own business as they see fit will gravitate to the company with the best splits while those who see the value in a more collaborative and supportive environment will be happy to pay for it.
Mark McLean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office, the Immediate Past President the Toronto Real Estate Board and a director at the Ontario Real estate Association .The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB, OREA or Bosley RE.


The Real Estate Time Machine

hot-tub-time-machine-di-3-1Not that long ago I was asked why I chose the first company I ever worked for. The Truth is that as a young guy getting into real estate, over 25 years ago, I literally had no clue what to expect. I knew I wanted to be successful so I thought the best thing I could do was surround myself with successful people. Before entering real estate sales I built and renovated houses so I was always reading the real estate section of the newspapers to get a handle on the market and what was available. The company that I eventually started at was a boutique company with several offices around the city and, from the looks of it, had lots of great listings. The day I started, the manager assigned me a desk and wished me good luck. I soon found out that being successful in real estate was a lot of hard work.
Looking back, I had a lot of fun at that brokerage but I was missing one critical piece of the success puzzle…training. I simply didn’t know that training was something that realtors did. So I guess, if I could go back and do it again, I probably would have started with a company that offered training. This was the nexus for my meeting topic this week. I billed it as a sort of ideas exchange in the theme of “Hot Tub Time Machine”, one of the best movies EVER. So with a few dozen people at the meeting I asked everyone to imagine travelling back in time and starting their careers over again. What would they do differently if they could. Here are the top responses and associated notes in no particular order;

1. Start farming an area right from the start. Market yourself as the expert, and send out information with frequency. Most recognized that this is an expensive proposition for someone just starting out but everyone agreed that if they had spent the money they would have seen the fruits of their labour. The truth is that it often takes a year or two to see returns on advertising initiatives but one or two sales easily covers the expenditure.
2. Set up the right systems. This includes a solid CRM program that would help you work efficiently and effectively and not leave any potential client unattended. Agents are reluctant to spend money on a system early. A good CRM program is often one of the last tools that an agent buys when, in fact, it should be one of the first.
3. Get a coach. Again, the initial investment is hard to swallow. Imagine if I said…you pay me $500 per month and I will give you the means and tools to earn $100K? It’s a hard notion to get your head around. The truth is that coaches work. They keep you accountable, but more importantly provide you with great ideas on how to improve your business.
4. Prospect. Well this goes without saying. Real estate is a numbers game. The more people you know and talk to , the more business you do. Many agents know they have to prospect but the fear of rejection prevents them from starting. Experienced agents would say that they now have enough skill to prospect easily, but they wished they did it earlier in their careers.
5. Work longer hours. One of the reasons I got into real estate was to set my own hours. I quickly learned that the harder I work the more successful I became. This is a business that is 24/7. Working part-time will only cut it if you are happy to supplement your income with a sale once in a while. If real estate is your full-time gig, then you can’t wake up at 10am and roll into the office at noon.
6. Several agents said they would have started their careers earlier or taken the plunge to be full-time right away. This is not a business that you can be successful in if you are doing it part-time. I have interviewed many agents who have said they were going to transition into fulltime sales from their fulltime jobs. It almost never happens that way.
7. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Some agents said that the fear of the unknown kept them from trying new things. Some agents would say that the use of social media is an integral part of the marketing that they need to do but at the same time it can be daunting space if you aren’t a social media user. Picking the right one to use and utilizing it properly is a job on its own.
8. Be a better communicator of your value. As many new agents would admit, one of the questions you are terrified by is…how long have you been in real estate? This can be a tough one to answer or it can be an opportunity to build amazing relationships with potential clients. All agents agreed that if they could go back in time, they would try to be better equipt to diffuse their own self doubt.
9. Find your own voice or identity early on. Define your “brand” and use it consistently.
10. Spend money. The old adage is true… you need to spend money to make money. If you don’t have money than designate funds from each cheque to pay yourself, pay your expenses, pay your taxes and pay for your marketing. Don’t just run out there and buy a Tesla with that first cheque.

We had a great discussion and when I look at this now it is evident that these are great tips for anyone considering a career in real estate. Mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office, the Immediate Past President the Toronto Real Estate Board and a director at the Ontario Real estate Association . The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB, OREA or Bosley RE


Innovation- The Key to Success

  As I mentioned before, the real estate industry is changing. Just think how far we have come. 20 years ago, we typed out offers, carried pagers, and relied on daily listings delivered in our mailboxes every morning. Now imagine where it is going to be 5 or 10 years from now. The reality is that technology and the internet will continue to play a significant roll in the evolution of industry. How easy will existing companies adapt to these changes? In the book “the Design of Business”, Roger Martin writes that being innovative will give your company the competitive advantage over old school businesses. It seems clear that the big regional and national companies have the capability to throw the necessary resources into the technology pool, but what about the smaller privately owned outfits. How easily will they adapt to the latest innovations.

 Independent boutique companies need not be stressed about embracing technology. With so many books available, including the popular “for dummies” series can give you enough information to get you started. But if your goal is to make an impact, keep or grow your market share, add valuable producing agents to your office, then you need to be serious about every aspect of the internet, blogging and other social networking tools.

 There have been enough articles published that reiterate the notion that nearly 90% of people looking at buying or selling a property start their search on the internet. Therefore, you have to rank high if you are going to get noticed. Your company ranking on search engine websites can be much higher simply by having every agent in your office provide links to your company site from their own. Blogging, provides unique content which will push you up too. And, of course, you need to have a Twitter and LinkedIn account to let people know that you have added content to your blog or website.

 Obviously I am scratching the service of this topic, and hope to address these further in the weeks to come. However, in no way should you downplay the importance of social media. Likewise, advances within the industry, like the latest in digital camera equipment used for virtual tours, or advanced internal accounting and office management software. Most innovations are designed to make operating an office more efficient and ultimately more profitable. There is another benefit; These innovations should also help you recruit and retain an active, happy, and profitable sales team. It instantly gives you the leg up on those companies that view innovations as a scary no man’s land.

 By the way, any innovation adapted early enough puts you in the driver’s seat. It makes you a leader rather than a follower. It is clear that if you don’t keep up with innovations in the real estate brokerage business, any business, you will very quickly find your company behind the eight ball.

 As usual, I am obligated to mention that the comments above may not represent the opinions and views of Bosley Real Estate.

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