The 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.
As the saying goes…there is more than one way to skin a (insert animal of your choice here) just as there is more than one way to solve the marketing puzzle. The methods listed can range from the very simple and traditional to the more esoteric. Virtually any budget can be accommodated using these techniques to get a company or personal brand established and to attract as much business as possible. http://soho.ca/index.php/5-ways-to-brand-your-business-on-a-budget/
Check out this interesting post from Katie Lance about the bygone days of real estate marketing when we were limited to bus stop benches and newspaper pull-outs. Real estate is fully online, and going social. http://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-real-estate/
There are lots of success stories and case studies documenting business success through Twitter. Taking from those successes are the following tips to leverage this platform for your business. http://www.businessesgrow.com/2011/11/29/15-ways-to-use-twitter-to-toast-your-competition/
Are you wondering how to influence potential customers and prospects? The latest findings from Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report show that “consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase.” In fact, blogs rank favorably with consumers for trust, popularity and even influence. Ummm…..do you need any other reason to start blogging? Yeah, I didn’t think so. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/blogs-outrank-social-networks-for-consumer-influence-new-research/
And speaking about blogging and trust, this one is not just for the women in my life. Social Media is a trusted media today, it’s not a fad. Today it’s as necessary in a brand manager’s marketing mix as the little black dress is in any womans wardrobe. But the similarities don’t end there. Hmmm…this sounds interesting. Thanks to Anna Rydne and @coskills for this. http://communicateskills.com/2012/11/08/black-dress-social-media-marketing/
As usual I value the imput of my readers so if you have anything to add please let me know. I am SO available it isn’t funny. Find me here;
Happy Friday everyone, I’m going to start off the Friday Five with a cool video that is the latest to go viral. I am the latest convert to the video blogging world but think about how quickly your brand can accelerate with one good video. The guy in this vide has been seen over 2 million times. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pii4G8FkCA4 When I watched it I kept thinking to myself, gee, I with 2 million people knew who I was. Heck I would be happy if that number were 2 thousand.
You may not have a 100-year-old brand, but you can be consistent in your messaging and in your brand. Don’t be all things to all people. Don’t change your brand messaging every other month with a new font or the next shiny new app. Be consistent in action, in your website, in how you interact with people, in your marketing, and in everything you do. Consistency breeds trust – and as we all know, we do business with those people that we know, like and trust. Check out these 3 lessons in branding from Inman News. http://next.inman.com/2013/02/3-lessons-in-branding-your-real-estate-business-for-longevity
Some agents have been asking me about Pinterest, so here are the goods. Pinterest is a social image-sharing site that is basically like a virtual bulletin board that allows its users to connect and organize images that are of interest to them. Despite its young age, Pinterest has grown to be the third-largest Social Media Site on the planet and the fastest-growing site on the web today. It is growing faster than Twitter or Facebook did in their infancy. According to Mashable, Pinterest drives more traffic to blogs and websites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. That statistic alone tells us this site is worth investing some of your time so read this http://www.thenichereport.com/articles/10-tips-to-grow-your-real-estate-business-with-pinterest/
When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, you’re presented with some pretty clear obstacles. How do you encourage more visits to your page? Even if you get visitors, how long will they stay before something else draws them away? Will users who engage with a status update or other piece of content continue to discuss after an initial post? Social networks have an identity problem. Audience motivations and perspectives don’t always align with the expectations of a brand. Thankfully we have another brilliant post from @JeffBullas http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/05/29/4-reasons-why-brilliant-communities-are-more-valuable-than-your-social-media-strategy/
I love talking about brand, so imagine my excitement when I came across this little infographic. I think it sums up what we are all trying to achieve in 9 easy steps. Creating any sort of brand is a tough job, it takes a lot of work and time. Your brand has to offer something different and something people want, it basically has to be cool. When creating a personal brand the thing is to be cool. People have to like you for something and you have to offer something people want. You have to be interesting. thanks to @ultralinx for this http://theultralinx.com/2012/05/9-basic-steps-create-personal-branding-strategy.html
In case you are wondering about the rabbits. In my family, saying Rabbits on the first day of the month gives you good luck!