These are the questions that most of us have been debating since the start of our professional careers. Will I achieve greater success working under the umbrella of a large corporate or publicly owned brokerage firm, franchise, or licensed brand? Can I improve my career opportunities by moving from one firm to another? Is there more value in opening my own brokerage under a “boutique” name?
Of course, individual effort and accountability factors are often overshadowed when tied to the name brand. One might argue that the advantage of agility and quick decision-making lies on the side of the boutique entrepreneurial brokerage owner and the reputation he or she has built.
In most cases, a real estate salesperson starts a career at a brokerage firm. Some have more structured training programs than others, but usually some form of shadowing or working with veteran agents takes place. The longevity and success of a number of training/coaching companies catering to CRE agents indicate that training is not available in most companies.
Client assignments through the brokerage office manager do not appear on your desk. You must network, meet and greet, market, and push your individual identity to become a reputable broker. Every contact is a potential client—if not today or tomorrow, then maybe years down the road. Referrals are based on your initiative and connectedness, not by virtue of the company name on your door.
Often, real estate salespeople shift from one brokerage firm to another because of lack of sales training, nonexistent promises of support, challenging times, and unfulfilled promises of leads being provided. Maintaining your sales volume despite changing brokerages is a good indication that it’s your sales ability and work ethic that ground your success, not your brokerage firm’s name.
You understand what works for you. Try to find the right environment and culture to ensure that what you need to continue your success is available to you.
As you seek out alternatives to your current brokerage firm, you might ask yourself:
Will the promises of the new brokerage firm be fulfilled?
Can I build my reputation under this brokerage name?
Is the firm a recognizable brand (I suggest looking at the Top 10 most recognized brands to see which focus and culture might fit you)
Ultimately, do you see yourself still selling real estate in five, 10, 20, or even 30 years?
Shifting from brokerage to brokerage firm seeking long-term sales success might not be in your best interest. At some point in their career, every real estate professional must answer the question (if not to others, then certainly to themselves): “Do I have what it takes to be in a more entrepreneurial environment where I control my destiny?”
It’s easy to find the answer; just look at your past production. Has the firm REALLY earned their share, or are you the one keeping their doors open?
What environment is best for you: corporate, entrepreneurial, independently owned & operated, affiliated with a ranked brand, or a small local boutique?
Companies are like clubs or any other group. As you interview them and perform your due diligence, you will know when it “simply feels right.”
The benefits of each type of scenario are varied but almost always start with three questions:
How comfortable will I be conforming to the corporate structure of some of the larger global brokerage firms?
How will I succeed if my name and reputation are the sole influencers on my marketing efforts of a boutique brokerage?
What does the affiliated brokerage model offer in terms of a strong brand name, tools, and resources that I need to increase my production volume and grow into a firm of value?
With these answers, the undertaking of moving to a different brokerage or maybe even opening your own brokerage firm will become crystal clear.
You may be starting the journey to become a true entrepreneur by adding “business owner” to your list of real estate achievements.
How will the tools, technology, resources, and services of the company I’m investigating help me to grow my revenues enough to offset the costs and pipeline lag of changing firms?
How many assignments do I need “because of the brand” or from other advisors in the system to pay two or even three times the cost of making the change?
How will being part of a firm that has a Top 10 national ranking get me more opportunities, elevate my business, and create enterprise value for my operation beyond what I could do on my own?
Most importantly, is the culture of the firm one that I yearn to be a part of? Is the firm’s reputation one that I want to wear on my shoulders? Do I agree with the ethics and morals of the company?
If I can be of assistance in your decision making, even as a sounding board, please contact me for a confidential conversation. I may not have the answer for you, but you can tap into my 35+ years of experience of consulting and leadership in the CRE brokerage industry. Been there, done that, as they say.
Scott Cook, Executive Managing Director, SVN Asset Advisory Group, The SVN San Diego Group
Scott.Cook@svn.com / 619-354-8404
Scott Cook owns the Regional Developer license for SVN International Commercial Real Estate Advisors in San Diego and is always on the lookout for (1) independent companies that want to be part of the Top 10 companies in the industry WITHOUT giving up their independence and (2) advisors who want to be part of company with a culture of collaboration and “doing what is right.”