Growing a Brokerage: The Challenges
Too many brokerages and teams get stuck. They plateau. They lose momentum. They stop feeling the excitement of the early days. Why?
Growth is complex. It means trying new ideas, new messages, new systems, new technology and new people doing new things. But sometimes the enthusiasm for trial-and-error just results in a jumble of technologies, half-baked marketing, and agents who come and go.
We deeply admire brokers who have tackled the challenges of growth and are climbing to successively higher plateaus. Jonathan Kauffman of Nest Realty and Garron Selliken of M Realty are Mentors in the T3 Fellows program who started during their businesses during the last recession and are now recognized for their impressive growth and passion for running great real estate brokerages.
“If you are doing it inauthentically and just for the money, it won’t be anything great. You have to have a passion for what you’re doing. Steve Jobs said that you cannot do anything great without passion. I believe that’s true, because it’s really hard to succeed. And if you don’t have a tremendous amount of passion to keep you going, you will fail.”— Garron Selliken
“Why” would a successful sales leader decide to dig into the hard work of building a brokerage?
- To create an asset that has value without the broker, personally generating significant revenue. You may have run a successful sales operation for quite a while and now want to create something that could be sold in the future. You might want to leave a legacy in your community or to your family.
- To build an operation to be proud of that successfully integrates marketing, sales, technology, and administration. If you have a to-do list of technology and marketing projects that would take three years to finish, you know you need to learn how to select and manage the right projects.
- To help others develop successful careers by teaching them how to win clients, provide great representation and get deals closed. You know how to win clients, provide them great representation and get deals closed. Now you want to help others learn what you do.
This work requires change, and the change starts with you.
Change as a Leader
The first change to becoming an effective broker is that you transition your primary focus from your personal sales business to developing your agents and staff and, eventually, your management team.
You will need to broaden your thinking to being responsible for the entire business including things that you don’t like to do and that you’re not good at. Too many brokers bounce back into sales where they’re comfortable and happy rather than the frustration of dealing with marketing, or technology and systems, or recruiting and training.
When you have a sales team or a very small company, people can adapt to you and how you work. Your values, your habits and standards can be transferred by working shoulder-to-shoulder with a small number of people. As you grow your brokerage, your focus needs to shift to teaching and helping people become more effective at their jobs.
Change as a Marketer
If you’ve been successful as a high-performing agent, or as a sales team leader, you know how to do generate sales and get deals closed. But many high performing sales leaders get stumped when they have to develop marketing for a brokerage.
Branding is usually an issue for newer brokerages. When you’re a successful sales agent, you really don’t need a complex brand, because you are the brand. You are distinctive and memorable. The identity of the operation is wrapped around you.
When other people join your brokerage, they need ways to represent themselves to family, friends, prospects and clients, because they’re not you. Creating a bigger brand involves expressing your core strengths and values. You must take the things that you do well and make them bigger so that other people can work with you and for you.
Your marketing needs to expand to attracting agents that share your values and need your help. When agents see that you are really good at the things you do, and that you have a big enough tent to include them, they will ask to join your brokerage to learn what you do.
Change as a Manager
When your organization is very small, your systems can be largely manual and learning how to use them happens during the course of day-to-day business operations. But as you add more agents you will need to have the right systems to support the business.
A growing broker needs so many systems that often it is difficult to decide what’s most important: lead generation and conversion or agent sphere marketing? Recruiting or on-boarding and training? Back office or community events? Brokers need to build their operations through a series of initiatives that build upon one another, where each investment becomes the basis for the next.
“A key to our growth and success is staying open, flexible and nimble. We’ve stayed true to our original vision and principles, and we’ve never had to do anything for the wrong reasons, e.g., just doing something to make money.” — Jonathan Kauffman
Becoming a successful broker is hard work but we’re here to help. To learn more about our twelve month brokerage development and leadership program ask for more information here.