Growing a Brokerage: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”
Too many brokerages and teams get stuck. They plateau. They lose momentum. They stop feeling the excitement of the early days. Why does this happen?
Building for growth is complex. It means trying new ideas, new messages, new systems, new technology and new people. But sometimes, much effort and vast sums of money are spent on the wrong technologies, half-baked marketing, and agents who come and go.
Some brokerages have met these leadership challenges and are climbing successively higher plateaus: Nest Realty, Hawaii Life, and M Realty all started during the recession and are now deeply admired for their innovation, great culture and seriously impressive growth (these brokers are Mentors in the T3 Fellows program. Tune into our webinar on March 29 to learn more).
This post is the first in a series on how to solve the complex problems inherent in building a modern real estate business. Today we'll talk about the difficulties of the transition from successful sales leader to a broker and business owner.
he transition from sales team leader to broker and business owner is difficult
First, let’s consider the "why" of growing a brokerage.
To create an asset that has value without you 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 and leave something behind in your community or to your family.
To get everything working is a common wish of many brokers who have been piecemeal trying to run a business while still selling every day. If you have a to-do list of technology and marketing projects that would take three years to finish, you know you need to make some changes.
To grow and develop others you recognize that your time would be better spent in helping other people sell real estate and service clients. You know how to win clients, provide them great representation and get deals closed, Now you want to help others develop successful careers.
Doing all of this requires change. Lots of change.
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 your agents, staff and, eventually, your management team.
You will need to broaden your thinking to being responsible for the entire business -- even the things 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 small 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 to many high performing sales leaders, it isn’t obvious how to develop marketing for a brokerage. Many brokers spend so much money on ineffective or unnecessary marketing and too little on programs that will generate real business for their agents.
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 around you personally.
When other people join your brokerage, they need ways to represent themselves to family, friends, prospects and clients, because they’re not you. You have translate what you have and what you do into something that other people can use. 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 come to you to learn what you do.
To grow a brokerage you must build marketing systems that scale. Creating marketing systems that will support a variety of agents requires clear expression of your brand and what you do for your clients. It requires that a variety of services be available to agents, because some agents want marketing to help them build their networking business, while others want help converting internet leads. It’s probably unwise to leave agents to create and execute effective marketing programs.
Change In Systems
When your organization is very small, many of 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. Just some of the systems that small brokerages need are lead conversion, SOI marketing, compensation plans, recruiting and on-boarding/training.
We're where we started in this post "what got you here won't get you there". Becoming a broker is hard work. Visit our site to learn more about T3 Fellows, our twelve month brokerage development and leadership program.
If you want to learn more about the journey from sales leader to broker, please join us for our webinar on March 29. Please register even if the time is bad for you and I'll send you a link to the recording.
In my next post, I’ll share how we help brokerages develop a meaningful brand. It’s not easy but it’s foundational work.