My business is very portable. Last Friday, while I was in my car headed to a local coffee shop to write an offer for a buyer, I moved my business from Keller Williams, a national franchise with independently owned and operated offices all over the country, to a tiny boutique brokerage in my hometown.
As my new broker transferred my license, his tiny company grew by 33 percent with a couple of keystrokes and the $20 he had to pay the state. He got his broker’s license the same year that I got mine. While mine got dusty, he started a real estate company.
My move to his company consisted of changing numerous online profiles and changing the logos on four Web sites, which I did Friday evening — much less work and expense than moving to a big real estate company or than starting my own company. Even my business cards will remain the same, except for the logo.
I own everything that I use for my business, including all the domain names, and I self-host all but one Web site (I own that one, too). I started my business at open houses and through mailings, but I have been growing my client base for the last several years, with repeat business, referrals and clients who find me on the Internet.
My office has been in my home for the last three years and for the past two years I have paid for all of the services that brokerages used to provide for free, or in some cases I get them for free through the Internet. Our multiple listing service currently offers more than real estate companies used to offer a few years ago, and the new services are at no additional cost. My business continues to run uninterrupted.
My clients are very supportive. They all told me the same thing. They said that they wanted to work with me. They know that I will do the same great job for them, no matter which logo I put on my Web sites.
That isn’t to say that I am not thrilled to be working with the new company. I have been telling my clients that real estate is local and so are we. I love the idea of a small specialty boutique brokerage, with St. Paul in the name, because that is where I live and work and so do my clients. Real estate really is local. …CONTINUED
We have a little office that my broker leased, and it is less than a mile from my home office. I can get mail now without having to drive across town. Best of all, I don’t have to pay fees for services that I don’t need or can’t use in my business. With falling home prices and lower commissions, I have to watch expenses carefully.
The Internet really has leveled the playing field. I have all the resources that an agent in a large real estate company has. I have my own brand that has been well established through my blog, and a well-appointed home office with all of the equipment I need.
The portability of my business gives me a great deal of freedom and security. I feel that I truly own what I built, and that is important to me. The move has energized me and given me more incentive than ever before to sell real estate and to build my business.
If you dream of starting your own brokerage, or of moving to another brokerage, start today by making your business portable, build a brand, and take ownership of your valuable business assets — both online and offline. Much of what I am doing in my business today is made possible because of technology, and I plan to continue to exploit it any way that I can.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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