Inman is profiling independent brokers. Here’s Kendyl Young of DIGGS.
Why do you stay independent when there are so many great franchises to join?
I spent decades in a large franchise. While others find comfort and efficiency in leaving the thinking to others, I am always on a quest to find the best, be the best and do the best. I cannot be hampered by the large franchise need to cater to their common denominator.
When did you decide to launch your independent brokerage and why?
Once I decided to leave the franchise, and the small boutique company I went to was still not innovative or nimble enough to execute my vision, I knew I had to create my own company to do what needs to be done.
What factored into that decision?
A company business plan that depends on increasing the number of agents as a way to increase revenue will always be a hostage to low margins and relatively low service. I wanted to find out if I could create a business that depends on increasing service as a business plan to increase transactions in order to increase revenue.
Why did you think it was the right time and the right move for you?
I am confident, now, in my ability to lead others and coach others.
How old is your brokerage?
Twelve weeks old.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting your brokerage off the ground?
My personal belief. I launched the brand two years ago, and I did great business as an individual agent with this amazing brand. I didn’t think I was ready to lead others, and that was a huge hurdle to overcome.
What was the easiest part of getting your brokerage off the ground?
Errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. In my 26 years with large brokerages I was led to believe that E&O is a big deal to get and expensive. I did not find this to be true.
What’s your approximate agent-to-staff ratio?
Three to two.
Are you part of an independent brokerage network?
What’s the quirkiest thing about your firm?
We spend most of our time talking about others, not about ourselves.
Describe your office. Where is it located? What does it look like?
We are in a quaint neighborhood called Montrose. It is a village where everything you need is a short walk away — all 10 minutes from all that Greater L.A. has to offer. My office is an open loft-like space that is outfitted more like a cool living room or an artist’s space than a cubby-filled office. Our style is midcentury modern with a Steampunk edge, and I am completely in love with my space. It has energy, it is inviting and comfortable and it sparks collaboration and trust.
What kind of floor plan do you use?
I don’t. It is one big, open space. No walls.
How many agents and offices do you have?
Three, including myself. No offices.
How do you recruit new agents?
Some come to me. Some come from a conversation sparked during a chance encounter. Some came as a referral from mutual friends.
Where and how do you market your brokerage?
I don’t think I do. I market my content. I market my homes. I have bitchin’ physical collateral. Does that count?
Do you have office parties? What are they like?
I have a ton … but probably not what you are thinking of. We use our space to host all kinds of events designed to bring people together as a community. Educational events, mastermind groups, fundraisers, art shows, seasonal events … it is part of our mission. We connect people, in real time.
Describe your brokerage’s digital presence.
I have an amazing website, but I am developing another one for the brokerage. It is WordPress-based. I am very active on Facebook — I spend effort building local groups to help connect people in the community. I also use Instagram and Pinterest because they are fun.
What would you say are the biggest advantages to operating as an independent brokerage versus as a franchised firm? What are the biggest challenges?
All decisions are based on my local needs and designed for maximum value to my agents and clients. I can be flexible with technology, seeking the best solutions and implementing on a make sense schedule. Instead of paying a franchise fee, I can spend that money on tools with a direct benefit to my bottom line.
The challenges that most people would cite are not challenges for me. I am a serial learning and creator. I think I can find better tools, workflows and develop better collateral than any centralized government. I would do it if I were with a franchise, so why pay them to do stuff I am going to reject?
What sets your brokerage apart? What makes you different from your competition?
I want to change the real estate industry. I want to build a firm based on delivering true and meaningful value to the consumer, not on having the most agents, largest number of transactions or most luxury brand. I want to show the consumer that an entire firm built from the ground up to serve their needs has great value — and that value leads to business, which will lead to more agents and more business. It is 180 degrees different from the models I have observed and it is unsexy, non-sound bite-y and not glamorous.
What’s the biggest business improvement you made last year? What’s the biggest improvement you have planned for this year?
Last year I launched a brand and opened a brick-and-mortar location. This year I launched as an independent brokerage. That’s pretty big right there.
Are you an independent broker who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.