“The franchise approach gives you the ingredients and recipe you must cook by; we are creating our own ingredients and recipe,” says Dixon.

Jay Dixon is managing partner at GQRE and an Inman contributor.

Why do you stay independent when there are so many great franchises to join?

Staying independent offers us the freedom to create a brand around our approach, beliefs and business acumen. To be a true entrepreneur, you have to believe in your approach and be able to evolve your business model on a daily basis.

The franchise approach gives you the ingredients and recipe you must cook by; we are creating our own ingredients and recipe.

When did you decide to launch your independent brokerage and why?

We decided to launch our independent brokerage in 2014. After the successful sale of another business we started from scratch, we decided to get back to where our passion lies: real estate.

We saw an opportunity to capitalize on the lack of technology and modern brokerages that cater to agents and the consumer. Our ownership group has been extremely successful in the commercial real estate field, and we decided it was time to launch a residential arm of our business, eventually merging the two.

What factored into that decision?

To be plain and simple — guts! We were very confident in our abilities and talked with many agents and business owners in the area who were yearning for a modern, technology-based brokerage.

Why did you think it was the right time and the right move for you?

We believe it is the right time and right move for us because we know with the improving real estate market and savvy nature of the new age of consumers, we can offer agents a brand they can be proud of and consumers a company that caters to their needs.

How old is your brokerage?

Technically we are 8 months old; however, we have been working on the business model, technology and website for longer than that.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting your brokerage off the ground?

Getting the word out in the community. From agents to clients, we spend a ton of time advertising our brand. We have had nothing but stellar feedback from agents and consumers once they discover us.

What was the easiest part of getting your brokerage off the ground?

Finding agents. We have a foolproof method of finding buyers through multiple media outlets. We just need the agents to work with them!

What’s your approximate agent-to-staff ratio?

Five to one.

Are you part of an independent brokerage network?

No.

What’s the quirkiest thing about your firm?

We like to play pingpong.

A rendering of Jay Dixon's office space.

A rendering of Jay Dixon’s office space.

Describe your office. Where is it located? What does it look like?

We are opening a new, state-of-the-art office on one of the busiest roads in our town. It is an open floor plan concept with high-end Wi-Fi, workstations, couches and high bars. We have a large conference room and offices made of 100 percent glass. It is considered the mix of Google and Starbucks of real estate.

How many agents and offices do you have?

We currently have 10, but we are actively recruiting more. We can easily support 45-50, which is our goal by the end of the year.

How do you recruit new agents?

At local gatherings, online through social media, and word of mouth. Each of our current agents is successful, so the word is starting to spread quickly.

Where and how do you market your brokerage?

Online is where we spend our time. Print advertising has a shelf life of 24 hours at best; we like to focus online where the shelf life is endless.

Do you have office parties? What are they like?

In our new office we will have monthly pingpong tournaments, a monthly lunch and learn, and also a monthly happy hour at a local restaurant.

We are all about culture and developing the most desirable place to work in the Southeast.

Describe your brokerage’s digital presence.

Our digital presence is our No. 1 medium to reaching out to potential clients and agents. I personally work on our website everyday, and sometimes in the middle of the night (I have a newborn). We are active on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

What would you say are the biggest advantages to operating as an independent brokerage versus as a franchised firm? What are the biggest challenges?

The freedom to change and develop something from the ground up is my favorite part about building this business. My wife and I have built a few successful business from scratch and enjoy the grind.

Our business partner in the brokerage has built somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 successful businesses throughout the country, including two real estate brokerages, so we all enjoy freedom of thought, approach and continual change as we adapt to the latest trends and technology.

What sets your brokerage apart? What makes you different from your competition?

First off, our culture is the No. 1 asset in our brokerage. We are developing the most agent-centered culture of its kind — from our open office plan to our ability to do everything from customer management and transaction management online. We encourage the use of smartphones, tablets and laptops.

What’s the biggest business improvement you made last year? What’s the biggest improvement you have planned for this year?

We just launched the business, so perhaps the biggest business improvement has been our forward-thinking team of agents, marketing and support staff who are always thinking outside the box. We are collaborative in nature and our office layout encourages collaboration. We try to look to other markets and internationally to continually find out what others are doing to be successful.

Are you an independent broker who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.

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