Inman is interviewing independent brokers. Here’s Bryn Kaufman, Principal Broker at OahuRE.com.
Describe your brokerage’s digital presence.
Our website is the backbone of our business. Being totally reactive and making no outbound calls but yet being the number one team in the state last year means the website is working for us, as is word-of-mouth, as those are the only way we get business.
We are going to start calling the leads who provide their phone number, but that has not started yet. I know we have lost a ton of business by being so passive, so we are changing our ways.
What’s the quirkiest thing about your firm?
We have no office. We are 100-percent virtual, 100-percent paperless, with no full-time employees in the U.S., and up until now we did no outbound calling, we were totally reactive.
Why do you stay independent when there are so many great franchises to join?.
I don’t believe the franchises offer enough value for the money they take. If my team and I felt it would be worth joining a franchise because they would add so much value that the money we made would be more at the end of the year, despite their fees, then we would join.
When did you decide to launch your independent brokerage and why?
May 2013. I wanted to get more exposure to the OahuRE.com brand by using our own yard signs and our logo on the photos. I also wanted to have more control over the team as some team members were also doing transactions with others who worked at the company, so it was not easy sometimes to know I wasn’t getting credit for all leads I provided.
Why did you think it was the right time and the right move for you?
We had a lot of sales and it just seemed like breaking out on our own was overdue.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting your brokerage off the ground?
Biggest challenge was becoming a broker myself because I was not one previously. The rest of the paperwork and transition was fairly easy.
What was the easiest part of getting your brokerage off the ground?
It was pretty easy because it was the same team, just working completely our way.
What’s your approximate agent-to-staff ratio?
Currently we have five agents plus myself and three virtual assistants. Two are part-time, so it is like having two full-time assistants.
Are you part of an independent brokerage network?
Describe your office. Where is it located? What does it look like?
Everyone works from home, very low overhead! Easy commuting.
How do you recruit new agents?
I am not looking for new agents right now. If I am, I use word-of-mouth and Craigslist.
Where and how do you market your brokerage?
Google, Bing, Facebook — we do no print advertising.
Do you have office parties? What are they like?
Yes, escrow has hosted parties for our office, they are held at a restaurant.
What would you say are the biggest advantages to operating as an independent brokerage versus as a franchised firm? What are the biggest challenges?
Less paperwork, meetings, rules and other things that slow us down. Biggest challenge is when there is a legal issue, I can’t offload that to my broker, I have to handle it myself.
What sets your brokerage apart? What makes you different from your competition?
Our website; our five exclusive advantages we offer sellers.
What’s the biggest business improvement you made last year? What’s the biggest improvement you have planned for this year?
We start with Follow Up Boss and Curaytor this year. We will also start doing Facebook advertising soon.
Last year, we started to use Get Response to send out drip emails, although we are now switching to Mailchimp because it works with our Follow Up Boss CRM. Our other big improvement is we are now training an ISA (inside sales agent) to make outbound calls.
Are you an independent broker who’d like to be featured on Inman? Email email@example.com.