In ancient Greek mythology, Odysseus was the king of Ithaca, and the Sirens were alluring creatures that drew in unknowing sailors with their inviting music, which caused them to crash on the rocky shores of their island.
One fateful night Odysseus’s ship was sailing passed the island where the Sirens lived. He ordered his men to plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast of the ship so he could hear the Sirens’ song but not be able to act on the temptation.
How is Odysseus relevant in real estate?
At one point in time, all real estate agents were new to the business and trying to figure out the best place to hang their license. Unfortunately for some of us, we did not have a crew of people able to tie us to the mast, so we could listen to the large franchise’s promises of large splits and endless leads but not act on the temptation.
We inevitably crashed upon the rocky shores of their company and sank to the bottom of a never-ending sea of agents.
When I started out in the real estate industry, I interviewed with three brokerages; two of them were national franchises, and one was a regional franchise.
The interviews with the two national brokerages went a little something like this: “This is how much business we do. (Every time you use the printer we bill you for it.) This is how much our top producers make (oh, by the way, you need to pay to use your desk each month). Look at the size of your split (ignore the franchise fee).”
Never once did they ask about me, aside from my name.
Now, maybe my standards had been lowered by my first two interviews. But when I made it to the regional company, and they asked me about myself, told me I would have a pretty nice-sized split with a free desk and free printing, and I would only need to compete with hundreds of agents opposed to thousands, I decided to sign on.
Focusing on the wrong things
My thought process at the time was mainly brand recognition. When I thought of real estate, these were the companies that came to mind, so obviously, they were the best opportunities for me to make the most money, right?
I heard the Sirens’ call and crashed into the rocks, descending into a very choppy beginning of my real estate career. I did not understand at the time that even though my brokerage’s per year sales were high, the money they were making per agent was staggeringly low.
I also didn’t understand that because there were so many agents working for the same company, I would be very far down on the company’s priority list.
Time for a change
Alas, time went by, and my career remained stuck. I watched my office lose and hire agents, administrators and even managers like a revolving door.
I finally decided it was time to make a change, but I decided that if I was going to continue in this industry, I was going to try a different approach than when I started.
I decided to interview with a small brokerage of only about 20 agents and immediately felt comfortable talking with them. They right away laid out a training program and set a goal for a certain number of sales within the first three months of being with the agency. My split was higher than my previous brokerage and did not contain a franchise fee.
What I learned by switching
Why had I not thought of talking with a small brokerage before? It couldn’t be doing well because it was not a huge brand name, right?
And then I learned that I would much rather be among 20 quality agents doing $50 million in sales a year than 2,000 agents doing $1 billion in sales a year.
So my fellow Odysseuses (Odyssei?), do yourselves a favor, and listen to the Sirens’ call, but tie yourself to the mast and interview with smaller brokerages as well. Then you will be able to make a better decision about how your kingdom will be built.
Mike Biundo Jr. is a New Hampshire Realtor, who works for Innovative Realty, Innovativerealtyteam.com. You can follow him on Facebook.