SAN FRANCISCO — A one-size brokerage model does not fit every agent’s needs. That was a key message from Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens, at ICSF Broker Connect this week. Three different style brokerages — 100-percent-commission brokerage, Signature; progressive traditional agency, Coldwell Banker King; and tech startup, Door — faced off to talk about how they work together to address this issue not despite their differences, but because of them.
- If everyone agrees that the market needs different models, brokerages can be more collaborative about passing on agents who don't suit their formula.
A one-size brokerage model does not fit every agent’s needs. That was a key message from Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens, at ICSF Broker Connect this week.
Three different style brokerages — 100-percent-commission brokerage, Signature; progressive traditional agency, Coldwell Banker King; and tech startup, Door — faced off to talk about how they work together to address this issue, not despite their differences, but because of them.
Collaborating with competition
Each brokerage has its own identity, which makes it easy to acknowledge that it is a team of specialists who could happily pass agents along if those agents don’t suit the culture of the brokerage.
“It can be conceivable to have a collaborative relationship with so-called competitors,” said Chris.
It’s about knowing your market and being confident in the structure of your business model.
Bruce MacFadyen, COO of Door — a tech-enabled Dallas company that generates all its agents’ leads — hired some good agents who couldn’t create their own leads, and the specialist approach is working, he said.
Consumers are having a better experience and agents are achieving higher production, selling four to six homes a month in the company’s first 18 months.
“The last two months it has been interesting how many agents reached out to us — some top agents who can’t create their own leads,” he said. “And when I understand the person I am talking to is great at creating leads, I send them to a traditional brokerage, ” he said.
That’s where collaboration kicks in.
Signature’s co-founder, Brandon Roberts added: “We need each other. We need options because no one size fits all. I think it’s awesome for Bruce to say if the agents don’t fit the model they need to go. If more companies did that, they’d be better off.”
Terri King, president of Asheville, North Carolina-based Coldwell Banker King, said it was important to take the time when recruiting agents to ask what they are trying to accomplish. Once you have the answer, the next important question should be: “Can my business model help you get there?”
It’s about knowing your culture, said Roberts, and that starts from the leadership down: “The leadership have to buy into the culture and hire to that culture,” he said.
Changing a brokerage model
So how do you change the model of an existing business? This is tough, the panel concluded.
“Don’t start the conversation with the leadership team and agents unless you are sold on where you want to go,” advised King. “Then go all the way and be committed to it.”
Starting with something from scratch can be easier, added MacFadyen. It’s very hard to make a shift — sometimes you just have to “rip the Band-Aid off,” he said.
“This might mean walking away from clients,” MacFayden said. “Don’t let the installed base hold you back. Clients and agents have expectations. It’s very hard to shift a strategy on the fly. You can’t tweak this and that.”
“You have to make sure that to change as a leader, you don’t do things way they are always done,” Roberts chimed in. “Don’t buy into what agents say — those people may not be there in the end. For the good of the organization, make sure you are dealing with good people who buy into it and act on it.”
Don’t be afraid to specialize when coming up with a new model, said MacFadyen. “Be known for something rather than being too general. There should be more specialization from an agency perspective.”
“What part of the market are you most successful in? Do as well as you can, and be more memorable rather than being an agency like everyone else.”