Mark Butterfield got his real estate license in college because of his family’s connection and interest in the business. Shortly after he started in the business, he realized his true interest lay in owning his own brokerage — not wanting to be solely a real estate agent forever.

He ended up joining RE/MAX in 1990 and bought his first franchise by 1992. Butterfield credits his choice to enter a franchise rather than a boutique to his success. His brokerage now has about 100 agents, which he says gives him leverage. It did $565 million in sales in the past year.

Physical space and company culture

Butterfield attracts clients by finding office spaces in areas that make the most sense for clients, whether they lease or buy.

“Everything in it has got to be up-to-speed, first-class, nothing broken,” he said. Butterfield changes the office equipment in each of his three offices every three years to make a favorable impression on clients.

He said updating the office is investing in the business, which employees will notice and copy. This also creates a culture where employees want not only to come to work but also stay loyal to the brokerage.

Merging with top-producing agents

The culture and physical space can help you greatly in recruiting top producers, but Butterfield believes a good fit between brokerages is the most important factor. A few months ago, he merged his franchise with another brokerage that was doing 140 transactions a year.

It took a few years to make a deal and, then a few months to get to a point where the newly blended team was running smoothly. They’ve grown together now, and the other former owner currently acts as a role model around the office, according to Butterfield.

You also need to keep in mind your reputation when recruiting. If someone does not have the same values as your company, he or she could negatively impact your own reputation. Your reputation matters more than numbers coming in.

Your office space and employees are your most important assets in business. Use Butterfield’s tips to keep your own business running smoothly.

Stay tuned for part 2 with Mark Butterfield next Friday.

Chris Haddon is an entrepreneur based in Washington, D.C., a partner at Hard Money Bankers and a co-founder of

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