Building a brokerage from the ground up is one of the hardest things that a real estate pro can do, especially in this day and age when big-box brokerages with next-level tech and tons of funding are using every tool to pick up stellar agents. Here are five tips for soothing the burn of broker-owner growing pains.

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Building a brokerage from the ground up is one of the hardest things that a person can do in real estate, especially in this day and age when big brokerages are out using every tool (including cash) to pick up agents.

I think it’s especially hard for an agent who is a top producer and is trying to make the switch to full-time broker.

Moving from producing broker to managing agents

Here’s the typical path for a producing broker moving into managing a team of agents:

You grow by a handful of agents, you start collecting some commission checks and realize that you need to grow your team to get more “passive” income.

So you start recruiting, and then you have a full team that you need to handle so you need to recruit more agents to scale back off your own production. But it’s not that easy.

People leave. Agents need help so that they can become top producers. Your splits aren’t enough to make up for your own production so you need to focus on your business while still helping your agents and still continuing to recruit.

It’s tough. I’ve been through it. I’m currently going through it. I’ve made every mistake in the book in the past four years, and now I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

5 tips for getting through the thick of it

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Focus first on your company culture

Make sure that you are cultivating an environment where everyone feels welcome to ask questions and learns from everyone else.

We do this through weekly video “huddle” calls and a once-a-month two-hour meeting where we really bring the fire.

I’ve been lucky enough to build some powerful relationships with top-producing team leaders and brokers throughout the country so I often have them in our monthly meeting sharing their pains in brokerage. My team gets to see that I’m not the only one out there with the same struggles.

2. Build a leadership team

You can’t do this alone. Who is in your organization that has stepped up and is willing to help you train, be a mentor and help you with the structural organization of your brokerage? This is not going to be free.

You’re going to have to give up a piece of some of your commissions or profit share to make sure your leadership team is compensated, but you’re going to find that having a person (or in my case two) who can help with training and helping during deals is going to be essential to growth.

3. Keep it social

Plan happy hours and team-building exercises with your brokerage. We have a happy hour every three weeks at our office.

We used to do a quarterly happy hour at a bar, but that was too infrequent and cost too much, so we started bringing it in-house, and our agents seem to love it.

We also do community involvement activities like providing meals for the homeless. All of this leads to an environment where your agents feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

4. Always be recruiting

You have to be really cool about this. Agents are so tired of being sold to by brokerages, so you need to have a passive plan for recruitment that doesn’t involve asking when they are coming over.

I do this by taking videos from our training and sending them out weekly to a list of agents who I would like to have on our team.

5. Be picky

If you’re really focusing on building the company culture, you’re not going to want to mess that up by bringing an agent in that is bad for company morale.

If you’re interviewing someone and they keep bringing up a lot of baggage from past brokerages, that’s a tell-tell sign of a victim mentality.

You need positive energy. This year, I’ve said no to four people, and it’s always hard to do that when your goal is to grow, but having the wrong people is worse than not having enough people.

And finally, don’t give up. Focus on your agents and their growth, have a servant mentality, and you’re going to achieve your goals.

How do you stay ahead in a changing market? Inman Connect Las Vegas — Featuring 250+ experts from across the industry sharing insight and tactics to navigate threat and seize opportunity in tomorrow’s real estate. Join over 4,000 top producers, brokers and industry leaders to network and discover what’s next, July 23-26 at the Aria Resort. Hurry! Tickets are going fast, register today!

Thinking of bringing your team? There are special onsite perks and discounts when you buy tickets together. Contact us to find out more.


Ryan Rodenbeck is the broker-owner of Spyglass Realty and Investments in Austin. Connect with him on Instagram.

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