Five years ago, Jaime Hensley came to a crossroads.
Hensley said Tuesday during a panel at Inman Connect Las Vegas that she was running a Texas brokerage at the time, but when her partner decided to retire she began looking for new brands to work with. Ultimately, she settled on ERA, and that decision has proven to be exceedingly profitable: the size of Hensley’s brokerage has doubled since then, and she now owns a title company to boot.
“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” Hensley, who today is the president of American Real Estate ERA Powered, concluded. “I wouldn’t have a title company today had I not affiliated.”
Hensley was part of a panel of real estate leaders who all touted the benefits of joining franchises. Such companies obviously have plenty of name recognition, but Hensley said that in her case she didn’t actually realize all of the benefits that they offer until she joined ERA, which is a part of industry giant Realogy.
“I didn’t really know what I didn’t know,” she said. “A lot of agents that I started having conversations with would have never come to me as an independent.”
Charis Moreno, a Los Angeles-based vice president of sales at NextHome, compared working with a major brand to a marriage. Sometimes things are really good, in other words, and sometimes it’s a struggle.
But she also told the packed room Tuesday that affiliating can provide access to more resources. Larger companies can also leverage their size to gain advantages in the market. And, Moreno added, when a real estate professional finds the right brand, things just click.
“It gives a sense of belonging,” she said. “You have a little more confidence.”
Greg Fox, the owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Alliance in Kansas, described a similar feeling. He said during the panel Tuesday that he has experience with multiple franchises, but when he finally joined Better Homes and Gardens “it truly became a partnership rather than a dictatorship.”
For agents and brokers looking to chart a similar course and find the right franchise for them, Fox advised looking for a company that can plug whatever “holes” a brokerage might already have.
“There’s no reason to partner up with somebody who mimics everything you do,” he explained.
Though all the panelists stressed that affiliating was the right decision in their specific cases, they also said that the benefits have ultimately been significant for them.
“The value proposition just increased immensely for us,” Hensley concluded. “It’s a big decision but immediately I knew it was the best decision for me.”