It’s never been a more interesting or exacting time to be an indie broker. In November, Inman celebrates the indie by narrowing in on what growth tactics are working best and what tech is emerging that offers the best competitive advantage.
The draw of a big name brand brokerage can be appealing to many real estate agents because of the assumption that it represents security or a wealth of resources.
For this reason, indie brokers may find it more challenging to easily attract agents when bigger franchises are competing for their attention. So, how can indies woo the best talent?
The indie brokers Inman spoke with said it has a lot to do with providing good training and individualized support to agents, maintaining active involvement in the local community, and more.
Above all, be a supportive, personable broker
“I think recruiting for us is easy because it’s a personal game,” Erik Hatch, broker/owner of Hatch Realty in Fargo, North Dakota, told Inman.
Hatch said, in his market at least, most new agents don’t really distinguish between a large brokerage and an indie, in terms of the scope of the business and how it operates. Because real estate agents in his market associate Hatch Realty as a local brand run by people in the community, it helps give him a leg up on the competition.
“Because we’re hiring in our local market and we’re hiring local people, we actually have a better chance at winning against those brokerages, I think,” Hatch said. “What we’re bringing in terms of support and marketing and leverage is at a much more potent punch because our brand is solely personal.”
Rebecca Jones-Egloff, agent/owner of Denver Dwellings Co. said creating personal connections at the previous big box brokerage she worked for helped her recruit those agents away when she started her own brokerage. Now, offering those same agents her support — whenever they need it — helps them stay with her brokerage.
“I think the biggest thing that keeps my agents is just being a managing broker that’s super accessible,” Jones-Egloff told Inman. “They’ll call me at 8:30 at night, ‘Oh my goodness, somebody wants to make an offer, I’m not sure what to do!’ So, picking up the phone, being there to answer complex questions, things like that, are probably a big point.”
Jones-Egloff noted that a broker’s willingness to be available and supportive is a big departure from some other larger franchises where it may be difficult to pin down someone for help when it’s needed.
“I know at the other company we came from, one of the biggest issues was, people would call and they’d try to get an answer and then they’d be sent to a bunch of different people, and they still wouldn’t have the answer to their question,” she explained. “A lot of times in our business, if you need to know something, you need to know it right away.”
Provide agents with targeted, individualized training
“We emphasize a great deal about our one-on-one training,” John Stough, principal broker at Kentucky Select Properties in Louisville, told Inman. “We’re a relatively small company, so we have 90 agents, but we only have one location, so there’s a tremendous amount of camaraderie and participation. New agents pair up with old agents to get them launched, and we’re much more hands-on [than larger franchises].”
Other indie brokers Inman spoke with echoed Stough’s sentiment that agents want access to training specific to their individual needs so that they feel well-equipped to go out into the field. Aaron Rian, operating principal at The Brokerage House in Portland, Oregon, said creating a unique value proposition, with something like excellent agent training, can help set any indie broker apart from franchises.
“What do most brokers want? They want to be trained effectively,” Rian told Inman. “Having a sales training program that really can teach them sales, rather than just basic real estate techniques is important. We’re not a big, 250-agent brokerage, so the thing that we talk to them about is the fact that they’re going to have sales managers that are going to be available to them all the time.”
Coty Thurman, vice president and principal broker at Living Room Realty in Portland, Oregon, told Inman that the brokerage’s training program is one of the primary factors that attracts agents in the area to their business. Agents and brokers that join Living Room Realty are given one-on-one support and business coaching.
Encourage community involvement
Getting involved in the community as a brokerage is a simple way to spread the word about your brand, among both potential new clients and potential new agents.
Stough said Kentucky Select Properties’ support of various local non-profits and participation in the Louisville mayor’s annual day of service, among other charitable events, has helped them earn “Most Generous Small Company in Louisville” by Louisville Business First several years in a row. But, that level of involvement has also helped them gain significant name recognition in the community.
“Our community involvement really does distinguish us, and I think that really resonates with local buyers and sellers, and I think that attracts a lot of agents to us,” Stough said.
Hatch likewise said that investing in the local community has the added benefit of indirectly investing in the brokerage itself.
“We’re intentional on marketing our individuals, and we’re intentional on investing in our community,” Hatch said. “We encourage all our team members to be actively involved in at least one other thing in the community outside of selling homes — that may be [being] active in their church, or a referral group — but we make sure that every person on our team has activated some sort of extra community involvement, and that of course helps with our branding and our recruiting.”
Build your agent pipeline
In addition to his other business practices, Rian said he employs two full-time recruiters who are continually prospecting potential new agents to bring on board. It helps him keep tabs on what kind of talent is out there, and helps him choose only the top fits for the company.
“I have two full-time recruiters that all they do, is they prospect brokers for me on a daily basis,” Rian said. “So, the nice thing about having a pipeline of brokers, just like clients, is that you don’t have to hire everybody. We can be selective about who we bring into the company.”
Thurman said by giving agents more of a say — and more responsibility — in recruiting new staff, it helps ensure they’re bringing on quality team members.
“Great brokers want to be seated at the table with other great brokers,” Thurman told Inman in an email. “We empower our members to take the lead on introducing new agents to Living Room. They protect the reputation of the company and bring us leads based on good experiences.”
Stick to your values
In 2013, Living Room Realty became a Certified B Corp, joining a rank of businesses legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.
This certification, along with the actual values and decisions that back it, help attract talented agents who also want to “strive for greatness” and work with a value-oriented company, Thurman said.
“Living Room is a B-Corp, top employer, that is recognized for green work spaces and diversity inclusion,” she explained. “This allows agents to align their businesses with purpose.”
“Living Room is a values-driven company that attracts values-driven individuals,” she added. “We are not afraid to take a stand or make a statement in alignment with those values.”