Technology is essential for any broker-owner — but so is achieving buy-in from agents. Two experts discuss the topic at Inman Connect.

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Broker-owners can scratch and claw to find and retain top agents, but they can’t be all things to all people.

Instead, brokerages get more bang for their buck by focusing on the key areas where they add value to an agent’s experience, according to two top industry experts at Inman Connect Las Vegas.

“When we think about our industry today, we can’t be generalists anymore,” said Sherry Chris, president and CEO of the Realogy’s expansion brands portfolio. “We have to define our value proposition.”

Sherry Chris

Sherry Chris

This discussion of some of the top issues facing broker-owners in this market came during an Inman Connect discussion Tuesday between Chris and Anthony Lamacchia, CEO of Lamacchia Realty.

The brokerage model can get a bad rap, Lamacchia said, but he still believes brokerages that focus on the right things — and that do those things well — offer substantial value to agents.

“The brokerage business is alive and well, and it’s a good business,” Lamacchia said. “And if you’re defining your value … they’re going to stay with you, and they’re going to be willing to give a larger piece of their commission to your brokerage.”

One way brokerages can do this is by ensuring that the technology systems they invest in are not only useful to agents, but also in active use, Chris said.

“You can have amazing tools, [but] if you only have 15 percent adoption in your companies, agents can go elsewhere and look for the next shiny object,” she said.

Anthony Lamacchia

Training agents has been a key factor in technology buy-in at Lamacchia’s company, he said. It’s sometimes tough to get high-performing agents to take the time to train in a new system, especially during a busy time of year, so Lamacchia’s company schedules multiple training sessions during the down season. This approach has increased agents’ usage of new systems, and led to more buy-in, he said.

When done right and rolled out effectively, a brokerage’s services should take time-consuming tasks off of agents’ plates, freeing them up to assist more transactions, he said. 

In today’s market, broker-owners may not feel the tug of competition quite as much as usual, Lamacchia said. But if broker-owners aren’t competing for the top talent now, they won’t be well positioned when the market shifts to a more balanced equilibrium between buyers and sellers in the future, he said.

“When that happens and we suddenly have more sellers than buyers, we have to be ready for it,” Lamacchia said. “I hope people are thinking a little further down the line.”

Chris said broker-owners who think big and don’t follow in others’ footsteps stand to benefit from changes in the market, rather than merely keeping up with them.

“We’re good at debating the future of what our industry is going to be,” Chris said. “Meanwhile, others are out there creating the future.”

Email Daniel Houston

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