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Walt Tamulinas is halfway through his exit strategy.
Tamulinas is the president and CEO of ERA Southern California Real Estate. But during a session at Inman Connect Wednesday dubbed “Indie Exit Strategies: What Are Your Options?” Tamulinas explained how he plans to eventually step away from the company.
“A six-year plan is a good plan for doing a phase out,” he said. “And there are three phases over a six year period.”
In Tamulinas case, that six-year plan has involved winding down his own involvement in his company at the same time his own adult children have stepped into leadership positions. So, he said the first two years of his exit plan involved mentoring and trying to build the confidence of the new leaders. The second phase — which Tamulinas is current in right now — involves focusing more on big picture work and working fewer hours. And the final two-year phase will see Tamulinas move into a more “consultative” role. Eventually, he hopes his kids will buy him out, and he’ll set aside the money from the sale for grandchildren and other legacy uses.
The point that Tamulinas was making is that stepping away from a company can be both a lengthy process, as well as one that requires intense planning. And while his particular exit strategy involves family — he raised his kids in the real estate industry and described them Wednesday as “my most beloved employees” — the same lessons apply for those who might be looking to bow out in other ways.
“Try to find someone inside your company that can take it over,” Tamulinas advised other brokers who may not have family available to assume control of their firms. He went on to note that good candidates to take over can include key employees or successful agents within the brokerage.
Successful exits also involve planning ways to make sure that the company being passed along has value. He recommended brokers try to own their own buildings, for example, which is “where the real value comes in,” and to look for opportunities to grow.
“The way you build value is through mergers and acquisitions,” Tamulinas added.
Tamulinas ultimately said he doesn’t think he’ll ever fully depart his company, noting that he’ll always be “a phone call away” to help out with whoever ends up owning his brokerage. But he also recalled how his son is now 40 and consequently spent decades gradually easing into a career managing a brokerage.
That’s not a luxury everyone has, but it does emphasize the long process involved in exiting a real estate company.
“I don’t think,” Tamulinas said, “you can start too early.”