Ready to grow your business? Find out how your independent brokerage can compete against the industry’s heavy-hitters with these strategies used by six successful indies.

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When real estate agents are looking for a place to hang their license, they may be inclined to turn to the big-box brokerages in search of well-defined processes, educational opportunities and marketing collateral. How can you offer value as an independent real estate brokerage that competes with these larger franchise options?

The good news is that your indie brokerage can stand toe-to-toe with large corporate options when you effectively communicate the value you provide and connect with the best agents in your area. Here, six indie brokers share what they think are the keys to recruiting in 2022.

Strategy 1: Time your approach

One of the things big-box brokerages do to capture new agents is to offer incentives, often tied to subsequent recruitment or stock prices.

According to Troy Palmquist, founder of The Address and DOORA Properties, staying informed about the ups and downs of these companies could give you insight into how to time your approach to their agents.

By watching stock prices, growth trajectory and other indicators of financial and corporate performance, you’ll know when one of the large franchise brokerages is struggling.

That gives you an opening for a conversation with one or more of their agents who may have found that their recruitment promises aren’t exactly panning out.

Strategy 2: Focus on niche markets

Broker Allison Jaffe of Key Real Estate Services in New Rochelle, New York, built her business as a sole practitioner and certified seniors real estate specialist, developing a specialty in selling senior and estate-owned properties in and around New York City.  

When she took on a new licensee, Linda Mancini, Jaffe was impressed with Mancini’s deep knowledge of Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) housing and regulations. She encouraged Mancini to put that knowledge to work and build a reputation as an HDFC specialist. 

Jaffe says that, contrary to popular belief, a niche can be “anything: a neighborhood, a language, veterans, families with kids who have special needs, pied-à-terres, pretty much anything that impacts a client’s process and choices.”

As a broker-owner, you can offer an established agent the opportunity to become your brokerage’s go-to in their area of expertise or help a new agent start strong by applying their previous knowledge base to real estate.

Your job, then, becomes providing the support and resources new agents need to promote those specialties. Jaffe likens this strategy to assembling an office of agents with diverse superpowers, creating a mighty winning team or brokerage.

Strategy 3: Lead with your unique value proposition

After building the well-regarded San Francisco indie Climb, and now as Founder of HighNote, Mark Choey knows a thing or two about indie growth strategies. He says that indie brokerages “need to lead with culture, camaraderie and teamwork.”

An events-oriented approach may include agent-client end-of-year or kickoff celebrations, along with educational and charitable events spaced throughout the year. These offer a chance for outside agents to meet the team.

“Nothing recruits new agents more than new business that needs to be worked,” said Choey. To that end, he suggests that you grow internal teams and recruit for those teams so that agents can hit the ground running on day one. He also recommends hiring or designating one person to spearhead and lead brokerage recruiting for added focus and consistency.

Palmquist says that sticking to the roots of who you are and maintaining a consistent brand vision helps to keep agents engaged and inspired. This gives agents the opportunity to connect with your brokerage and see how it aligns with their own goals and values.

Hilton Head, South Carolina’s Dino Dinenna of Hilton Head Realty says that proper compensation, good commission rates and referral fees can be powerful differentiators, helping you to stand out from other brokers when paired with flexible benefits.

These may include health insurance, paid vacation and sick leave, or may include customized arrangements negotiated during the interview process.

Strategy 4: Streamline your onboarding

Great messaging needs to be supported by a smooth transition process, says Christopher Brown, co-founder of Next New Homes and Next Real Estate Group. Make it easy for agents to take the next steps and integrate into your brokerage.

“Provide all of the necessary contracting links and documents in an easy-to-understand format and make sure you are available to answer any questions your agents have,” said Brown.

After they are signed, you need to follow up with them, helping them to develop a cohesive business plan and reviewing their progress on a regular basis.

Strategy 5: Optimize your online and social media presence

Broker/owner Seth Williams of Boston’s Reference Real Estate believes that up-to-date digitalization and online platforms are key to recruiting.

“Incorporate a sound SEO strategy with the help of a professional team,” allowing potential brokers and agents to find you first when they’re looking for a new team or brokerage.

Dinenna agrees, saying that before they join you, most agents today will be checking you out online and on social media. Thus, each of these needs to be optimized and properly managed to make the first impression you want with potential recruits.

Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on TwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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