A vibrant culture, unlimited growth opportunities, dynamic leadership, superior support and a sound financial package should all be in place so you can become all you were made to be, says mega team leader Carl Medford.

This article was last updated June 3, 2022.

Moments arrive in life when it is time to change. Whether it’s your deodorant, your home, a relationship or your brokerage, everyone encounters key moments in their life when change is needed. The question is, however, “What are valid reasons for switching?”

An agent in our area who operated the No. 1 team in a large, regional brokerage approached their office manager and stated, “We want to continue to grow — I’d like to add a few more team members and want to discuss potential terms with you.” Without batting an eyelash, the manager responded, “Why do you want to grow? You are already the No. 1 team in our company.”

Wrong answer. The manager then went on to outline a structure that would inhibit growth instead of paving the way for further expansion. “If you continue to grow,” they explained to the team leader, “You will be competing with our brokerage.”

Leaving the manager, the agent headed back to their office and stated to those who were present, “We’re out of here. I don’t know where we will go as of yet, but we can no longer stay here.”

In that situation, the need for change was obvious. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. How do you know when it’s time to change brokerages? Here are our top five indicators.

1. Culture

Nothing is more important in a business than the correct culture. A quick way to envision culture is bacteria: the correct bacteria can produce some awesome cheese. The wrong bacteria can kill. Indeed.com defines business culture as “the set of behavioral and procedural norms that can be observed within a company — which includes its policies, procedures, ethics, values, employee behaviors and attitudes, goals and code of conduct. It also makes up the ‘personality’ of a company and defines the work environment.”

A healthy business culture allows diversity, freedom and promotes opportunities for growth. Unfortunately, some brokerages have a culture that could best be described as “toxic” — a heavy-handed, top-down environment that stymies creativity, limits opportunity and views the company’s purpose as a way to enhance the broker’s life instead of existing to provide opportunity for the agents.

Brokerages can also have a business culture that is not conducive to your modus operandi: you may be a laid-back individual who focuses on personal relationships in a brokerage that focuses on intensity and production — one that puts results above relationships. If your personality and business style does not match the overall style of the office, frustration will ensue for all parties concerned.

If you feel threatened, abused, stymied, inhibited or are stylistically mismatched in your current brokerage, it is probably time to look for a better cultural fit.

2. Growth

Like a baby learning to walk, nurture, encouragement and training are required to keep things going in the right direction. While some brokerages are great at providing training for beginners, agents and teams that have been in production for a while need training on an entirely different level.

Some agents and teams solve the problem by going to outside sources such as The Buffini Company or Tom Ferry’s coaching organization. Other brokerages provide access to coaching within the organization, such as Keller Williams Maps Coaching.

One important consideration is that larger brokerages often provide comprehensive training opportunities inside the organization that are, in many cases, either free or at a lower cost than going to an outside, independent group.

Jim Rohn, a well-known motivational speaker, once stated that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. While some may disagree with this statement, the truth is you need to surround yourself with people who will inspire you to greater heights.

If you want to build and lead a successful team, it is helpful to either be on a team or be in an office that has a few successful teams you can emulate. If you are the top producer in your brokerage yet want to keep growing, you might want to seek out organizations that have no upward limits.

Your target may be even higher — some brokerages provide leadership opportunities and some even provide a pathway to ownership.

If you have reached the point where you can no longer find the type of training, coaching, mentoring or environment you need to grow and develop your business, it could be time to look for a new brokerage that has the requisite opportunities you need to get you to the next level.

3. Leadership

Leadership is everything — a quick look at any business section in a bookstore will reveal an unending number of books designed to help leader wannabees succeed. Whereas inspired leaders can galvanize an organization to continued levels of growth and development, lackluster leaders can bog down their company in a quagmire of mediocrity and toxic leaders can not only destroy any prospects of success, they can also do permanent damage.

While effective leadership skills can be learned, truly inspired and dynamic leaders are rare, so if you have an opportunity to be part of an organization with such a leader, you should consider the leap.

If the leadership in your brokerage does not inspire, motivate and provide the opportunities you need to advance to the next level, you might want to start looking for a brokerage with better leadership.

4. Support

The pandemic has changed everything; this has been very apparent in the real estate brokerage environment. While some brokerages have managed to unite and even galvanize their agents to continued production in the face of extreme limitations, other organizations have left their agents in the proverbial wilderness.

As we are working towards a new norm, brokerages are struggling to find ways to support their agents in the new reality. Some agents are eager to return to their offices while others are quite happy to remain at home.

Many brokerages have dramatically upgraded their communications capabilities by installing video conferencing equipment to facilitate meetings that are simultaneously in-person and virtual. Others are changing office fee structures for those agents who are no longer “in-house” and, with the dramatic decreases in printed handouts, others have removed printing costs and more.

If you feel that you have been left out in the cold to fend for yourself during the pandemic, you might consider locating a brokerage that will be able to provide the type of support you need going forward.

5. Finances

I left this for last because I feel it is the least important reason for a switch. If your brokerage provides the culture, training, leadership and support you need to become a top producer, then your future prospects will be far larger than if you went to another office that simply provided a higher split. As someone famously stated, “Do you want 90 percent of a grape or 50 percent of a watermelon?”

A significant number of agents only focus on the split. In fact, if you search for lists of questions to ask when checking out a brokerage, the first question on most of them deals with splits. In my opinion, this is completely backwards.

While money is important, many brokerages use higher splits as a carrot to entice agents to join. Personally, I have never used money as a reason to relocate — I have instead looked for environments where my team can grow and flourish. I know that if the team is in such an environment, the money will follow.

I would also caution against being allured by promises of “stock options” or other “incentives” — read the fine print very carefully — what might look like a good deal upfront is often a gimmick and is just a rearrangement of a classic split.

Be careful of signing bonuses as well — while some brokerages offer upfront bonuses to switch, they may require that it be paid back out of future production and, in some cases I have seen, agents end up repaying more than the original bonus.

If you are dissatisfied with the splits or financial arrangements in your current brokerage but are happy with the culture, leadership, training and support, consider sitting down with management and negotiating better financial terms. Truth is, you might get better financial terms elsewhere, but may lose out on the things that will actually provide the environment you need to grow.

A vibrant culture, unlimited growth opportunities, dynamic leadership, superior support and a sound financial package should all be in place so you can become all you were made to be. Missing one or two? It might be time to consider a switch.

Carl Medford is CEO of The Medford Team.

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