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I’ve been fortunate to see The Agency grow from a small group of agents in an office in Beverly Hills to now over 60 offices around the globe. When it comes to building a brokerage from the ground up, it is an exciting opportunity to create a company in alignment with your vision and values.
While the potential is exciting, I’ve learned you have to be strategic every step of the way, especially to maintain profitability, as we’ve done since our founding. As we enter the next decade for our firm, strategic growth while maintaining profitability is at the center of our business model.
With that said, here are five keys to setting yourself up for profitability and being financially responsible.
1. Get clear on your value
Without a clear value proposition, it will be a bumpy road to success. First, you need to understand the competition. What are they doing great? What are they missing? How are they positioning themselves in the marketplace?
Then, figure out what makes your brokerage unique. How is your brokerage setting itself apart? Does your founding team have special expertise?
For The Agency’s founders, we had a huge scope of luxury market knowledge and serving clients as true advisors, so we started there. Our luxury expertise has been the foundation for everything we’ve built, and has led to our tremendous growth with global partners around the world.
As your brokerage grows, continue to focus on the problem you are trying to solve. Be sure to continue to address your brokerage’s positioning and how are you providing solutions for today’s agent. Keep this at the center of your positioning statement and business plan as your brokerage adapts with the industry.
2. Don’t ignore your weaknesses
Along with your brokerage’s breadth of strengths inevitably come some weaknesses, so don’t ignore them. Quite the opposite: put them under a microscope and don’t let them become blind spots. By understanding your weaknesses, you can strategically hire, create systems, find advisors and proactively set yourself up for success. Measurable goals around these areas are key to keeping track of your growth.
3. Determine the public perception of you and your brokerage
I wouldn’t go as far as to say perception is everything, but it is a lot. How you show up to the world — from what the media are saying about you to your key takeaways on the big stage at an industry conference — makes a big difference. Ensuring your company’s messaging and mission are clear, especially when shared with the public, is essential.
We have a stellar, bi-coastal, in-house team including publicists, social media strategists, digital marketers and content producers who masterfully tell our story. It is essential to maintain a positive public image, and having a team of experts to showcase your firm’s initiatives to the world makes all the difference.
4. Be agent-minded
Here’s something I’ve learned over the years: You’re only as strong as your agents. They’re the heart and soul of your company, so make sure you’re treating them as such. While you want to keep actively recruiting and growing your agent team, you also want to be mindful of your retention efforts.
What are you doing to keep the agents you’re already associated with happy, growing and contributing? Think company events, continuing education opportunities and a vibrant culture that makes work a place they want to be.
Every year we host an annual global forum for our agents to network, grow and learn. We try to find every opportunity for our agents to feel nurtured, grow, and take their sales to the next level. Being agent minded is essential to being successful in today’s competitive market.
5. Build a clear and functional service structure
One of the initial steps in devising a thriving brokerage is to decide on your service structure. Yes, you want to offer all the amazing things your agents are asking for, but you have to have the staffing and processes in place to support those initiatives.
Make sure your staff is equipped with the resources they need to get the job done — not just well, but to a quality level that is copacetic with your greater service vision. Don’t bite off more than you can chew just to make people happy. If the work doesn’t meet their expectations then you’ve got a problem.
In building your brokerage, awareness is crucial in all regards. Listen to your team, understand your systems and don’t be afraid to dive deep for fact-finding in areas that need to be finessed.
You hold the vision, and it’s important that you have overarching knowledge of all facets of your brokerage in order to make informed decisions and pivot when needed. And be sure to remain adaptable. Especially in light of the shifting market, it’s important to anticipate changes and be nimble enough to adapt.
Now is a time for brokerages to analyze how they can support agents and reassess existing processes and structures to maximize their ability to weather through changing markets.
Mauricio Umansky is the founder and CEO of The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.