Flexibility and nimbleness are often touted as the top advantages of independent brokerages. All this November at Inman, we’ll explore what indies are doing to meet the moment as the market shifts. And we’ll consider how alternative brokerages are impacting the landscape. It’s Indie Broker and Alternative Brokerage Model Month!

The past couple of years have made many agents feel more or less invincible. For newer agents, hitting the ground running may have been the priority. For veteran agents, splits and caps were probably the only things that mattered.

Now, as the market slows and the economy presents challenges, many agents find themselves brokerage shopping for 2023. This time of year may feel like the right time to plan a change and execute on it. 

For some agents, change is good, and the changes they make now will be positive. For others, changing brokerages won’t get to the root of what’s wrong in their businesses.

I think now is the time that agents should consider switching brokerages if they are going to do so before the beginning of the new year. However, you need to make sure that you set yourself up for success and that you’ve asked yourself some hard questions before you make a change.

Before you start your search

Before you begin looking for a new brokerage home, you need to do the following:

1. Make sure that you’re switching for the right reasons

Are you switching because you’re scared, even though your business is currently doing well? Are you switching because of a personality conflict? Are you switching because you’ve never navigated a down market and you don’t feel supported?

Get a handle on the motivation behind your switch and see if you can address it in some other way.

2. Look at yourself in the mirror before you make a switch

Are you dissatisfied with something in your professional or personal life and looking for a change as a way to avoid dealing with it? Are you insecure about your ability to navigate your career and seeking out the cover of a bigger or more prominent brokerage when you should really be betting on yourself?

Remember, your name is bigger to your sphere of influence than any brokerage or brand; are you staying in touch with your SOI?

3. Find out whether you’re looking for a brokerage to do the work you should be doing for your business

Are you hoping that a big-box brokerage’s name will take the place of the brand-building you should be doing? Are you hoping that a prominent local broker at the helm will keep you from having to push yourself and prioritize your own growth?

4. Have you let the easy market of the past couple of years make you a little lazy?

  • Are you doing the marketing activities that count? 
  • Are you working in the business or on your business?
  • Are you chasing a better commission split because you are selling fewer homes? 
  • Are you being promised cold inbound leads and hoping that will make up the difference in production? 
  • Do you know your numbers, and do you know what caused the increase or decrease? 
  • What could you or should you do differently to increase your production?

5. Remember that word will get out that you’re talking to brokerages, so be discreet

If your current broker is a friend or mentor or if they took a chance on you and helped you launch your business, give them the courtesy of an honest conversation.

6. This is not the time to burn bridges

Remember, you will need to maintain your professional network, and that includes the agents and brokers in your current brokerage. Do your best to stay on good terms with them by leaving in a friendly and professional manner.

During the search 

7. Look at what the new brokerage offers and its differentiators

When you’re evaluating your new brokerage, you’ll want to consider what it offers and what differentiates it from your current brokerage. Have a clear idea of your professional goals, and find out how the brokerage you’re talking with will help you accomplish those goals.

Determine what they offer in terms of each of the following:

  • Are they an independent or big-box brokerage?
  • What kind of support staff do they provide?
  • What kind of tech stack do they provide?
  • What marketing support do they provide?
  • What training do they provide?
  • What does accountability look like in the brokerage? 
  • What is the commission structure, and what additional fees does it charge?

8. Remember, anyone can make promises during recruitment

Find out what kinds of assurances they can offer of long-term support, tech availability and other resources.

As you make the switch

Making the switch is about so much more than signing on the dotted line, paying your fees and ordering new business cards (or the digital equivalent — changing your LinkedIn profile).

Here’s how to make sure your clients and colleagues know where you’re going and what you’re doing next:

9. Take advantage of slower times

As the holidays come in, you typically have fewer transactions. That gives you time to get organized and ready for your upcoming move. Buy some coffees, have some conversations, and make sure you’re ready to hit the spring market hard when it comes around.

10. Get all of your marketing dialed in

Plan ahead with new brand elements, marketing collateral, updated social media accounts, and updated contact information on all of the real estate portal profiles.

11. Start letting your clients know what’s going on now

Connect with them through a holiday letter, holiday-themed pop-bys, pie deliveries, grateful letters, a New Year’s letter, a 2022 wrap-up letter and their closing statement (so they’ll have it for tax purposes) delivered in January.

12. Send an announcement letter to your sphere of influence

Make sure people know what you expect to be able to offer through your new brokerage — enhanced marketing, better service, greater reach — so that it feels like a win for them, too.

13. Leverage what the new brokerage has to offer

If it’s tech, use this time to learn that tech, top to bottom. If it’s marketing support, connect with the support staff, and find out how they can help you. Creative copywriting? Mastermind classes? Events? Training? Look into and learn the systems. If it was important enough to make you switch, it’s important enough to get serious about it and get the most out of it.

Switching brokerages is not something to do casually or to take lightly, but when the time is right and when they’re offering something you need, it can be the right call. Do it the right way, and get the most out of the opportunity it provides so that you will have many happy years in your new professional home base.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of DOORA Properties in Southern California. Follow him on Instagram or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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