Boutique is very much a feeling rather than a size, defined by things like high-touch service, impeccable marketing and a superior product. Here’s what to look for if you want to hang your license with a boutique brand.
Are you receiving Inman’s Agent Edge? Make sure you’re subscribed here.
Choosing to align with a boutique real estate brokerage has many advantages for agents seeking to hone their talents and skills in a collaborative and intimate environment.
Boutique is very much a feeling rather than a size, and its advantages including better customer service, quality of product and a high-touch environment are just some of the many reasons why people prefer boutique experiences.
Much like boutique brands you encounter in your local city, boutique real estate firms have the unique opportunity to focus on quality over quantity and develop a niche specialty. Some boutique brokerages are known for luxury marketing, others for their innovative technology, while some are laser-focused on offering exceptional customer service.
Here are some of the things you should look for in a boutique brokerage as an agent.
The experience offered to agents and their clients is much easier to control and customize on a smaller more localized scale, which is why boutique real estate firms typically do it best.
Dig in and really understand the support offered to you as an agent, including asking about support staff-to-agent ratios, what kind of productivity tools are provided to staff to make them efficient in assisting you, and what access as an agent do you have to these services.
For example, at The Agency, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality service to our agents and clients while retaining our high-touch boutique service culture by partnering with local operators and providing a proven system that consistently works across all of our markets, creating a bespoke experience at every touchpoint for both our clients and our agents.
Be sure to know exactly what any potential boutique brokerage offers.
A boutique brokerage should be centered around its people and their shared vision. To get a sense of a brokerage’s culture, you should speak to agents who work there and visit the physical office space to see what it communicates about the brand and its principles.
At our brokerage, we come together around the theme of collaboration. It is built not only into our spaces but also into our tech tools, marketing standards, our meeting structures and our communication tools.
Depending on the type of culture that speaks most personally to you, when visiting boutique brokerage offices, see what kind of office space they have and what it communicates.
Are there a few private offices for teams and agents or do they have lots of collaborative space for staff and agents to interact with one another, share ideas and practice ideals? This will give you an indication of the type of culture that is cultivated there.
Tools and training
It is expected that most brokerages offer some suite of technology and other tools to support agents in their business. The key is to understand the brokerage’s tech stack and what you are expected to learn and know. And whatever tools are offered, you want to make sure that your boutique brokerage has the right resources in place to support you in leveraging the tools to their fullest.
Boutique agencies should constantly be evolving their tech offerings inclusive of a robust tech support team, an online university, and a training professional development team, just to name a few.
Marketing, especially luxury marketing, is a key asset that a boutique brokerage should be able to assist you with. When interviewing different boutique brokerages, be sure that you are assessing both tools and resources dedicated to your local market.
Look at the full marketing mix and make sure that they can help you and your properties increase visibility online, in print, on social, at events and through other avenues effectively.
Make sure that any boutique brokerage that you align with has a truly global network so that you can do business not only in your local town but around the world. This allows you to expand your service offering and help your clients find a home anywhere.
Investigate the extent of the relationships and quality of the network fully to make sure that your clients are in good hands.
Everyone wants to belong and feel proud of the organizations that they associate with because the brand we surround ourselves with is a reflection of our own identity. A well-respected brand should help you get your foot in more doors and help legitimize you and differentiate you once you get to the table.
Although boutique brokerages by definition tend to have fewer resources available to them compared to larger brokerage brands, all should be able to offer all or most of the above. The key is to find a brokerage that offers something of value to you, including tools based on areas of expertise and your needs.
Be sure to understand your strengths and weaknesses and identify the right partner that not only complements your skillset but resonates with your paradigm on how you look at your business and what is most important to you and your clients.
Rainy Hake Austin is the president of The Agency in Los Angeles, California. Connect with her on Instagram.