Although there are always external factors that threaten the success of an indie brokerage, some of the worst problems are self-inflicted. Doora broker Troy Palmquist shares ideas for overcoming them.
One thing that most real estate agents and brokers have in common is a pervading sense of doom and gloom. There’s always a new technology, new trend or new economic reality that makes real estate professionals squirm. Multiply that exponentially, and you’ll get a hint of the anxiety indie brokers experience.
Aside from the normal levels of angst, there are a number of realities that are currently working to undermine the success of indie brokers. Although some of them are external, others are self-inflicted. While some are alarming, all are ultimately manageable.
Competing against companies that don’t need to turn a profit
The recruiting tactics of offering huge signing bonuses and throwing money around to lure agents away is a big threat to indie brokerages. In some markets, your same-brand corporate competitor may have seemingly limitless resources. For other indies, the competition is against big-box companies that can buy not only talent but also market share through aggressive advertising.
For indie brokers, the answer is always going to go back to consistent and effective outreach to the sphere of influence with a compelling brand message that is conveyed by everyone in your brokerage.
Brand ambassadorship is job one for your whole company, which means that you can no longer afford to leave your agents hanging with insufficient marketing collateral or an ill-defined brand profile.
The limited access to a global network of inventory and buyers
Depending on your market and your average price point, you may be having to appeal far beyond your market to find the right buyers for your listings and the right listings for your local buyers. This is especially true if you’re a boutique brokerage specializing in luxury, investment, second-home or resort properties.
For my brokerage Doora, aligning with Side has been invaluable in helping us reach the buyers and professionals we need to properly serve our Southern California clients. We are able to retain our autonomy and individuality while taking advantage of the networking opportunities and tech capabilities Side offers.
If you choose not to align, you’ll need to tap into some type of professional network or referral source to create this type of synergy.
Satisfaction and complacency among indie brokers
Being an indie means you need to be nimble, informed and able to adapt; if indie leaders aren’t paying attention and adjusting to the changing industry landscape, they will be in trouble.
There are too many people in the industry who are satisfied with the status quo and convinced that they will never have to make significant changes to the way they work. More and more, this strategy will be a losing proposition, both from a sales and recruitment perspective.
Widespread adoption of new virtual models
Brokerages that live in the virtual space have the advantage of reduced overhead, faster startup, and more flexibility in nearly every aspect of their business. While we maintain a significant brick-and-mortar presence, our partnership with Side offers us significant additional leverage.
Here too, you have to figure out what it is you are looking for and what you’re lacking in your operational infrastructure. When doing this work, it’s important to think past what you need right now to the potential that a partnership or collaboration can offer in the future in terms of staffing, marketing and revenue generation.
Limited and inadequate technology
Many indie brokerages have very little technology and the tech they have is outdated. Often, brokers think of these as capital expenditures when, in reality, they should be thought of as consistent, ongoing expenses.
Technology is always changing, and if you’re not keeping up with it — and keeping your agents trained up so that they’re optimizing that technology — you’re throwing your money away.
If you align yourself correctly, either by working with a behind-the-curtain brokerage brand or by aligning with a network of affiliated indie brokers, there’s no reason that the challenges ahead will be more serious than those that the franchise brokerages will endure.
In fact, because the savviest and most agile brokers and agents choose indie brokerages, the big brokerages have more to worry about.