Even with a stellar reputation, taking the leap from real estate broker to business owner is no small endeavor. It takes financing, industry tools, vision, and a talented pool of agents. And that’s just for starters.
For some, diving into entrepreneurial waters is what makes starting a brokerage so thrilling. Experimentation fuels the drive. For others, the structure and experience of a franchised brand make the transition easier. Instead of trial and error, proven systems take the guesswork out of how best to grow.
The good news is, there’s no right or wrong answer on how to transition to ownership. It really depends on your strengths, your goals, and how you prefer to spend your workdays. That said, virtually every successful broker-owner possesses a few important assets, including:
Even though agents are technically independent, they’ll be counting on you to inspire, share tools of the trade, and believe in their potential. Bosses give marching orders; leaders help people reach their true potential. Whether it’s leading by example, providing top-notch resources, or just being a source of steady support, be prepared to be your team’s biggest cheerleader. (Your bottom line depends on it.)
Strong organizational skills
From maximizing CRM features to following up with every last lead, organization has always been key to your real estate success. As a broker-owner, you’ll need to stay on top of much more, including finances, marketing initiatives, educational opportunities, and agent activities. While it’s fine to rely on assistants and managers for many of these responsibilities, a bird’s eye view of your business should always be in sharp focus.
An all-important why?
Financial freedom is a wonderful goal –– but it can’t be the only one driving your efforts. As a leader, your heart and soul must be fully in the game. Do you have big ideas for improving the industry? Insights on how to better serve clients? Techniques for elevating the buying and selling process? These are passion-driven goals that can set you and your brokerage apart.
As Simon Sinek has been saying for years: There are two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Inspiration is what resonates with talented, driven people. Moreover, having a genuine “why” will get you through hard times because your vision will be greater than any given setback.
Now, with the right skill set, sound financial footing, and a compelling reason to leap, you’ll still need to decide whether opening an independent brokerage or joining an established franchise is right for you.
Owning an independent brokerage can be liberating. Having complete autonomy means you answer to no one but yourself. You control everything from your brand to your business plan. On the other hand, independence means that success rests entirely in your hands. Assessing new tech, retaining agents, creating marketing campaigns –– it’s all up to you!
This route offers total freedom and control, including the opportunity to do things better than people you’ve worked for. From designing your website to developing agents to managing company finances, you’ll be free to experiment with every aspect of your business.
On the flip side, independent ownership comes with certain challenges, including a lack of support. There may be no one to catch you when you make mistakes, to brainstorm new strategies, or to provide ready-made solutions.
You may also be spread thin, which makes it hard to stay focused on the big picture. From testing software to vetting ad agencies, you’ll be pulled in a million different directions. Without a team of experts experienced in growing a brokerage, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision and limit your view of what’s actually possible.
Worst of all, you may find yourself completing tasks instead of nurturing and growing your team. Working in –– instead of on –– your business is a hard habit to break.
Being Independent with a Support System
Just like independent ownership, franchising comes with pros and cons. While there will always be tradeoffs, franchising doesn’t have to mean “selling out” or losing the traction you’ve made as an independent. It should allow you to benefit from national exposure while strengthening the ties you’ve already established in your local market.
While franchising does mean sharing your brand, for many, this is a benefit. With instant name recognition, tools, marketing power, and a deep well of knowledge, you’ll continue to nurture your sphere of influence while (ideally) expanding it significantly.
As for costs, yes, there are fees and they vary depending on the brand. These figures should be carefully compared with the time and dollar investments required to do it on your own. If structure and systems are more your style, joining a reputable franchise should include:
- Ongoing support. A franchisor’s number-one responsibility is to support your business. Those that supply little more than a logo and website may not be worth the cost. Franchise support should deliver answers to important questions, proven strategies, and help with any challenge you face.Tools and resources. Tested and continually refined, franchisor resources should be robust, highly effective, and market-ready. Taking the guesswork out of major expenses like your CRM and marketing materials can amount to significant cost savings over time.Shared expertise. Instead of competition from within, a smart franchise pools the best intellectual discoveries from diverse markets. This continual exchange of ideas drives progress and minimizes wasteful efforts.Built-in lead generation. Along with shared knowledge, a franchise is a system of shared referrals. From local listings to national relocation opportunities, systemwide referrals can continually fuel your pipeline.
Despite the support, some real estate brokers are uncomfortable with franchise fees, certain restrictions, and the responsibilities required. From adhering to brand guidelines to attending corporate conferences, franchising requires buy-in.
You’ll be expected to train agents, manage finances, and use technology in specific ways. Although these methods should be proven effective, this can feel stifling to someone who prefers to experiment and take risks.
The Weichert Way to ownership
For many ambitious brokers, heading up a Weichert franchise has been the perfect fit. Conceived by an independent real estate broker, the Weichert system was designed to work for brokers in diverse markets through changing economic conditions. Today, our suite of tools and resources has been used by hundreds of brokers nationwide.
If you’re exploring franchise brands, you’ll notice that operating models vary greatly. Some offer use of branded materials, but leave daily operations up to you. The Weichert approach is quite different. We teach brokers how to incorporate our entire system, including all aspects of running a modern brokerage from lead-gen technology to long-term financial planning.
Although we’re systems-based, we’re not one-size-fits-all. All Weichert affiliates have a regional director and service manager to ensure they’re attuned to local market needs. With the most sophisticated lead generation platform in the industry, our formula for growth combines robust marketing tools, customized coaching, and a proprietary CRM that fosters our complete lead lifecycle methodology.
The decision to open a business, no matter the industry, is monumental. If you’d like to discuss your challenges and goals with us, we’re always happy to chat. Reach out anytime to see what we’re all about.
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