Considering changing CRE brokerage companies? Yikes, that’s a scary thought!

Your brokerage’s name versus your success

On one hand, the brand recognition value of a larger commercial real estate firm, especially if a global or national player, cannot be understated. You have immediate recognition as a real estate professional when you use the name of the recognized brokerage firm, whereas the boutique brokerage name most likely will not open doors for you.

Of course, individual effort and accountability factors are often overshadowed when tied to the name brand. One might argue that the advantage of agility and quick decision-making is on the side of the boutique entrepreneurial brokerage owner and the reputation he or she has built.

In most cases a real estate salesperson starts a career at a brokerage firm. Some have more structured training programs than others, but usually some form of shadowing or working with more veteran agents takes place. The continued longevity and success of a number of training/coaching companies catering to CRE agents indicates that training is not available in most companies. In Florida you must be a sales associate for a minimum of two years prior to being eligible to take the “real estate broker course.” Upon successful completion, you become a registered broker and can open your own firm and become the “Broker of Record” even though you may have NEVER received any training for the company you are about to open. Now, that is really scary.

In real estate, your expertise is likely learned under the wing of someone that walked the same path. At some point many aspire to own their own brokerage operation while for others, it simply is not on their list of aspirations. A number of agents I hired in 1990 when I was a manager at a South Florida national brokerage company are still at the same firm 25 years later. They may be locked into a 50/50 split and strangled by corporate policy, but they are happy and secure with a leading firm. And I respect them for their loyalty and longevity.

Earned, not given

Remember, your success is earned — it’s not handed to you.

Client assignments through the brokerage office manager are not arriving on your desk fast and furiously. You must network, meet and greet, market and push your individual identity to become a reputable broker. Every contact is a potential client, if not today or tomorrow, then maybe years down the road. Referrals are based on your initiative and connectedness, not by virtue of the company name on the door.

Often real estate salespeople shift from one brokerage firm to another because of lack of sales training, nonexistent promises of support, challenging times and unfulfilled promises of leads being provided. Maintaining your sales volume despite changing brokerages is a good indication that it’s your sales ability and work ethic that provide the foundation for your success, not your brokerage firm’s name.

You understand what works and is comfortable for you. Try to find the right environment and culture to ensure that what you need to continue your success is available to you.

Brokerage alternatives

As you seek out alternatives to your current brokerage firm, you might ask yourself:

  1. Will the promises of the new brokerage firm be fulfilled?
  2. Can I build my reputation under this brokerage name?
  3. Is the firm a recognizable brand (I suggest looking at the Top 10 most recognized brands to see which focus and culture might fit for you)

Which leads us to the question about your real estate career: Do you see yourself still selling real estate in 5, 10, 20 or even 30 years?

Shifting from brokerage to brokerage firm seeking long-term sales success might not be in your best interest.

At some point in their career, every real estate professional must answer the question (if not to others, then certainly to themselves): “Do I have what it takes to own a real estate brokerage or at least be in a more entrepreneurial environment where I control MY OWN destiny?”

It’s easy to find the answer, just look at your past production. Has the firm REALLY earned their share or are you the one keeping their doors open?

What environment is best suited for you? Corporate, entrepreneurial, independently owned & operated affiliated with a ranked brand? Small local boutique?

Companies are like clubs or any other group – as you interview them and perform your due diligence, you will know when it “simply feels right.”

The benefits of each type of scenario are varied but almost always start with three questions:

  1. How comfortable will I be conforming to the corporate structure of some of the larger global brokerage firms?
  2. How will I succeed if my name and reputation are the sole influencers on my marketing efforts of a boutique brokerage?
  3. What does the affiliated brokerage model offer in terms of a strong brand name, tools and resources that I need to increase my production volume AND possibly growing into a firm of value for ME?

With these answers the undertaking of moving to a different brokerage, or maybe even opening your own brokerage firm, will become crystal clear.

You may very well be starting the journey to become a true entrepreneur by adding “business owner” to your list of real estate achievements.

Ask yourself:

  1. How will the tools, technology, resources and services of the company I’m investigating help me grow my revenues enough to offset the costs and pipeline lag of changing firms?
  2. How many assignments do I need “because of the brand” or from other advisors in the system to pay two or even three times the cost of making the change?
  3. How will being part of a firm that has a Top 10 national ranking get me invited to more opportunities, elevate my business and create enterprise value for my operation beyond what I could do on my own?
  4. MOST IMPORTANT – Is the culture of the firm one that I yearn to be a part of? Is the firm’s reputation one that I want to wear on my shoulders? Are the ethics and morals of the company ones that I espouse?

If I can be of assistance in your decision making, even if only as a sounding board, contact me for a confidential conversation. I may not have the answer for you but you can tap into my 35+ years of experience of consulting and leadership in the CRE brokerage industry. Been there, done that, as they say.

Jerry Anderson, CCIM, Executive Managing Director, SVN Florida

Jerry Anderson, CCIM, Executive Managing Director, SVN Florida

Jerry Anderson, CCIM, Executive Managing Director
SVN Florida Commercial Real Estate Advisors
jerry.anderson@svn.com / 386-547-4968

Jerry Anderson owns the Regional Developer license for SVN International Commercial Real Estate Advisors in the state of Florida and is always on the lookout for 1) independent companies that want to be part of one of the Top 10 companies in the industry WITHOUT giving up their independence and 2) advisors that want to be part of company that has a culture of collaboration and “doing what is right.”