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Its All About the Broker!

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I know, I know

Before we even get into this post, I know that my observation is not an absolute. I am trying to pre-empt the inevitable comment “This isn’t true for my company” that comes across every time someone shares an observation. So, for all of you who live in a never-never land, you can stop reading IF you think that your broker has nothing to do with how successful you are or how you’re regarded as a professional.

How does Supernanny relate to your Broker?

Jo Frost is THE Supernanny on television. For those who have watched the show even once, you know that the show starts off with a pack of unruly, rambunctious, annoying and disobedient children. Luckily for all of us, within 45 minutes Supernanny or one of the “supermodels” from Nanny 911 will come in and fix this family for life. They maintain their white-picket fence and live happily ever after. What we actually see is that (wait for it….) if the PARENTS are engaging, involved, disciplined, and well… “parents” the children’s behavior changes and they begin to become more socially acceptable and tolerable.

I would love to do a TV show on HGTV called “SuperBroker” wherein a proven-consultant comes into a typical (yes, I said typical) brokerage and puts the house in order.

Notorious Brokers

On July 1, 2008 Virginia required all agents, with Broker’s licenses, to take an additional 8 hours of continuing education directed toward Brokerage Management. The whining across the state was endless – as if being required to be more educated, than those agents you manage, were a punishment.

However, the Brokers have rallied and starting taking advantage of the training. I’ve had the opportunity to teach a variety of topics all over the state, for brokers. In teaching those classes I’ve found a large number of great Brokers out there, however I’ve found a few who just don’t seem to get “it”. Especially when I teach trends and technology classes.

I’ve also been reviewing trends in Ethic complaints and Real Estate Board Actions. It seems that it’s a lot of the same Brokerages getting more than their fair share of “attention”. Over and over we see a lot of the same names. There are those Brokerage names that seem to be heard over and over again when agents make comments in training classes and around the cooler. Squared-away agents tend to cringe when they hear an offer is coming from one of these Brokerages.

Do you work for cringe inspiring Broker!?!? Would you know if you did?

Broker Culture

I managed for two years, but it was enough to know what I was good at and what I wasn’t. I was not tolerant with whining or apathy, but I would dedicate tons of effort into agents who wanted to learn and succeed. I wasn’t a motivator, per se. If making a six figure income wasn’t enough motivation for you – I was happy to send your license back to the Real Estate board. Luckily, my friend and company owner was a fantastic motivator and we made a good team. Knowing this information helped us create a brokerage culture where the agents clearly knew who to go to when they needed a “swift kick” or a “new technique”.

Often in these classes, I hear a lot of resistance to change. I don’t think that resistance is cultural, as much as a lack of time. Therefore we encourage agents to have people in their offices that are particularly good at new techniques and use them to supplement where the broker maybe lacking.

Recently I had a Broker, in a class, ask why I thought Blogging was imporant. She commented that failed to see attorneys, OBGYN, or other professionals blogging about their practices.  Uh, really!?!?  would you WANT to read about an OBGYN’s practices!?!  As for doctors and attorneys in general – we have to stop comparing our industry to others.  It’s just different.  A Broker who tries to run their company like a Doctor’s office is going to fail.  But this is one more sign to support my observation.  Brokers need to know the world of Real Estate and how it works.

Not all agents are cut out to be 2.0 agents or 1.0 agents.  However they should all strive be 1.5 agents. That means the Brokers need to know enough of what has failed or succeeded in the past, as well as a healthy dose of  vision, for what will be our future.

Greener Grass

I made a mistake about three years ago, that I see a number of agents making today.  They are switching companies from what is comfortable in the hopes that something new will make them a millionaire.  I left a good company, where the owner had become a great friend to try and be more trendy and it did not go well with me.  The new broker was great, but the culture of the office did not make a good fit.  The freedom I had in the previous company was gone and a Lemming, I am not.  It put my career a full year behind where I should have been and cost me a lot of money.

Too many agents are not really doing a good assessment of where they are where they are going.  Several are leaving good solid companies for those who have crummy brokers buy great profit sharing benefits or leaving a good profit sharing company for more “independence” only to find that they are failing at the new company, as well.  Only now their failures are for different reasons.

Agents and Brokers need to find their harmony.  Agents should put their ear to the ground and listen about reputations of the Broker and the ability the have to mesh with this person.  If the Broker is unbalanced, controls too much or cares too little, the agents will reflect that just as children reflect poor parenting.

Brokers – grow a backbone!  I want to challenge the Brokers to get rid of agents who you know are costing you reputation, time, energy and potential risk; but at the same time don’t neglect the opportunity to take a “bad” agent and see if you can turn them around.  Balance and wisdom is key!  The time of being afraid of the “top producing agent” is over.  Many brokers have found that getting rid of the weeds, have allowed other agents to blossom.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Bob

    September 4, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Brokers – grow a backbone! I want to challenge the Brokers to get rid of agents who you know are costing you reputation, time, energy and potential risk; but at the same time don’t neglect the opportunity to take a “bad” agent and see if you can turn them around. Balance and wisdom is key! The time of being afraid of the “top producing agent” is over. Many brokers have found that getting rid of the weeds, have allowed other agents to blossom.

    it’s all about risk to reward for most of these brokers.

    On July 1, 2008 Virginia required all agents, with Broker’s licenses, to take an additional 8 hours of continuing education directed toward Brokerage Management. The whining across the state was endless – as if being required to be more educated, than those agents you manage, were a punishment.

    If these brokers fully appreciated the fact that law firms are gearing up to take a whack at brokers over the next few years, maybe they would get the correlation between managing agents and reducing risks.

  2. Bob

    September 4, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Oh how I wish there was a preview or edit feature for the typing impaired.

  3. Glenn in Naples

    September 4, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Matthew – an observation about brokers. There are brokers which are highly successful salespersons and become brokers and open their own office(s). The other brokers could be highly successful salespersons and have really great BUSINESS and MANAGEMENT SKILLS.

    Do you think that maybe some thought should be given to the idea of brokers doing a self assessment as to where their true skills lie?

    Also, can’t there individuals that say “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” or “let’s build a better mousetrap.”

  4. Poppy Dinsey

    September 4, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Great post Matt, it’s amazing how bad (in any industry) managers can be. And how tolerant managers can be of bad staff too! I can’t stand people that reach management level and then think they can kick back and let their minions run around for them, managers should be working their butts off and nurturing their staff.

    But setting aside the good points you make….was I the inspiration for your Supernanny theme? 😉

  5. Matt Wilkins

    September 4, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    I think part of this post can be related back to Teresa Boardman’s post. Yes it is the Broker’s job to create an atmosphere where agents can flourish but it is also in the agent’s best interest to choose a brokerage environment best suited to his or her business style and goals.

    For over 4 years I worked for (and paid dues to) a brokerage where I felt downright disappointed in the services/support offerred. I never swtiched because none of the other firms in town offered a much idfferent value proposition. When I formally resigned my Broker was not at all upset or phased. He wished me luck and gave me a thank you for being one of the best agents to deal with. My reasons for leaving were known but both of us knew they would not be addressed at that firm anytime soon.

    I have since obtained my broker license and after some trial and error am now in a place that suits my personal style and will allow me to position myself in the current and future market.

  6. Matt Thomson

    September 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    I guess I’ve been fortunate to have worked in two great offices with 2 great brokers. I’ve never experienced all the negatives so many seem to have against brokers.
    Same with my lender…I hear so much bad mouthing of lenders from real estate agents, and I’ve seen transactions go bad from the outside, but I’ve never once had my lender drop the ball.
    Knowing that there are good ones out there, it makes me wonder how bad ones stay in business. Seems like it shouldn’t be that hard for us all to find the good ones.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    September 4, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    @LaniAR – As always… thanks for fixing me!

    Bob – don’t worry, I am always regretting my typing when commenting… Yes, the ever presence threat of legal action should be an eye opener. However, too many brokers don’t see it as a reality until it happens.

    Glenn – I’m with ya! I honestly don’t think that the skills that make you a good agent always translate to making you a great broker. The mentality of servant leadership that is needed for a broker is much different than working for yourself.

    Poppy – I am sure at some point you’ll be my inspiration for a post, but sadly no. I started this a few days ago and as I was picking it back up I had just watched http://www.thesnarkygirls.blogspot.com and put it all together 🙂

    Matt W – Unfortunately Brokers have just accepted lack of loyalty as part of business. Like I said, I regretted leaving where I was. I had no idea how good I had it, till I left. If I weren’t working in education and went back to listing / selling; I’d be ME.inc I don’t want to work for anyone else and really don’t want others working for me…

    Matt T – Having the right team (i.e. attorney, broker, lender) is a great find! Glad that you’ve had good role models. Hopefully, you’ll take good notes and emulate those folks when you open your own shop, some day.

  8. Brad Nix

    September 5, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Matt R:

    I think the best point you made was, “Agents and Brokers need to find their harmony.” There is no ONE answer for brokers and agents. Every brokerage is different, even under the same branding. People are unique and their management styles and sales techniques will all have idiosyncracies that can make or break a brokerage firm. Finding the right combination of leadership, resources, culture, personalities, and value is a tough task for agents, but one worth doing right!

  9. Jennifer Broadley

    October 3, 2009 at 2:21 am

    Agents should put their ear to the ground and listen about reputations of the Broker and the ability the have to mesh with this person.

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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