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What all should real estate brokerages pay for?

Should brokers help pay for agents’ online advertising, technologies, training, photography, or mobile devices? Let’s take a look at what some large brokers already offer.



real estate technology

real estate technology

Brokers helping their agents to thrive

With ever-improving tech and new ways to advertise every day, agents obviously need to stay up-to-date on the best technology to get ahead and keep improving. Besides honing skills, utilizing technology to your benefit can one day put you in top producer status, too.

But what about brokerages? What should brokerages be doing in terms of technology to help their agents’ businesses in terms of staying ahead of the game?

I reached out to a few brokerages to see what they provide and pay for to help their agents:

Coldwell Banker

I asked Rich Rogola, digital strategist for Coldwell Banker’s Chicago offices, what most of the company’s money goes to when it comes to websites and software that helps agents. “We invest a lot of money into our own technology and end up building a lot of that out,” he said. “Most of our marketing spending and strategy goes into generating online business for our agents, making sure those leads go back to our agents as quickly as possible and then giving them the tools to stay in touch with their clients during and after the transaction.”

Coldwell Banker also has various partner programs. In Chicago, the brokerage has a subsidized deal for single property websites through, and Coldwell Banker also pays for agents’ listings on, Zillow and Trulia.

In addition, the company has an eMarketing platform available for free to all agents that helps them stay in touch with clients through email or social media, and provides Homebase, a secure and paperless online transaction management system, for free.

Baird & Warner

This company recently implemented a texting program available to all agents for free, according to Andrea Cordts, communications manager for Baird & Warner. Any buyer interested in any Baird & Warner property can text “BW” to the number 59559, and the user will receive information and property photos via their mobile device. From there, the listing agent will receive the user’s phone number and be able to contact the potential buyer regarding more information or a showing.

“Since it was launched in January of last year, Baird & Warner has received over 30,000 buyer inquiries from this marketing method,” Cordts said.

In addition, Baird & Warner has a mobile CRM that helps them respond to clients in a timely manner, and the company runs over 6,000 websites integrated within this system, and provides the means for agents to create individual property websites for agents to market listings. Baird & Warner also hosts a seminar called “Career Institute” every few months to make sure all agents are familiar with its tech tools.

Century 21

The company has several partnerships, among them with,, and Trulia, which provides discounts to its agents for certain advertising packages with the various partner sites. For example, agents have a 50 percent discount with the Showcase Advantage program with Trulia and


This boutique firm of about 159 agents and four offices in Chicago pays for all of its agents’ advertisements on Trulia, Zillow, and the Chicago Tribune. The agents are on their own for their own websites.

The takeaway

To me, the most helpful tech “tool” brokerages could do for agents would be paying to advertise listings online. Are brokerage-provided CRMs of any benefit to agents? What do you wish your brokerage provided for you, and what’s better handled yourself?

Note from AGBeat: not all brokerages responded in time to be included in the story. The above is a sampling of brokerages, and is not meant to be a complete dissection of the industry.

Stephanie Sims is the managing editor of Agent Publishing, which currently has online publications in Chicago, Houston and Miami. With expertise in evaluating housing markets, website content and social media strategy, and reporting information agents want to know about, Stephanie can be found at her desk with coffee that got cold or not eating lunch because she’s busy planning editorial assignments and interviews for the Agent Publishing websites.

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  1. victorlund

    September 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    It is a great question, and the answer is grey. Brokers use these payments to recruit, others use them to justify higher broker splits, others charge technology fees to the agent, and still others just do it because they believe that their agents will be better if they have these tools that they might not otherwise buy.
    Frankly, brokers get much better deals on technology – all technology. There is an economy of scale. But there are certain areas where broker spending is competitive with the agent.
    If an agent wants to define their value to a seller, they may talk about online marketing (geeks may call it listing syndication). An agent who enhances their listing on T, Z, H, or is stepping up and investing in the success of that listing. If the brokerage does it, it levels that playing field for all of its agents. The agent must turn elsewhere – like to a single listing website or a virtual tour. Again, if the broker provides VTs on every listing – the agent looses yet another opportunity for differentiation. B&W provides a website with IDX, CRM, lead management, flyer management, drip campaigns, etc to every agent – again – leveling the playing field. In many cases, agents are already paying for these services that are bundled into their MLS dues.
    There is no answer to this question – only possibilities and competing interests. Its philosophical.

    • victorlund

      September 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      P.S. Baird and Warner offer an amazing suite of agent productivity tools – 

  2. michaeltudorie

    September 15, 2012 at 12:09 am

    @RealtyNinja Canadian content please..

  3. 85255Home

    November 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Good read, thank you Stephanie.

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Business News

Leadership versus management: What’s the difference?

(Business News) The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably, but there are substantial differences; let’s explore them.



leadership Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things. They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge.

They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups.

So, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group. For psychologists, manager was a profession, not a key role in a group.”

When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer, according to Riggio is no, not really; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

This editorial was first published here in June of 2014.

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Business News

Does Raising Cane’s have the secret to combatting restaurant labor shortages?

(NEWS) Fried Chicken Franchise, Raising Cane’s, has turned to an unusual source of front-line employees during the labor shortage- Their executives!



White paper sign with black text reading "Help Wanted."

I wouldn’t call myself a fried chicken aficionado or anything, but since chains are designed to blow up everywhere, I have experienced Raising Cane’s.

I’m pretty sure the Cane’s sauce is just barbecue mixed with ranch, but hey, when you’ve got a good idea, keep with it.

In the further pursuit of good ideas, the company has resorted to an intriguing method of boosting staff in a world where the lowest paid among us are still steadily dying of Covid, and/or choosing to peace out of jobs that they don’t find worth the infection risk.

Via Nation Restaurant News: “This is obviously a very tough time, so it was a joint idea of everybody volunteering together to go out there and be recruiters, fry cooks and cashiers —whatever it takes,” said AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer for the Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service company, from a restaurant in Las Vegas, where he had deployed himself.”

The goal of this volunteer mission, which involves 250 of the 500 executives deployed working directly in service roles, is to bolster locations until 10,000 new hires can be made in both existing locations and locations planned to open.

It’s obvious that this is a bandaid move – execs exist for good reason, and in terms of sheer numbers (not to mention location and salary changes), this is hardly tenable long-term. But I can say this as someone who’s gone from retail to office, and back (and then forth…and then back again) several times – if this doesn’t keep everyone at the corporate level humble, and much more mindful of employees’ needs, nothing will.

The fast-food world is notorious for wonky schedules only going up a day before the week begins, broken promises on hours (both over and under), horrendous pay, and little to no defense of employee dignity in the face of customers with rank dispositions. With the wave of strikes (Nabisco, John Deere, IATSE) making the news, and lack of hazard pay/brutal physical attacks over mask mandates still very fresh in workers’ minds, smart companies are hipping themselves to the fact that “low level” employee acquisition and retention needs to be much more than the ‘work here or starve’ tactics that have served since the beginning of decades of wage stagnation. The best way for that fact to stay front-of-mind is to go out and live the truths behind it.

In Raising Cane’s case, the company also announced that they’re upping wages at all locations — to the tune of an actually not totally insulting $2 per hour, resulting in a starting wage of $15 and a managerial wage of $18.

Ideally, paying people more to cook, clean, and customer service all in one job will actually attract people back to fast food work. Seriously consider the fact that the people cleaning fast-food toilets are the same people making the food that goes into your mouth. The additional fact is that it’s better for everyone’s health when they’re paid enough to care about what they’re doing and stay healthy themselves.

Of course, one does also need to consider how much inflation has affected the price of goods and housing since the ‘fight for $15’ began almost a decade ago in 2012. Now, raising wages closer to the end point of multiple goods still might not be enough!

AJ Kumaran continued, “The chicken prices are through the roof. Logistics are very hard. Shipping is difficult. Simple things cups and paper napkins — everything is in shortage right now. Some are overseas suppliers and others domestic suppliers. Just in poultry alone, we have taken significant inflation.”

That’s global disruption for ya.

It remains to be seen whether this plucky move can save Raising Cane’s dark meat, but I’m very pro regardless. Send more top-earning employees into the trenches! No more executives with 0 knowledge of how the sausage sandwich gets made.

No more leading from behind.

Why not? What are ya? Chicken?

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.



Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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