Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The American GeniusThe American Genius

Opinion Editorials

Changing of the Guard: Toby’s Switch

Toby's Road

Gaining Legs

It was at the Ohio Association of REALTORS® Annual Convention and Expo that the idea really began to gain legs.

Sitting around the lounge enjoying adult beverages with agents from all over the state, the various brokerages and what they offer became a key topic. And as a relatively young – in terms of license life — agent I began to see “what I was missing” in my small independent brokerage.

I enjoyed the work I was doing, but felt that I was missing out on something. Something, that I was finding these other agents seemed to have – education and support. I walked out of the convention preparing myself to explore changing brokerages.

It was a long journey, but effective a few weeks back my license was transferred from Disbennett Real Estate Company to Keller Williams The Realty Firm. Let’s explore the road …

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The Beginning

As I drove away from the Columbus Convention Center, my mind raced with the new information I’d absorbed – but also my new found understanding of how the “real estate game” worked. And I made the decision right then and there, I was going to become an active player.

Knowing that my small-town community, and the agents that worked it, was not a good place to be looking for a new broker. I relied on connections that I’d made through Twitter and Active Rain to develop an understanding of the national companies.

Going through the process, it became obvious that I wasn’t very interested in the “traditional” brokerage model. I’d been in that model and wasn’t finding any companies that could merge my desire to be independent with the need for education and training in this model.

And while the “full-agent” model (i.e. ReMax) was interesting, I lacked (and still do) the resources to survive until the market bounces back. Not to mention the limited support – education and training wise – that these companies are known to provide.

It was weeks of debating and dissecting the options that were in front of me. Two companies – HER Real Living and Keller Williams – emerged as my best fit. However, with the loss of my father and a pick-up in my listings I decided to sit tight at Disbennett.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The Resurgence

The recruiting calls slowed down, but in December I was named the Delaware County Board of REALTORS® Rookie of the Year. And it was at that point that the interest stepped up in earnest from other brokers, agents, and companies.

Never one to look a gift horse in a mouth, I sat down with the companies and talked about my options and the benefits of moving from Disbennett. Again, the same two companies emerged as the best fit for me and my business model.

The Decision

I found myself comparing and contrasting the three companies, and a couple of key points emerged.

  • Local Competition – After all real estate is really about being local. Which name would give me the best opportunity locally?
  • Competing Agents Under Same Umbrella – It is hard enough to feel like you have a grasp on the agents in your office, what alone others using the same “company name” to sell real estate.
  • Compensation Structure – We all like to make money. Don’t we?
  • Education Opportunities – Real world education is awesome, but you usually only get it when you need it — or worse after — and it has to be reactionary as opposed to proactive.
  • Brokerage Support – I’m giving you a lot of the money I worked so hard for, now what are you doing for me? Also, I have a transparent view of real estate, and if my brokerage didn’t like or respect that then it would be issues from the start.

I sat down and compared and contrasted the three companies and it quickly became evident that a move was in my best interest. And it appeared that one company was really taking the lead — Keller Williams.

The Move

I don’t do anything hasty – well except for those darn Roger Butcher videos that still torment me from the shelf – but once I make a decision, I want action.

It was torture to know that I was putting this ball in play and not able to talk about it. It was really cool to talk with my sellers and hear:

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“We didn’t hire Disbennett, we hired you. So I’m coming with you.”

I was honest and up-front with my old broker about the reasons for the change and my personal need to grow to take this business to the next level.

It has been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks – but finally is starting to get back into the routine that will lead to more sales and a much happier wife!

Was it the right move?

I’ve had several people ask me this and while it is too early to tell, the early odds are yes.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.



  1. Teresa Boardman

    April 11, 2008 at 3:44 am

    I am with Keller Williams and have almost no contact with my office. it is too far away. I do have contact with agents from other offices and have kind of developed a network. We all work the same market so it is fun to talk and compare ideas. They are competitors but then every agent is. I get most of my education through the board and have found the classes to be excellent.

  2. mike price

    April 11, 2008 at 3:53 am

    good luck toby – now is the time to reinvent your brand

  3. Benjamin Bach

    April 11, 2008 at 4:25 am

    Congratulations on the switch

    I started with Royal LePage, but I moved my business to Keller Williams last year. I increased my annual GCI by 500%, and this year I’m on track to increase GCI another 500%. The training and support I have access to at my office is unparalleled in our market. No other firm even comes close, it’s just a different business model. Oh, and I proft share too 🙂

    Be Great

  4. Darren Kittleson

    April 11, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Congratulations as well. I made the move to KW in 2003 and have only increased my business and the strength of my brand for my team in our market. Take advantage of all the training opportunities you’ll find including Mega Agent Camp and Masterminds and you’ll only find your business growing.

    Welcome aboard!

  5. Aria Schoenfelt, Austin Real Estate

    April 11, 2008 at 9:36 am

    It’s really important to find the right Brokerage for you and your style. There is no such thing as the ‘best brokerage,’ only the one that will allow you to grow the most and give you support where you need it! I love my small brokerage, BridgeOne Properties (Austin), but I’ll admit that it has it’s roots in KW. Best of luck!

  6. Missy Caulk

    April 11, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Hope our little skype chats helped some. I’m at learning a lot at my office on taking my business to the next level. See you in Orlando !!

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    April 11, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Congrat’s Toby!

    I think that the franchise is only as good as the leadership. We’ve got a certain franchise in our market area that has two offices. One is fantastic, well ran and well staffed. The other is horrible and has done much to damage their franchise name and that of the other company.

    The company is a tool (don’t read into that syntax) , if leadership isn’t using it effectively, it’ll do more to hurt the agent than help.

    I’m glad you’ve found a tool chest that you can build with!

  8. Toby

    April 18, 2008 at 5:51 am

    I’ve been spending a lot of time on the new branding and marketing efforts and haven’t had a chance to visit the genius for a while.

    Thanks to everyone on the kind words: Matt hit it on the head. The company is a “tool” for your success and you need to match your desires and abilities with the company that best fits you.

    I was speaking with a potential agent yesterday and he was weighing the same two brokerages I did. And was leaning towards the other, and I think it is the best move for him.

    Only when people take this too personally, does it get bitter

  9. Austin Smith -

    March 13, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    At the risk of sounding naive, what exactly do you mean by:
    “I have a transparent view of real estate”

    Great post! You definately went about ‘the switch’ correctly, I hope it works out for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.



Business News

(FINANCE) An anti-trust lawsuit against major players in the residential real estate industry sheds light on misinformation and misunderstandings about commissions - when you're...

Business Marketing

(MARKETING) Opcity is the Austin startup making big changes to the ways that lead generation happens in real estate.

Business News

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) NAR CEO Dale Stinton is set to retire after his successor is named. Stinton is known for his steady leadership and...


When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment - where are the best places...

The American Genius is a strong news voice in the entrepreneur and tech world, offering meaningful, concise insight into emerging technologies, the digital economy, best practices, and a shifting business culture. We refuse to publish fluff, and our readers rely on us for inspiring action. Copyright © 2005-2022, The American Genius, LLC.