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From Realtor to Broker: determining the model

When Realtors get the indie itch, the most difficult decision faced today is which real estate model to follow. There are three main options, or a combination of the three, and this very personal decision is a major part of your future success.

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An integral part of your brand’s story

When you are a Realtor with the itch to be an indie broker, one of the hardest decisions you will make is in what type of brokerage you want to build. Realizing this early on is going to end up being an integral and huge part of the rest of your story, so pay attention!

There are many number of brokerage models to look at in this choice. From mom and pop (literally, I’ve seen brokerages who are two people working out of home, a drop box for mail pieces (paper) and still have ONLY a home phone to call!), to 2-8 agents, 15-30, or the “let’s recruit anyone with a heartbeat” model with lots of overhead and expenses.

Option one: a traditionally named team

Are you planning on building a team brokerage approach where your own name is the brand (Smith Realty)?

Pro: If you already have a well known name in your area, you could easily expand on a full team and have total control of the company. No one else can build a team within your brand because it’s YOUR brand. If done correctly, there have been extremely successful companies built which produce sales like a well oiled branding machine with 1-3 local locations.

Con: This model can only take you so far, generally speaking. Remember, if the county next to you (or neighborhood) doesn’t know you, expansion may be harder and you’re climbing an already steep hill with opening a new place AND trying to show people why they should work with YOUR PERSONAL NAME. For me, Amanda Lopez Realty or Lopez Realty, just was not even an option for probably obvious reasons – it doesn’t roll of your tongue at all!

Option two: a niche brand

Do you have a specific niche that you will brand (green, über corporate, service focused, modern homes, new construction, condos, a local neighborhood name)?

Pro: while your market may be smaller, you could potentially “own” that niche and be the most sought after expert who no one else can even compete with!

Con: You run into past friends, family, clients, and fellow agents. They say to you “Hi! Its been so long! How’s real estate going?? You sell condos in that one building downtown right? I just bought a million dollar single family a few blocks away!” You: “Congrats! I do sell condos, but I’m also a licensed agent who sells all sorts of homes…”

Option three: breaking the mold

Do you have a vision of a completely different type of brokerage that you feel so strongly about and creating a name that could be scalable and taken to any market and succeed with the right tools? Perhaps there is a little bit of each of these models you like and dislike. That’s ok too! Always think outside of the box!!

Pro: You can spread your wings, not worry about convention and have no potential limits. If branded correctly or with the right timing and people around you, by creating something unique and different, you can create buzz, you could attract agents and clients that also believe in your brand and make them brand ambassadors. The sky is the limt with potential growth.

Con: You are REALLY starting from scratch!! You will most likely need a branding consultant, conduct market research, and maybe even spend more time and money into “inventing” your new company’s business model. You can easily fail if you don’t truly nurture that teeny tiny baby of a brand the right way!

Making your choice

There are plenty of franchise opportunities, brokerages that are unconventional and cutting edge, smaller boutique agencies as well as tradional companies who offer larger splits to allow you rights to brand yourself under a more corporate umbrella of safety and expenses being paid. But maybe there’s a mix somewhere you can find to fuel you as well as create something you have time and passion to grow.

There is no right or wrong. Ultimately, it’s your dream. Your passion. Go for it!

Amanda Lopez is a real estate broker and founder of Style House Realty in Baltimore, Md. She has worked in the real estate industry for over 6 years and prior to that studied advertising, branding and web design. Refusing to believe the real estate industry had to be bland and boring in design and appeal to everyone, she set out to bring some style and technology into the mix. Amanda can most likely be found with coffee that got cold, great shoes, her mind in the sky and her evernote app open.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. jay Great Falls

    March 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    if you go indie like I did or are leaning that way you might consider a franchise or license to use a broker’s corporation and/or domain. That can be easier than starting from scratch. However franchises are expensive.

    I’m very interested in licensing out JustNewListings.com Realty out to new markets and the broker could add their IDX to a PR6 google juiced website to get property showing requests fast as part of their lead generation….justnewlistings.com/north-carolina/wilmington.php for example. I’m adding that IDX feed in 6-8 weeks.

    This model could make for a LOCAL broker dominating organic search engine rankings rather than trulia, zillow, homes or realtor.com.

    If anybody is interested find me on my website or linkedin or google+

    So sick of these 3rd party sites beating us at local search.

    j

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Business Entrepreneur

Restaurants: Going digital is simple with these tools

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) In 2020, restaurants going digital is critical. Luckily, it’s also easy, safe, and may even save you money.

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Restaurants prepares delivery or to-go food for safety

So, you own or manage a restaurant and you have yet to “digitize” your menu for COVID-era safe ordering? No problem! Transitioning your menu and service to the virtual realm has never been easier. There are a ton of options for restaurants to choose from to keep your customers feeling at-ease, your front-of-house staff happy, and the whole service experience streamlined for all parties involved.

A free app with over 500 restaurant partners and 5k+ active users, AAHI is a user-friendly platform that uses QR codes to share menus and NFC for contactless payments. AAHI boasts a 25% order increase for participating restaurants and who can say no to that, especially during these tough times. Additionally, you’ll be cutting down on operational costs by around 30% (better tech equals less need for servers!), and your laid-off staff will be able to collect unemployment if they need to.

Another free (up to 200 views a month) app with an emphasis on curbside pick-up is Orderlina. Customers scan a QR code, which takes them to the same menu they would see if they were going to eat in, making it an integrated experience. A bonus is that the app links your menu to your social channels. I always say, free marketing is never a bad thing! Plus, you’ll be more likely to gain followers and receive micro-content from satisfied customers. Win-win!

Especially with winter right around the corner and outdoor seating becoming an increasingly limited option (especially depending on where you live), everyone in the industry is eventually going to have to make the shift to digital – the question is when. Physical menus have become a thing of the past. Not only are they potential vessels for spreading COVID-19, but if you are using disposable paper ones, you’re undoubtedly creating unneeded waste. Same goes for the exchange of cash, or card payments that require contact. Good riddance!

The common goal across the entire industry right now is to stay open and bring in capital in whatever capacity possible, while also maintaining a healthy staff and a pleasurable, safe experience for patrons. That’s going to require some adjustment and creativity compared to service pre-COVID. By converting to digital, you are putting your best foot forward into the uncertain future for the restaurant industry.

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Business Entrepreneur

Scientifically check your risk for burnout with this free quiz

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) This new tool lets you take a free self-assessed, science-based burnout test to give you an idea of how much self-care you need.

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Woman with face on table suffering burnout in front of computer.

Concerns of keeping self-care and mental health in a positive spot – specifically in relation to burnout – have been a hot topic of discussion. While COVID-19 has exacerbated these concerns and stress levels, the issue of burnout has been around for quite some time.

Work burnout is often discussed within terms of work-life balance. Simple ways to avoid that crash are enforcing a hard stop on reading or responding to emails at a certain time of evening, or to continuously clean your workspace. Easier said than done, but it is critical.

But sometimes you have to look at the nitty gritty. Sometimes you have to ask difficult questions about your job and your personality in order to understand how burnout is impacting you. This can now be done with Global IT Burnout Index, a free, science-based assessment to tackle your stressors before it’s too late.

This is geared towards people working in tech (as the website reads, “burnout in tech is high and real”), but is useful for any industry.

To begin, you simply start the quiz and answer a few questions about yourself and your job (e.g. “I find it difficult to relax after a day of work” and then you answer based on how strongly you agree or disagree).

There are 10 total questions, and no personal information is asked (no name or email). It is open data, meaning it will help people on the other side better understand burnout; but, it’s totally anonymous.

The quiz takes no longer than 2 minutes. At the end, it will give you a number out of 6 measuring your burnout rate. The higher the number, the more likely you are to experience burnout.

Burnout has the ability to manifest physically and mentally, and can take a toll on your body and mind. Knowing if you’re experiencing high amounts of activity that can lead to burnout can help you know if you need to take precautions to change things in your life or job.

For those of us working from home, the situation is a Catch-22. You aren’t currently forced into a stressful commute. But it’s harder to pull yourself away when 5pm (or whatever your end time is) rolls around.

For people in the office or on site, it’s the same thing. You get to socialize (safely, obvi) with your coworkers, but there’s those on-site pressures.

No situation is perfect, but understanding if you’re in a situation where you could use a change or some help is incredibly important – especially these days.

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Business Entrepreneur

Is COVID proving that efficiency is overrated?

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Forget about maximizing profits. Don’t decrease friction – increase it. Oh, and efficiency? Overrated. Wait… what?

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Cut off man working on multiple devices, but lacking efficiency.

When COVID-19 took off in the U.S., shortages of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and blow-up pools had many of us thinking the American manufacturing supply chain must be inefficient. How was it even possible that we didn’t – and still don’t – have enough PPE for healthcare workers?

But what if the problem is that the supply chain is too efficient? That’s what Barry Schwartzis, a professor of psychology at UC-Berkeley and author of “The Paradox of Choice,” argues. Streamlined supply chains, just-in-time deliveries, and little slack in the workforce are all part of the gospel of efficiency. But maybe all that efficiency isn’t really working out for us.

Storing huge supplies of masks in warehouses is, arguably, an inefficient use of money and space. But we sure could have used a stockpile when the pandemic hit.

When businesses run lean, there’s little room to hedge against potential disasters. Schwartzis suggests we focus less on efficiency and more on being prepared for all potential scenarios the uncertain could bring.

It’s all about “satisficing.” (Anyone else now have Elvis in your head singing, “All this aggravation ain’t satisfactionin’ me”? No? Carry on.)

Satisficing = satisfaction + sufficing. It’s aiming for the adequate, not the optimal. Schwartzis calls it insurance against “financial meltdowns, global pandemics, nasty bosses, boring teachers and crappy roommates.” Sign. Us. Up.

He goes farther and takes that lesson to our personal lives. Don’t try to blow the return on your IRA out of the water. Set a goal that works for good and bad financial times. Don’t search for the best of all possible jobs. Find a job you’ll like doing even if you have the manager from hell. In short, look for the “good enough.”

Sound familiar to those of you who are parents? Amid all the talk of the Tiger Mom and the Helicopter Parent, there’s also been discussion of the Good-Enough Parent. You might want the coffee mug that says “Best Mom Ever,” but you don’t actually have to be the Best Mom Ever. Ditching “best” for “good enough” is like a magic elixir for de-stressing yourself and your kids.

Still, the idea that we can increase efficiency in our personal lives is so seductive. We all want to spend less time doing the things we don’t enjoy so we can spend more time on things that bring happiness and, yes, more money. You’ve read the books, listened to the podcasts, seen the lists: Structure your schedule. Time your tasks. Organize all the things.

Being able to always find your keys certainly could reduce the amount of cursing in your home. We can’t just toss out the Holy Grail of efficiency.

So Schwartzis has another word for you: Friction. Slow down. Don’t move too fast.

“Building friction into our lives, as individuals and as a society, is building resilience into the system,” Schwartzis says. It’s like tapping the brakes.

For business, friction could come from companies seeing themselves as caretakers of their communities rather than just profit centers. Could that kind of corporate responsibility lead to fewer jobs eliminated in the name of efficiency?

For homeowners, friction could be in the form of kids, pets, neighbors or the community – making you see the property as more than just a big investment. Could that prevent skyrocketing housing prices by reducing speculation based purely on profit?

Sure, maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s an interesting take on issues we’re thinking more about amid the disruption of 2020’s pandemic.

“To be better prepared next time,” Schwartzis says, “We need to learn to live less ‘efficiently’ in the here and now.”

That could be one of the more important lessons we’re learning now.

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