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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

How a newly funded coffee delivery startup is thriving during COVID

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Seattle’s Joe Coffee finds successful funding in hyper specific clientele and operations even mid-pandemic. But how did they do it?

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Joe Coffee delivery

Amidst a pandemic, you might not expect a small company with limited clientele to thrive. Yet, Joe Coffee, a Seattle-based delivery service, is doing just that.

Joe Coffee, an aptly named coffee runner, has received millions in funding, a large chunk of which was raised mid-pandemic. Their mission is simple: to bring coffee from smaller shops to local consumers, especially without endangering either party.

There’s a lot to be said about Joe Coffee’s valuation and mission, but what’s more intriguing is their unlikely success.

A food delivery service that focuses on coffee may not seem that niche, but when you look at Joe Coffee’s determination to stick to the Seattle area, coupled with its staunch resolve for frequenting smaller shops (e.g., not Starbucks), the service begins to look pretty specific–and, in an economy that honors sweeping solutions, this is a welcome change of pace.

The way their service works is fairly simple: Joe Coffee provides shops with signs and information on how to order through the Joe network, then consumers are able to download and order through a mobile app on all of the usual platforms. Joe Coffee takes a nine percent cut of the order total, credit card fees included.

In return, customers are able to order from their favorite, local, non-chain coffee shops, both supporting them and sustaining their caffeine addiction at a time where alertness is paramount and grouchiness is all too common.

What’s truly interesting about Joe Coffee’s example is that it demonstrates an availability for small services with extreme specificity in terms of operating capacity. By sticking to unique businesses in a relatively small metropolitan area (as opposed to, say, multiple cities), the service is more likely to be successful in execution and delivery, thereby solidifying its relevance to both consumers and businesses alike.

And, by playing into the need for curbside pickup or home delivery these days, Joe Coffee only furthers the perception that its service is necessary.

If the country begins to reopen–whenever that happens–it will be no surprise to see Joe Coffee maintain a relationship between consumers and smaller businesses in the Seattle area. For anyone offering a similarly niche service, this is a perfect example of a company to which you should pay attention.

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Business Entrepreneur

Pierre Laguerre makes history by being the first Black man to raise max crowdfunding amount in one week

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Pierre Laguerre, CEO of Fleeting, is the first Black man to raise $1.07 million SEC max from regulation crowd funding.

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Fleeting drivers

Pierre Laguerre is the first Black man to raise the $1.07 million Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) maximum from regulation crowd funding.

Let that sink in.

Laguerre’s company Fleeting is a network connecting motor carriers and shippers with qualified Commercial Drivers License (CDL) drivers on demand. Shippers can use Fleeting to book and manage reliable, vetted drivers 24/7. Fleeting reached its fundraising goal ahead of schedule on the online crowd funding platform Republic. The fundraising campaign officially ended July 10.

Laguerre moved from Haiti to Brooklyn when he was 15, with hopes of being a doctor. Life in Brooklyn was not what he expected, and he got his CDL to begin trucking. An inspirational conversation with a college professor ignited his entrepreneurial spirit. He soon became an owner-operator of his own truck before going on to build his own staffing agency.

Over time, he began to experience burn out, common for many truck drivers (and entrepreneurs.) The schedule is grueling and the constant movement keeps drivers away from their homes and families for long periods of time. Furthermore, according the American Trucking Association, the United States trucking industry is on track to be short 100,000 drivers by 2024. That’s in 4 years!

Then, Laguerre experienced a healthy dose of life that put things in perspective. His newborn son had two heart surgeries in the spring of 2018. During the second surgery, Laguerre was mugged while picking up food for his mother who was in town to visit his son. Being bedridden beside his child gave him the fire and energy to create the life he wanted for his son, himself, and so many other hard working, qualified drivers.

And thus, Fleeting was born. Two years later, Fleeting has prominent investors like Chamillionaire and E-40, won the Grand Prize at Harvard’s Black New Venture Competition, and gained nearly 5,000 investors on their Republic campaign.

Fleeting raised 100% of its goal just one week after the launch of the campaign in February. As soon as the coronavirus pandemic began to impact the United States profoundly in mid-March, Fleeting was working on across-the-board solutions to support impacted shippers, brokers, motor carriers, owner operators, and drivers. On April 5, they announced they would be waiving all booking fees for medical producers and suppliers working to transport essential supplies nationwide.

Thanks to Laguerre’s hard work and vision, Fleeting raised 400% of its goal by April 7 and reached the $1.07 million max by early July. Pierre Laguerre is paving the way for Black entrepreneurs. Furthermore, he is setting an important example for how to create tech solutions with a conscience that put hard working Americans and their families first. It is fortitudinous leadership like Laguerre’s that America should seek at all levels to transform the way business shapes society.

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Business Entrepreneur

PopCom designs smart vending machines to automate regulated products

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) PopCom raises $1.3 million in equity crowd funding to launch smart vending machines that will securely sell regulated products like cannabis and alcohol.

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vending machines

Dawn Dickson is upgrading the beloved vending machine to thrive in the era of COVID-19. Dickson is the Founder & CEO of PopCom, a black-owned retail technology company whose mission is to “equip entrepreneurs and brands with future-ready retail solutions that allow rapid retail expansion, incredible customer experiences, and powerful sales data.”

Dickson started her entrepreneurial career with Flat Out Heels, rollable flat shoes that fit in a purse. The business was an e-commerce hit, relying on online data analytics to drive sales and growth. She found there was a disconnect in leveraging that technology when she looked for traditional vending machines to sell her products in places with high foot traffic like airports. Like any good entrepreneur, she created her own solution to the problem.

PopCom vending machines use facial detection and machine learning to create an interactive and intelligent retail experience. In 2020, the Columbus, Ohio based company is rolling out secure pilots for automated vending of regulated products like alcohol and cannabis. The machines rely on biometric analysis to verify identity, and can even anonymously evaluate age, gender, and emotional sentiment while a customer is browsing to convert sales. Products can therefore be available on demand with minimal human interaction.

The growth of this technology is timely as COVID-19 continues to ravage retail in the United States. “Vending machines and convenience services are becoming more essential, and retailers are looking for more ways to deliver their products direct-to-customer with less human friction. We are excited about what is to come,” Dickson told BlackNews.com.

And what is to come is coming quickly. Dickson just completed a record-setting equity crowdfunding campaign on Start Engine, being the first female founder in history to raise $1.3 million in just 47 days! Previously, PopCom raised an initial $1.07 million from their first campaign. According to SEC regulations, companies can raise up to $1.07 million from regulation crowd funding sources in a 12-month period.

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