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 Building Relocation Business at a Brokerage with a Relo Department
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Sun, Oct 28th, 2007 11:15 pm

I've been talking about relocation all week and now I'm getting the dreaded franchise questions...

I didn't want to bring this up, because I DON'T WANT TO TURN THIS INTO A FRANCHISE ARGUEMENT.  If you love your franchise, I'm very happy for you.

BUT... everyone ultimately asks why we would leave Prudential (when they’re a large national player in relocation) for a RE/MAX office (which has no national presence in relo).

And it's a valid question...

And my answer is that in our personal and specific case we got very little from our Prudential’s Relocation Department.  The franchise we were at mostly gave out relocation leads to 20 year veteran agents and that wasn’t us.  And the thing is, I completely understand why they do that and I don’t have a problem with it.

The problem is when you work at a large multi-office franchise (regardless of who it is), there’s a good chance that there are fiefdoms at the headquarter level and trying to drum up your own relocation business (or builder business for that matter) breaks an unwritten rule because there are corporate divisions to do that.

I also had a problem with the fact that they paid us less commission on relocation clients (to pay for the relocation department’s services) for leads WE generated from OUR own website (and this was above and beyond the 25-35% fees that went to the relocation company).

It was a major financial hit to pay for our own lead generation THEN pay the normal relocation fees THEN pay for a corporate department that did nothing for us.

But it's their right to do business how they wish to do it, and plenty of local agents are very happy working there.  We just concluded that to move forward with building a relocation focus we were personally better off at a franchise that didn’t have a relocation department.

As an added bonus, we were also free to join the local chapter of ERC (Employee Relocation Council) because there wasn’t a relo coordinator already a member.

If your experiences with Prudential or any other traditional franchise have been different, I’m happy for you.  I’m just explaining the circumstances that shaped our decision making.  I'm also happy to say a few months into our new broker I’m even happier with my decision now than when I made it.

With that said, if you're thinking about changing companies we interviewed our current and some past internet clients before we moved.  I recommend doing this.

Our internet clients told us over and over that a large franchise tag was important to them when they selected an agent on the internet but what franchise it was really wasn’t important- they just wanted the comfort factor of having heard the name before.  That feedback also greatly shaped our decision.

However if your leads already come from HR people or recruiters, you can probably live without a franchise because we have a very successful non-franchise brokerage here in town that only does relocation buyers.

Hope that helps someone make good decisions for themselves.

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Darin 'Sid' Cameron, CRS

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Darin "Sid" Cameron spent 15 years working in tech sales which in 1998 relocated him to St. Louis. In 2004 he took over web development tasks for Kimberly's real estate team and later became the full-time Marketing and Operations Director. In 2011, he launched two brokerages, The Realty Store, Inc. and Realty Referral Partners, Inc. Sid holds a real estate broker's license in Missouri, CRS certification and was the first CyberStar in the St. Louis area.
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