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 Changing Brokers... Go Independent or Stay Franchised?
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Fri, Dec 7th, 2007 9:44 pm

An agent I know is thinking about changing brokerages as there’s a possible shake up at their broker’s headquarter and they might change franchises.  That’s never good news for an agent because change is a distraction from day to day business. (Believe me, I know because we moved brokerages this year!)

Of course when you first get news that your world is about to be turned upside down, you start to ask questions like, “Do I even need a franchise?” “Should I consider going out on my own?” “What is the value of the various companies?” etc.

So in speaking to him, I gave him the following advice based on our experiences...

I believe your decision should start with your clients.

- How do they initially find you?

- Why do they ultimately decide to contact you and/or do business with you?

- What's important to them?

Even if you think you know those answers, I suggest giving a few of them a call or email out a quick survey just to hear how important a franchise is to them.  We talked to clients before we moved and it greatly shaped who we interviewed with.

If 90-100% of your clients are repeat and referral, then the franchise tag probably isn't all that important- you could be on your own or with any franchise.  But if you rely on internet traffic or leads from various networks that don't know you from the next agent before they contact you, then a well known franchise tag (of some flavor) is probably worth quite a bit to your business.

Next, do you have a specialization?

What's your mix of buyers vs. sellers?

Local vs. Out-of-Town Clients?

Different kinds of clients have different perspectives on this stuff.

People who live in certain neighborhoods are more open to working with independent/non-franchise companies because they place a heavy emphasis on being local over all else.  Does that apply to you?

If your current office starts their "local franchise" with a handful of locations and hundreds of agents- and most of your clients are local- then your clients may *eventually* recognize your office as an "equal" to a national franchise because of market share.  Edina Realty in Minneapolis, Iowa Realty in Iowa, etc. have no trouble competing against the national franchises because they're market leaders in their respective markets.  However out-of-town clients (and agents) probably won't find you as often (if at all) because they're going to look for what they know (the national franchise).

If you get quite a bit of leads from networks such as the CRS group (or your current franchise) you should also ask yourself will you still get the same volume of leads from those groups if you are an independent or with a smaller and/or local franchise?  If not, is the loss outweighed by gains elsewhere? (i.e. franchise expenses)

More on this subject tomorrow...

[ Next Article: << Changing Brokers... Independent or Franchise (Part 2) ]
[ Previous Article: >> Using Social Networking Sites- Facebook, MySpace, etc. ]

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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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