Get Your Brokerage Up and Running

November 20, 2020

There is no manual for new brokers who are starting a real estate company. Yes, you have likely weathered real estate’s ups and downs to make it thus far, but how do you juggle the many hats it takes to become an effective managing broker and owner?

It’s all about mindset, said Marki Lemons Ryhal, ABR, CRS, Chicago-based broker, founder of ReMarkiTable, and speaker specializing in social media training, during her session, “You Got Your Company. Now What?” at the virtual 2020 REALTORS® Conference & Expo Tuesday.

Think like a chameleon and change when change is needed, she said.

Consider Amazon and how it has evolved by understanding the needs, wants, and habits of its customers through data. By using retargeting “cookies,” businesses like Amazon and others can follow their consumers across the internet through targeted ads.

But staying in front of clients and using technology to grow your company is not a replacement for the “boots-on-the-ground knowledge” a new brokerage owner must have in their community, Ryhal said. That means being out in the community and getting involved. And if meeting people face-to-face isn’t possible, then leverage video, she added.

Managing Agents

Successful brokers engage with their agents in meaningful ways. Ryhal suggested starting a book club and supplying the book to your agents. Encourage them to participate in discussions about the content and to share ideas. Two books that Ryhal recommends to all her agents are The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller and The Roadmap to a Profitable $30 Million Real Estate Business by Reeta Casey and Rick Ruby.

“Agents do what they see their brokers do, and they do what they see top producers do,” Ryhal said.

So, modeling is important. To help with that, she emphasizes investing in personal development.

Ryhal highly recommends the DiSC personality assessment to understand your own strengths and weaknesses as the leader of the company and what areas you need the most help. It will also help to identify recruits who will likely be successful in sales.

“You need to recruit people who are like-minded, and if they’re not like-minded, then you’re going to have problems down the road,” she said.

When it comes to setting up a commission plan for your agents, there is no standard, she said. It’s important to look at the company’s current revenue and expenditures, as well as the level of service you provide to both your agents and your clients.

“At the end of the day, service will cost additional money,” Ryhal said. “This is not a one-size-fits-all. You have to sit down, look at your numbers, maybe with your accountant, and come up with a strategy that’s going to work with you.”

Always keep your numbers at the forefront of your mind, she said, such as average price point, how many houses your company needs to sell, rent negotiations, backend costs, and more. This will help influence your annual business plan. And, you want to sit down with your agents and make sure they create their own business plan.

Ask agents about their goals. For example, if an agent has a goal of making $100,000 in commission for the year, and their average price point is a $250,000 home, they need to add 2,880 contacts to their database, which, on average, is what’s required to net 20 transactions, Ryhal said. She also has agents look at the MLS to consider rate of sale, inventory, and other market data. Ryhal gives them a specific road map for accomplishing their goal, and sometimes that means telling agents what doesn’t work.

“As a managing broker, I’m sitting down with my agents and I’m clear with them,” she said. “If I don’t know [the answer], I refer them to people who do know.”

If one of her agents needs guidance in commercial real estate or rentals, Ryhal has industry contacts with whom she’ll connect her agents to consult.

Generating Business

Agents need to be generating leads every day, and brokers should bring in systems for helping agents bring in those leads. Encourage agents to set time aside in their calendar for lead-generating activities, as well as time for self-care and education opportunities.

“You want to have set hours of operating your business,” Ryhal said. That goes for both brokers and agents alike. Everyone needs time to debrief and listen to their own thoughts, she added.

While systems are essential for generating business, they’re also essential for recruiting agents, Ryhal said. You don’t want to spam people, but rather, focus on creating relationships.

“I have received a lot of messages on LinkedIn from people attempting to recruit me and I haven’t even accepted them as a friend,” she said. “Needless to say, we’re not going to be friends because now I realize you want to sell me. No one wants to be sold, including buyers and sellers.”

Reputation is extremely important, Ryhal said, and you don’t want to recruit everyone. Come up with marketing collateral that paints a picture of the benefits of working for you and your company, she said.

Organization Tools

One resource that Ryhal recommends for brokers who need help creating templates, spreadsheets, or forms is Fiverr.com, where you can connect with freelance designers and digital marketing experts.

When it comes to communicating and connecting with your team of agents, Ryhal recommends Facebook Workplace and Google Groups, which are both free resources. Google Forms is also a great lead capture tool for your website.

Brokers need to be communicating with their agents in multiple ways, she said, so consider a text messaging system as well. For example, brokers should send companywide communications when there are new real estate rules and regulations agents need to be aware of. You can also ask agents to sign a Google form acknowledging that they are aware of the changes. And create Google spreadsheets for tasks agents do consistently.

Jot Forms is another potential tool for brokers, which can be used to track money coming in and out of the office, including earnest money forms, overage at closing forms, disbursement of sale and rent forms, referral forms, escrow wire instructions, sample invoices, W-9s, and more.

Training is essential, Ryhal said. Make sure agents take MLS training, and participate in courses at your local association. But brokers should also train agents on forms, office procedures, and use of social media and technology. Create a private Facebook group for coaching where you take units and break it down like you would a chapter in a book, she suggested.

Lastly, but most importantly, brokers must be clear about their own goals for their company. Ryhal recommends the book The One Thing by Gary Keller.  She is also a proponent of focusing on niche markets.

“Real estate is intended to be fun,” she said. “I’m hoping the reason you decided to [open your own company] is because you want to change people’s lives. You can create a company that can become part of your legacy.”