How to Find the Brokerage That Fits

Figuring out which brokerage you should work for involves more than determining commission splits. It's also a matter of work styles and values.

September 1, 2009

I get asked a lot of questions about recruiting. Brokers want to know how to get more and better sales associates; sales associates want to know how to find the right broker and office. 

Many in the industry, unfortunately, fail to see how complicated these questions really are.

If brokers don't have a well-defined recruiting strategy, they may end up with an office culture that doesn't match their own values. When this happens, unexpected and unpleasant surprises can occur that affect the whole office's dynamics. 

The same goes for sales associates who are looking for that perfect place to work; if they choose a brokerage or office for the wrong reasons, they'll end up very unhappy with the end result. Here, I'd like to provide guidance on how you can make sure the brokerage you choose will be the best fit for your working style, business goals, and personality.

Picking a Brokerage: 3 Questions to Consider

  1. Do your values match the the brokerage's values?
  2. Does the office policy fit with the way you do business?
  3. Do the services versus the commission fit with your goals and business practices?

After you answer these questions, then and only then do you look at the commission split being offered. However, most sales associates, unfortunately, get it backwards—they go shopping for the commission split and nothing else.

Nobody's Perfect

Just like we say about marketing, if you try to talk to everyone, you end up talking to no one. In the same way, if you try to pass yourself off as the "perfect" associate when you're talking with potential brokerages, you'll fail. And this is because all brokers have their own definition of what a perfect associate is.

So instead of trying to please anyone, start by pleasing yourself. Spend a moment determining who it is that you like to spend time with and what qualities make up the people that you choose to work with. What kind of relationship would you like to have with your broker? What business support do you want? These are the questions that matter. 

If you're an associate who works really hard to create relationships and do a consultative sale, then you're never going to please a broker who's big on cold calling. If you're an associate who has an established business and you bring in all your own leads, then you won't fit well into an office that requires you to sit uptime every week.

It's important to know yourself and how you do your business before you try to find a match with a broker. Some relationships were just never meant to be.

Will You Be Able to Meet Expectations?

There are some universals. For instance, I don't know a broker out there who'd be happy with a sales associate who has made no sales. How many sales you need to make per year depends on the broker, but it's a good bet that the minimum for most full-time associates is somewhere between 8 and 12 transactions per year.

This is the amount of cash flow that the broker needs to bring in to cover your overhead and expenses. Anything above this figure is bonus and profit for your broker, and therefore makes you more attractive. Many associates think this is the primary reason brokers want to recruit them—but that's not entirely true. Know the standards before you take the job. If you're uncomfortable with what's expected of you, the relationship may not work out well.

How You Work

What is equally important to your broker is how you do your business. For instance, practitioners who bring in all of their own business and do only 12 transactions a year are worth more to most brokers than those who take all of their business from the up desk and do 16 transactions a year. Why? Because the former is bringing in business that the brokerage wouldn't have had—and didn't have to pay to generate.

By the same token, associates who have a self-contained business and provide all of their own services cost a broker less than associates who use all of the services.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't use the services available to you. Those associates who don't use any services from the broker—and who don't provide the services themselves—tend to do less business and, therefore, put themselves on the bottom of the recruiting list.

If the Personality Fits

The one piece of the puzzle that no one talks about—but that's critically important—is your personality. Are you a team player? Are you easy to get along with? Do you provide value to the office above and beyond the production that you create? Are you a problem solver? Is your sunshiny personality the sparkle in everyone's day?

I've recommended that brokers turn down top producers who were such prima donnas that their attitude and demeanor would disrupt the culture of the office. These people just aren't worth working with—no matter how big their production levels are.

Each person's personality contributes to the whole office's dynamics. If that contribution doesn't take the office in a positive direction, that person isn't an appropriate fit and shouldn't be recruited.

Self-Assessment Time

You know your production level. You know what you want for a commission split. So if you think about it, you'll know what you need in terms of services from your broker. What most of us don't look at is how our very presence—not what we do or how we do it, but who we are as human beings—affects the rest of the people in the office.

If you can be honest with yourself about this, you may find some areas that could stand improvement and figure out where you really belong.

It's the law of attraction: When you're the kind of person that everyone wants to be around, you'll get the greatest opportunities in life.

Kelle Sparta is the author ofThe Consultative Real Estate Agent: Building Relationships that Create Loyal Clients, Get More Referrals, and Increase Your Sales(AMACOM, 2005). She is also the founder of Sparta Success Systems , a real estate training company.