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Brick & Mortar or Virtual: Which is More Important?

Blog Contributor Being a Broker, Business Challenges, Establishing Your Business, Sales & Marketing 2 Comments

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Toby Boyce

Toby Boyce

By Toby Boyce

As an agent, would you prefer your brokerage to have an amazing brick and mortar location or an amazing online presence?

The question flowed from Michael McClure, president and CEO of Professional One Franchising, on Twitter (@professionalone) recently. There were several agents who jumped right into the discussion — and being on Twitter, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure the direction the discussion went. Brick and mortar are so old-school; who does that stuff anymore? But, then isn’t a great virtual presence just a new look on the old-school mind set?

The idea that the brokerage would require this wonderful “awe inspiring” location — whether geographically or virtually — continues to propagate the notion that the brokerage is the one that feeds the agents. Isn’t that the type of management structure that agents have been rallying against for years? Whom do these big audacious locations benefit? The walk-ins — or at least the signage on that beautiful castle — and the Internet leads go into the brokerage’s pool and dispersed across the masses of agents that are chirping like baby birds for a free worm.

I’m sorry — well not really — but I’d rather the brokerage assist me in creating that presence for me, “The Agent,” so that there is only one fat, well-fed bird getting those leads.

The most important thing a brokerage can offer is training, education, and a great secondary brand. Allow the agents to do what they do best — assist people with buying and selling houses. The brokerage is a balance, making sure that everything is being done legally and above board. After all, I’m “giving” you a large percentage of my commission to provide services for me. Don’t believe me? I could have my broker’s license in a couple of months and take on all the responsibility of running a brokerage myself. Who am I giving those commissions to then? Me. I look at my brokerage affiliation in the same way I do assistants. What does the brokerage provide me? And is that benefit worth what it is costing me?

The training has bored out. Your clients will list with you because of who you are and not because you are with XYZ Company. It is your brand that makes the difference, not the brokerages. I work in an area where my brand isn’t a well-known commodity. I’ve had more than one client say “I’d never heard of your company when you contacted me, but I liked what you had to say.” I’m building the brand through personal relationships. Do these people know the brand now? Yes, as a secondary response to the service that I — the agent — provided them.

So, do I want a brokerage that has an amazing online presence or a brick and mortar one? Neither. I want a brokerage that is committed to providing me the tools to become the most successful agent on the block.

That’s when we’ll move beyond the old-school models.

Toby Boyce, MBA, is a real estate practitioner with Keller Williams Consultants Realty in Westerville, Ohio. Visit his Web site: www.delawareohrealestate.com.

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