Making the Transition From Top Producer to Broker-owner

A long-time agent shares the surprises, challenges, and considerations of opening her own real estate company.
Real estate agent outside home with open house sign

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3 Takeaways:

  • Figure out your “why” and focus on that when selecting a real estate company to affiliate with.
  • Take your time when recruiting agents and hiring staff so that you select people who align with your culture.
  • Identify what relieves your stress and motivates you to succeed.

Many real estate professionals are hardworking, ambitious, and goal oriented. No matter where they are in their career, it's only natural for them to be thinking about what comes next. They want to be in control, have a grasp of their destiny, and create a plan to get there. For those who have reached the pinnacle of success by hitting their sales goals year-in and year-out and wish to continue making a difference in the real estate industry, they may conclude it’s time to look for a new challenge.

For me, the next logical step was to become a broker-owner and manage my own shop.

My story began 21 years ago at a local Century 21 office here in Northwest Georgia, and then as a top producing agent with ERA Prime Real Estate. After hitting a sales and personal growth plateau, I made the decision to open my own brokerage with the brand where I started: CENTURY 21 The Avenues in Calhoun, Ga.

I want to share the surprises, considerations, and challenges of opening my own brokerage and how I leveraged those to achieve greater success.

The biggest surprise I faced centered around the selection of a brokerage. I knew I wanted to franchise and affiliate with a company that shares my ethics and values. My biggest consideration—and one that influenced my decision to open my doors as CENTURY 21 The Avenues—came down to one word: “Why?”

My focus was on being perceived by real estate consumers and industry professionals as a champion of the communities where I live and work. What surprised me was Century 21 Real Estate would be that company. The re-branding, its focus on transforming the industry from transactional to experiential, unparalleled name recognition and respect, and C-Suite thought leaders who care about me, my agents, and my overall growth, helped seal my decision to return “home.”

My “why” aligned with that of the brand, which involves getting up and working harder and smarter than the day before. To me, if you do the right thing, then good things will happen. Plus, I didn’t find another company with the same passion that I have—and the timing in my life was perfect.

Specifically, becoming a broker afforded me the ability to invest in my future and take on the challenges that come with a leadership role. Now, I’m building a culture that supports agent growth and prosperity, and a place for people to collaborate, engage, and get deals done. Equally important, I’m bringing to market a company that works to make a difference in the community.

Moving forward, my greatest challenge was building out the office. For example, onboarding the right people for the right positions to ensure everyone functions efficiently, affordably, and within cultural parameters. I do have people in place right now, but I'm also looking to interview and fill leadership positions in marketing and recruiting. I won’t hire someone just because they have a license. I want people looking to create a different experience at a real estate company.

Until my team is fully in place and functioning at 121%, I have decided to continue selling. I simply cannot walk away from the volume of business that I'm doing right now. The good news is that I had experience wearing both hats at ERA and earlier in my career when I opened a RE/MAX startup right out of college.

As an entrepreneur, you’re often asked, “What keeps you up at night?” My answer to that question is to make certain that I haven't missed anything. I'm constantly reviewing my growth plan, thinking about systems and processes, and evaluating the services and productivity platforms my agents need to deliver the best client experiences, so that they, in turn, will earn industry-best quality service ratings.

The challenges I’m facing now are recruiting agents who share our cultural values and working through office renovations while operating out of a satellite office. But I’m confident I will overcome these challenges by leveraging my positive mindset, leadership skills, and prior managerial experiences.

For other real estate practitioners thinking about making the transition from top producer to broker-owner, consider joining your local chamber of commerce. Get to know other professionals in your marketplace. Ask the chamber to support your office’s grand opening, which can help spread the word about your new brokerage and build those valuable relationships with members of the community.

I want to build a company that’s involved in the community. That way, people will get to know our agents. My goal is to promote the people who work here and be the local go-to brokerage that home buyers, sellers, and real estate investors value, appreciate, and rely on.

One last note: Identify what relieves your stress and motivates you to succeed. For me, it’s my partner. He listens to me, supports me, and is my voice of reason. When I feel overwhelmed and I get a little too anxious, he reasons with me and gets me through it. When it comes to my motivation, I immediately think of my grandfather. He was a business owner with an unbelievable work ethic and was an amazing human being. He was a huge influence in my life and my biggest supporter.

Going from real estate agent to broker-owner is a monumental shift. You're moving from having the safety net of someone else's brokerage behind you to being on your own. Yet, despite the many surprises, challenges, and considerations of opening a brokerage, having the ability to make a difference in the lives of your agents, consumers, and industry partners, makes the transition from agent to broker tremendously rewarding.

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