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The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Jim Imhoff, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Jim Imhoff
Chairman & CEO, First Weber Group, Madison, Wis.; Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR

Tom Salomone
NAR 2015 President-Elect, Broker/Owner, Real Estate II, Coral Springs, Fla.

Jim Imhoff: Tom Salomone epitomizes the opportunity this business holds for a dedicated, passionate entrepreneur. Getting his real estate license right after high school at his father’s behest, Salomone embarked on his 40-plus-year career as REALTOR® and broker/owner. But as his success grew, so did his passion for making a difference, which is why his involvement at the local, state and national association level built to the current crescendo—stepping into the role of 2016 president of the National Association of REALTORS®. Tom, first of all, congratulations on your upcoming presidency. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge brokers are facing right now?
Tom Salomone:
Shrinking bottom lines. The No. 1 challenge for brokers is remaining profitable. As the bottom line shrinks, many brokers have gone out and gotten involved in affiliate businesses, such as mortgage and title.

JI: What is NAR doing to help brokers with the ongoing challenge of profitability?
A couple years ago, NAR started Broker Summit conferences to open the doors specifically for brokers. The response has been so great that in 2015, we expanded it to three programs in different regions of the country. We also developed an Idea Exchange Council for Brokers, a think tank-style meeting at each of NAR’s major conferences. These events are a way to bring brokers together to exchange ideas and success strategies.

JI: In your opinion, should brokers be looking at more aggressive growth strategies now that the market is rebounding?
I really believe that’s an individual decision for each and every broker. There are some brokers who want to expand their firm and some who are happy with the size of the company the way it is. NAR will continue to provide guidance to address the issue of growth and expansion so you can learn about different business models, tools and philosophies.

JI: How should brokers approach recruiting in today’s environment?
As technology continues to evolve, the broker needs to ensure that if you come to work for him or her, not only will they help you in the technology world, but they will also be available to sit with you when you’re helping a client. Technology may help you get to the point of listing a property, but if it’s 8:00 p.m. on a Thursday and you’re an agent sitting face-to-face with a client who’s thinking about writing an offer, and you have a question, you need to know that your broker is going to be available. Brokers have to have a business model where potential new agents feel comfortable and trust that the broker is going to be there to help them be more successful.

JI: How can brokers attract millennials into their firms?
You need to look at things you may not have looked at in the past. You may be putting ads in the newspaper or handing out flyers at real estate schools, but you may need to get more aggressive. Find out when local colleges are having career days and teach students about potential careers in real estate. For many, real estate is the second or third job they’ve had in their life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but wouldn’t it be great if kids go to college saying “I want to be a real estate professional?” State associations should be talking to colleges in their respective states about providing real estate courses and degrees. If more colleges offered real estate as a major, I think that would help get more young people into the business.

JI: Tom, what does it take to be a great leader in today’s real estate environment?
TS: When you think of the personalities that get into a commissioned business, normally they have a very positive attitude and they’re great with people. It’s really important in our industry to be a consensus builder. You have a lot of strong personalities coming at you with lots of different opinions, and the leader has to be the person who brings the group together and builds consensus. You always have to make decisions based on what’s best for the REALTOR®. If someone comes to me with an idea, I tell them to be ready to answer one question: How does it benefit the REALTOR®? Brokers always need to keep their perspective on what’s best for them and for the REALTOR®. It needs to be a win-win situation.

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