This month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable discusses real estate teams, and how brokerages are embracing the model.
Tim Milam, President, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, Wilmington, N.C.
Jim Imhoff: Every brokerage has its rainmakers—the inspired, charismatic, hard-working dynamos who bring more than their share of business to the company. But what happens—and it almost always does happen—when agent superstars decide to team up, move on, take their career to a whole new level? It brings financial concerns, technical issues, space considerations…even concerns that a successful team may decide to strike out on their own. As brokers, we have options: Support the team concept. Advise against it. Maybe make it a centerpiece of the company culture we’ve worked so hard to build. Today, we’ll talk with a few brokers who land on the side of the latter. Let’s begin with you, Vince, because I know you’ve been cited by the TV series “World’s Greatest” as having one of the “World’s Greatest Company Cultures.”
Vince Leisey: We have, Jim, and we’re proud of that. We want our people to be glad to come to work every day—and whether or not it’s coincidental, teams do make up some 65 percent of our company. I not only embrace the team concept, but in my view, teams are the future of real estate. For one thing, the millennials now coming into the business are all about collaboration and teamwork—and the sharing and mentorship that come with teaming makes every team member stronger.
Pat Riley: Millennial or not, when I became successful enough to build my own company, I needed people to help me—so I still see any form of partnering as the best of all possible worlds. Every agent has strengths and weaknesses. In teaming, you can specialize, you can mentor or be mentored, you can rise to meet your best potential, and let the company worry about the tools and technology—even the physical workspace.
Jennifer Ames: That’s something I considered when I was ready to move up after many years as a successful team leader. I wanted new challenges, better control, and the chance to recruit like-minded people and help them build careers. But I chose to do it with an internationally branded company behind me—a premier European company that aligns closely with my values. Our team launched our Chicago office last January, our flagship offices opened officially on June 27, and we’re confident we made the right decision.
Corina Jones: For us, going out on our own a little over a year ago was an opportunity to take control of our destiny. Building our brand is a commitment to unexcelled customer service, and that’s what we’re all about. And being responsible for our own financial health means recruiting carefully, sharing the load, and ultimately doing more deals. We knew we’d have to struggle, but it was a challenge we welcomed, and we’re looking ahead, not back.
JI: It’s a valid concern for some brokers that successful team leaders will take their teams and fly the nest. So, in our company, we embrace teaming, but we are careful about having contracts in place, and business plans that speak to the “divorce” aspect of teams.
Tim Milam: That works for us, too. It’s like a financial “prenup,” so that everyone knows what happens in the event of a break-up. But look, good teams have an amazing work ethic. They are great mentors. They have a balanced quality of life, because there is always someone to cover for them—which is also a boon for our customers. And while teams may take a higher split, they also close more transactions.
PR: One solution that works for us is “brandchising” our successful teams. The captains continue to build their teams but with our brand behind them. We continue to provide the tools. They pay us a fee. It really is a win-win for all.
VL: It’s vital to have transparency and a lot of idea-sharing between the teams in our organization, so that there’s a balance of lead generators, coaches and less-experienced agents who will grow as a result of their mentorship.
CJ: That’s always been key for a team leader, and it’s one of the things I like best about heading up our own operation. It’s my effort, my perceptions, and my decisions that will establish our brand in the marketplace, with the confidence that the team we build and manage will win us our share of that market.
JA: Of course, it’s all about marketshare, and however you choose to manage your team—within an established brand or as an independent—the bottom line must be more successful agents and an improved customer experience.
TM: There’s no question that teams and team captains add a lot of value to our companies. They also offer a great way for our companies to grow organically. If Vince is right, and he may be, if teaming is the future of a younger real estate workforce, then it’s only a matter of us, as company leaders, figuring how best to make it work.
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