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Let’s say that one day your sales associates just stopped producing—or, worse yet, the bulk of them left. Could you keep going? For how long? It’s not likely to happen, but think about if it did? What would you do? How fast could you recruit new agents and get them up to speed?

Why do brokers continue to solely depend on the motivation and success of their agents? Because it’s always been that way. While you provide them with education, tools and resources, it is still up to them to actually go out and generate the business.

With all of the disruption in the real estate industry today, there are a lot of uncertainties, particularly when your business model depends on the success and loyalty of independent contractors. Unbelievable competitive recruiting tactics, downward pressure on commissions and retained dollar and demands to stay ahead of the game on technology and agent services can be crushing to a broker.

Step Back and Look at the Possibilities
It’s time to take a more lateral view of our business. I’m not just speaking about escrow, title and mortgage. If you aren’t already offering those or partnering with an outside partner to offer those services, then by now you have determined they weren’t for you, which is your choice as a broker/owner. Those services don’t particularly make you stand out in the eyes of your sales associates anyway. If anything, they often feel it a burden to recommend “your” affiliated services.

Take a lateral look at other home- or transaction-related services or consumer niches. Consider what it would look like if you created your own company-generated business that makes you less dependent on your agents to bring in all the transactions. What if you could generate so much business that your agents won’t want to leave—and, even if they do, you can build a portfolio of services so valuable the customer might not want to go with them? Recruiting is easier when you have a built-in stream of business to offer as a supplement to an agent’s own business. You can budget more effectively, recruit and retain solid-producing sales associates and control your own destiny.

How Can I Generate Niche Business as a Company?
By generating business as a company, you can ensure the company is staying front and center in the mind of the customer since in this scenario, you are the reason they came to the company. It puts you in the position to stay in touch for repeat business with reinforcement from the agent assigned to the client. By focusing on services such as corporate relocation, internet leads, concierge, affinity cash back programs or license holding (referral) companies, you can begin to carve out a customer niche and recruit and retain the agents who want that type of business. There are also micro subsets, like military programs, senior services, corporate relocation rental assistance, moving services and international programs. Take a look at your market and your company culture. What seems like a good fit and resonates with your people? You can build these programs so they do not interfere with your agent’s past clients, focusing solely on generating new opportunities.

By aligning yourself with sources of business who will look to you for the overall management and service delivery of their referrals, you will establish company partnerships. Your business won’t be so dependent on one agent’s production; it will be dependent on your staff, your culture, your service delivery and the team of agents you choose to provide the real estate services for these referrals. While I understand there are many agents who don’t want encumbered referrals, there are many who are happy to see it as a path to new clients they would have never had.

Instead of looking down on the real estate transaction from the top, look at it a bit sideways. The possibilities are endless.

Teresa R. Howe, founder of TRH Real Estate and Relocation Consulting, has a 30-year track record of developing and managing highly profitable programs and services for the real estate industry. For a free assessment of what services might be right for your company, contact Howe at For more information, please visit