You’re a real estate pro. You know there isn’t a secret handshake that gives you the keys to the kingdom. Much of your success emanates from a yearning to help your clients achieve their goals while carving out personal and financial success for yourself.
If the brokerage you’re currently working with isn’t conducive to reaching your goals, it’s time to make a change. This is what Ohio real estate agent Dylan Knecht did. He launched his career in 2016, going to work for a huge national powerhouse, but he felt lost.
“I was an inconsequential piece in a huge puzzle. There wasn’t much flexibility. That rigidity limited what I was able to do and when I was able to do it,” he said.
“Once, I wanted to try a new marketing method; another time I wanted to give a seller a little flexibility. Both times, all I heard was ‘no’. It was their way or the highway. It didn’t take long before the highway started looking pretty good to me, so I left.”
In Knecht’s case, he found a home with a mid-sized regional firm, Revolution Realty, and he couldn’t be happier. Since joining the company, his career has surged forward. He’s regularly taking on new listings, getting closings, and has begun building a team, things he doesn’t believe would have happened as quickly if he had stayed with the large national real estate firm.
“I got better, faster, and have been given more opportunities, faster, than I could have at the big company. This is huge because it gives me the freedom to serve my clients and I never have to apologize for big company policies that aren’t in my clients’ best interests.”
If you’re unhappy with the firm you’re working with, the thought of jumping ship probably has occurred to you. Regardless of whether you work primarily in residential or commercial markets, you’ll have two basic choices (short of starting a brokerage of your own) when you consider making a change:
- Go to work with a mega brand, one of the huge national real estate firms with footprints in cities great and small; or,
- Find a home with a small or midsized firm/regional player that has carved out a niche in the area you serve.
There are pros and cons to each. I’m not making value judgments here. Instead, I’m giving you some things you need to think about before you fire your boss and walk out of your agency’s office for the last time.
Large National Real Estate Firms: Pros and Cons
Large national brands are the elephants in the room. Because of their size, they attract a ton of attention – from the agents who go to work for them, the marketing campaigns these companies invest in, and the real estate clients who seek them out. Some will argue that bigger is better while others tend to think that systematized real estate is the equivalent of putting a McDonalds Restaurant on every corner.
Pros: Is Bigger Really Better?
Big real estate powerhouses have a lot going for them:
- Name recognition of the brand
- Huge advertising and recruiting budgets
- Impressive training and coaching programs
- Easy client service in many cities nationally (makes it easier to find in-house solutions quickly)
- Early adopters of the latest real estate technologies
- Consistent experience for real estate clients
- Huge pool of agents (helpful if you need someone to cover you in the event you need to be somewhere else)
- Awards, recognition and other perks (like cheaper health insurance rates)
Not so Fast: Cons of Big Firms
- Easy to get lost in the crowd
- National ad campaigns are focused on the company, not the agent
- Agents often pony up as much as $10,000 per year for desk fees and other expenses
- Systematized processes can feel confining to some agents
- Easy to feel lost in a very crowded market
- Agents often complain that they are little more than cogs in a very large machine
Small and Midsized Real Estate Firms: Pros and Cons
Small and mid-sized real estate firms often dominate small and mid-sized markets and succeed in the face of overwhelming competition. How do they do it? They gleefully embrace their differences from their brethren in much larger firms by being fierce advocates for their clients and creating personal relationships that are rewarded by generational devotion to the buying and selling experience. As in the case of larger firms, there are pros and cons to going to work with a small or mid-sized firm:
Pros: Is Smaller Really More Agile?
- Small and mid-sized firms also have a lot going for them:
- Intimate knowledge of the local market
- Within the office, a family atmosphere that promotes a sense of working towards a common goal
- From clients, often generational devotion to an agent and an office
- Sense that help is just down the hall
- Rarely are agents asked to pay many of the fees that ordinarily come from working with a large agency
- Training is often informal, which usually comes in the form of advice rather than time-consuming, formal training
- Compensation plans with much better splits
Not So Fast: Cons of Small and Midsized Real Estate Firms
- Less brand recognition in local markets
- More difficult to network with large agencies in other cities due to large agency preference for keeping things in-house
- Smaller agencies are typically slower to adopt exciting new technologies
- Sometimes more challenging to get time off
- Lack of built-in systems can make it easier to miss crucial steps in real estate transactions
- Can sometimes be easy to feel like the biggest player on a small island
What NOT to Do When You Jump Ship
Once you’ve decided what size firm might be best for you, the last thing you want to do is stride down the hall to your boss’s office and give him or her a piece of your mind before flipping a one-fingered salute over your shoulder as you head out the door for the last time.
Even if you’re unhappy with your current situation or you can’t stomach the thought of another day with your current agency, impulsive decisions often come back to bite real estate agents on what I call the gluteus rumpus.
Instead, keep your thoughts to yourself. The greater part of valor is usually found in being the professional. Yes, it might reduce the impact of the stories you can tell later on but it won’t forever close doors you might eventually want to walk through.
Large or Small, Your Agency is a Means to an End
Whether you choose to go to work for a behemoth real estate firm or you carve out a new home with a boutique agency, keep this in mind: the firm you work with is less of an issue as long as you remember it is a mode of transportation you’ll use to take your career where you want to go while earning a great living that’ll knock the socks off your clients with tremendous service.
Choose to work with the company that seems like it is best-positioned to do these things and you should be just fine. If not, remember this: you can always change your mind and work somewhere else.
At the end of the day, we all want the same things: the feeling of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. That, and enough cash in the bank to feel like all of your efforts are worth it.
Ken Speegle is Realty ToolKit’s resident real estate industry expert. Every week he writes insightful, in-depth articles about topics related to real estate marketing, each designed to help make you a better, more profitable real estate professional. Ken is the founder of therealestatewriter.com and has been a real estate copywriter since 1994.