At a time when the pandemic was starting to make some agents consider their brokerage, Mike & John saw it as an opportunity to bring some high-performing new agents over from the big guys.
The broker-owners of Attorney Broker Services in Texas announced this past year that they had roughly two-dozen agents to join their firm. We aligned with Ernest Brown to create a career development program specifically to support new agents.
But for Brown, the pitch to these agents was more about the support his firm could offer as one of the DFW Area’s most prominent independent brokerages.
Ernest detailed how it all came together, and shared his thoughts on what this landscape means for independent brokerages going forward.
Take us behind the scenes.
Brown: There was shifting in the marketplace driven, I’d say, by the pandemic, at which point it became clear that people needed hands-on support.
And I’m not saying whether or not another company has it, but we strived very hard, and very intentionally to stay connected in a disconnected world. There were a lot of companies where the support was forced to fall out from underneath them.
We don’t have a recruit list. We’re not standard recruiters. It’s if somebody is suggested to us. And they were, and they brought in friends — it’s an, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ thing, I suppose.
We don’t take everyone. As people were out looking, it was a stop in their interview train, if you will.
Our new agents are our best recruiters. They speak of what they live, and they speak the truth and they are happy where they are. And they realize there’s a choice.
Is that something you’re keeping your eye on?
My response is the same as it was: I stay in my lane. You do what you’re good at. And in time, it all shakes out exactly as it needs to be.
We can’t and won’t try to buy an agent. It doesn’t make sense for us. It’s not fair to our agents who are working their butts off to get to the next level.
We can’t do that. It’s not good for company culture.
In what ways has being an independent brokerage been an advantage for your business during the pandemic?
We’re able to pivot. It’s similar to a big-rig going down a winding highway. If you have a big rig, it’s a lot of momentum, and they need these padded exit roadways of their own to slow down, to restart, to move right and left. For us, I feel like we’re a little Corvette. We have better quality, in my opinion.
We purposely don’t have proprietary programs or apps or background platforms because we’re able to always move ahead with the next, best thing.
The key thing is, we’re able to pivot and maneuver quicker and easier, and that way we can be ahead of the next step. We can be ahead of the market. We can be ahead of the big Mack Truck that’s trying to maneuver behind us.
So why does it help being an independent in this unknown world?
It helps because we’re truly able to maneuver and pivot quicker, better, and with more quality and more finesse than these other big conglomerates that take a lot more, and it’s other people making the decision. We’re in the driver’s seat. For the broker-owners, if any of our agents need something, We’re literally a phone call away. They call me and I’m there.
When looking ahead, as we come closer to exiting the pandemic, are there any problems or challenges that independent brokerages face that keep you up at night?
It’s not a worry, but the one thing that comes up a lot is, ‘Will there be an elimination of the agent?’ But I just don’t see that in our areas.
I think it’s something to be very aware of, because if and when it comes, it will come fast. But I also think it’s something that, if you keep providing value, [you’ll have a place in the market].
I knew someone who was a travel agent — a very successful travel agent — and look, travel agent business is totally gone. But not really! There’s still some travel agents that pivoted. They pivoted in their delivery. They pivoted in what they provide. They pivoted in their resources, and there’s still some very successful ones.
My answer is to keep reinventing and finding ways to provide so much value and service, and fill the need. As long as you can train and teach your [agents] to fill that need, it’s a win-win.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about what this moment means for independent brokerages?
If you can go to an independent where you have a hands-on marketing team, social media team, etc., etc., who can actually help you build multiple campaigns to dive deeper into your relationships, that’s going to serve you well.
You need to have such a deep, serviced-based relationship with your client where you are the only resource they think of.