Does the flag you wave matter?

I often get asked the question. “Does the company you work for really matter?” While I love my company, it was not the brand that got my there. It was my broker, Brian Bolier.

I had been with Coldwell Banker Burnet  when I first got my license. I did not exactly have the best experience. I decided, after a couple of months of bring there to transfer my license to CBB’s biggest competitor Edina Realty. This was the most difficult move in my career. I had such a strong allegiance to CBB after starting my career at Burnet Title and spending over 7 years with the brand. When it came down to it, it was not the right place for me as an agent at that time.

Now, that I am back,it is not because of really anything in particular my company offers, it is because of what Brian offers. I know that he is just as passionate about my career as I am. My case is extraordinarily different from most. I honestly thrive from the people around me. My office has some of the greatest minds in the business. We truly work as a whole and it is what made me fall in love with Coldwell Banker Burnet again.

I decided to take a look at some of my colleagues who own smaller brokerages do on a day-to-day basis. Here are a couple of examples:

Chad Hanson, Broker/Owner, EGreen Realty and Sustainable Design + Build
Established the first real estate brokerage and property management company in the country with “Green Building” expertise.
Created alliances with local “green” architecture firms and builders to co-promote LEED certified properties and standards.
Consulted with clients and investors on how to make energy efficiency improvements to their properties thereby lowering their overall cost of ownership while also lessening their environmental impact.
Created the vision and strategic plan for the company. Later launched a property management division which quickly grew to serve 82 units within the first three months of operations.
Specialized in residential, office, retail, and investment property sales.
Well known as an influential member of the local real estate community by continually conducting business in an innovative and dynamic manner.
Superior negotiating skills that have produced personal average annual sales of $28+ million – ranking nationally in the top 1%.

They have a niche market here in the Twin Cities. Many of the recent conversations I have had with industry leaders all say that consumers in search of homes are looking more than ever for unique sustainable properties. Many would say that this is what will be the norm in the future. I heard a lot about this when I attended the National Association of Realtors REThink The Future of Real Estate event in Minneapolis.

Chad, who originally began his career with Edina Realty. In 2008, he formed , EGreen Realty and Sustainable Design + Build along with his brother Ryan and never looked back. They developed their own brand and were able to successfully lead their company into a one of a kind Twin Cities brokerage.

Teresa Boardman, of St Paul Home Realty. Teresa is her own brand. I got to know her exceptionally well over the last few years. I originally heard about her at a social media event. She was on a panel with a couple of others in the real estate industry. I remember one of the other panelists, Greg Sax, saying “I called her and asked her if she could take me on as a client” . This speaks volumes to the kind of presence she has. She is also a well known, outspoken leader in the industry. Her blog, The St. Paul Real Estate Blog helped her establish herself as the …

Scott Parkin of Hoffman Parkin Urban Realty,

Total Sales 2012 – $22.5 million
16 Agents
Founded 1995
We started out selling new construction and transitioned into conventional residential sales.
Agents here all have a variety of specialties and geographic focus.

“I started in the industry with a strong bias towards smaller boutique brokerages and structured my small firm with righteous indignation towards the big box brokers. Upon reflection, I now think size is less important than WHAT the brokerage actually offers up to its agents. Small brokerages avoid the bureaucratic red tape, expenses, and meaningless corporate fluff. Today’s global online listing services neutralize large brokers’ promises of “Galactic Exposure to Massive Networks.”  However, what small brokerages tend to lack is the structure and professional rigor that a larger office can offer more easily.  Most agents want to feel like they are part of a community of like-minded and active peers, which is hard to provide with only a small number of agents.  Finding what engages and keeps an agent actively selling is the key question.”

Now I do just want to clarify….I love my broker.  My current broker saved me from impending doom.  If I had found my boss man Brian Bolier when I did, I am not sure where I would be right now. I thought I should ask Brian his thoughts on this as he has spent all of his career at Coldwell Banker Burnet.

“Here are some random thoughts.  Ultimately we go where we are happy, enjoy the culture/environment, are proud of our colleagues, and believe in the vision.  Below are some thoughts on branding and CBBurnet specifically.

Size allows you the ability to collaborate & network in a way that a smaller firm cannot. Not just on a local level , but regional, national and international. I.E…”Think Global Work Local.” This is a major advantage when you are doing a business that may attract incoming and outgoing individuals.  Our world is so small and understanding/trusting a brand is very important to many consumers.  Not all, but when someone does not have a trust relationship set with someone in real estate, this can be critical.

We are able to provide a unique variety of support services not found at a smaller company. Anything from our technology platform, day-to-day office management and assistance, individualized marketing plans via our marketing department, training, coaching, planning, and advice. Don’t forget legal advice and assistance if warranted. In house loan officers in-house title company and company relocation.

The brand brings legitimization. With over 100+ years of experience in any real estate market and currently an untold combined amount of real estate knowledge in every office. Training.  BLUE U and all the coaching / training that goes on in the offices.

The brand is recognized by almost everyone which provides a degree of comfort for the client and a level of professionalism, typically not found or expected at a much smaller company or independent.  Size can often equal resources of many types… technological as well as human, ie networking, support and collaboration.  Brand recognition opens doors that you are not even aware of.

Depth of leadership.  Multitudes of minds working together to create the best machine.

Power of the brand. Something no small broker can replicate

Networking, strength in numbers, quality training & support. Broker negotiating software & hardware based on volume (ex: Fab Plus) exposure on Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com, AOLRealEstate, YahooRealEstate & MSNrealestate…”

I cant help but agree with Brian. There are definitely benefits to being at a larger/well established broker. I guess what you could say is that individual success with a broker varies by person. It all comes down to what type of culture will create a successful work environment for the agent. Sometimes agents feel safer with the backing of a larger/established brokerage. There is on the other hand, many agents who are able to establish their name and be successful.

Brands are valuable. There is a reason that bigger brokers like Coldwell Banker Burnet have such a large market share. There are many consumers that rely on established brands. I know what brand has the largest share of the market in my neighborhood just based off the amount of for sale signs I see. If that is what people see its possible to assume that many consumers may see as “the brand”., However one thing that I have learned is that consumers are changing and adapting. They look and research for something different and innovative. This is ultimately why smaller brokerages still are in existence and will continue to be.

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