We’ve seen the era of paternalism in brokerage in the 60s and 70s, followed by the advent of RE/MAX and other 100% models that shifted the pendulum to a highly agent-centric environment. Agent teams have taken that to the uber-level where it’s difficult to even find the company brand.
Today, there are varying schools of thought about where brokerage is headed. Some believe there will be a ‘swarm’ effect, with thousands of very small boutique firms populated by one or two strong agents and their teams, since technology is such an enabler.
Others see a shift to highly company-centric models in which brokers generate a high proportion of company leads and consumer-focused services, and thus have the leverage to exert more control and demand a higher standard of performance from agents to ensure a great customer experience and stellar brand equity.
For years many have said that the agent is the broker’s customer, and that brokers are not in the housing business but in the recruiting and retention business. Others believe that the agent is the partner but that the customer is the consumer, and that if you take care of that customer by providing a reliable quality-controlled brand with the tools and convenience they seek, you will in fact take care of the agent.
Which will it be? Relying almost totally on agents to prospect and create their business and thus have a high degree of control over the brokerage….or an environment in which brokerages become rainmakers – much like a law firm model of partners bringing in business and delegating the servicing of that business to associates? Or is there something else on the horizon altogether?
To explore these differing concepts, there is a great blog thread you may want to read, in this order:
One comment included there that seems to say it all in terms of the potential future value of the “institutional” (traditional brokerage) model:
“Rather than outsourcing your consumer relationship efforts to your agents, you need to take ownership of that effort, and be responsible for it. That will certainly mean more than software; it will mean reforming your customer relationship process, customer service philosophy, and perhaps finding resources to handle service. It is critical to your future survival. Productivity and brand — these two thing dictate institutional advantage.”
These are important issues to ponder for our collective future strategy. Inquiring minds want to know, so tell us what you think! If you could design the brokerage of the future, what would it look like?
Posted By: Pam O'Connor