It’s easy to imagine, during those first conversations with your broker, that you’ll always work in their office. The reality is much different. A 2015 study showed that 30 percent of agents leave brokerages each year. Anecdotal evidence says it may be as high as 50 percent. Hopefully you’ll find a broker you like and stay, but if you part ways, be ready for these marketing challenges.
The answer should be, “Yes” regardless of whether you’re moving from one office to another. Who owns it? Did you piggyback off your broker’s website and tell yourself you’d get around to making your own later? Even if you imagine working with the same company for the rest of your career, you still need your own real estate website.
After you leave, update your website immediately to reflect your new broker’s information. The last thing you want is to be accused of a Code of Ethics violation or false advertising because your website is inaccurate. When designing your website, reconsider making it look too much like your current broker’s brand. This will make the switch from one broker to the next a lot easier. A red and blue website (with a balloon!) when your new broker’s colors are black and gold might pose a problem at some point.
Are you known as the Re/Max (Coldwell, Sotheby’s, or some other company) agent or are you known as the agent who sells Seattle or Boise? While there are definitely benefits to using the power of your broker’s advertising and branding, none of that matters once you leave. By crafting your own brand – ideally through your website and social media – independent of your broker, you’ll still have an audience and lead generation power after you move on.
Take advantage of what (if anything) your broker provides. The office website and other tools can all help build your business. But don’t rely on your broker for all your branding. If you want to be known as the go-to agent for a particular area, make sure your website reflects that so that you’re easy to find even when you change companies.
Assuming you have a website you control and own, branded to you and not your broker, you should also have your own email list. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of contact management systems and email lead generation from your broker, but don’t neglect your own list. Once you leave one company for the next, your list lets you keep on working and attracting clients and customers.
Make sure your agent website has a mechanism for people to register or subscribe to your list. Once you move, especially if some people found you through your former brokerage, send out emails and post on social media about the change. It gives you a good excuse to reach out and touch your contacts while reminding them that you’re still ready and willing to help them list or buy property.
Once you leave one broker for another, your advertising, business card, and possibly even your headshots all need to be changed. The business cards may have been provided by your broker or not but will reflect that company. Any advertising your old broker did on your behalf will stop, but ads you pay for will need to be updated immediately.
Will you need new headshots? That depends on who “owns” the image. Just because it’s a picture of you doesn’t mean you own the image. If your broker paid for them, the images may belong to them. Check before you leave. Frankly, though, updated headshots are always a good idea. Don’t be the person with a 20 year old picture on your business card or on a giant billboard.
Staying loyal to a broker or company for years is commendable and says a lot about you and your broker. Anything can happen, though, and life changes quickly. Even if you don’t plan on leaving, you still need a brand separate and apart from the brokerage. Who knows? One day you might leave because you’re ready to open up your own office. All the branding you do as an agent will definitely come in handy.
Former Communications Director for a local Realtor Association and a big cheerleader for all things real estate related, Michaela is now a full-time freelance writer specializing in real estate and other business industries. When she's not writing the serious business-y stuff, she's likely to be found writing about the hilarity of being a Mom to two rowdy boys.