Technology

A little broker website sucess story (and desperate wake-up call for big brokers)

Author
Brian Boero
No.
317
Date
02/06/09

We’ve received a ton of great feedback on the “Top Ten Real Estate Brokerage Websites in America” report we published with Real Trends back in October. Brokers big and small have come out of the woodwork to share their stories and seek our help.

Jonathan Kaufman’s story is one of the best. Here’s an excerpt from an email he sent us last week:

“I launched my own real estate brokerage in August 2008 because I know the industry is changing and I didn’t want to be under the umbrella of my old brokerage.  Although I don’t know the model of the future, I know that I need to get out there and try new things”something I couldn’t do in my old situation.  I figured it was much more of a risk to stay where I was versus breaking off on my own.  So, I took the plunge.

As a start, I wanted a top-of-the-line web presence – something that spotlighted my real estate beliefs, something that set me apart, and something that would allow me to connect with the type of buyers and sellers that I wanted to work with.  I spent countless hours researching other brokerage web sites and read your ‘Top Ten’ report in late October.  It was a wealth of information and made me think about a lot of aspects of my site (and business).  Along with my web designers, we picked the report apart and took a lot of great ideas from it.”

Take a look at the results here.

What’s he’s done is killer. There are some things I might change, but I’m not going to quibble here. The point is Jonathan created something excellent. It’s worth serious study.

Jonathan’s site is better in terms of design, usability and brand coherence than almost all big broker sites. Indeed, some of the major brands could benefit from going to school on it.

So congratulations to Jonathan.

But this is about more than a website. Think again about what Jonathan says above:

“” I know the industry is changing and I didn’t want to be under the umbrella of my old brokerage.  Although I don’t know the model of the future, I know that I need to get out there and try new things”something I couldn’t do in my old situation.”

Big brokers, pay attention: There are thousands of Jonathans out there right now. They’re smart, skilled, and confident. They have no need for the mother’s milk of a desk, of shockingly remedial “training”, of the legal backstopping required by the average recruit.

They are businesspeople. And they are leaving.

Kris did. Jay did. And so did Jonathan.

Brokerage companies are in for a serious brain drain unless they can use their assets in a manner that supports, rather than inhibits, these stars.

What are those assets? Well, at the top of the list – hopefully – is a brand. Not just a recognizable icon, but a marker imbued with some sort of meaning. Most real estate brands have been suffered the whips and scorns of thousand agent glamour shots, but for many companies, there’s something there worth saving.  Save it. How this is done is a long, always complicated process we’re working on with several clients right now.

The other lies in scale. Theoretically. The average big brokerage, being big, has people and resources the average agent or solo broker does not. The problem is that in many cases, it’s the wrong people using resources the wrong way. The typical brokerage marketing department has little to offer the Jonathans of the world, but it could. Doing so involves cutting the cord on lots of non-productive initiatives and creating a strategy (as opposed to halting, half-baked forays) for delivering new value to agents and consumers.

But I digress. And Jonathan’s broker has lost his opportunity anyway.

 — Brian Boero