Do you ever daydream about owning your own real estate brokerage one day?
For many teams and high-producing agents, opening a brokerage might be the end goal.
But, being a great agent or having a team is very different than owning your own brokerage.
I will be the first to admit–opening a brokerage was not at all what I thought it would be like.
When I opened my own brokerage, I had no idea what was involved. I had been an agent for over a decade. I had more clients coming to me than I could ever handle on my own. I thought the only answer for me at that point in my career was opening my own brokerage.
And, although I LOVED the agents and clients I got to work with solely because of the brokerage I opened, ultimately running my own brokerage was not the job I wanted.
My guest today, on the other hand–Lindsay Dreyer–was born to be a broker owner.
She’s had her thriving real estate brokerage, City Chic Real Estate, for over a decade in one of the most competitive real estate markets in the country.
Before that, she was crushing it as a real estate agent for years.
What I love most about her is she’s an open book. She’ll tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of not only starting your own brokerage, but how to keep building it year after year so it keeps getting better–better for the agents she serves, better for the clients they serve, and better for her as the business owner.
Listen in as she shares her advice on:
- why being a great agent doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a great broker-owner;
- the different set of skills you need to run a brokerage;
- the key steps she took that made real estate agents want to work at her company;
- how she created a one-of-a-kind company culture that attracts the exact agents she wants;
- the one step she regrets skipping early on that would have fast-tracked her business;
- and so much more.
If you think opening your own brokerage is something you’ll do in your career, listen to this episode so you can know whether it’s the right move for YOU and, if so, how to do it successfully and love every minute of it.
To your success,
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
Connect with Lindsay | Instagram | LinkedIn
Lindsay’s Agent Quiz: What Kind of Agent Are You?
City Chic Real Estate
Let’s Get Smart
Do you ever dream of having your own brokerage? Then this episode is for you, my guest today, and I started our very own small boutique brokerages. The very same year in the same exact city. I loved being a high-producing top agent in my marketplace. And I thought that that would translate to loving having my own brokerage. And for me personally, it did not her. On the other hand, she loves being a brokerage owner. She’s great at it and still owns and operates her independently owned brokerage to this day, 12 years later. So you can listen in like a fly on the wall as to brokerage owners, talk about why they started their brokerages when they started their brokerages in their career.
What we loved about it, what we hate about it or hated in my case about it and what we wish we knew when we had started. I hope this episode helps you or anyone. You know, who’s thinking about going down the career path of owning your own brokerage. Welcome to this episode of Confessions of a Top Producing Real Estate Agent. I’m your host, Jennifer Myers, listen in, as I share exactly what I did to go from not being able to sell a house for years to become one of the top 1% of agents in the US even opening my own brokerage full of agents helped me serve all the clients that were coming my way. I taught those agents the same strategies I used and date two became top producing agents. Now through this podcast and agentgradschool.com, I’m sharing those same modern marketing and business strategies with you.
Most of which I learned from looking outside the real estate industry, no fluff, no theory, no outdated sales techniques or paying for leads, just the exact steps to get you to the real estate business you’ve always wanted. And the life outside your business, you’ve always wanted to let’s make it happen and dive into today’s episode. Let’s talk about what it’s like to own your very own brokerage Lindsay, Dreyer of City Chic Real Estate in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Hello, thank you for being my guest today and for sharing your wisdom about what it’s like to open your own brokerage.
Welcome, Lindsay. I’m so excited to talk to you today because you and I both opened our brokerages the same exact year in the same exact city, and you still have one. And I do not. There’s no shame in that game. I think that, I think you are a talented, like small brokerage owner, and I think there’s so many real estate agents across the country who have this dream and goal and desire to be a small brokerage owner. So I want to talk about all the ins and outs of why you love it.
What to think about what your day is like all of those things, and maybe some things that maybe they’re not thinking of, that they should think twice about. If we could People learn from my 10 years of mistakes. That sounds great. I’m always like, wait, why would you Want To Open Your Own Brokerage? But you’re so good at it. All right. So let’s talk about what made you Want To Open Your Own Brokerage. Okay. So I think it helps to go back a little bit. So I was in new home construction sales from 2004 to 2007, the market totally tanked. And I was living in the U street neighborhood of DC.
And I just realized that all of the real estate agents were old. And I was like, why can’t I do this? Like I’m young people are wanting to buy homes here. I should service them. So that started my foray and my journey into general brokerage. So I worked at a really big box, a mid-sized boutique, and then I worked for a startup. So I really felt like Goldilocks, like I could not find the right fit and what it really came down to is that the old way, or the old model of brokerages just didn’t work for me and how I want it to build my business. It was, they didn’t understand how to support me as an individual top producer.
And I was just so frustrated with trying to find a broker that understood me, that I just was like, forget it. I’m 28. I can do this. And I will say, if I had to do it today, it probably wouldn’t have happened because it was a lot of long nights, a lot of time, energy money. And now I’m a mom of three. So like, there’s no way I could do it right now, but I’m glad that I did it when I had the stamina and the drive and the motivation of being 28. So that’s basically what got me into it was I just, I couldn’t find the right fit. So I wanted to create the kind of brokerage that I want to work for. So when you open your brokerage, did you imagine having a bunch of agents, or did you imagine having like a one-woman shop or like a small, you know, person or two?
Like, I think the vision was, I really loved the culture and the environment of the mid-sized boutique that I worked at. So I think that always stuck in the back of my mind was I loved the boutique feeling of having just a really professional, really awesome brokerage, where you had great agents, but everyone was really supportive. And it’s not that you’re on a team, but everyone there’s that team comradery. So like people really liked working with each other. And so that was the type of environment I wanted to create and easier said than done always, but I have never wanted to just grow for growth’s sake.
And when people ask me, what’s my ideal agent count, I always laugh at that because I don’t have one. I want to just grow in a way that keeps things on the right trajectory or like in harmony, like I like harmonious growth for me. It’s never been a, like, let’s blow things out of the water and grow as quickly as possible. But I am very much about like loving my surroundings. And that’s always been something in the 10 years of running city chic that I always want to have harmony. That’s a good goal. Yeah. Right. Like, so often I think in real estate, the goal is always grow so big, right? Like No more, but like, no, like what if it’s just ease and Harmony.
Exactly. That sounds really lovely. So you have your own brokerage. What is your vision to continue selling with that brokerage? How did I always wanted to get out of production? And the reason being is that I am a great real estate agent, but it’s just not where my heart lies, where my heart lies is in actually running a business. And I love all of the stuff that city chic lets me do on the backend. So I love operations. I love systems. I love technology. I love workflows. So it lets me operate in my sphere of genius. Whereas can I sell houses?
Yes. And I did. I sold lots of them, but I really love the actual work that’s involved in running a brokerage. So let’s talk about that. Well, first my question is how did you transition out of sales? I think that like for a lot of us as top producers who open their own brokerages, right. There’s that moment where you’re like, which hat do I wear? Do I wear a bow? Like how did you transition out of sales So hard. Yeah. And I think what it really comes down to is you have to decide, do you want to get out of production or do you not want to get out of production? For me, it was really clear that I wanted to. And I also just don’t think it was feasible for me to run the type of brokerage or grow city chic the way that I wanted to while being in production.
Because as real estate agents know it is exhausting being a real estate agent, it taps your energy. You’re super busy. You have to be constantly on call to put out fires. So being able to sit down and do the like strategic thinking and the actual implementation of running a brokerage, it is so hard. And I wore both hats for the first six years of running city chic. It is hard. I was 15 million personally, and then also running the company. So I don’t recommend it unless you like it, but you have to make a choice. I will say, you have the benefit of being your own venture capitalist, which is wonderful, where you can sell and then your sales fund, the brokerage.
But I think having a long-term plan of what your plan is for production, but just financially, like how is it all going to fit together is just such an important piece. Something that if I had to like rewind, I probably would have tried to get myself out of production earlier. And when that really changed for me was right after I had my first child, my daughter, Lexi, and I joined this brokerage accelerator program called T3. And that changed my life. It took me from being an agent who happened to own a brokerage to putting that broker-owner hat on and building my brokerage, not just being an agent who owns a brokerage anymore.
So I will say that’s when it really flipped for me was 2016. That’s so interesting. And I wish somebody had given me that advice back when I was doing the same thing, because I opened my own brokerage just because I wanted my own like tiny place to do my own thing kind of, cause I was doing my own thing and I didn’t understand the decision of having to decide, do you want to be a broker or do you want to be in production? So clearly. So for so long I was doing both. And I think that is a mistake, especially if you want to have like, so what started happening for me is like agents then started knocking on my door and be like, show us how to do what you’re doing. And that was the moment that I didn’t realize the decision I should’ve made was to put my broker hat on and my production hat off.
And so I think that’s one thing if for all of those agents listening to this who are top producers and think that owning the brokerage is a next step. It may or may not be. But I think what Lindsay saying, and from my mistake, really understanding, are you a production broker or are you a broker I’d eventually, you’re going to have to make that decision. That decision happens when you have other people, other salespeople under you. Yeah. You build it to a certain point. And I think that probably for us, what were we doing? It was probably around like 120 transactions. Is that when it really like that flip had to happen.
And I was just like, all right, this is the crossroads. How am I going to do it? And I’m really grateful for the T3 program that came into my life at that time, because it was exactly what I needed. It was like getting your MBA in broker ownership. And it led me through basically all of the different aspects. And it was actually pretty confidence building for me because what I had realized was I had pretty much all of those aspects, like 75 to 80% of the way there, it’s just that program really helped solidify everything and show me that I was on the right track because that is one thing I wanted to mention is that broker ownership is lonely. It is, you know, you need to have, your agents are not your friends.
You love them to pieces. Like, I mean, I love my team, but like I can’t come to them necessarily with all my business problems. Right. And I shared it. Exactly. So it’s so important to build a network of either peers in other markets where current markets, it doesn’t matter, but you need to have broker peers or mentors or someone who has been in your shoes that you can have therapy sessions with, that you can get advice from because the first six years was just really lonely. Yeah. Yup. Okay. So when you put that, okay, I’m out of production, I’m going into broker-owner hat.
What does the typical day look like for somebody who’s out of production owning their own brokerage? What does that look like? Like is it different today than it was back then? I’d be curious about that too. Definitely evolves. And so I think in the beginning you are wearing every single hat imaginable. And this is how I grew is essentially I am very risk averse when it comes to financials. And I don’t like bringing on employees unless I have to bring on employees because it’s overhead. And I always hate like having to let go of people. So for me, it was all about like sustainable growth, where if we bring on an employee, it makes strategic sense.
So in the first five years, it was really just me doing literally everything. And so it was really hard. And then like the day-to-day was cutting commission checks, like reviewing contracts, answering questions that the agents have putting out marketing materials. I mean, like it was anything you could think of. We were doing it. And then we brought on Jacqueline five years ago and she basically was like my right hand woman. And so she took over like little pieces, little by little, but today her day-to-day is accounting and cutting the checks praise.
I don’t want to do that. She also had a marketing piece for a while. So she was doing like our listing concierge, like entering listings for the agents, designing and printing brochures, like doing all that kind of stuff. She also is doing our contract review in compliance. And so it really Jacqueline awesome. She would take anything that I could throw at her and just run with it. Now when Jacqueline got like tapped out that was brought on a marketing person and the marketing person got to take stuff off my plate and Jacqueline’s plate. So my day-to-day is getting more in the role of strategy and doing more of the backend and company management stuff.
Like I really think it’s important that we train we coach. I also want to make sure that we are always assessing the environment and our other brokerages offering things that maybe we should be offering or are there different ways we can be helping our agents market themselves. And that’s where I love my job is like the creativity of like launching new stuff and just coming up with ways that our agents can interface with the brokerage and just building this awesome ecosystem where they can thrive and the brokerage thrives because we’re truthfully on the same team. So I get to do more of the work that I love. And that’s kind of the great thing as we grow is that I think that’s the thing for any broker owners.
Like you’re the boss. So if you don’t like doing something, you have the power to give that to somebody else. So you can truly craft your dream job, which is incredible. I really can say that I have my dream job. Cool. That’s so cool. You know, we always hear when it comes to brokerages, like really, I feel like the biggest thing as an agent versus a broker is your client changes from like the buyer and seller to really your agents, which also then trickles down to their buyer and seller. So, I mean talk a little bit, I think you are so talented at creating services and really focused on your agents and what can support and lead them to succeed.
I mean, how do you come up with things that help agents succeed? Oh my gosh. Okay. So where do we start with this one? No, no, no, no, no, I I’m totally okay with it. So I think it helps to go a little bit high level on this one. So there is a theory out there that there’s four different types of agents. And this actually is a good chance for me to plug my new agent quiz. You should check it out. It’s in my Instagram bio, but there are four types of agents, prospectors, networkers, converters, and marketers, and city chic. We are really good at supporting networkers and marketers that’s me.
So I know how to support me. And so those are the agents that we have a lot of success with. So our interview process, we’re really looking to try to find out what kind of agent are you going to be if you’re new and then what kind of agent are you now? And will you be a good fit in our ecosystem? So for networkers, those are people who like to get business from referral. People who know them like them and trust them, like those are the social butterflies. And then there’s the marketers, which I know you and I, we are like marketers where we like put our message out there. And we attract people to us either through our niche or through just our wonderful personalities, any of the above.
So that’s the first thing. The second piece is I wholeheartedly deep in my bones believe that referral business is the best business. So I mean like I am great at internet leads. I am great at internet leads, but no referral business is the best business. So referral business basically comes to you through, there’s like two pieces to it. The first is you have to deliver an incredible experience and be memorable. The second piece is you have to stay in touch. We know real estate agents suck at staying in touch on a consistent basis.
They are horrible at it. They like rightly so their life they’re like professional firefighters, basically. They’re just like spraying water on deals constantly, just like It’s happening. And I’m getting so instead of being angry at real estate agents for not doing things, I’m like, we’re just going to do it for you because it not only benefits your business, but it also benefits my business because I’m in the business of making you successful in getting you more business. So that’s really the lens of like our agent support was how can we let real estate agents focus on what they’re great at? Because we expect as an industry, we expect real estate agents work way, too many hats.
We expected to be experts at everything when they’re not like, how could you be? It’s impossible. So that’s really like our suite of support is that we do our email marketing. It’s all managed for the agents. We do a monthly postcard. That’s all sent to their database automatically and it’s from them. And that’s the key. Everything is from them. It’s not like only me. It’s not me at all. It doesn’t have my face on it. It doesn’t have Lindsay on it at all, but it’s like from them. And then we have like little touches because the unexpected also is super important. So we have a moving box kit plug for biz boxing. They are awesome. And then we do quarterly gifting through client giant and that’s after closing.
And that’s basically like a really cute quarterly gifts and from The Agent for all of our Byron’s seller clients. So anything we can do to help our agents look good and to take things off of their plate so they can sell more real estate and build more relationships. Like that’s what, Yeah, it’s so great. It’s so simple, but it’s so needed. And it’s like not happening in so many places. So I don’t know if it’s a misconception or not. I don’t know. I keep getting into, why would somebody want to open up their own brokerage? And I feel like it’s either like, so kind of risen to the top of their game and they’re kind of looking around and being like, okay, what’s next? I got this on board.
Like give me a new challenge, which I think most successful entrepreneurs are always like, okay, great. I rose to the top. Now, what else is out there? Yeah, it’s a real city. You get no promotion. Like you’re never voted. That’s why some people want a brokerage. And I do think that there are people who think being a broker or having a brokerage is like a money baker. And so I’m curious your thoughts, maybe I don’t, I’m not asking you to share necessarily like specific finances, but let’s talk about the financial piece of it. Having a brokerage. I good financial investment, I guess, is the right question or for those here’s my, here’s my experience owning a brokerage.
You’re going to make more money as an agent in the, then you are as a broker, Definitely Loving life and that money. That’s kind of you’re at the point where we were opening our brokerage. My thought is that you are had a high level of production. It will not be the same level of income, correct. If you really grow it, but we’re not talking. If you think about it. Like my biggest line item on my accounting statement is agent commissions. So the majority of the money that city chic is bringing in, goes out the door immediately to pay the agents. And really so like they deserve it. They worked really hard for it, but that doesn’t leave a ton left for salaries, rent, insurance, technology, marketing, all of the same office space, all the Services that you’re also giving me Exactly all the things.
So if you are purely money driven, you are not smart to open a real estate brokerage. I would say, think really long and hard about it. The middle ground is you start a team. And that way a lot of the line items that I just mentioned are paid for by the brokerage now in exchange, obviously there’s a split involved or a monthly fee or whatever, however, admin fees or Harvard, or you get their money. But I would strongly consider just starting a team And also know that being a broker is a full-time job, a hundred percent. Like it’s not a passive income thing. I think so often people are like, well, you know what my broker doing?
Or like, you know, it’s not a passive thing. I mean, the constant you show up every single day in service of your agents and doing all the things that make them go out there and be successful. It is a full time. Yes, it is definitely a full-time job. You don’t get vacations. Typically you are on call. And at some point, I hope we can hire a managing broker, but I don’t think we’re there. And I don’t know that we’ll be there for another year or two minimum. So we’ll see. But yeah, it takes a while and maybe it’s not a misconception, maybe you’re right. But I do have people whenever they say, what do you do? I’m like, I own a real estate brokerage. Like, oh, you must make so much money.
And I just laugh in their face. It’s like, truthfully, if that 110 million in production was just me as an agent, that would be amazing. Yeah. Yeah. So what do you love about being a broker or owning your own brokerage? Yeah, so part of it is I am an entrepreneur and I hate that word, but I just am through and through like, I love owning a business. I love the thought exercises that I have to go through of just like making it work. I also think being a business owner, broker owner definitely makes me a better person. Just my empathy, my people skills, everything has been heightened and that also might just be being a mom too.
But I think that it makes me grow. And as soon as you stop growing, that’s when you get bored. And every week there is a new challenge that makes me flex muscles that I haven’t had to use. So I think that’s the number one thing that I get out of it. And what would you say is one of the things that like, I don’t know, it’s not like the negatives of being a broker, but like for people who are really truly thinking, is this the leap I want to make? What are maybe some of the, like, things that you’d be like really think through X, Y, and Z, like, here’s what it’s really going to be like day to day. And for me it was like, like admin part of it, like the cutting, the check, the being responsible for every, I dotting critique crossing on that contract, chasing the form.
That was the part for me that I was like, Oh, I know I don’t like that party there. Luckily I can like give that to somebody else, but I’m with you, But it had to be you at First. Yeah. And so I think if you don’t like wearing every hat, then it’s probably, that’s something to think about. Can you outsource it? Can you hire somebody? Can you get some help? The other thing is it would be wise to get a business coach or a mentor or somebody who could really get exactly. Because if I had done that from the jump, we would be five years further along than we are right now.
Let me happy with where we are, but it’s just, that would have given me a head start. And I definitely feel like it would spin my wheels on a lot of things that I probably didn’t need to expect to cry a lot. Take it personally. You can’t take any of that personally, but definitely be prepared to cry a lot. Cause that happens a lot. Also. I think we talked about it, but having a plan to get out of production, like that’s definitely one of them. I think that it’s helpful to just know, are you getting out and what’s the time horizon that it looks like also think about your super power. Like I think everybody has like their magic thing that they’re great at, or they have something that they’re really good at for me, it was definitely lead generation and marketing.
And so in the early days of my brokerage, like that was really the draw for agents to come to you. So I would say like recruiting and hiring agents in this environment is extremely competitive. And so you can’t necessarily do it by yourself. You have to have agents that want to work with you and, or new to the business agents that you’re training up to grow into experienced agents. So have a plan for recruiting and have a plan for retention because you do need agents to grow. And I think that was something that I didn’t necessarily focus on so much in the beginning was there has to be a magnet to get those people to you. So at first it was lead generation, but now I would say in this phase of the brokerage, it’s less around lead generation and more around support services and the things that we take off the agent’s plate.
So they’re able to just go and sell. Yeah. Which is huge for agents. I think that like, you know, as I always teach insight Agent Grad School, right. Being able to answer that question, why you, and now on the brokerage level, right? Like you’re always asking yourself that question. I think you just answered it, but why should an agent choose your brokerage? What is it that they won’t get elsewhere? It’s that we support individual high-producing agents really well. And it’s the ones that built their business off of referral past clients and just their network of people. And so that’s our ideal fit is somebody who doesn’t really want to start a team doesn’t want to manage employees like their own admin or anything like that.
But they do want to grow a multiple six-figure business while still having a life. So that’s our ideal agent is somebody who doesn’t really want to start a team, but they do want to make really great money, but they also don’t want to work more than 40 hours a week. Yeah. I feel like a lot of agents would be like, yeah, that’s me raise my hand. I, that they’re listening to us right now. One thing that you think you’re really gifted at is creating culture in an organization. And I think city, she has such a powerful, fun culture, a culture, unlike any brokerage I’ve ever witnessed. How do you create that culture? Such like a buzzword?
I don’t know what the right word is, but like, I don’t know. You guys have the fun, how do you create that? It’s like a garden where you have your seeds and you plant them and you water them and you have to weed. And then you tend to the plants that are really great and growing, there’s a book I read really early on called the pumpkin plan and I highly recommend it. It’s great. But it’s basically like get the rotten pumpkins out of your patch. And that is something that I definitely take to heart is that if an agent is a rotten pumpkin in our patch, they get out immediately. And so I am very protective of the agents that are at city chic and I am also very protective of the atmosphere and the environment that we have.
So if someone came in and had a huge ego or started making people feel crappy or was like really competitive or not helpful, or just rude, then even if they did a hundred million in production, I’d pluck them out of our pumpkin patch. Because as I said, harmony is more important to me than money. So you have to be very intentional about the environment and you have to constantly be managing it and tending to it, just like a garden. I think it’s also important to have a pulse on how your agents are feeling and look out for warning signs. So, I mean, you have to see like, have you not talked to somebody in like three weeks? Like maybe something’s happening or they, okay.
So managing agents, it’s an environment. It’s not culture. It’s like managing that environment. It’s a full-time job in and of itself a lot of times, especially because it’s not. So office-based where, like you don’t get to go into an office and see everybody every day, like agents are out about doing their selling during their whatever. So I try to have check-ins and then we use slack for our team messaging, which just ends up being like our virtual water cooler. And it’s hilarious. Like people just post the funniest stuff on there. So we have like a really it’s our, we have a very virtual office, but I don’t think it’s any less close than somebody who works in a physical office.
I feel like it’s even better because you can’t like post you can’t like post memes or whatever on the water cooler. But like, yeah, I think it’s so great to get to know people that way. That’s so fun. Any other like words of advice for agents who are thinking about the brokerage route and just to be clear for anyone listening, like what the theater we’re talking about. I think it’s like the small, locally owned boutique brokerage, which could range from like a few agents to like maybe 50, maybe 40. We’re not talking about the big franchises with hundreds of agents. There’s a place and a time for that, but that’s not what Lindsay, and I know.
And so that’s the frame of reference that we’re talking about as far as like have your own brokerage, right? I mean, And Nope. I think if I were to like to do this all over again, like let’s go back to ground zero, let’s talk to 28-year-old Lindsay. So I would have told her don’t be a lone Wolf, go get help. Talk to somebody who has done this before and run your business plan by them, like run the different things like training, recruiting, operations, financials, like what your split model is like. There’s so many things that go into it that you really retention. I mean, just so like I would put together a business plan first and foremost, and I would run it by somebody who has done this before.
And I think having that conversation alone would be a really good first step. And it’s something I totally skipped. The other thing I’d probably just tell 20 year old Lindsey is get out of production sooner. You need to focus a hundred percent on building this business. And it’s going to suck for the first couple of years, like is going to be hard. I had to borrow from my 401k. I had to borrow $40,000. Luckily that’s been paid doubly at least. So like, it’s just, it takes a time investment and a money investment. And if you don’t have the time and or the money think really long and hard about it, the other thing is just because you’re a great agent, doesn’t make you a great brokerage owner and great rate Agents.
So many people think translate. They are only different things. Totally different jobs, totally different skillset, totally different jobs. That was the thing that I was not aware of. Yeah. And like agents I think are so independent. They love their freedom. They love to do whatever they want. And when you’re a brokerage owner, you know, your Bo like your brokerage is your ball and chain. You don’t have freedom. You can’t just do what you want. So like, does it give you other things? It absolutely does. Like, I get so much satisfaction out of changing our agents’ lives. Like people are making six figures that would have never made six figures.
Like all of that stuff is like intrinsically very rewarding. Like I love seeing people succeed. Like that is just, it warms my heart, but I also loved the work that also is like another thing I love getting into like a CRM. And I love like having an action plan or drip campaign. And I’m like, whoa, this is great. Like, let’s do more of this. So yeah. They’re Very Seriously. I would like to find a replica of me. It’s very hard. Anything else? Sorry. I like chimed in there, but I think your point is so like, do not underestimate this. If you’re listening, like it has a different job, different skillset and just make sure that you want to do the job.
Yeah. And you want to manage people because that’s really what it is, is you’re managing your employees and you’re managing the real estate agents or not managing real estate agents, but you’re those people like, that’s your client. Like you have to love real estate agents. And like, I think I have a deep love for real estate agents because I was one. And I also felt like I was a misunderstood real estate agent. So I love that. I’ve surrounded myself with agents that understand how I view the business. And so we have a like mutual self-appreciation. And like, I feel like it’s a very cohesive relationship where their success is my success. And like they plug into our system and have success and that’s really important and not everyone fits.
And so that’s where the pumpkin planning comes in is if it’s not a good fit, like you can pluck yourself out of the patch. That’s okay. No hard feelings, Anything else you want to add your sample of wisdom? So I’m like Dumb. I flipped the script. Should I start interviewing you now? Because your day Let’s see. Oh, one thing that I feel like you should definitely consider is I wouldn’t name it after yourself. And that becomes a very hard thing to change later on. And it also becomes very hard to extract yourself. So I would not call it anything remotely related to your name.
Branding and marketing is obviously super important. So hire a professional to do your branding package for you. I think, especially in the DC area at such a sophisticated market that you can’t look like you created your logo in Canva. Like it has to actually be designed. So pay for, yeah, it’s a big investment. I mean, we did a rebrand 1000 Watts last year and it was five figures. It’s not cheap, but it’s totally worth it. I think it was an amazing use of money. It really needs to be a business. I think that’s ultimately what it comes down to is that you are creating a whole standalone business.
And if that’s the type of person you are and that’s how your mind works. I think it’s a really fun thing to do. I obviously like it. So I’m not trying to discourage people from doing it, but I think that so many people think they sh they’re a great agent, so they should open a brokerage where I feel like maybe they should just either start a team or maybe they should just go all in on their own production and hire like a showing agent or an admin to do their TC or something like that. So I think it involves a little bit of self-awareness to do it well. Yeah. And I think be slow about it, you know, like really consider it and understand what it is Definitely. And maybe an interim step is to start a team with the name that you’re considering for your brokerage.
And then that way you can just try it out and try to emphasize, see how it feels, hire some buyer’s agents under you, maybe start like building your use case. I do think that that is an interim step because going from independent agent to team lead to broker owner, I think is probably a better transition than what I did, which was independent agent to broker owner. And that’s what I did too. And I was like, whoa. Yeah. I think I would have learned a lot more about myself if I had gone to team. Yeah. And there are those people like you and I who like weren’t T you know, we just, for whatever reason, didn’t go the team route. I can’t explain why, but it just didn’t make sense to me. But I think you’re right from a experience before you jumped standpoint would have been, I think for us it was teams.
Just, weren’t a thing really that much, like if you think about like 2011, like teams hadn’t taken off the way they are now. And I think teams now are just so much more prevalent that it’s just more of a natural inclination for people to start a team. But again, it goes back to like, don’t name it after yourself because you’re going to get Exactly. Yeah. I think when I was doing the economics, cause I, you know, was at a brokerage and I did the economics for a team because I really needed the help. And I was like, this isn’t making sense for me. It was like X amount and this amount. And I was like, it just wasn’t making sense. So for me, that was one of the reasons I jumped is just the economics of it.
Didn’t make it Really actually like a good point. We didn’t dive into, which is how do you structure your split? You have to have a really solid value prop for your financials. And so you don’t have like a lot of the big boxes, they’ll say, well, you’re on this split because you get to benefit from this national brand and blah, blah, blah. And so you don’t actually get to claim that card. So you have to have a solid, solid pitch and a solid value prop to explain why you’re taking money from a real estate agent. And I think for some boutiques that’s harder because they don’t feel like they have the resources or the whatever. But again, it goes back to your super power.
Like, what are you incredible at? Is it training agents? Is it mentoring agents? Is it marketing? Is it lead generation, whatever you’re awesome at. Like that’s the value prop that you’re going to bring in the beginning to those agents that are working with you. You have to keep all that in mind. So for me, one of the things that I was super irritated about at the last brokerage I was at was that I was on a 85% split for my personal business. And it was a 50% split for anything referred. And I thought it was really stupid. I was basically incented to discriminate on who I worked harder for.
So when I founded city chic, it was like, I don’t care where this lead comes from, can come from your sphere. It can come from me. I really don’t care. It’s all one split. And so I didn’t want agents to have an incentive to treat clients differently. That seemed wrong. Exactly what I did. And I had a very generous split. Everyone was like, your split is too generous. Cause I get so many leads away. And I was like, yeah, but I want them to like, love them, treat them how I would treat them. And I would want, I wouldn’t treat them very well. I mean, it’s something subconscious that happens. No, agent’s going to be like, because it’s seven, but it’s just like it’s And it is conscious.
Maybe you don’t follow up as much or maybe you don’t try as hard or whatever. And it also turns if it falls off or something. Yeah. And it also just tended to be lower dollar volume because that broker-owner was a competing broker. He was taking off the hot, awesome business anyway. So it was like a hundred thousand dollar client. And I had to have 50% split and I was just like, there’s not even a house. That’s 150,000. So, so that’s another thing that’s true is the financial piece has to make sense for the value you’re delivering. I’m seeing way too many agents starting these hundred percent brokerages. And what they don’t realize is that only works at scale.
You have to have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of agents working for you in order for that to be a profitable model. And I think it’s shortchanging a lot of people where you have to always be thinking, how can I drive value? How can I drive value? But I don’t think all agents are obsessed with keeping as much of their commission as possible. It’s all about like, do they value what they exchange that commission for? Exactly. Exactly. And I think this exchange is a two way street. So like, I’m like when I think a hundred percent agent or a hundred percent company I’m, but they’re going to give me nothing, which is fine, but I want like, it’s pretty much like you pay for what you get. So if you’re going to want to highest split, the services are going to be minimized, it’s just purely economics.
And so like, you know, what do you want to offer your agents as the broker? What can, and will you offer them? And is it an even exchange for both parties? And it goes into also like the difference between like an independent boutique brokerage and like a big box that, that like, I like to compare it to like the independent coffee shop on the corner and Starbucks. It’s like, you walk into your corner coffee shop. They know you, they know your order, they know your dog’s name. Like they’re like, Hey, what’s that like, it’s that relationship? And like, it’s a personal thing. Whereas you go into Starbucks, you ordered on the mobile app and you’re just picking it up. So I think that Exactly In it, they don’t know you, they don’t even care to know you and that’s fine.
Like I sometimes need the anonymous experience of a Starbucks. It’s all right. But I think that that’s the advantage or it can be something you can play up is you’re going to get the independent coffee shop experience at city chic real estate. Like we’re going to know your order. We’re going to know how you like your listings, input it in the MLS. We’re going to know your design aesthetic. Like we’re going to know all of these things about you. We know how you like to operate, like all of the things. Whereas like if they went to a huge big box that marketing person, isn’t going to know their preferences, like they’re not going to know anything And it’s going to be more standardized. Exactly. It absolutely does.
And I think there’s a fit. That’s another misconception is that like everybody has to work at every brokerage. It’s like, there are so many different flavors of real estate brokerage out there. And you just have to know like what kind of agent you are and what your target agent demographic is. Your agent personas that you’re servicing and just go all in on it. Like you just have to know what is your niche? And then just go. That’s great advice for brokers and agents alike. Totally. So, okay. If people want to cyber hang out with you, see, you find you stock you, how do you, how do they, Okay, so Lindsey, L I N D S a Y city chic, find me on the gram.
You can also find me at Lindsay at city chic, realestate.com, check out our website. And we also launched an agent personality quiz. So if you’re curious which one you are, the link is in my Instagram bio, or I can email it to you, but I just created it. So I love to get feedback on it and see if you think it’s accurate. Oh my gosh. I love it. Okay. So just so everybody knows, city chic is a C I T Y C H I c.com. It’s Real estate.com Real estate.com. Cheek.com is a plus sized clothing store, which I didn’t know until I started city chic. Just hilarious. So, yeah. So if you end up there at the real estate version, all right.
Thanks, Lindsay. Thank you for doing what you’re doing. Thank you for listening to this episode of Confessions of a Top Producing Real Estate Agent. We purposely keep this podcast sponsor and commercial-free so we can focus solely on providing real estate agents with the content that will help them grow their real estate business. And how about life? They love out five of business too, but we need your help to get this podcast in the hands of other real estate agents. So please, if you liked this episode, leave a review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening, and also tell your agent friends to listen in to thank you so much for supporting the show for being a listener and supporting other agents along your way to success.
That’s what this is all about. See you next time. On another episode of Confessions of a Top Producing Real Estate Agent. And until then come hang with me over at agentgradschool.com. We’ll see you there.