Recap: ABoR Forum - Topics & Technologies Impacting Brokerages

Key Points  

  • Attribution for each listing is important in name exposure and future opportunities for agents
  • Taking care of your clients and maintaining long-term relationships proves to be more valuable than new clients
  • Ensure that there is a strong equitable exchange between brokers and agents so that trust can build



Tracy Weir opened up the panel by asking what is the brokerage’s value proposition in the 21st century and as expected, each panelist answers varied since they each focus on a different business model. Cary Sylvester believes that education, appropriate tools, and the right people are the key factors to build a big, strong business.

Russ Cofano’s answer focused more on agents—stating that his models focus on how their agents learn, how their agents sell and earn more, and how they help their agents be owners of their own business.

With a different perspective, Redfin’s agents are all employees and earn salary and healthcare and earn pay “just by delivering good service.” Glenn Kelman believes that the brokerage of the future is one that “can help you meet more customers and have meaning.”

Without the national title behind Realty Austin, Jonathan Boatwright seeks agents who are focused on the top line so that when agents meet clients for the first time, the client knows the agent comes from a well-respected brand and is doing good things in the community.

 Equitable exchange between brokers and agents

Many agents feel protective of their data and have hesitations when it comes to sharing their data with brokers. They feel a sense of worry in the case that they leave the brokerage and their client information is passed along and not maintained.

“Why would I build my house on rented land?” – Russ Cofano

Cofano found this quote on a Facebook thread and related it to how agents view their relationship with their brokerage. The way eXp Realty has dealt with this is through co-ownership, in other words, partnered land. Cofano believes that brokers and agents should work together for common goal and that is how trust is perceived.

“We bring a meal to the potluck.” – Glen Kelman

Redfin’s goals is to generate customer contacts for their agents so that agents feel that sense of trust with their brokers. To Kelman, if agents are the only ones generating customers and brokers are asking them to put that in the database, it’s hard because the broker isn’t adding anything to the table.

“We make a promise and stick by that promise.” – Cary Sylvester

Sylvester compared this topic to a recent trip to Walt Disney World, where she used a Magic Band. The Magic Band allowed her to check right into her hotel and charge payments through a wrist device. While Cary knows Walt Disney is obtaining her personal information and habits, she doesn’t mind because “they have given me such value and promised not to sell my information to anyone else. Take this same mindset and build trust for your agents.” When Keller Williams launched their CRM, their business model is that “it’s your business” so from the beginning agents could understand that there is a high sense of trust, feel more comfortable sharing data with their broker, as well as obtain great benefits with having consistent clients.

“It starts with the right compensation plan in place for the budget” – Jonathan Boatwright

At Realty Austin, Boatwright strives to have agents focus on the top line through business planning tools to help obtain new customers. As a broker, he thinks about the end budget and sees what is affordable to spend on each agent.

Attribution on listings  

The panelists agreed that brokers must have an online presence that bring traffic to agents. In a society where mobility is important, an online presence is ideal when it comes to listings. If websites list agents as the listing agent, traffic will come at a much higher rate. When websites don’t add the names of an agent, the agent sees a decrease in the amount of people that visit their site. Agents should continue to strive to get credit for their hard work.

While it may be necessary for a brokerage to build websites, Boatwright felt hesitation on the idea that every agent should have a web presence as well.

“I know of a local broker who spent years and energy helping agents become webmasters and none of the sites generated real business for the agents. If the web isn’t your forte, don’t spend time focusing on that” said Boatwright.

Maintain long-term relationships

A audience member asked for advice on the best way to create client loyalty in the age of Zillow or other portals.

“Sending out emails is not enough.” – Cary Sylvester

Clients enjoy a personal relationship with their real estate professional. Some agents are worried about the 90-day cycle of closing, when in reality it is better to think ahead, such as 1 or 2 years from closing.

“There is no new client that is worth more than a past client.” – Glen Kelman

When it comes to closing rates, profits, and price points, past clients prove to be more valuable. Some brokerages may not put enough energy into existing relationships which prove to hurt in the end. Long-lasting relationships are seen as a base and foundation for a business, according to Kelman.

While each panelist puts their energy into a different business model than the other, each of them are successful in their own way. ABoR does not endorse any specific business models. This panel was designed as a learning experience for our members. At ABoR, we strive to continue to facilitate great conversations in which members can participate in.

We look forward to hosting more forums in the coming year. We encourage you to attend future forums, as they are a great outlet to learn and engage in important industry conversations.


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