I am a firm believer that bigger isn’t always better. For proof, I don’t have to look further than my own company. We have just over 300 agents across four offices — in some locations, this might seem like a lot, but by New York standards, we’re a smaller shop. Even so, we get the job done.
Make no mistake: You don’t have to be a Goliath to make an impact in your real estate market. Here are five things you can do to make any small brokerage shine:
1. Invest In Your Logo
McDonald’s has the golden arches, Nike has the swoosh and Apple has, well, the apple. All great brands have an easily identifiable logo — something that makes them stand out and sets them apart from the competition. Aside from providing invaluable aesthetic brand recognition, your logo should reflect your company’s values. Whether it’s sleek, ornate, timeless, modern, big or small, your logo makes a lasting impression.
2. Get Social
If you aren’t already using one of the many social media platforms available, then you’re missing out on some valuable and relatively inexpensive exposure. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn or a combination of all the above, social media allows you to communicate directly with your consumers. Over 65 million businesses are now using Facebook Pages, and more than 5 million businesses are actively using paid advertising on the site.
If social media can influence customer relationships, small brokerages can level the playing field with their larger competitors through intelligent posting and advertising. But, be careful not to just blast self-serving information at your followers. Make sure you are actively engaging with your audience.
3. Big Experiences Over Big Spending
Big brokerages will outspend smaller ones when it comes to a lot of things. How do the little and midsize guys compete against national brands that have money to spare and quadruple the work force? You give your clients a superior experience. Customers like to feel important, especially when they are buying something as large and personal as a home. A real estate agent, and by extension the brokerage, cannot be a one-size-fits-all experience. Aim for specialized service over a buffet of pre-packaged options.
4. Stay Human
All the fancy technologies out there today promise to make the work process for real estate agents more seamless and efficient. New programs promise digital communication from search to signing. Well, I think that’s doing your clients a disservice. Small brokerages can compete with the big guns simply by meeting with clients in person, really listening to what their needs are and sending a nice, personalized note and closing gift once the deal is done. Technology might help with speed, but it’s personality that keeps clients coming back time after time.
5. Company Culture Matters
External marketing campaigns help generate buzz, but your best brand ambassadors come from within. Word of mouth is still a highly effective marketing tool, especially when the process is organic. A company culture that excites agents will spread like wildfire because your agents will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on. You really can’t buy this type of publicity because it’s genuine.
Our culture-building efforts include special luncheons or dinners with agents and at least one annual bowling night for staff. We have holiday parties with ugly sweater themes and shuffle board competitions on Tuesday nights. In return, we see how a strong company culture leads to attraction and retention.
No matter your size, it’s important to define your company ethos, and ensure that it permeates every aspect of your brand. Small brokerages have just as much to offer as big ones, but they have the ability to be more flexible. A smaller size allows for faster adaptation and evolution — which is necessary to stay relevant. You don’t have to be big to be bold.