One network head reveals what could cause agents to search for a better partner in their real estate business.
REB Talks to Barry Plant’s Mike McCarthy about what causes agent dissatisfaction and the tipping point for agents who are looking for something better.
What do you think might make an agent switch groups? What do agents become dissatisfied with?
It depends whether you’re talking about individual agents or an office. There’s probably two different answers to that.
I think with individual agents often it comes down to the office environment that they’re working in. Are they getting support from their principal and manager? And they’re not things that always come naturally to someone that sets up their own business, so training and support in that area I think is very important ... so that you’re helping office principals. Many young office principals have joined our group over the years who we’ve helped coach and mentor through our more experienced franchise management team, and they have turned into really great business owners. They’ve obviously got a lot of skill and talent themselves, but in that right environment an individual sales person level is important in the office.
Secondly, I guess at an individual level, if they’re not seeing that they’re getting the tools or support that they need or want from the brand, and they don’t feel like they’re the right brand reputation working with them as well, then naturally I think they would start to look around to see if there’s a better option.
As far as individual offices and changing groups, that’s an interesting one. We have had a lot of growth in the past 17 years. We’ve gone from 29 offices to about 84 ... so it’s been good, steady growth during that time to take us to the number one spot in Victoria. We have done that through a combination of two things. One is our own people going out and opening up offices, so looking for an opportunity, and that’s been a big part of our growth because they already know they like our culture of course. But then we’ve had a number of offices join us from other groups as well.
There’s a really good example, and I will refer to them because I do use them publicly and they’re comfortable with it, and that’s our Mildura office. They joined us five years ago now, 2011 they came on board. They were looking at their options, they were with another small franchise group who I don’t think exist anymore. They were looking at a range of options of national groups and some local state-based groups.
Our proposition to them was very simple. We said, ‘Look, really the only reason to join a group is to grow your business and make more profit. Whichever group you join, you’re not going to join with someone you don’t like or you don’t think the culture’s right, so let’s assume we all tick that box, at the end of the day what you really want is a group that’s going to help you make more money, to put it bluntly. We can show example after example over a 12-year history of offices that have joined us and have significantly increased their turnover and profitability’.
We showed them many examples of that, and we said, ‘If there’s another group that can show you that same track record here in the Victorian market, because each market’s a little bit different, then by all means we would understand your decision to go with another group. But if they can’t show you that, if they can’t show you how they can grow your business that way, then I think we’ve got the runs on the board to say join our group and here’s all the things we will do to support you’.
A really strong support program is important. They joined us obviously. During that time, they have grown their business by close to 100 per cent over five years in a market that hasn’t really had that significant growth. They were a very good business to begin with. They were a small business, they were probably a number three in the market I would say, and they’re now a very clear number two and pushing for number one. They’re the number one competitor in that market of Mildura. They’re very strong but they have grown significantly.
To their credit, what they’ve done is they’ve implanted everything we’ve trained them on, everything we taught them, they’ve done it almost without question.
The results speak for themselves. They are our second largest office in the group by volume of sales. They did well north of 400 sales over the past couple of years, so it’s been a real success story. So I think they’re the kind of reasons why people look to change brands in my view.