When you have spent your entire career in real estate as I have, you learn to manage the inevitable ebbs and flows of the industry. I’ve seen trends come and go. I’ve seen markets rise and fall. But in the end, the longevity, integrity and sustained growth of this industry continues to make it a dynamic and rewarding career path.
My experiences leading some of the most prominent real estate brands in the world have given me a unique perspective as I take on my new role leading the strategic direction for Realogy Expansion Brands. I’ve learned that in order to thrive in this industry—whether you are the head of a franchise, own a brokerage or work as an agent—you need to be prepared to make tough decisions to grow your business. Even the smallest choices matter when you work toward your goals.
As we move into a new decade, the industry is witnessing a dramatic shift in terms of consumer and agent expectations. Clients expect more bundled services. Agents need better ways to maintain long-term client relationships to gain referral and repeat business. Meeting these expectations means having the right tools in place. Technology is no longer a value proposition—it’s table stakes. Companies must recognize and respond to this evolution to remain viable and relevant.
This past year, ERA Real Estate’s objective was to better support our affiliated brokers in the form of new strategic partnerships, resources and programs that help position the agent at the center of the homeownership lifecycle.
A perfect example of this is the brand’s new relationship with HomeAdvisor, a digital marketplace that connects homeowners with pre-screened, local service professionals to carry out home improvement, maintenance and remodeling projects. Now, clients working with an ERA broker have access to HomeAdvisor’s network of top-rated and reviewed service professionals in their area through a self-service website and dedicated call center. ERA was the first real estate partner to offer this concierge service network-wide, giving participating brokers another client touchpoint, while providing a value-added experience for buyers and sellers.
Additionally, ERA Real Estate recently launched ERA Moves, a strategic client outreach program. This tool offers ERA-affiliated, independent agents two ways to stay top of mind with their clients, positioning them as local market experts. One of its components provides applicable homeowner discounts through agent-branded, automated emails. It also provides clients with a concierge service that reduces the stress, time and expense associated with the moving process. ERA was the first to offer this service nationwide, all at zero cost to the agent and broker. More importantly, however, the program creates another way for affiliated agents to remain in contact with their clients throughout the homeownership lifecycle. And the best part? It also creates an additional stream of revenue for affiliated brokerages through referral fees. (More: Keeping Agents Top of Mind With ERA Moves)
Now more than ever, the industry is recognizing that profitability is a competitive advantage. At ERA, we encourage our affiliated brokers to “Grow Your Way”—offering them the flexibility to choose what makes sense for their business goals, whether it’s through the addition of ancillary business, customized branding or providing business consulting services. And when it comes to empowering people to make pioneering changes to their business, the strength of the ERA network is formidable. A consistent story I hear from ERA brokers is how they love to inspire, support and work with their colleagues across the network, including sharing their listing presentations, compensation strategies or blueprints for creating additional revenue through ancillary businesses.
This is what organically happens when you have a brand with such an influential culture of collaboration.
Ron Restaino, founder and owner of Restaino & Associates ERA Powered, recently shared that they were courted by many franchisors over the years and would listen politely, but ultimately declined each offer because they all required the brokerage to swallow their brand—their identity—and essentially give up their autonomy. All of that changed when he learned about the ERA Powered concept and realized it was the solution they had been looking for all along—a franchise that gives the tools, service and support needed, while allowing them to remain who they ultimately wanted to be.
ERA’s “Grow Your Way” value proposition will be instrumental as we look at how the brand will continue to grow in the next decade and beyond.
We will continue to build upon the brand’s founding principle that each customer, independent sales agent and brokerage is unique and should be free to develop their business as they see fit. Companies who affiliate with ERA get the best of both worlds: the support, technology and leverage that comes with joining a national brand with nearly 50 years of success, as well as the ability to retain their own local brand identity.
A new decade brings a host of exciting prospects, including the opportunity to get closer to the consumer and help them manage the changes in their own lives. “The only thing constant is change” is an appropriate expression for all of us in this industry. At ERA, adapting to change is not enough. We want to create change. We’re excited by the opportunities that lie ahead and look forward to TEAM ERA being a changemaker in 2020 and beyond.
Sherry Chris is president and CEO of ERA Real Estate. For more information, please visit www.era.com.