A little over three years ago, I took the leap to go out on my own and open Csira Properties, an independent boutique brokerage in Laguna Beach. I loved the thought of being able to promote my own brand, entrench myself as a business leader in the community and operate a brokerage that simply did what was best for its clients. I believe I have succeeded in all those areas.
As a small shop, though, it became evident that keeping up with and employing the latest technologies in order to provide the highest level of services was an overwhelming task. In fact, the industry as a whole has been slow to develop and adopt better tools for agents to work more efficiently. A few reasons that progress in the real estate space has been so slow are: A) Many brokers set out to create their own technology tools. It probably does not come as a surprise that talented software developers would rather work for a tech firm than a real estate brokerage. The bottom line is, brokers just are not good at developing technology; B) Technology tools for the real estate industry created by software companies invariably address just a single problem. Using such a tool does not integrate with other tools. As a result, agents were required to jump from one application to another, cutting and pasting and making multiple entries of the same information. It was time-consuming, inefficient and error prone; 3) There was little incentive for a true tech company to develop a cohesive software suite to address the many challenges faced by real estate professionals because brokerages could not afford to pay for such a product.
REASON NUMBER ONE: BUSINESS MODEL
There are some really curious things about Side. For example, Side does not have real estate offices. That’s right: no brick-and-mortar locations. No super high-rent retail space hoping to attract walk-in clients. Instead, they operate out of their headquarters in San Francisco where the developers, creative team, marketing department, legal/risk management and all other employees work together with a singular focus: Find ways to help their “partners” (partners are the real estate professionals in the field) to be more successful. This, they do with an unwavering focus.
Want to know another curious thing? They don’t promote their name. No, that’s not quite right; they actually remain completely ANONYMOUS. Ridiculous, right? It’s actually brilliant. Instead, they make a huge up-front investment for each of their partners to develop a unique, meaningful brand that speaks to their local market and represents the personality and values of that partner. This is a brand the partner owns. Then, as the partners invest their advertising dollars, they do so proudly, promoting their own brand, not some corporate name over which they have no ownership.
REASON NUMBER TWO: SIDE IS A TECHNOLOGY COMPANY
So, liberated from the business of managing large, expensive offices, Side is able to focus exclusively on improving their technology tools and agent services. They ravenously solicit feedback from the field agents, anxious to address the needs of their partners. This feedback is given to the technology team to dissect, analyze and conquer.
The result, so far, is an elegant, comprehensive, user-friendly suite of products that takes away many of the mundane tasks performed by Realtors while improving the accuracy of their work and ensuring the integrity of the transaction. Seamlessly coordinating the myriad tasks (and people) required in these complex transactions, this not only relieves much of the burden placed upon the agent, but also results in a more rewarding experience for buyers and sellers.
REASON NUMBER THREE: THE SIDE PEOPLE
Corporate culture, obviously, starts from the top. In this regard, Side’s founders have made it clear that they will only allow, kind, ethical, caring partners into their fold. Partners join by invitation only. It is an exclusive club. The partners they choose are also highly successful, highly productive professionals in their own right. Speaking for myself, after having met the founding partners, I want Cove Canyon to succeed as much for them as I do for myself. I genuinely believe that to be a mutual thought.
The people philosophy has clearly had a trickle-down benefit. I have had the pleasure of working closely with the creative team, launch team, my business manager, trainers, support staff and others. Without exception, I have been made to feel that the success of my business is as important to them as it is to me. That’s an extraordinary statement.
The results of Side’s approach speaks for itself: Side has the highest sales-per-person of any large brokerage in the industry. Additionally (and astoundingly) they have become one of the nation’s 20 largest brokers in just three short years of existence.
This is a brand new adventure for me, I mean, Cove Canyon, but I could not be more enthusiastic and confident. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or comments about this post.