Starting a brokerage isn’t without its unique set of challenges—for one, expect production to dip.
“When you start hitting a certain volume in your production, a franchise will approach you to become an independent,” said Julie Brenneman, principal broker at The Mortgage Centre Hometown Financial. “Because I was producing at a high level, I thought I’d get status right away, but, unfortunately, it didn’t happen because I didn’t have much leverage since it was only my assistant and I. The first four or five months were difficult because I wasn’t getting my volume bonuses and access to low rates, so I basically took a pay cut to become independent.”
Brenneman merged her franchise with her old Mortgage Centre office and runs it in tandem with Penny Wrightly, the original owner, with whom she’s struck the kind of balance that allows them each to focus on their strengths. It’s turned Hometown Financial into a local juggernaut.
“A lot of agents don’t understand how much behind-the-scenes work there is running a brokerage, and I didn’t understand either,” said Brenneman. “I thought I’d be on my own doing mortgages and that my assistants would do the administration, but there’s more to it than that. Even to get signed up with a lender is a huge task, and not at all as easy as everyone thinks.”
There are other trials, like keeping newer agents’ spirits high, but principals like Brenneman relish moulding their careers.
“I think it’s really rewarding in the sense that I like the team we built and I like feeling like I’ve helped people by giving them pieces of information I got when I started in the industry,” she said. “A lot of principal brokers aren’t involved in agents’ day-to-day production, but we’re very hands-on.”
Frances Hinojosa, a managing partner at Tribe Financial, says that one of the most crucial elements of running a brokerage is consistently nurturing existing relationships, and perhaps most importantly, being diligent with time.
“Create a schedule and plan a time in your day to do certain things,” she said. “We all have the same amount of time in the day and it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to use, whether or not you use it wisely. Where can I carve out my schedule to be hyper-focused on running the brokerage and where can I carve out time to devote solely to mortgages? You can also cover your weaknesses with other people’s strengths. If you don’t like paperwork, you can hire an assistant, but you have to spend wisely.”