Every real estate brokerage franchisor promises the best marketing, tools and tech in the industry, but those promises don’t mean anything unless your brokers and agents are seeing positive results from them. HomeSmart puts value behind their broker and agent support, business systems and proprietary end-to-end technologies and Chuck Poteet, broker/owner of HomeSmart Fine Properties, is proof that these aren’t empty promises.
Chuck owned an independent brokerage for 17 years in Houston, Texas. After a quick interaction with HomeSmart, he made the decision to own a franchise himself and introduce HomeSmart to Houston.
Read the following Q&A with Chuck about the difficulties of owning his own independent brokerage, what encouraged him to make the switch and the benefits he has seen since joining HomeSmart.
Q: How long were you running your individual brokerage?
A: I started my real estate career 34 years ago and began building my brand, Chuck Poteet Properties, 17 years ago.
Q: Why did you decide to start an independent brokerage?
A: Towards the beginning of my career, I spent about 10 years with Remax and just got to the place where I realized I could go out and build my own company and start making more money on my own.
Q: What were the biggest challenges of running an independent brokerage?
A: Being a director on the board [Houston Association of Realtors] I had the opportunity to travel a lot and I was able to talk to and listen to a lot of brokers and hear the problems that they face. Some of the biggest and most common issues I found are agent retention, commission structures and keeping up with the times and the tools that agents need, which can also be expensive for brokers large or small. We are at a huge place in the real estate industry right now because of all of the technology that is available to us. This can be great, but in running your own brokerage, there is definitely a fear of being left behind by the changing industry. This was also a huge factor in my decision to leave my independent brokerage and make the move to HomeSmart.
Q: What was your first interaction with HomeSmart?
A: In 2016 I attended the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) convention in Orlando. Prior to this I had never heard of HomeSmart but I saw this great looking sign, and I don’t know what it was, but the name just caught my attention. I went by and looked at the booth, briefly met with Bryan Brooks (HomeSmart Senior Vice President of Franchise Sales) and then left and that was it. After the convention was over, for some reason, I just couldn’t stop thinking about HomeSmart. It really started to bother me that I couldn’t get this company off my mind and I had only had this one brief connection. I have had my own brand and have been building my name for 17 years and truly had no intention of making any kind of change, yet here I am thinking about HomeSmart.
Q: Did you contact HomeSmart or did they contact you?
A: At the time, I told my wife that I needed to go see HomeSmart and that maybe the company is not what it looks like or sounds like. I thought going to check it out would at least get the thought out of my mind. So in January of 2017, I contacted the headquarters and went out to Scottsdale, Arizona to meet with Bryan Brooks and get a tour. After the presentation, I was so impressed with the model that Matt Widdows had created, the market he captured and the tools that he made available to the agents and franchisees. I then realized, I’ve got a big problem now because I really like this company and have got to decide what I want to do.
Q: What made you make the decision to switch from your independent brokerage to owning a HomeSmart franchise?
A: The hardest part about my decision was that after 17 years of building my brand, I had to lay down my name and pick up a new one. I started with a traditional real estate company and after many years, came to the realization that I’ve got to work smarter. Throughout my career, I’ve been watching all of these other successful real estate brokers build their companies in the Houston area and a lot of them are not there anymore. I figured out that it’s because they didn’t keep up with the times and didn’t keep moving forward or they simply stopped trying to progress. The brokers didn’t provide for their agents in a way that made them feel productive or successful and they didn’t give them the tools that they needed to stay afloat in real estate. So with that in mind, I decided that I needed to make the switch because I know this company, HomeSmart, is going to sweep the country. Matt created a model that looks and acts like a traditional real estate model but the agents still get 100% commission. Combined with low monthly fees and the tools, technology and support that is offered, HomeSmart is different than any other transaction based company out there. People don’t even know it yet, but this model is going to be the future of real estate and that’s why I’m introducing it to Houston. That's what inspired and motivated me to make that decision.
Q: What are some differentiators between being an individual brokerage owner and being a HomeSmart franchise owner?
A: It is hard to say because it’s so new for us, but probably one of the biggest differentiators is that I’m not having to create or design any of the tools that my agents need. Through HomeSmart, they are all already there for them. For example, we had an agent recently join and through the RealSmart Agent system his whole agent profile and personal website has been instantly set up, and because of this, he is already ahead of the game. If I were back at my independent company it would have taken me weeks and weeks to get this setup. While we did have an agent website, it was not integrated like what HomeSmart has done with RealSmart Agent and RealSmart Broker. A broker wants to get their agents up and running as soon as possible and the HomeSmart data feed is so powerful that we are able to do this much more efficiently compared to my individual brokerage.
Q: When did you open your HomeSmart franchise?
A: It has been a little bit of a rocky start because of the damages caused by Hurricane Harvey, but we purchased last May, had our temporary space in October and officially opened our doors in January, 2018. After Harvey we lost everything and as devastating as it was, it was almost like a clean slate that we got to start with at HomeSmart. We have been here for about four months now and it has been awesome! The new office is finally coming together and we are so excited about it. From a recruiting aspect, I have started setting up our training room that we plan to use to give our agents the ability to access the tools and technology that HomeSmart offers. We also just landed a monthly publication add in a REALTOR® magazine that goes out to 36,000 REALTORS® in Houston. So, if someone has never heard of HomeSmart, they will now and that’s the goal, to spread the word of HomeSmart and the great tools that they offer.
Q: How many agents do you have right now?
A: We currently have about 25 agents, 12 of which we brought over from our other company, and we are quickly building.
Q: What kind of success or goals do you project in the future with your HomeSmart franchise?
A: While our time with HomeSmart is still early, we are projecting to finish 2018 with 100 agents. Ideally, we want to continue this trend and be able to keep growing 100 agents each year.
Q: After 17 years you have built quite the clientele. How did your peers react after your announcement to close your independent brokerage and join HomeSmart?
A: I announced on Facebook and received positive and encouraging responses from practically everyone! A lot of people are excited for me and a lot of people don’t quite know what it’s about yet, but I am excited to finally be able to show them.
Q: In your opinion, what do you appreciate most about HomeSmart?
A: The entire process of how the transition was handled, from the beginning of my journey with HomeSmart to where I’m at with them now. From the time I connected with the company at the NAR convention, it was amazing! I mean, the display itself grabbed my attention. I was really not intending to ever look at buying any other business at all. I was never a possible buyer of a franchise, in fact, it was the furthest thing from my mind. But the marketing that was done captured my attention-- I was impressed by the team, everything that they had to offer and every step of the way has been great. Like I said before, it was a bit of a difficult beginning for us after the flood, but it has truly been a blessing to join this company and we are so excited about the days ahead with HomeSmart.
If you’re operating a brokerage and are facing the same challenges Chuck did, it may be time to consider making a change. Call Bryan Brooks, HomeSmart senior vice president of franchise sales, at (800)383-7051 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.