Joining a real estate company, whether you are considering a move, or joining for your first time, is an important decision and one that you should make carefully and deliberately. So what factors should influence your decision-making process? To be perfectly honest, my company didn't know the answer to that question, so we conducted a survey. We queried half a million real estate professionals and discovered that the vast majority of agents choose a brokerage for only five reasons, and we've made it our mission to excel in all five areas. 1. Your Company Should Find You Customers. Join the right company and you'll immediately solve the number one problem facing agents today: not enough customers. Some companies give their agents leads, while others don't. Our company doesn't. You've probably heard the adage, "Buy a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life." So instead of giving our agents leads, we teach our agents how to find their own customers. We provide our agents with both our telephone and our website lead capture technology, enabling them to produce as many customer leads as they can work. The typical agent who uses our lead capture technology spends about $250 a month in advertising and generates between 80 and 90 customer leads, or enough leads to complete about 3 deals a month. However your company goes about getting you business, make sure and select a company that solves the "no-customer" problem or you likely won't survive in this business long enough to choose another company. 2. Your Company Should Provide You With Productivity Tools. Today, most agents spend a fortune on various tools and software. You should look for a company that will provide you the tools you need to do your job. When I say tools, I'm not talking about a fax machine and copier. I'm not talking about a computer that the agents can come in and use. What I'm talking about is tools like a website, lead capture technology, and a full-featured client manager application. Our company's agents each get their own state-of-the-art LCM Web Gateway, their own LCM Phone Gateway, their own personal Agent SimpleSite website, their own integrated Pipeline Client Manager, and Pipeline Virtual Assistant and mobile applications. They also get access to our productivity calculators, business planning modules and much more. If your company isn't providing you these basic tools then I hope they're providing you with a much better split so you can buy them on your own. Today, real estate is virtual, and not having the basic technology tools to practice in today's virtual environment is like trying to run a foot race in combat boots: You start out at a huge disadvantage in a highly competitive business. Don't do it. 3. Your Company Should Train You to Succeed. Many companies talk about training, but few actually provide it. Look for a company that will help you get better at being an agent. Our industry is constantly changing and successful agents are always learning. Having the best tools and having an endless supply of new inbound customers won't help you at all if you don't have the basic skills needed to turn those opportunities into closed transactions. That's where training comes in. I believe that there are several fundamental things that a REALTORĀ® must have if he's to become a mega-producing agent. Just as technology is crucial to success today, so also is training. Let's be honest here: most of us haven't done a lot of studying since we left school, and the temptation is to try to get by without having to do the work. I know that. But that's all the more reason to make yourself do it. Average agents won't. You want to be a top agent! I'm going to make a confession here. I don't really like to study either, but that's what gives me an advantage. My peers never crack a book, while I read about two books a week. Do I do it because I like to read? NO! I do it because I need to continue to push myself to be the best I can be. If I am to be at the top of my game -- if I really want to be the best -- then I have to make myself do those things that I don't necessarily want to do. Remember how your mom used to make you eat spinach? Well, I say eat your spinach. I realize it's a hassle to continually take training, but this is your profession. Be a professional. I promise you that there are agents calling me every day asking for help because they really want to go to the next level and the help they need is not available at their own brokerage! What a shame. Find a brokerage that encourages a learning environment and find a broker that will help you grow. Frankly, that is part of what you should be getting for your agent split, and if you aren't, you'd better be getting enough additional money to find your training elsewhere. 4. Your Company Shouldn't Waste Your Time. At the end of the day, the only thing you have to sell is your time. That's precisely why our company doesn't waste our agents' time with sales meetings, caravans, floor duty, or other non-productive company meetings. Find a company that won't waste your time. Find a company that empowers the agents to be productive while maintaining the support, community, and structure that many agents crave. When I was a brand new agent, I was in a very traditional Century 21 office. We had a company meeting every Tuesday afternoon. We had "sales meeting" on Wednesday morning, followed by a two-hour caravan. We had no less than 2 half days of floor duty, and another 2 half days of sitting in a builder's model home. Add to that the wasted time of dealing with the bureaucracy of the office structure, and about one other hour-long meeting a month and we are talking about over 20% of my available time! If you want to make $100,000 this year, and work a forty-hour week, then your time is worth $50 per hour. And all the wasted time adds up quickly. Those time-wasters would have cost me $400 per week or $20,000 per year! That is like paying over $1,600 a month in rent! Is there any wonder I only stayed for two years? I couldn't afford to stay! And that brings me to the final concern: money. 5. Your Company Should Pay You Well. Ask most agents what their commission split is, and they won't have a clue. It depends on whether it's a cross-sale or in-house sale. New or existing. January or December. Most company commission plans are a shell game. In my company, our agents keep a minimum of 80% and any agent can make 90% by being a top-producer or a top-recruiter. Period. And that's 90% with no office rent, no transaction fees, no administrative fees, no nickel and dime fees, no fees period. If your company split needs an MIT graduate to calculate, you can bet it's because they don't want you to know how little you actually make. Find a company that pays you well, that doesn't have a complicated and elaborate compensation plan, and make sure and factor in any rent or other charges. For example, if you pay $1,400 a month in rent, in a market with an average commission of $5,000, and you do one deal per month, your effective split needs to be adjusted downward by 28%! So if you think you're at 100%, you're really at only 72% before factoring in any copies, faxes, and other fees! Let me sum it all up like this: When you choose a company to work with, make certain that they solve your customer problem. Make sure they provide you with the basic tools you need to be successful in today's virtual real estate climate. Make sure they provide training to keep you at the top of your game, and make sure you invest your time to take that training. Finally, make absolutely certain that they don't waste your valuable time and that they pay you well.