“You’ve probably heard this mantra — your listing, your lead, but most of the lead aggregators in the country say, ‘Your listing, our lead, and then we’ll distribute it to whoever pays us the most,'” said Dan Duffy, CEO of United Holdings at Elevate, the firm’s annual conference held in Orlando. “We’re trying to reverse engineer all of that and [give] some control and power back to you.”
The firm is doing that with a new lead generation product called Bullseye Lead Boost Program, available to United agents soon. The tool will allow agents to tap directly into digital marketing and generate leads.
Duffy and Rick Haase, president of United Real Estate, unveiled several new initiatives at the conference. Highlighting a significant industry challenge, Duffy pointed out, “Our industry has purchased 250 million leads going after 8 million in commissions.” This disparity underscores the importance of agents generating their own leads rather than relying on purchased ones.
United also announced a wealth-building initiative and healthcare program for agents.
Bridging the value gap
The company emphasizes the “value gap”, which is the difference between the cost and value of their franchise. The goal is to maximize this gap, offering more value without increasing costs.
“That’s where we are today,” says Duffy, “minding the value gap. Our healthcare, wealth building, and Lead Boost programs are three great examples where we drove the value of the franchise up but didn’t ask for a dollar more.”
In the past, low-fee brokerages were thought to be low service. United and others with this model want to flip that notion on its head.
Low-fee brokerages, according to Scott Wright, partner with RTC Consulting, “have kicked brokers in the teeth over the years. Before [the first 100% company was launched], brokers were keeping between 30% to 50% of every commission dollar earned. With the national average retained company dollar now well under 13%, according to RTC Consulting’s latest benchmark report, there’s no doubt it’s been a grind.”
A recent analysis using 2022 data from RealTrends, looked at the number of agents associated with each model as well as the total number of sides transacted. The data reveals that flat-fee firms collectively had a 136% higher agent headcount than their counterparts, the traditional models. As a whole, the flat-fee firms also transacted more sides than traditional firms; approximately 19% more sides closed.
Major growth pillars
In an interview with Duffy, he identified four major growth pillars that he says the company pivots between, depending on market conditions. These are organic agent growth, franchising, partial M&A (sellers retain 50% ownership and are seeking a growth partner) and acquisitions.
“The choice of growth strategy is determined by the prevailing market conditions,” said Duffy. “The company paused franchising when the market was volatile. However, as market conditions change, franchising is more attractive. Now, franchising criteria are stringent, with only 1 in 50 brokerages qualifying. We focus on established partners, not start-ups.”
Right now, Duffy says that “Our [franchising] program has gotten so much deeper with increased opportunity for success with systems, programs, and tech. Historically, in the real estate franchise space, too many things were arbitrarily left to the owner, like building out leased space. We cover those things, so the likelihood of success is higher now.”
Duffy recently appeared on the RealTrending podcast going head-to-head with RE/MAX CEO Nick Bailey on real estate brokerage technology.
Published, September 28, 2023, 1:13 pm By Tracey Velt, Housingwire