Mergers and acquisitions have been a leading trend throughout commercial real estate inrecent years, with top firms expanding by picking up smaller and mid-sized firms. Large organizations like CBRE, JLL, and Colliers International employ thousands of brokers and conduct an impressive list of transactions worth billions of dollars annually.
Working in affiliation with some of the industry’s biggest names has some obvious benefits but there are also compelling reasons why boutique and regional independent brokerage firms remain an excellent choice. These smaller, creative firms who are dedicated to delivering best in class work have and continue to compete successfully against the corporate giants, particularly with the right systems and procedures in place.
As a matter of fact, the majority of U.S. real estate agents are independents, according to a report from Inman. In their survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents felt that independent brokers maintain a competitive advantage over franchise affiliates. Examining the role of this segment in our industry more closely – could small actually become the new big?
It’s true that independent’s face certain challenges that larger brokerage firms do not. These can include limited global or national reach and access to enterprise-scale technology. Independent brokers also tend to wear more hats than their big-brokerage counterparts, handling marketing, lead generation, social media presence, and other functions, all while building the relationships that are critical to achieving success.
However, independent brokers also have some distinct advantages over their monolithic competitors. They can do business without the bureaucracy of a large organization. They can also be more nimble, make swift financial decisions, retain local control of branding and technology while adapting quickly to both local market conditions and corresponding opportunities.
When put to effective use, this agility translates into more customized solutions, responsive customer service and a culture where an entrepreneurial spirit thrives. Corporate systems and processes that can slow deals or prevent them from happening altogether do not bog down the independent broker. They also work diligently to establish and maintain long-term client relationships that in turn produce repeat business.
Don’t take my word for it. Take a closer look at the extraordinary work being completed by IPG Commercial, the Klabin Company, R.W. Holmes and on the larger end of the independent spectrum – Kidder Mathews. All are competing and winning at the highest levels. These independent brokerage firms have become trusted advisors to their clients on local trends and other topics that have a direct influence on decision making.
The smaller and more regional firms have always taken great pride in offering personalized service and local market expertise. Digital tools now allow them to bring the power of data and technology to bear as well. Independent firms and their brokers can take advantage of CRMs, social media and other specialized digital tools to more efficiently provide clients with the information they need. You don’t have to be at a major firm to use and directly benefit from these tools.
When you look at our industry’s great success stories, the path to becoming excellent has a tremendous amount of crossover in terms of habits, not necessarily the size of the firm – hard work, innovation, integrity and true market knowledge define them. For business and property owners looking for more from their commercial real estate broker, do your research. The best in any market are not hard to identify and what you find might just surprise you. Don’t count out the local independent experts!