What I learned at Inman’s Indie Broker Summit

Kee Wah ChungInman asked me to speak at their new Indie Broker Summit earlier this week. They have been watching our phenomenal growth and were curious. Curious about virtual officing. Curious about what works … and what doesn’t. And I heard Inman staff recently went virtual, so I was curious, too. So, off I went to San Francisco to speak to about 1,000 brokers and industry leaders about the good, bad and ugly of a virtual office.

We kicked off the morning with an interview-style session that helped the audience learn more about eXp and the benefits and pitfalls of a virtual office. What got the most attention was when I said, “virtual officing is not for everyone.” Many brokers just look at it as a way to cut costs when it really should be about taking money saved and using it to add value back to the agents and their clients. I also saw people taking rapid notes when I talked about how to go virtual. My advice was: Don’t chase after technology and use your agents as guinea pigs. The key drivers should be culture, brand identity and the services you want to provide.

Then I led a group discussion during lunch to a full table. People are people and wanted to hear all the pitfalls of going virtual, but we also had productive conversations about — Why go virtual? What’s in it for me as a broker? How do my agents benefit? Does this help meet the needs of my clients?

It was very evident that brokers were interested in delivering a virtual experience — they just didn’t know where to start or what to think about.

If Inman was curious, attendees were curious. So, I want to share my three key pillars that a broker should consider before going virtual: Agent engagement, change management and agent experience.

  • Agent Engagement: Engaging with agents is 10 times more important when going virtual. The agent will no longer have the ability to come into a brick-and-mortar office, have water cooler talks and build their relationships in person. Providing alternate means of engagement is vital such as live webinars (preferably video), local or community events, and a rhythm of business with predictable engagement.
  • Change Management: Change is an evolution, not a revolution – it’s a process. Find a standard framework for change that works for you and stick to it. The Prosci ADKAR model is a good place to start. It is a goal-oriented change management model to guide individual and organizational change.
  • Agent Experience: What is the value you are delivering back to the agent and what should the virtual experience be? Make sure you engage with agents before any significant change is made, check in and ask for feedback.

I walked away from the experience with a renewed sense of how special eXp is and that we are really doing something different than any other brokerage in North America. We are leading the way in driving next-gen engagement for agents, brokers and staff by delivering a robust, cloud-based experience through eXp World. It’s an exciting time to be with eXp Realty!