The Maturing of the Virtual Culture
Almost three years ago when I founded my company, the word “Virtual” was poison. It was so taboo at the time that we referred to our company as the “Internet-Based Real Estate Brokerage”.
Wow!!! Have things changed since that time. The term “Virtual Culture” is now the hottest term in the Real Estate Industry. Over 50,000 Realtors® now work within the Virtual Culture and the Virtual Culture is growing by leaps and bounds on a daily basis.
As a result I have had the opportunity to speak with the leaders of our industry in public forums and in one-on-one meetings. To a person, they agree that, due to the advance of technology and the desire to go GREEN, over the next five to ten years nearly all Realtors® will be working out of their homes. When that occurs, every Realtor® in the country will be expecting and receiving and keeping 100% of his or her commissions.
The concerns at first were:
1) How do you create a “Company Culture” within the Virtual Culture framework?
2) How do you handle Compliance within the Virtual Culture?
I have to be honest; when I conceived this idea I had a vague idea of how we would achieve these two goals, but what we have found in reality is that they are fairly easy to achieve.
Let’s address a Company Culture. Let me start with a simple question. How does everyone communicate in today’s world? That would be by texting, email, video conferencing, webinars, etc. We do all that, and because we started much earlier than most, we have become pretty darn good at it, if I say so myself.
Our Realtors® feel completely in touch with the corporate office and their Brokers. We can attest to this because we get daily emails telling us how appreciative they are that we stay in touch. We have also continued to use the telephone to speak with our Realtors®, and we try to do quarterly meetings get-togethers with our Realtors®. With that said, we often hear that they would much prefer us to text or email, and to use webinars for continuing education.
Now let’s address Compliance. Again, this was much easier to accomplish than we had ever thought it would be. There are several reasons for this. One is that we don’t hire new Realtors® unless they are joining an experienced team. Two, when a Realtor® calls us to inquire about joining us we tell the Realtor® right up front that we aren’t for them unless they practice total compliance, and I mean total compliance. If we are fined even because the Realtor® did not submit pictures to the MLS on a timely business, he or she will be gone. We cannot and will not tolerate cowboys in our company. In the Virtual Culture that is far too dangerous.
All in all this has been a challenging and eye opening time over the last 2 ½ years, creating a National Real Estate Brokerage based on the Virtual Culture. There were no books for us to read and no blueprints on how to accomplish what we have accomplished. Then you throw in the Real Estate Industry meltdown and our country’s economic crisis, and it is almost unbelievable that over the last 2 ½ years we have grown by almost 400% and are growing by 10% a month.
James A. Crumbaugh III is CEO of Allison James Estates and Homes®. The company now operates in 14 states with additional states coming on-board, with inquiries from Canada, Spain and the Philippines. They have recruited over 600 Realtors® in the last 2 ½ years.
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