Hi, Darin Thompson here, broker and owner of Stuart St James, what I believe is the best 100% commission Massachusetts real estate brokerage, and more broadly, a firm that is thoughtfully striving to provide massive value to real estate agents.
I wanted to create a platform in Stuart St James that offers unique value to, and is the best real estate brokerage for, experienced agents and top producers, new real estate agents, part-time real estate agents, real estate investor agents, and real estate teams.
Dear licensed Massachusetts real estate agents, can I ask you to think about the average careers page on a real estate brokerage website or one of the countless solicitation emails you get from real estate brokerages attempting to get you to join their brokerage:
- It’s all about the brokerage
- It’s all about features
- It’s boring and uninspiring
- It creates a nagging feeling the truth is being held back
- It leaves you with more questions than answers
When I started as a real estate agent in the early 2000s, and when I became a broker in 2010, I had no idea how to craft compelling marketing messages that made clients buy or sell with me as an agent nor excite agents to take action and join my brokerage as a broker.
In both cases, I did what most agents and brokers do – I copied what my “competitors” were doing!
I figured “hey, if they’re doing it, then it must be working!”.
Thanks for extending some grace, that logic was clearly wrong!
As an agent, I struggled for several years to get the deal velocity needed to reach six figures, and as a broker, I also struggled for years to bring on agents and grow the size of my brokerage – even though I offered a GREAT service and platform.
The problem with 99% of marketing is that it has nothing to do with the customer and everything to do with the business.
- They sell features not benefits
- They sell the process and not the outcome
- They say “us” way more than “you”
My customer is you, a licensed real estate agent.
Frankly, my marketing wasn’t knocking it out of the park, I needed help, and I’m humble enough to know “what got me here is not going to get me there”.
I began to learn how successful businesses run their marketing.
What was revealed is marketing that magnetizes agents to join Stuart St James almost effortlessly.
Great marketing starts and ends with something called the “PASO” framework, something I learned from serial entrepreneur Mitch Harper.
P = Problem
A = Agitation
S = Social Proof
O = Outcome
Before any agent will join Stuart St James, they need to know I understand their problem at a very detailed level.
That’s the “P”.
Operating in the real estate industry since the early 2000s in multiple capacities (i.e. agent, broker, adviser, etc.), having done thousands of transactions, I’m intimately familiar with the problems from which traditional real estate brokerages suffer. From the agent’s perspective, who is my customer, here are a few of those problems.
- Traditional real estate brokerages take a material (i.e. between 10% – 50%) split of the commission you earn on a transaction.
- If you’re a high producing agent, you very well could have the power and authority to negotiate an aggressive, in your favor, split or a cap (on commission paid to the brokerage), but you’re still giving away thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on a recurring basis every year.
- On top of a commission split, traditional real estate brokerages charge what are oftentimes baseless and/or erroneous monthly fees in the context of your personal situation and real estate business.
One illustration of this from a Keller Williams agent who switched to Stuart St James in 2020 described the following situation: a Keller Williams (KW) office charged her, a self-sufficient part-time agent who received no corporate leads, $84/month for an office fee when she never used the KW office, on top of the 30% commission split KW took, along with an extra 10% for “productivity coaching” when the agent was never able to attend a single in person day-time training class, largely because she had a full-time job outside real estate.Real Estate Agent Leaves Keller Williams Brokerage to Join Stuart St James in 2020
Every single brokerage I’ve studied is, at best, ambiguous and vague, and at worst, misleading, about how your commission is actually structured and the fees you’re going to pay them.
I am especially frustrated by so called 100% commission brokerages who claim “no fees” when in fact there are fees but only disclosed after prompting or further questioning. The lack of transparency is completely inefficient, perpetuates ridiculousness in the real estate industry, and an absolute waste of your time. Just put the information on your website!
If you practice real estate part-time, as a side hustle, or just not closing a lot of deals, you as an agent have an awkward and fundamental misalignment with a traditional real estate brokerage operating model. This fact causes many brokerages to get you in the door with the hope you’ll close deals and spit you out when you’re not (bait and switch), oftentimes preceded by awkward conversations with your broker and over-bearing micro management that insults your integrity – being constantly asked for updated monthly goals isn’t what part-time agents sign up for, but it’s the sad reality of traditional real estate brokerages.
The “A” in the “PASO” framework stands for agitate, and it’s where I remind real estate agents how the problem is currently affecting their business and their life. You can only do this if you have an intimate understanding of the problem, and inherently, an even better understanding of your audience which allows you to speak from a position of empathy, knowledge, and authority.
Because I have worked as an agent, and personally done so at both large franchise brokerages like Coldwell Banker and Keller Williams along with multiple independent brokerages, I empathize with agents, I get it. Also, I proactively strive to survey real estate agents to better understand them – I do this with Stuart St James agents and also agents at other brokerages, if you’d like to share your feedback and opinions, take my real estate agent survey.
Agitating the problem can be done in any number of ways, the following statements resonate with real estate agents…
- Practicing real estate with anything less than 100% commission eats at you because you know you have a weak commission split, forcing you to work longer hours and harder than other agents.
- Working for a traditional real estate brokerage forces you to pay baseless and/or erroneous fees which frustrates you.
- Anything other than 100% commission materially impacts your income and affects your confidence.
- Ambiguity, a lack of transparency, and misleading information from brokerages disrespects / wastes your time, compromises your freedom of movement, and can make you feel stuck.
- The fundamental misalignment part-time agents have with traditional real estate brokerage operating models increases your stress, affects your happiness, and makes you feel like you’re not really using the things you’re being charged for.
… you get the idea.
For “S”, I use social proof to demonstrate I can help real estate agents solve a big problem in their business and their life.
Real estate agents believe what other real estate agents say, not what I say. So testimonials work incredibly well here.
What I’ve learned is that “specific result” testimonials are key.
These are testimonials that show it’s completely possible to get a specific result by working with me at Stuart St James.
Here’s a bad testimonial:
“The main reason I joined Stuart St James is great commission structure and low fees.”
It lacks specificity and detail. And when testimonials lack detail, we don’t believe them — EVEN if they’re real, which both the above and below testimonials are!
Here’s a good testimonial:
“I love Stuart St James because I prefer not to join one of the big franchises or have a brokerage with lots of quotas and restrictions on how I can run my real estate business.”
See the difference?
What’s been revealed to me is that the best marketing enters the conversation a real estate agent is already having in their own head. I’m able to do this because I actually listen to agents and use their words and language, literally.
Finally, “O” is for outcome.
The focus of “O” is to paint a picture of what a real estate agent’s business and/or life will look like once they’ve worked with me and Stuart St James to solve their problem.
The phrase “Imagine when” is a powerful anchor here:
- “Imagine when you can say with 100% confidence you’re maximizing your income like a top agent, working less and earning more”
- “Imagine when you have absolutely no nagging feeling, slight awkwardness in your gut, or regret that you need to be seen in the office, which you know is a waste of your time”
- “Imagine when you can make a clear no-brainer decision to join the right real estate brokerage because, shocker, that brokerage transparently shares all the facts with you on exactly how you will be paid and commission you will earn along with full up front visibility to any and all fees involved in running your real estate business”
- “Imagine when you no longer waste your hard earned money on head-scratchers like “productivity fees” that apparently cover training classes offered in person during the day you never attend or “desk fees” when you don’t need and don’t visit the office”
- “Imagine when your broker takes clear action and literally implements modern technology and automation to streamline the deal closing process so you actually get paid faster rather than just talking about it on their website”
What I’m doing here is painting a very detailed picture of a future outcome an agent will experience affiliating with Stuart St James and using their exact words and language because I actively listened to them in both conversations and the survey.
A future where (1) they work with me and Stuart St James because (2) they believe I’m the best person to solve their problem.
The “PASO” framework makes marketing a lot easier.
Ultimately, it puts real estate agents at the center of the conversation, NOT me or Stuart St James.
Which part of the “PASO” framework produced the biggest “ah ha” moment for you?