Attracting Top Producers with a Growth Mindset

by Michael Catarevas, RISMedia | Published June 2023 Real Estate Magazine

Raymond Rivera
Sonny Downey
United Real Estate | Gallery
Jacksonville, Florida

Region served: Greater Jacksonville and Northeast Florida
Years in real estate: Ray: 18; Sonny: 20
Number of offices: 8
Number of agents: 400

Why did you choose United Real Estate’s national network?
Raymond Rivera: When Sonny, (Chief Operating Officer) Nanci Soriano and I were looking around when it was time to renew our franchise contract, we felt United was in high-growth mode. The fact that they own their technology was a big part of it. When we looked at all the options, we felt they were going in the right direction, with great leadership. (President) Rick Haase and (CEO) Dan Duffy were people we wanted to align with.

How did United help you transition from a traditional split model to a fee-based model?
Sonny Downey: United provided financial modeling that factored in what we paid out to our previous brand and gave us the ability to introduce a flat-fee, 100% compensation model. None of the other brokerage models we considered put more money into the agents’ pockets. United provided the financial modeling that factored in what we paid to our previous brand and demonstrated our ability to be more profitable and attractive to agents in a shifting market.

How is United helping you attain the future you envision for your company?
RR: The difference between brokerages is minimal, and agents understand that. The differentiating factors are how much they are putting in their pockets and the level of resources and support they receive. They need to see the value.

How has the move made you more attractive and profitable?
SD: Previously, the only agents we appealed to were new agents, but with United, we’ve become a draw for experienced agents. By having more experienced agents, we are increasing our earnings and reducing our costs. Agents who left us in the past are starting to return, and that’s exciting.

“It is very telling that when we finish starting meeting with Ray, Sonny and Nanci, they spent an enormous amount of time and focus on the question, ‘How will our agents benefit by us associating with United Real Estate?’ It was only after they saw all of the tools, services and support that they made the decision to join our company. When the founders and executives have that kind of focus as a means of managing and growing their company, then we know we will have a great partner. I am very proud they are part of our company culture.”

-Rick Haase, President, United Real Estate

How has recruiting and retention changed since joining United? How do the leadership and home office support those efforts?
RR: United sends emails and mailers to our target list on our behalf, so they’re in it with us. When it comes to recruiting, it’s not just, ‘Hey guys, go out there and recruit.’ It’s, ‘Hey, let’s do this together. What’s the strategy? Who do you want to connect with?’
SD: The difference is that experienced agents are reaching out to me now. I used to spend a lot more time chasing down agents. The interview process was also dramatically longer because I needed a lot more fluff. With United, we’re now more attractive to producers.

Tell us about your overall experience with United’s national broker/owner network.
RR: When we got started in real estate, we embraced lead generation; we knew it was going to change real estate. There’s a United broker in the D.C. market who has done a great job with lead generation, and it’s as simple as picking up the phone or texting him. He got on a 90-minute phone call with us to talk about what he does and how he sets it up. That’s the kind of support you get from the United family.
SD: United doesn’t say, ‘This is the way we do it in Kansas City, and this is what we want you to do in Jacksonville.’ They’re not stuck in their ways. They told us from the beginning they don’t want to run our operation because we know it better than they do, but that we can use their resources, training and home-office support team. Nanci is an integral part of our company, and with these new resources, she has been able to make our operations even more effective.

It was perfect timing joining United, and it’s important to be around people who have the same growth mindset.

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