How to Start Your Own Independent Real Estate Brokerage w/Jon Carbutti

In this episode of Keeping it Real, Frank Klesitz of Vyral Marketing and Greg Harrelson of Century 21 The Harrelson Group interview Jon Carbutti on the topic of “How to Start Your Own Independent Real Estate Brokerage”. Jam-packed with actionable advice, you’ll find this Real Geeks training will have you considering the advantages and challenges that come with creating a team and/or brokerage, and accepting responsibility for its success. 

“You gotta be a little bit of crazy to start your business,” admitted Carbutti, “to be your own broker. But the right kind of crazy, the right kind of risk taker. You’ve got to believe in yourself and you’ve also got to have a written plan.” Listen to the story of how Carbutti went from being a top producing real estate agent to a business owner, broker, trainer, and leader of a top producing team. This Real Geeks training will show you why Klesitz, Harrelson and Carbutti agreed that “not everyone should become a broker,” but it also may inspire you to build a team.

Carbutti purchased his brokerage from his father in 2010 and recalled that he had no idea what he was doing at the time. “No one told me I was getting into the human resource business at the time,” he said. Carbutti also found that the company was filled with agents who didn’t respect the son buying the business, as many of the agents had been with the company longer than he had. This required him “to step up and take a leadership role” and shift his mindset from being the top producer to being the leader and broker.

Leading a Real Estate Team Requires Reflection

“I used to think nobody could do it better than me, and I was wrong.” Carbutti revealed. “I used to think I was the best at listing presentations, somebody else couldn’t possibly do that.” However trying to do it all and micromanage everyone else on his team was not a successful solution. He had to learn that other team members needed success and could be responsible for listing presentations and didn’t need to be micromanaged. He learned that you need to hire the right people to make systems work and that risk is a critical element to success. “Definitely do not…  hire the wrong people,” urged Carbutti. “Don’t be desperate to fill the seats.”

Carbutti shared that he was able to make these changes by gaining accountability through working with a coach. “I’ve always been a doer,” explained Carbutti. “Even if I didn’t know what I was doing, I took action and I implemented.” He said that in the beginning of running his business, he “created a lot of monsters” because he started relationships based on money and thought profitability was based on volume. However, Carbutti had to reconsider his approach because his business model wasn’t working. He added that he realized he needed to be a leader for his team and not mix roles, once he understood that “The agents that are in production can feel threatened by the sales manager.” 

Klesitz asked Carbutti about his biggest mistake and Harrelson and Klesitz both nodded and related strongly when he said, “signing a lease with my Dad.” Harrelson added that building lease arrangements, family linked or not, is “one of the biggest challenges as the owner of the brokerage.” Harrelsoon warned anyone thinking of signing a building lease to think it through. “Be careful and be cautious,” Harrelson said, “It’s one of the hardest things to unwind if things start going south.” 

What Worked for Carbutti?

One of Carbutti’s successful first steps was running radio ads. “Nobody in my marketplace was doing it,” he said, so he signed up for three spots a week and a morning show and the phone started to ring. He shared that conversion from listings to signed contracts is over 85% from his radio ads. His call to action on the show is to call or “Google us,” Carbutti shared, explaining that it makes it easy for clients to connect.

Carbutti also shared that he’s often surprised by what interests his clients, so he tries to be consistent on all  sides because it all works together and yields results. “A lot of these buyers coming in are actually sellers disguised as buyers,” he said. Then he told a story about a couple that needed help with a transaction and how he wasn’t sure how it was going until the end when the client turned to him and said, “By the way, I really like your videos…” Carbutti said he went back and reviewed the clients’ record and found that the couple had been in their system for 3.5 months, but had never responded to emails or calls, even though they’d been actively paying attention to his messaging. He then said that particular client has done six transactions since!

Moments like those teach Carbutti that he doesn’t know everything about client behavior, real estate, or how to run a team. He uses a recruiter to hire and train and says his role is to inspire and attend huddles. Talking about his teammates, Carbutti said, “I want to know the name of every single person that works at my company and I want to have a relationship with them.” It’s very important to him that his agents feel they are a part of the team. “They understand that at the end of the day, we have their back,” explained Carbutti.

Inspired by Carbutti’s methods on team building, which seems to be a cross between a team and a brokerage, or “teamerage, ”Harrelson said, “We shouldn’t be trying to build a brokerage. We shouldn’t be building a team. We should be following the pattern of Jonathan.” Klesitz agreed, adding, “A brokerage is an extension of your character,” which is what Frank says explains Carbutti’s success.