When I made the decision to leave Equis back in December 2009, it took me almost a year to do the due diligence that came along with deciding how my new entity would look. I spent most of the year talking with franchisors about the cost of being a part of their network, and found that the costs, in many cases, were staggering, and I wasn’t sure that their name would truly open that many doors. Although Equis has a large international presence, most of my prospects weren’t familiar with the company. I figured that if I had made it work with Equis (where I often explained the company and who they were to prospects), I could just as easily do the same for my own firm.
I am a bit different than most brokers in that I spent the first 15 years of my career inside of corporate real estate. In my last position, at Kelly Services, I managed real estate and facilities, which included a staff of 15 people. When I first entered the world of brokerage, I joined a traditional brokerage firm. Coming from the corporate background, I was uncomfortable in this role. One day, I would be showing a listing to a prospect who called after seeing a sign; the next day, I would be out showing them another set of buildings. I was not satisfied with this chain of events, so when Equis approached me about joining them, it seemed like a good fit. After seven years of sending out 15 projects a year to the network and only getting one back per year, I decided enough was enough. It was time to strike out on my own.
Interesting, once I made the decision to leave Equis, all kinds of opportunities presented themselves to me. Everything from six figure corporate real estate positions to angel investors willing to seed my new business popped up – but given my strong beliefs about how the business should be run, I wanted to own my firm. In the initial stages, I came across a network similar to Equis and flew to one of their meetings in New York. However, the group was not a good fit, and after talking to a fellow broker who I had done several deals with over the years, I came across ITRA (International Tenant Representative Alliance). The broker had just met with ITRA, and highly recommended them – so I scheduled a call to find out more.
ITRA is made up of companies dedicated exclusively to tenant representation. Many of their members came out of corporate real estate, and at the time I inquired, the organization was growing quickly, offering as many offices in the United States as Equis had at the time. One of the organization’s rules stated that to be an owner, one has to have at least ten years of real estate experience. This appealed to me, as in the past, I had worked with big brokerage houses that would assign the newest team member to any given project. This resulted in training brokers while paying them to assist me. At ITRA Global, I get agents that are similar to mine.
The cost to join ITRA is just high enough to eschew people who are not serious about their business, but it is not nearly as expensive as a traditional franchise. It was the perfect vehicle for me, allowing me to offer my clients a great international network. Plus, the organization requires its members to attend at least one of two national meetings a year – at which the education is invaluable and the relationships are amazing. I cannot stress enough how great it is to be a part of this organization, and the community that comes with it.
Since joining ITRA, the organization has added the word “Global” to its name, so people realized the group is international. And such is truly the case – with 85 offices across the world and counting, ITRA provides an excellent vehicle for its members to move their business forward.
I have been very happy with the pairing of Compass and ITRA Global to help my clients across the world with their real estate needs.