PHOTO: Being a successful sales agent doesn’t necessarily mean a person will be a great business owner. 

“Watching agents take that next step into business ownership and providing a great exit-strategy for members is a growing trend within our network,” according to chief executive Paul Davies.


The network has a long-standing commitment to inbuilt succession planning, and supports business owners to guide team members, they’ve identified as future leaders, to take over. Recently, across the network’s offices in New Zealand and Australia, four One Agency agents have stepped up and taken over the reigns of the businesses they were working in. The promotion of these agents exemplifies the effectiveness of One Agency’s model in nurturing future generations of independent business owners.


As we go into business ownership for all sorts of personal reasons and motivations, likewise, we exit the business for a myriad of reasons. Hopefully, the exit is a graceful one made on our terms when we’re good and ready.

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However, we’ve all heard sad stories about colleagues and others that have sudden health crises, accidents, crippling divorces, or other totally unexpected and unforeseen experiences that have hugely significant impacts on their capacity to continue trading. I consider having an exit strategy an important part of any business’s Issues, Risk, and Crisis management. Succession planning is more than just your notion of how and when you’ll quit running your business and retire. Over my 50 years in the real estate business, I’ve encountered more than just a handful of business owners who’ve commented that they’ll ‘die with their boots on’. They made that comment either because they love what they do and can’t imagine not working, or they’ve found themselves committed to a debt that must be serviced. Sadly, on a number of occasions, something awful and unforeseen has happened — not an ideal set of circumstances to wrap-up your business.


When we’ve been operating in an industry for a period of time, we develop connections with others that are key to bouncing ideas off and real estate is no different. When you have clarity on your timelines and numbers it may suit you to select one or more of your connections to confide in, particularly if you feel there’s no obvious existing successor. Key people with the brand that you operate under can also be an excellent place to go for a confidential conversation. There’s the potential for them to facilitate introductions, if appropriate.


Timelines must be considered a fair way out to avoid panic on a personal level and undue disruption on an office level. Don’t wait for a crisis (personal or professional) to happen. What are the legal requirements and commitments on your agreements with your brand’s head office, and any office lease terms you may be liable for? Identify your preferred exit; is it to scale back until you have just a rent roll to sell? Is there a family member or younger business partner that may be an obvious successor? If not, then consideration must be given to other potential avenues. Whether that’s to look for someone new to bring into your business. A possible acquisition by an existing nearby business that wants to expand. Or briefing a business broker. Working through the numbers with your accountant and or financial advisor is crucial too.

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Being a successful sales agent doesn’t necessarily mean a person will be a great business owner. Running a business requires an understanding of people management and getting the best from each team member and facilitating each team member’s growth and career expectations. Plus of course a high degree of attention to detail and respect for compliance and the legal responsibilities of operating a real estate business.


In my experience if an agent has been running their own EBU successfully and exhibits signs of enjoying empowering his team that is a sign I look for. Do they express an interest in other aspects of the office’s operations? Ideally, they may even have spoken about business ownership as one of their personal goals in a one-on-one sessions you’ve had with them.


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