If there's one thing REALTORS® love to remind people of, it's that they are "independent contractors." They are their own boss, get to set the own hours and serve whomever they wish to work with. Trust me, they like to wear it like a badge.
It is true that most agents operate under this title when it comes to their agreement between themselves and their broker and it is kind of a nice feeling from a entrepreneur/small business stand point. But the term "independent contractor" is really little more than a classification used by the IRS to determine taxation and some other employment protocols and procedures.
Let's Go to the Mall
It is nice to feel like you're part of an office, a brokerage or an industry. Everybody loves to be "part of the team." I tell my agents that they need to think of it this way - Coldwell Banker (or insert your broker name here) is like the mall and the REALTORS® (a.k.a. independent contractors) are the stores inside that mall. The brokers name, tradition, local success and reputation will get people inside the mall but it will be the agents service, reputation and skill that will not only get people into the individual stores, but keep them there and get them to spend money with you. In a perfect world, this happens more than once and they become loyal clients who repeat and refer business for life.
Don't be too excited about this "independence" that everyone thinks could be so liberating. Professional golfer Phil Mickelson is an "independent contractor" as well. He doesn't work for the PGA Tour but he has a caddy, a manager, an agent, endorsement partners, a nutritionist, a trainer and many more people that help him be one of the top golfers in the world.
Don't you rely on people to help you do what you do?
• Do you have a branch manager who might serve as a coach?
• Who helps you with your marketing?
• When you meet with customers and clients, do you speak confidently of your affiliates like a lender, home inspector, title company, appraisers or insurance person who assures that you and your clients deals get to the closing table?
• How does your local or state board of Realtors assist you with forms, education and legislation that allows you to do what you do without much time, effort and input?
When you think about it, you're really not as independent as you think, are you?
Want a Raise?
There is no argument that you are the star. No one needs a reminder that it is you who the client turns to, who they rely on and who they trust. But before you start thinking there might be some greener pastures out there, go seeking a higher commission split or a 'better deal," remember that you don't work for anyone but yourself.
If you want a raise, start asking for it from your customers. Start giving better service, better advice, better results. Let your reputation for successful transactions be the best marketing you could ever do. Spend the last five months of 2011 building better relationships, solving more people's problems and having more fun - personally and professionally.
Remember what Henry Ford once said;
"It is not the employer who pays the wages.
Employers only handle the money.
It is the customer who pays the wages."