A New Side to Real Estate
A New Side to Real Estate
Side is on the forefront of taking agent-centric to the next level.
Side, is “agent-forward.” That means they work to ensure that clients remember their agent’s name, not the brokerages’.
If you’re familiar with California Real Estate, you may have heard of some of the brands that they’ve partnered with - Thrive, City, Elevation, Real Estate Experts, Portfolio, and many more. What you probably didn’t know is that they are all powered by a new brokerage that is flipping the old model on its head. The fact that you haven’t heard of Side is by design, says Guy Gal, Side’s CEO. “It’s an agent service, not a brokerage service. Traditionally the brokerage gets credit when the agents should.”
The Pursuit of Enablement
Prior to Side, Guy built technology businesses by bringing talented individuals together and looking at problems in unique ways. It wasn’t until he spent time with his childhood friend, Phil, a Realtor in Toronto, that he realized how big of an opportunity there was to improve the way that homes are bought and sold. Phil was a savvy agent, having grown his business to a respectable $40,000,000 in annual volume, however, he ended up hitting a ceiling. His brokerage didn’t make it easy to build a team, his clients didn’t care about his brokerage’s brand, and ultimately he realized that he was doing too much busy work to take on more clients.
Guy urged Phil to start his own brokerage so that he could take control of his business and break through the ceiling. Phil took the suggestion seriously, yet after getting his broker’s license and scoping out a plan, he realized that running a brokerage wasn’t the type of work that he loved doing. Phil is great at working with clients, collaborating on deals and mentoring team members, not back-office paperwork, marketing, legal and finance.
This is when it clicked for Guy, “You want a white-label brokerage. You take care of the service and sales on the front end; the back office, brokerage, legal, compliance, audit, transaction coordination, conveyance, marketing, advertising all gets handled for you on the backend”. That was the idea that thrust Side into reality. On paper, this proposition doesn’t sound all that different from what a traditional brokerage is supposed to do, however walking through Side’s office in San Francisco, it becomes clear just how different they are.
Side is predicated on the idea that agents should focus on the high-value work of servicing clients, everything else should be handled by people who specialize in that particular task. Side has staffed up an impressive team of Technologists, Designers, Marketers, Video Producers, Lawyers and Transaction Specialists, all in the pursuit of enabling agents to focus on their bread and butter, clients. Side’s platform saves each agent an average of 62 days in time per year.
A Look Under the Hood
Prior to partnering with Side, agents will sit down with Side’s team of Brand Strategists and Designers to understand the type of business that they want to build. “Each brand is different,” says Guy, “They are tailored to the agent, their clientele and the community that they serve.” Once they align on the brand, the team goes to work building out the website, collateral and internal systems so that they can launch their new brand and hit the ground running.
Side partners with top producing agents, though that’s not the only factor that gets considered. They want to pick winners, so if two different agents compete for the same niche in a market, Side wants to work with one of the agents, not both. “That’s the only catch,” says Guy, “if we don’t work with you, we’ll work with your competitor.”
“That’s the catch, if we don’t work with you, we’ll work with your competitor.”
The vast majority of the agents that partner with Side, claim to see stronger brand recognition and business growth after they launch. “It doesn’t make sense that the brokerage’s phone number should be on the signs in front of the listing, the number should point to the Listing Agent and their team. They’re doing the hard work, they should get the leads” said Guy.
It’s Your Business. It’s Your Brand.
In addition to the platform that Side has built, they’ve taken an innovative approach to the traditional business model. They are a vendor that provides a service to the agents, not the other way around. The agents own their business. “It’s a resell-able, transferable, durable business with real asset value,” says Guy. “When you are ready to retire, you’ll have a business that you can transfer to your children or sell. That’s not possible to do if the brokerage owns your brand”.
Business in the Front. Tech in the Back.
Guy is confident in his team’s ability to help agents grow their business. They develop a customized business plan in conjunction with each agent and use that plan to rigorously track progress along the way. This plus the robust platform that Side’s team has built is what he refers to as their “Secret Sauce”.
Their platform is a combination of homegrown technology and off the shelf products. “It doesn’t make sense to build everything yourself when there are such great tools out there. For example, we use Disclosures.io at Side to manage the disclosure process. Millions of dollars of development hours have gone into Disclosures.io, honing it into the best-in-class tool. Why would we reinvent the wheel when we can integrate it into our system? Our real advantage is the way in which we’ve constructed our platform so everything works together in concert.”
Guy is a firm believer in the power of great agents. “The industry is in a precarious position today. There are so many options for consumers that it’s hard for good agents to cut through the noise. This invites discounters into the industry. People may think to themselves, if I’m going to have a terrible experience, then I may as well pay less. But when you put them in front of an agent that’s amazing, they instantly recognize how important it is to have the best agent. People don’t want the cheapest service, they want the best result. It’s not about a 1% listing fee. It’s about selling your home for more.”
“People don’t want the cheapest service, they want the best result. It’s not about a 1% listing fee. It’s about selling your home for more.”
Side already represents over $2.2 billion in annual home sales volume in California and expects to represent over $6 billion in sales volume by the end of 2019 as they expand nationwide, starting with Texas and Florida. By bringing together the best agents in each market and powering them with a game plan, team, and platform, they provide the best experience and the best results. This, Guy believes, is what consumers truly want and is the model of the future.