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5 Steps for New Brokers

By Dustan Woodhouse, Special to CMT

New business cards in hand, you sit down at your new desk in the brokerage office. Day one. What now?

Your first three years are going to be hard work. Difficult beyond belief.

The three after that aren’t too bad. You start to find your groove and square away the debts incurred over the first three. You may even treat yourself to a ‘new-to-you’ car and a move up the property ladder.

The three years after that would almost qualify as easy, were it not for market changes, lender policy changes and regulatory changes.

But your immediate concern is the next nine weeks, let alone the next nine years.

In these early days, keep what follows top of mind:

  1. Forget brand building, but know that you are a walking, talking brand.

Should you invest thousands in ‘branding,’ creating a logo, picking colours, fonts, paperstocks, webpage designs, social media campaigns, mailers, etc.?

No. They’ll have little impact.

Brokering is largely a referral-based business. It is a people business. Spend your money and your time on people.

Know that with every step you take, the very shoes you take them in will be viewed in a new light. Are they polished? Are you dressing, speaking and behaving like a professional that can be trusted with a client’s deeply personal information?

Some brokers may want to wear flip flops, drink their face off and gossip up a storm. That’s fine – but they should understand that nobody in the group that sees this will likely trust them with their file.

Do you instead want to suit up, show up, limit yourself to two drinks and talk about issues—not people? Now you’re thinking like a pro. Know that the more often you do this the higher your trust level will be with that crowd and the more business you will do with them. 

Act as if all eyes are on you—always. Because they are.

  1. You’re not in sales, but you are selling something.

You are not selling mortgages. You are providing expert advice on mortgages. And there is a huge difference.

One results in short-term gains and an inevitable early exit from the business. The other in long-term stability, growth and a prosperous career spanning decades.

Take some time and seek out brokers with 10+ years of experience and you’ll figure this out quickly. You are selling not a product, but yourself. Specifically, you are promoting yourself as trustworthy, balanced and knowledgeable. Review #1.

  1. This is not a job, it is a small business…also it’s a job.

The gross commission earned is not your paycheque. It is the gross sales of your small business, and your business has expenses. All viable businesses have expenses. Accept that. And budget like a proper business.

The very first sub-account you need to open on day one is your income tax account. Why? Because the top profession on speed dial with CRA collections is the commissioned sales agent.

Set aside 20% of every paycheque to be safe. You are the boss so you need to manage your own deductions.

But for the overwhelming majority brokering is a job, just a job. You are not building a business that will sell for millions. So be smart with your money, because you’ll need to build your retirement plan from day one. 

  1. Family and Friends matter – just not in the way you expect.

At any given time less than 3% of people in your social circle require your services. In other words if you know 200 people, every two months you might have one that needs the services you provide.

And the kicker is that family and friends are the least likely to work with you due to the highly sensitive nature of the data required.

Would you trust your friends with your credit report, annual income, net worth and debt load?

Would you be embarrassed due to a weak financial picture?

Would you be uncomfortable revealing a strong financial picture?

Accept and embrace that family and friends may find it awkward to work with you. But, they can also be your greatest referral sources and raving fans—so long as you don’t lay a guilt trip on them for keeping their details private.

Take the opposite approach. Be upfront and understand that they may prefer to keep their personal affairs personal. Offer to at least write them a ‘rate-letter’ offering the sharpest rates in the market, which they can use as leverage with their current lender. Give without expecting a return, and you’ll get a greater return than you ever expected.

  1. Attend every single real estate event you can, keeping the above in mind.

Suit up and attend events where you can deepen your market expertise and network. Combine the first four points above to make this fifth point happen with greater effect.

Why do events matter? Because the more you know about this business, and the more exposed you are to people in this business, the more business you’ll do.

Position yourself at real estate events as a learning and listening machine. Asking friendly questions and showing sincere interest in others conveys trust and credibility. Those are keys that open up new relationships…and opportunities for referrals. 


A CMP Top 75 Broker for five years running, Dustan Woodhouse of Dominion Lending Centres is author of the book: Be The Better Broker – Volume One. Dustan can be reached at