• Amber Montanio

WHY I use "skin in the game" to stay accountable.

If you were to ask many experts and industry leaders why there is such a high failure rate in real estate, many would express that a lack of accountability is the downfall for many. Many people enter this industry "to be their own boss," be in charge of their time, create their own destiny, yada yada yada. The problem with that, is sometimes they lack the personal accountability to stay committed to their purpose.

I learned a very long time ago that money is not the key to my personal happiness, or my primary motivator. That being said, I also know the perception of losing money provides me with enough pain to use it as a lever to change my thought or behavior towards whatever is causing the loss. This brings me to the point of this post, I routinely use money as a lever to hold myself accountable in maintaining the purpose and path of my business.

Clear as mud? Let me explain!

When I opened Black Label Real Estate Advisors, it was with a purpose to cultivate a Brokerage made up entirely of agents who are truly driven towards consistent growth, enhanced standards, and a deep seated desire to be the best at what they do. I am committed to being the best I can by for myself, my clients and my industry, and want agents who feel the same!

To make sure I stayed committed to sticking with the standards I set, I decided early on that the best way for me to do this was to always keep "skin in the game."

Definition courtesy of Wikipedia

I do things VERY differently than most Brokerages. When you sign on with most brokerages, they promptly get your credit card information so they are able to auto-draft your fees for a myriad of things...office fees, desk fees, technology fees, sign fees, headshot fees, new business card fees, breathing the same air as them fees. Okay, so maybe the last one wasn't really a thing, but you get my drift. I made the conscious decision to do the opposite.

I view each agent that I interview to bring on board as a potential investment into their business. The day I bring someone on board, I am putting my money on the line, both immediately and continuously, betting on their ability to achieve, grow and succeed.

Immediately upon on-boarding an agent, I buy their first signs (not your typical small signs), headshots, business cards, software subscriptions, and Black Label promotional items. This is a $400+ dollar initial investment PER agent I bring on! You know what though? That immediate skin in the game forces me to carefully weigh each person I speak with against the values and purpose of the company. It holds me accountable to my mission!

An example of Black Label "swag" items

After the initial investment is made, I continuously invest in each agent on both a monthly, and transactional, basis.

Every month, all of their BackAgent, DotLoop, and Forewarn subscriptions come out of my pocket. The additional amount it costs per agent for E&O comes out of my pocket. At around $65 per agent, per month, that comes out to around $780 out of my pocket per year.

The most exciting investment I get to make, as a company, is via their Professional Development Escrow Accounts. One of the biggest barriers or pain points in pursuing professional development, at a high level, on the part of agents has been the financial investments required. Many of the continuing education, and designation courses, can cost upwards of $200-$300 each. Conferences, can be $500-$1500 for the ticket alone, plus all travel expenses!

I made the decision to re-invest 25% of the COMPANY DOLLAR, on all uncapped transactions, into an escrow account that the agent can pull from in order to pay for professional development. This could mean designation courses, CE classes, out of state sales and leadership conferences..the list goes on! If an agent reaches their cap level each year, I will have escrowed roughly $4000 towards their professional development opportunities!

Personal experience has proven to me that when you show someone that not only are you telling someone you believe in them, but also putting your money where your mouth is and investing in their success, they will work harder to prove you right!

Each month, I am able to evaluate if each investment I make into that agent is paying off. Do I see them taking steps towards growth to better serve the clients, and the industry as a whole? Are they performing, as anticipated? What can I do, as their broker, to get them to the next step to make it a better investment? Knowing my money is continuously on the line with each and every agent, forces me to really be accountable for who I am bringing into the company, and how I am doing everything in my personal power to help them be successful!

At this point, a few things should be clear. One, I am not the girl you want to take to Vegas due to my pain point with losing money. Two, I am focused on making sure I am invested in every Agent I bring on board. Three, any and all Black Label agents are committed to continuous growth and development. Four, with this brokerage model, I will likely never be rich. You know what? I am a million percent ok with that.

I hope this post has given some insight into my though process, why agents are choosing Black Label, and why I am choosing those agents! As always, if you have questions or want to reach me directly, you can contact me via email at blacklabelbroker@gmail.com!