EXIT Realty Corp. International
EXIT Realty Corp. International is changing the way the real estate profession is viewed by offering its agents,
brokers and regional owners skin in the game and a better work-life balance.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Knighthouse Media
Steve Morris, EXIT Realty Corp. International’s founder and chairman, revolutionized the real estate industry in 1996 when he developed the EXIT Formula, introducing the concept of single-level residual income to a new market and building a foundation on human potential. “We sell real estate and our assets are the agents,” CEO Tami Bonnell says. “If you get good agents, you do good business, so why shouldn’t we give everyone the opportunity to help grow the business? Residual income is a good thing and with agents as our assets, they can earn income by sponsoring other agents.”
Based in Mississauga, Ontario, EXIT Realty expanded to the United States in 1999 with a primary focus on residential real estate. Today, the company has 600 offices in the United States and Canada and is strongly focused on growth. “We have about 10 more regions to put in across the United States and a majority of those are west of Ohio,” Bonnell says. “There are regional opportunities as well as brokerages opportunities, which is rare in our business. Our regional owners usually have a background in finance or real estate and are very good entrepreneurs who want to help the franchisees and agents grow to the next level.”
EXIT Realty plans to add 150 offices this year across North America and is looking to gain another 15,000 agents. “I was instrumental in building three brands before coming to EXIT and have been in real estate for a long time,” Bonnell says. “I’ve seen plenty of people over my career who were burnt out, never went on a date with their significant other or took a weekend off because everything was on their shoulders. They didn’t have a way out or an exit strategy and they were frustrated. EXIT Realty offers a great way for people to have a full circle quality of life. Everything is about control. People want control of their business, income and of their life. They want to, say, take every other Thursday off to go on a date with their significant other and when they go on vacation, to turn their phone off.”
The company appeals to people who might not otherwise consider a career in real estate because EXIT Realty’s model provides them with perks similar to those of other industries. Morris ran real estate offices for more than 25 years, but before that he worked in the insurance industry. The idea for EXIT Realty was born when Morris brought the concept of single-level residuals, a perk of the insurance and music industries, to real estate. “Every time an insurance policy is renewed, the original agent who sold the policy gets paid again and that was the premise of introducing single-level residuals to real estate,” Bonnell adds.
The EXIT Formula
When a salesperson is introduced to management and recruited into EXIT, each transaction that they close generates a bonus equivalent to 10 percent of the gross commissions earned by the recruit, payable to the individual who sponsored them into the company. The bonus is paid via EXIT’s head office. “Think about that. If an agent introduces three people who produce $50,000 a year, that’s $15,000 before they even go to work,” Bonnell explains. “This does not come off the selling agent’s portion. We offer a fair and generous commission split. You start at 70/30 and if you earn $100,000 or more in gross closed commissions, you jump to a 90/10 split. Add to that the additional revenue stream of sponsoring and you can earn more than 100 percent. Once they understand that, they see the opportunity with EXIT Realty.”
Agents can sponsor anywhere there is an EXIT office and receive residual income no matter which office the person joins. In addition, an agent’s residual income follows them wherever they move in the EXIT system, so the company is also a great way for people to make a fresh start in a new city. “It works well for spouses of people in the military who may struggle to find a well-paying job because they know their significant other will have to move again,” Bonnell explains. “We can give them the opportunity to join EXIT, list and sell real estate, sponsor agents and if they have to relocate, they don’t have to start all over again.”
Residual income is beneficial for people to put money towards retirement, second homes, pay for their grandchildren to go to college or even donate a portion to charity.
As many agents and brokers worry about their exit strategy, EXIT Realty also thought about retirement. The company converts an agent’s or broker’s sponsoring bonuses to 7 percent retirement residuals. Should something happen to the agent, their 10 percent sponsoring bonuses or 7 percent retirement residuals convert to 5 percent beneficiary benefits, providing added security for their loved one.
“Very few people in real estate have life insurance, so we took their families into consideration,” Bonnell adds. “We had a gentleman who passed away on the golf course who had sponsored 15 people into the company and had no life insurance. His wife now receives thousands of dollars in residual income because he was with our company. Another woman died of a brain aneurysm and the only way her husband was able to spend more time with the kids and not go back to work right away was because he received beneficiary residuals as a result of her being with EXIT Realty. There are some strong, amazing, personal stories that have come out of EXIT Realty’s residual income formula.”
Agents of Change
EXIT Realty looked not at what everyone else did, but at what works when developing its business model. The company spoke to top agents producing at least 50 transactions a year who gave EXIT Realty a list of what they liked and the things they would change if they could. The company implemented those key points into its business practices.
The agents’ first of seven priorities is to have leaders who know what they are doing and people in those roles whom they are willing to follow. “Of our 19 executives at EXIT Realty, 12 are female and two of the highest roles in the company, CEO and COO, are held by females,” Bonnell notes. “Our associates want corporate leadership and regional owners to lead with boots on the ground to help them grow and build franchises. All of us in leadership go out and speak across the U.S. and Canada and put our money where our mouth is. Personally, I was on 140 planes in 2018 and have a vested interest in the success of our people. We don’t sit in an ivory tower but are out helping them grow.”
Priority number two is education for everyone, from those who just got their license to those making more than $1 million a year. EXIT provides the tools for each agent, rookie or veteran, to become thoroughly trained in successful real estate sales. Its training is taught by some of the industry’s leading top producers who work exclusively for EXIT. “We offer live, distance and webinar training, much of which is recorded so our agents can repeat the process as often as they’d like and learn the way they learn best,” Bonnell says. “It’s not just current trends and technology that we teach, but also courses on helping them understand themselves as people and understand the people they work with to build more solid relationships.”
Technology is the third priority for EXIT Realty agents. Annette Anthony, EXIT Realty’s vice president of technology engagement, conducts live training sessions and hosts technology-focused webinars and stays abreast of the latest apps and innovations to help agents communicate better with their clients and make more money. “With the average age of a broker at 57, implementation and making it really simple to learn is the priority,” Bonnell notes. “We provide them with all the tools they need to engage with the customer better and more often.”
In terms of engaging with customers, agents want a marketing program they can track and they want help with the details, which are their number four and five priorities. Chief Technology Officer, John Packes, is an inventor on more than 60 U.S. and international patents and has created game-changing technology for EXIT. “Our Smart Sign™ technology allows customers to pull up to an EXIT listing, text EXIT to 85377 and, thanks to geolocation technology, the listing information is sent to their cell phone, and their information is sent to the listing agent,” Bonnell explains. “The consumer wants information before talking to a professional and we can get it to them right away, then contact them to see if there are any questions.”
Agents are also able to take control of their business with EXIT’s, user-friendly digital marketing strategy “A lot is done through smart phones and by using the text code 85377,” she explains. “For example, a customer can receive an agent’s Mobile Business Card™ by texting his or her vanity code to 85377. Mine is TAMI. It’s a huge wow factor and green factor. At networking events, you never run out of business cards.”
Just like a number of other industries, technology is disrupting the real estate industry and companies are investing billions of dollars into it, but the consumer is looking for a solutions-based company. “You can have all the information in front of you, but you have to know how it impacts the consumer and be ready when they need you,” Bonnell says. “That’s why having control with Mobile Business Cards™ and Smart Sign™ technology makes a huge difference.”
The sixth priority is working for a smart real estate company, and EXIT Realty is proud to demonstrate this with accurate market knowledge and service to the consumer through straightforward marketing. “They want a trusted advisor and we focus on that to make sure we have the right image,” Bonnell notes.
Finally, agents want to have skin in the game. “What better way to give them that than 10 percent off the top?” Bonnell asks. “EXIT’s business model fosters a culture of mentorship, so instead of a cut-throat environment, agents are willing to share tips and best practices because it could mean the difference between making $50,000 a year and $150,000 a year. It is in everyone’s best interest to teach each other how to do better and be better as a person because the teacher always learns more than the student.”
EXIT Realty prides itself on having developed a family-oriented culture with people who have a vested interest in the company. Bonnell says, “EXIT Realty’s unique formula solves many of the problems faced by traditional real estate companies. It’s truly an idea whose time has come.”