You Can STAY Indie, Without Operating a Brokerage!

Few owners of independent brokerages get in the business because they enjoy back office operations or risk management; but they relish the freedom from franchise fees, and independent decision-making on culture, branding, location, and operations.

So, why make a change? In this discussion, Bryn Stroyke, Co-founder, and Deanna Whipp, COO, of Stroyke Properties Group at Bayside Real Estate join Paul Barbagelata, Owner of BarbCo, share how partnering with Side enabled them to preserve the work ethos, spirit and brand legacy of their independent brokerages—while also getting a leg up on the competition.

Bryn, Deanna, and Paul share three ways a partnership helps keep indies indie:

1. Remain competitive amidst a shifting market 

As the industry continues to experience dramatic market shifts, these independents are standing up and taking note.

“We just looked at how the market was evolving and changing,” says Paul. “And after doing this for 30 years and being in a very competitive San Francisco market, we saw that the tools that Side brought to the table for us evolving into the next chapter was what we needed at this time in the Bay Area real estate market.”

Bryn also noted how rapidly his South Bay and Southern California market had evolved in the past five years, with big box brokerages moving in and small- to medium-sized brokerages either selling out or breaking apart. Being able to compete with large box brokerages—with regard to technology and marketing benefits—was paramount, but also challenging.

“We were having to go out and assemble through third parties a lot of tools that we needed to stay competitive,’ he explains. “[Side offered] basically an amalgamation of everything we'd been doing ourselves through third parties. We could do it with one-stop shopping, but...at a price point that was far below what we were already spending. So it was really a very attractive option to us.” For Bryn, a partnership with Side was a sound decision that made economic sense.

2. Eliminate the stress of technology management—and legal liability

Deanna points out that “most people are indies because they enjoy the transactional aspects of the business.” But keeping pace with ever-evolving technology needs and the evaluation, procurement, and management this requires can be a headache.

“Putting together an [organization’s] operations backside is not everybody's favorite thing to do,” recalls Deanna. “A lot of indies have struggled over the years with offering the kind of tech tools and support on a consistent level for their agents, and not only for retention, but [also] for recruitment. If you don't have the backend support on it, it's really hard to stay focused on the meat of your business...and not get swamped with all the operational tools that need to come into place to stay competitive.”

Bryn concurs: “I don't know of very many agents that enjoy the backside of the business. An obvious burden for independents is legal liability. And if you are a transactional broker, like I am, versus a broker that maybe does more management, that's always lurking out there and we're in a high-end market. So mistakes, if they happen, can be expensive.”

One of the immediate benefits of partnering with Side is freedom from the hassles of technology, legal and risk management. “Side was a way for us to maintain our identity, not get stuck in a big box, but have the support from a technology standpoint that I think is superior to what other companies offer,” says Bryn.

3. Leverage a true two-way partnership and elite community

“This is a two way partnership,” says Deanna. “When [Side] calls us partners, we're partners in truth. [Side] learns and takes pieces from operational sides of teams and brokerages that are working and applies it, broad scope and vice versa...and it's just like putting fuel in your jet pack. It really is.”

Paul adds, “We felt like we [were] hiring Side to say, ‘You guys: We're a partnership, let's do this. We're going to be on the front end and do the sales and marketing. And you're on the back end to support us, help us. And let's kind of work this out together.’ The evolution of the business has been overwhelming, and why I'm part of the Side family is because they fill a void that we felt was imperative for us to be as competitive as possible.”

While launching his brand during the height of the pandemic, Paul felt bolstered by the Side community of agents and brokers by his side (pun intended). “It was a really great situation for us, because we were no longer this lone wolf independent company where it was just us talking within our 28 or 30 people. We had this network of other brokers and agents that we never had before. And we really felt that we were collaborating with an elite force, working this out together, getting some insight on how we're going to show property, client needs, where the market's going to go.”

Bryn similarly appreciates “the unanticipated benefit of a sense of community.” The Southern California community of Side partners has biweekly calls to discuss best practices and help each other out. “We're used to such a competitive environment, [that] to have a more collaborative environment with other partners has been a blessing,” he says. 

We are grateful to Bryn, Deanna and Paul for sharing their perspective on how partnering with Side enabled them to preserve the best aspects of being an independent brokerage.

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