We belong, as many independent real estate firms do, to a network of similar professionals. In our case, it's call Leading RE. When its member firms combine their sales, Leading RE outsells any of the national networks, and its reach extends around the globe. I just spent some time on the website, and the tools available to us far exceed what could be obtained in the pre-web days.
What's the advantage to consumers? For one thing, we can refer people from New Haven to anywhere around the world, and ensure that they receive service at a high level. It's the difference between walking in the door of any professional establishment and having the name of a good person at the other end of the phone. Also, it allows us to coordinate the services on both ends of a move. We can use trusted colleagues in another location, and count on them to keep us informed about what's happening with the purchase or sale in their area. Sometimes that involves bridge loans or changes in moving dates, and it helps to have everyone in the loop.
These things are helpful for agents as well, obviously, but it is their ability to take advantage of the accumulated knowledge base of others in the field that is most useful. Sometimes you just need to avoid reinventing the wheel! In fact, we belong to a much smaller group of large independents, The Leadership Council, about which I've written before. We just started a joint site to post training, advertising, marketing, and various documents which would be interesting for the group to see.
It took a very long time to get our very fractionalized industry to the point where it could share more than basic rules of conduct in common. But it's been worth the wait!