We recently sat down with Side partner agents Mark Pages-Oliver and Lisa Caldwell to discuss their real estate journey. During our chat, we talked about how the two became business partners, the challenges they faced, and the evolution of their brand and business. Since partnering with Side, Mark and Lisa have found far more than just a brokerage. Here’s their story.
This dynamic duo joined forces as 50-50 partners two years ago. After a successful year together, Mark and Lisa hit a plateau at their big-box brokerage. At that point, they both decided it was time to take their business in another direction.
“We knew what we needed to do, but we knew that we weren’t gonna have economies of scale to be able to do it, to start with. We needed a partner that could help get us off the launch pad and then work with us as we grew as well.” And then they found Side.
Onward and Upward
With Side working behind the scenes to support brokerage operations, Mark and Lisa got to work, building a boutique real estate brand of their own, aptly named Range Homes. Mark explains, “The business needs to represent us, to represent our area, and to represent our clientele. Because we’re in the foothills of the Mount Diablo Ranges, our business [name and] logo really resonates with [all of the above], which is important to us.”
Branding support was important in helping to bring their new business identity to life, but it was working out a proven business plan that really helped Mark and Lisa make big leaps in overcoming their production plateau.
Mark said, “Prior to joining Side, we spent so much time and money experimenting with every lead generation device and system that we were called about or got emails about. When we look at the money we spent and the time that we invested in all of these strategies, which left us high and dry. It was shocking. To jettison all of that, and to have Side tell us what best practices are, now we can concentrate on growing our business, not worrying about what ‘next strategy’ we need to employ. For Lisa and I, that was huge.”
Community Helps Us Thrive
Beyond the in-house business support that Side offers, Mark and Lisa were really in awe at the collaborative nature of the partner agent community. Having access to a large community of like-minded entrepreneurs – or an “agent mastermind,” as Mark refers to it, has really helped Range evolve, grow, and thrive.
“One of the biggest assets that Side has is its people both internally and externally. The tech’s great, and the support is fantastic as a business function – but the actual people that make up these businesses, these partner agencies, these boutique brokerages and the people within Side, that’s probably the deepest resource available.”
Want to hear it directly from Mark and Lisa?
Collaboration Wins Over Competition
Mark and Lisa used a lot of the same words to describe the partner agent community; helpful, collaborative, encouraging. It’s been enlightening for them to be around a group of like-minded individuals who are so willing to help one another.
One of the key things that makes this possible is Side’s strategic approach to selecting which agents to partner with. This is done to avoid having oversaturation in any one area. This keeps the partner agent community collaborative, rather than competitive because there’s enough business to go around.
Mark says, “Having limited territories for partnerships to be able to grow and expand into those areas, I think is really freeing from a collaboration point of view. We welcome our partner in Walnut Creek. We find that to be such a refreshing ally out there in the industry, and we work in different segments, so we work cohesively together.”
Lisa has been in real estate for 20 years, and she spent her time prior to Side with a big brokerage. She says,
“Even though there’s comradery within the offices, there’s always an underlying level of competition at the bigger brokerages. There’s always the top producer or the top five producers of the month or whatever it is. But with Side, we all want each other to succeed, so it’s a completely different perspective.”
The Power of a Mind Meld
One of the biggest benefits of having the opportunity to work as a community is to be able to ask questions, get ideas, and work together to troubleshoot challenges. Every quarter, Side hosts an Agent Forum for all the partner and associate agents. These bring all of Side’s boutique business owners together to network, share ideas, and participate in powerful breakout sessions. Mark and Lisa attended their first Agent Forum this year.
Lisa explains, “The nice thing about this is that [ the partner agents] are all very like-minded with Mark and I. They want to start their own business. They don’t want to be under the big brokerage. They want to have better tech and better client communication. They’re very ethical, honest, professional – and have been in the business at least 10, 15, 20 years. So it’s nice to be around colleagues who we consider to be just like us.”
Mark adds, “To be able to talk collaboratively, to be able to share best practices, to be able to grow together, and find efficiencies together… the collaboration between the partners is unlike brokerage experience that we’ve had to date. It’s amazing.”
Lisa continues, “Side partners are fantastic. There are times where we’ll occasionally and randomly call another person and say, “What is your best practice for X, Y, and Z?” In the bigger brokerages that never happens.”
“We have a whole new family that we’re able to then converse with. We feel really lucky to be able to talk with these partners because a lot of them have already done what we’re looking to do. And because they’re happy to share, it makes our journey a little bit easier.”