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Buying LandNLR StoriesSelling Land

Making More Money and Having More Time Selling Land Without the Problems of the Franchise Business Model

April 11, 2023

I was a franchisee owner of a national real estate company and I was growing tired of the constant battles associated with a franchise. The franchisor kept adding franchises in an area where I worked consistently and with much success. I was the National Agent of the Year for the company three times in seven years and the National Office of the Year during the same period. We were constantly battling agents of the same company under another franchise on commission rates and branding. The consumer didn’t understand that we all were independently owned and operated and didn’t work together as a team.

I wanted to become more efficient in my business and focus on more specific properties and listings. I wanted to have a team behind me that focused on marketing and web presence that would allow me more time to focus on clients and their needs. I also wanted to spend more time with family and not be on the road all day and on the computer all night.

I was spending most of my time focused on the business and I was feeling burnout from working long days and nights. My family time was suffering and my kids were growing up really fast. I also took a long hard look at the royalty fees I was required to pay on each transaction and the benefit I received from the royalties. I was paying for a brand and all other marketing was coming out of my pockets in addition to the royalty fee.  

I was tired of running the day-to-day operations, marketing, web presence, sales, and management with little to no help from my franchisor. I was paying expensive marketing fees in addition to the royalty fees and was doing all the work myself. I knew there had to be a better solution so I decided that I was going to look at other opportunities or be an independent firm. It was as if I was already an independent firm that was just paying royalty fees for a brand name.

I had met sellers on a listing appointment and gave them my marketing package, terms and commissions, and felt really good about the meeting. They had a couple more firms to interview but were pleased with my experience and overall proposal. They said they would let me know in a few days about their decision. In a couple of days, they called to let me know they had given the listing to another agent with another firm, but the same franchise. They explained that since we were both with the same franchise, our marketing efforts would be similar and the other agent agreed to a much lower commission after they told him what I had proposed. It was at that point, I was out of the franchise business.

After losing the listing, I had to seriously think about the future of my company and the path it was headed. We were competing with firms under the same franchise and I had no control over agents that were hired by the other franchisees. There were agents under the same brand that were not as competent or experienced and were developing a reputation in the marketplace. This was affecting our business negatively and there was no resolution except to leave the franchise. I decided that I wanted to be part of a team that worked together and not against each other.

I had been in the real estate business for over a decade with a lot of success. I was friends with real estate brokers across the nation through the Realtors Land Institute and I started reaching out to discuss other franchises, other business models, and independent brokers. I wanted to talk with others in the same business that had the same challenges and issues that I was facing to find the best fit moving forward. I was fairly firm that I did not want to enter another franchise agreement, but I wanted to see what was available. I was committed to making a change in order to grow my business and have a happier life.

I had been the boss of my own business for a long time and I wasn’t sure that I could work for another group as an agent/broker. The franchise model allowed me to run my own business within parameters, but I wasn’t happy with that model from my current situation. I knew the costs of running my own firm plus the addition of costs for new branding and essentially starting all over. Another factor was the increasing costs of marketing and technology. These costs were escalating at an alarming rate and taking on 100% of the costs would be difficult, especially in the initial transition. I wanted to be part of a team that had expertise in areas that I was lacking such as marketing, technology, and website traffic. I wanted to have the ability to work with clients meeting their real estate needs without being focused on making sure the website was running today or if the marketing packages were sent out on time. I wanted to work with a team that allowed me to build a company and personal brand but allowed me to make decisions for day-to-day operations.

 I was researching other real estate companies and had met with a few to determine mutual interest. I had met Aaron Graham several years before at an RLI conference and we had become friends and often exchanged ideas. He had been part of a group that had just disbanded and was looking for other opportunities. We got together at an RLI Conference and he began telling me about National Land Realty. The more he told me about NLR, it seemed like the fit I was looking for in my business.

After the conference, the NLR team reached out to me to see if I was interested. We met and their plans aligned with my plans to build a company that served all land needs. They weren’t a farmland, recreational land, or timberland real estate company. They were searching for individuals that wanted to be the best in the land business. They were able to offer the team that I was searching for and the ability to manage my own team and run the day-to-day operations. NLR was building a brand through experienced land professionals and team members with specialized marketing skills and website presence and I wanted to be part of the team.

When I joined NLR, I became part of a team that strives every day to do our best and be the best in the land business. This allowed me to focus on areas that were my strengths and allow my team members to help me in the areas in which I was not as strong. This has also allowed me the opportunity to help others in our organization with suggestions or solutions to their issues. Overall, I have more time to focus on my business for my clients and more time for my family.

Being part of an organization that is team driven allows me to be focused on the task at hand and not worry about everything that goes into all aspects of the business. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and NLR has allowed me to focus on my strengths and to help others in our organization that may need assistance in an area of my expertise.

After making the transition to NLR, my day-to-day business was simplified. I now have the time to focus on clients and their needs in buying and selling real estate. I have continued success as a broker, being in the Top 10 of sales in the company since joining in 2016. I also became more involved with the Realtors Land Institute as its National President in 2018 & 2019, allowing me to help promote the land real estate business and work to create and offer better education for land professionals across the country. As President, I was able to work with other real estate professionals through the National Association of Realtors on issues that were important and essential, specifically to land professionals. I would have never had the time for the level of involvement without having the NLR team behind me.

As we continue to grow at National Land Realty and provide additional opportunities related to the land business, I have the opportunity to help in the growth of the company. We strive to be a full-service land company that can help with all our client’s needs from auctions, traditional brokerage, financing, minerals, title, solar, and much more. It’s more than just making the sale and moving on to the next deal. With NLR, we want to provide the services for our clients to meet all their needs. For me personally and my family, it has allowed me to have more time for them and not be so distracted and worried about every little detail of the business. Before, I always felt if I didn’t answer the phone at 8:30 at night that I would miss out on an opportunity. Now, I have more time to chase opportunities without sacrificing my personal life with my family.

Regardless of your current situation or ambitions, you owe it to yourself to check out National Land Realty. You will have the opportunity to make more money, have more time for your family, and will have better tools for your business and a team to back you up.

About the Author
Jeramy Stephens is a Partner and the Managing Broker for National Land Realty for the Mid South region in the Little Rock, Arkansas office. Originally from Stuttgart, Arkansas, the Rice and Duck Captial of the World, Jeramy still has many ties to Eastern Arkansas. He graduated from Arkansas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Business with emphasis in Farm Management and Ag Marketing. Jeramy worked in the Farm Credit System as a Branch Manager in Eastern Arkansas until 2003. Since that time he has been involved in the real estate business and currently partnered with National Land Realty in January 2016. Jeramy specializes in row crop farm sales, timberland and recreational duck hunting properties. He is an avid sportsman enjoying all types of hunting and fishing. Jeramy has obtained the prestigious Accredited Land Consultant designation from the Realtors Land Institute and is the Arkansas Chapter President. He also is on the Realtors Land Institute Board of Directors and is Vice Chair for the Education Committee. Jeramy is currently licensed in Arkansas, Louisana and Mississippi. Jeramy resides in Little Rock with his wife Angela and two sons, Connor and Jack. View Jeramy's Listings and Reviews on