Five broker tips for starting your own brokerage

From mobile broker to Aussie franchise owner

Five broker tips for starting your own brokerage


By Ryan Johnson

For Melanie Smith (pictured), a seasoned mortgage broker in Brisbane, the past year has been a whirlwind of change. Gone are the days of juggling paperwork on her kitchen counter and video calls with clients.

Since opening her own Aussie franchise store in December 2023, one thought has been on repeat in her mind: “I should have done this years ago.” The move has transformed not just her business, but also reconnected her with the heart of her community.

Smith is but one of many brokers that are moving into franchises across the country.  

“We have identified a number of priority territories in high growth potential areas in Australia,” said Aaron Hockey, general manager of network development - Lendi Group.

“We are strongly committed to helping our existing franchisees realise their growth aspirations, so, as such, opportunities for new stores are strictly capped, and we are keen to meet prospective franchisees who wish to capitalise on these opportunities.”

From mobile broker to franchise owner

Smith is no newbie when it comes to the mortgage industry.  She began her career as an Aussie mobile broker in 2010, quickly rising up the ranks to operate within the top 2% of highest performers across Lendi Group’s broker network of over 1,300.

At the time, she was looking for a way to work for herself and enjoy flexibility while raising her young family. But now that her children are teenagers, Melanie wants no barrier between her and her ability to grow her business.

The decision wasn’t easy. Melanie, a self-proclaimed “mobile mortgage mummy,” had thrived on the flexibility of remote work, especially during the height of the pandemic.

But as her children grew older, she craved a more permanent space and a deeper connection with the people she served.

“I love having somewhere to be every day and sharing a space and connecting in person with her team,” Smith said.

“After working remotely for many years, and only being able to transact with customers virtually throughout COVID, the ability to connect with people face-to-face has been a welcome change.”

The challenges and rewards of opening a new store

Even though Smith had been a broker for many years, the process of setting up a store – from site scoping and construction to procurement and everything in between - was completely new.

“This feels like a brand-new business and there is so much excitement around it,” said Smith who is keen to make Aussie Windsor one of Aussie’s best performing stores.

She eventually plans to scale by expanding her retail portfolio with additional stores, creating local buzz in her community, and being a successful businesswoman that her kids can be proud of.

“I see Aussie Windsor as the perfect hub to immerse myself even more in my local community and connect people with property lending solutions.”

Hockey said the company was pleased to see how Smith was progressing.

“We collaborate closely with franchisees to help them establish their store,” he said.

“Our team support prospective and incoming franchisees with all stages of store setup including the franchise application, site scoping and selection, lease negotiations, build, local area marketing and more.”

Mel’s top five tips for brokers

While Melanie Smith’s journey from kitchen counter to community hub is inspiring, knowing the key ingredients for success is critical for brokers considering a similar leap.

Here’s Smith’s top five tips to starting your own brokerage:

Tip 1 - Get active in your community

A firm believer in the power of community engagement, Smith’s first tip to brokers is to get active in the community.

However, her involvement extends far beyond simply writing a check. She actively participates in various initiatives, sponsoring the Everton Wolves Women’s AFL Club, serving on committees, coaching, and even playing herself.

Through her dedication, she has not only boosted player participation but also significantly raised the profile of women’s AFL within the community.

“Don’t just sponsor and forget about it. You need to get out there and get involved, otherwise it’s just a donation and it’s not going to generate any buzz,” she said.

“Establish relationships with other local businesspeople to drive referral partnerships.”

Smith also said it’s important to engage with industry.

“I’m a huge advocate of the Aussie brand and the broader industry and have been involved in various thought leadership opportunities including sitting on industry panels and taking part in recruitment events,” she said.

Tip 2 - Embrace the power of social media

While she has built her technical skills over time, Smith has also developed a well-established personal brand, “mortgage broker mummy”, which was perfectly pitched at her target market.

“I wanted to be seen as a trusted adviser to other mums,” she said.

Smith stressed the importance of not trying to be all things to all people, aiming to create content that will appeal to the needs and preferences of her target audience.

“I create content and post across multiple platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok, so my community can engage with our content on their platform of choice,” she said.

Tip 3 - Location is key

Just like a savvy homebuyer practices their due diligence, Smith was very deliberate about her branch’s location.

“Aussie had several territories available, but my rationale for selecting a site that was 3-5km away from the city was that property prices in the area would be strong,” she said.

Smith did a lot of research on the local market to confirm that it was indeed an area of high growth potential.

She also started doing local reconnaissance - visiting local shopping centres and community centres to get a vibe for the local demographics.

“This helped ensure there were plenty of thriving businesses in the area, examine foot traffic volume, and see what relevant businesses were around that would allow for building viable referral partnerships,” she said.

Tip 4 - Focus on scale and surround yourself with the right people

For Smith, one of the key objectives behind opening a store was to scale the businesses by bringing other brokers on board.

Therefore, she emphasised the importance of choosing “energetic, like-minded people who share the same values and ethos.”

“As someone who is passionate about being an advocate for female property buyers, I was keen to provide opportunities for women in her team as well,” Smith said.

Smith had some admin support staff working for her remotely during her time as a mobile broker, and these women were brought on in in-store roles once she opened.

She has also onboarded a store broker who shares the same energy and enthusiasm and plans to continue scaling her team as the business grows.

“I strive to establish a positive culture in my store from day one, to make the store a place where brokers and team members love going every day - and I want this warm energy to be felt by customers as well,” Smith said.

“On Wednesdays, these (not so) mean girls wear pink, and on Fridays, they wear band t-shirts.”

Tip 5 - Leverage brand and accept support, but make things your own

Aligning oneself with a “powerful and trusted brand and aggregator” is Melanie Smith’s final tip for brokers.

“Brand trust and recognition is incredibly powerful, especially when first getting established, and we were able to leverage the Aussie name to build our network of customers,” she said.

“Leverage all the support and opportunities provided by your aggregator: technology, operating models, events, professional development, and networking opportunities.”

With this said, Smith advised that brokers still need to create their own identity. Melanie scoped out other stores and worked closely with the Aussie team to incorporate elements she liked and inject her own personal style, within the parameters of the brand guidelines.

“I inject this approach with our branding and marketing – leveraging materials and resources made available by Aussie but injecting my own style and tone of voice as well, to resonate with our core customers and set myself apart from competitors,” she said.

Do you have tips for opening a brokerage? Comment below.

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