Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, November 15, 2019

English Scouts a different approach

Becky Cope English, left, Derek English, Misa Ankar and Bobby Ankar comprise Scout Realtor Group. - Photographs provided

Signs from a new real estate brokerage – Scout Realtor Group – are popping up in yards around Chattanooga, sparking questions about who’s behind the new venture.

The answer: Both new and familiar names.

Leading the venture is longtime Chattanooga Realtor Becky Cope English, Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Realtor of the Year in 2017 and the recipient of the association’s prestigious George Kangles Community Citizenship Award.

Spurred by a desire to devote more time and energy to her family and community, English formed Scout Realtor Group in 2018 under the Re/Max Renaissance banner. She then steered the ship to independence as a standalone company earlier this year. The company is located at 2628 Broad Street, which English and her partners are renovating with an eye toward growth.

Joining English as business partners are her husband and veteran homebuilder Derek English; former financial adviser Bobby Ankar and San Diego transplant Misa Ankar, Bobby’s sister-in-law. Becky and her partners say they are pooling their diverse skills to enhance the services they provide but operating as individual agents.

It’s Becky, however, who tackles the question about why they left a well-known brand to start their own shop.

Why did you form Scout Realtor Group?

Becky: “I was facing multiple surgeries and needed help, so I spent a lot of time researching teams. Derek and I thought about creating The English Team, but I tend to go against the grain, thinking there has to be a better way. When you’re in real estate, you own your business, so you’re responsible for the shop, which is exhausting. You can’t take a day off or a vacation, and although you want to answer the phone, you also need a break, but who can you trust to take care of your clients?

“My biggest fear was letting down my customers because I needed time off. So, I came up with the idea of bringing together a group of people I trust to work alongside me. I thought that would allow me to still make money but also give me balance and peace of mind.’’

Why did you leave Re/Max Renaissance and establish Scout Realtor Group as an independent company?

Becky: “It’s the best thing for our clients. Real estate isn’t about sales, it’s about relationships. It’s about doing a good job and having a positive outcome for your customers. Going independent has enabled us to do this on a large scale.’’

How does the move benefit you and your partners?

Becky: “We were pouring our own money into a company we didn’t control, so we thought, ‘Why not do this for ourselves? We can offer the same services as the big brokerages.’ Now we’re in control of our destiny.’’

Describe the ways in which you work together.

Becky: “We chose how we advertise, where we advertise and who we bring on board together. Do we want to move, grow or scale back? That’s a group decision.’’

So, you’re collaborating but you’re not a team?

Becky: “Correct. I carefully avoid saying we’re a team because we’re individual agents. We have our own people, production and advertising. Teams work for some agents, but in most cases, people get into this business to establish their own identity and develop a career. And we succeed based on our identities. People begin to recognize us after we’ve been in business for ourselves for a while, not after we’ve been working under a team leader.’’

What are the risks of working under the group model you’ve fashioned?

Misa: “You have to work with people you trust. Our industry is considered cutthroat, with agents huddled against corners talking with their clients because they’re nervous about what other agents will do if they overhear them. But here, we encourage collaboration because, no matter how good you are, you can’t succeed in a vacuum.

“If you have a good opportunity with a client, you should be able to share that with another agent without feeling threatened. At Scout Realtor Group, no one is going to go behind your back and do something underhanded, so we keep the lines of communication open. We wanted to work together, collaborate and look out for each other. We wanted to provide a different experience in real estate.’’

What’s the benefit of sharing information with another Realtor?

Becky: “Maybe I know Derek has a client who’s looking for X, Y or Z, and maybe I know someone is trying to sell X, Y or Z. The MLS is a great resource, but having that information before it’s on the market or getting more details from the agent can help.’’

Derek: “Also, let’s say one of my clients needs a fence repaired, and someone here knows someone who could do it. We work one-on-one with our clients but also collaborate.’’

Becky: “We get more done by working together, whether it’s asking Derek to help you look over an inspection report or asking Bobby for advice on a financial matter.’’

What made this a good time to strike out on your own?

Becky: “The real estate industry used to consist mostly of independent agents, and then the franchises took over. Everyone thought you had to be aligned with one of the big brands because of the logo and recognition factor. But the internet leveled the playing ground. Agents no longer need a big brand behind them. Now, when you hear a Realtor’s name, you know them for who they are, not for where they work.

“People do business with other people, not a company or brand. There are great Realtors working with the big companies, but that’s not what makes them successful; their knowledge, experience, work ethic and discipline do. Can you meet or exceed your client’s expectations? Do you have the tools required to reach their goals?’’

Was not having to pay a franchise fee a motivating factor?

Becky: “Not at all. The real estate industry went from keeping a large share of what the agent earned to letting the agent keep almost all of it. But when they did this, they cut the services they were providing. Now it’s swung the other way. Agents would rather have less income and receive the services.’’

Are you planning to bring on more agents?

Becky: “We’re talking with prospects, but it’s like recruiting someone into your family. We want to bring on the right people.’’

Bobby: “We want solid performers with high ethical standards and no drama. We won’t get that overnight. We’ll have to earn the respect of the solid performers before they’ll want to join us. We need to be doing good work and for people to see us doing good work before anyone will want to become part of it.’’

Becky: “We’re not aiming to be the biggest brokerage in Chattanooga. We want to be profitable but we also want the right work environment, because if you have that, everyone will be productive. Hiring the right people will be key. There are some wonderful agents we’d love to have, but like Bobby said, we have to earn their respect first. Maybe by the end of next year, we’ll have 20 agents.’’

What makes Broad Street a good place to set up shop?

Becky: “The Broad Street area is undergoing a transformation. Twenty-Sixth Street will have tree-lined streets and sidewalks and mixed-use developments. The next block back will be housing, and there’s going to be a greenway. A lot of things are on the drawing table. Chattanooga is going in a positive direction, so our timing is good.’’

More: scoutrealtorgroup.com