That was in February of 2020, about three weeks prior to the pandemic stay-at-home orders. “Nobody knew it was going to happen when we did this, so it was serendipitous,” she said.
It was a big move for Smothers, who launched Smothers Realty Group in 1996 and built her company to be the No. 1 brokerage in La Grange for more than two decades with the help of top producers such as Cathy Bier and Shannon Kutchek.
So why would a successful broker-owner trade their independence to join Compass? Smothers said there were a number of reasons, but the technology the company offers and its commitment to community were two of the biggest motivators.
Smothers said that as technology has grown increasingly important over the years, she found herself in the position of either buying new tech tools or developing them in-house. “When we started talking to Compass, I could see their technology was second to none,” Smothers said.
Joining Compass right before the pandemic was good timing for the Smothers team, because once stay-at-home orders were put into place, the brokerage quickly developed a host of tech tools designed specifically for remote working, she said.
While the tech offerings alone might not have been enough to make her join the Compass family, Smothers said it was their culture of giving back that helped hook her. “I felt like our little mission [of being active with nonprofits and other community groups] was the same mission as this gigantic company’s,” she said.
She noted that Compass founder and CEO Robert Reffkin was raised by a single mother who was a Realtor and often turned to nonprofit groups for help when raising him. “So, she just instilled in him that sense of gratitude and paying it forward, and he decided he was going to build his company on these tenets,” she said. “His goal was to make this business easier to do so we can service clients better and more professionally and have as much family time as we need, so that we can have balance in our lives.”
Smothers’ association with Compass has another benefit, she said: recruitment. “We were always No. 1 in La Grange, but now we’re all over the place because of the Compass brand,” she said. “It’s helped me recruit more agents that I might not have gotten in the past and made my current agents more comfortable competing with the other big guys.”