How Corcoran grew from a boutique brand to a global presence
For most of its 50 years, Corcoran was a regional player. But in 2020, its affiliate network took off, and “it’s just the beginning of the story.”
- Three years ago, Corcoran launched its affiliate program, which has expanded across the U.S. and into Europe.
- The company prioritizes finding the right partners and locations over simply adding agent or office count.
- Corcoran sees its smaller size as an advantage: It knows its affiliates intimately and can provide personalized support.
Growing a regional company into one with a global presence doesn't happen overnight. But, for The Corcoran Group, it didn't take long.
Just three years into launching its affiliate network, Corcoran has expanded from coast to coast, and in March announced its first foray into Europe. Now in nearly 40 markets, Corcoran is focused on a "thoughtful" approach to continued growth.
"Technically we've doubled the size of the network in the first couple of years," said Stephanie Anton, president of the Corcoran Affiliate Network. "And I think it's just the beginning of the story for Corcoran."
The 'right people in the right markets'
But it's not just a numbers game. Working with the right affiliate partners, Anton said, is key to maintaining the integrity of the brand.
"One of the beautiful things about Corcoran is that we're not driven by what might be considered the traditional growth trajectory for growing a franchise network. We're really focused on finding the right people in the right markets and making the brand come to life."
The right people are partners "who get it, love it, and will help [the brand] grow," said Anton. This is especially critical in markets where the Corcoran name is unknown. Until recently, Corcoran has primarily served the New York City region.
And the right markets? They are the same ones the company has been pursuing since 2020: high-end urban, suburban, second-home and resort communities — "the obvious places for a lifestyle brand," said Anton. In many cases, those were the areas that appealed to pandemic-era buyers. Although Corcoran launched its affiliate network just ahead of the pandemic, the company was able to grow steadily by entering the types of markets buyers were seeking.
Global growth with 'the whole world at our feet'
Now with offices across the U.S., including in Hawaii and throughout the Caribbean, Europe was a natural next step. In selecting its first overseas affiliate, Corcoran looked for "DNA matches of the market and the firm," said Anton, which brought the company to Italy. "Our tagline is 'live who you are,' said Anton, "and I can't think of a country that resonates with that more."
The firm, too, was a good fit — "a longtime, family-owned company" that felt culturally similar to Corcoran itself.
Anton said Corcoran is exploring other affiliations in Italy and the European Union. "We kind of have the whole world at our feet right now," she said.
"I think we'll probably grow beyond Western Europe, but continue in the strategic way that we've grown domestically, as a lifestyle brand. We're having a lot of great conversations, but we're really more interested in doing it right than doing it fast."
Empowering affiliates to make the brand their own
For some companies, expanding across borders can create cultural or logistical challenges. Business practices may differ, said Anton, but "buying a home, selling a home is always personal. So no matter where we sell real estate, we're all working with the same motivations and the same clients. Finding places where you can live who you are is a borderless emotion."
Corcoran works with affiliates to express the brand in a way that makes sense for them. "Our goal isn't to show up exactly the same everywhere we go," said Anton. "Corcoran in Italy isn't going to look like Corcoran in St. Barts. I think about our best-performing affiliates, and those are the ones that really love and understand the brand. They can articulate it in their own voice, they own it, and then they can leverage it to grow."
The company also supports affiliates through a robust, interactive learning platform that includes multi-week courses, panels and networking opportunities "focused on fundamentally changing their business," said Anton. "We're helping them with resources and tools that they wouldn't have had as a local company, and we have a ton of marketing support."
The ability to work closely with affiliates is one advantage of being a smaller brand, said Anton. "We know everyone and their business really intimately."
And while growth is important, Corcoron's position as an "underdog" has its advantages.
"We're not looking to be a giant. I think our size is a huge benefit, particularly now. Our team is manageable. Our number of affiliates is manageable. And as this market has changed, it's enabled us to really be all in with them."