Pay It Forward

A couple finds an underestimated real-estate opportunity in the agents.
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This story appears in the February 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In Ray and Cyndi White's case, it really did take a rocket scientist to run a business. After Ray, a former rocket scientist at JPL, and Cyndi, a hearing specialist, retired from their careers, they sought ways to grow their capital. Opportunity soon came knocking.

In early 2000, the Whites attended a business-opportunity convention. Since they already had real estate investments in four states, friends at the convention urged the couple to check out a franchise called Commission Express, which buys real estate agents' pending commissions at a discount and advances their pay. While Commission Express waits for escrow to close, agents can use the money. "When I understood what it was all about, I knew it was the business for us," says Cyndi, 53. In June 2000, the couple got a franchise in Los Angeles.

Since the Whites opened their franchise, 25 other franchisees have followed suit. Commission Express' rousing success has also generated copycat companies. Still, Cyndi believes it's the company's friendly attitude that makes it stand out from the rest. "A lot of them have fallen by the wayside because clients don't get the same personal attention. That's why we've [stayed] around, and they've been struggling," she says.

In addition to enjoying close relationships with their clients, the couple has fostered friendships with the owners of the other three locations in California as well as the company's founders. For the Whites, personal connections are what make the experience worthwhile. Says Cyndi, "Our circle of friends has grown."

Edition: July 2017

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