Are you looking to make some changes in your company ? Change is GOOD, but properly timed change is GREAT! We have all heard the saying; the only constant thing in life is change. The same is true for your business. Change is necessary and needed to move forward. However, change is also the #1 reason for vulnerability in a real estate office.
When you are vulnerable, you can lose agents. There are also times when you should NOT implement a change.
Change is the #1 reason for vulnerability. When you implement change, there are a certain number of agents who will be unhappy with the change. It has the potential to create some resistance in your office. We understand that it’s impossible to implement a change and have everyone be happy. But here are some tips for implementing change to control vulnerability.
#1: Try to involve your agents whenever possible: If you are changing locations, ask a team of agents to help you locate a new location. Go out with them to scout out new office space. Let your agents sell the group on the new location. You could also set up a committee to determine the new colors for the office and ideas for office design. Let them spend their time with the designer, but you can make the final decisions.
#2: Use the exchange method: When you take away or add a service, use that opportunity to evaluate all your existing services and tools. Whenever a company tells me that they are going to add a tool or service, I usually ask them, “Are you planning to discontinue any services or tools in the near future?” Or if they want to discontinue something, I want to know their plans for the near future. This allows you to hold a business meeting with your agents and explain that after careful evaluation of all your tools and services, you are making some changes to better support them in their business. You can explain that a certain tool or service is not yielding great results, so you are implementing something better for them. Another example is: If you are changing compensation, or implementing a new fee, time it with the implementation of a new service. “We are implementing a transaction fee of ($Amount) but you will no longer be charged for (service).”
#3: Grandfather your existing agents whenever possible when you are changing compensation or fees: Money is always a tricky change, and possibly the most delicate one. When possible, “grandfather” the existing agents and apply the change to those new agents who will be joining after the implementation. Another idea is to grandfather all agents whose production is above a certain amount. You could say “If you are generating GCC of $90,000.00 or more, you will be grandfathered with regard to the new changes.” You can also grandfather agents who have been with the company a long time. “If you have been with our firm for 10 years, or your production is $(Amount), you will not be subject to the new changes.” Keep in mind that emotional agents will usually not leave because of the money, but they are hurt that after so many years, or at their level of production, that you would take money out of their pocket, or not honor the original agreement that they had.
#4: A management change is also tricky: Whenever you change managers, you should consider the personality of the manager that is being replaced. If the manager that is being replaced was very friendly, emotional and well liked by the agents, you would be more vulnerable with a new logical manager. If the manager that you want to put into place is a different personality, you can decrease your vulnerability by putting in an interim manager, or yourself, while they go through their mourning period over the loss of their manager they liked. What I found worked well was to personally manage the office for a period of 6-12 months. During that time I would look for a new manager. When I found the new manager, I would bring them in as a manager in training and co-manage with them for 3 months. After 3 months, I would turn the office over to the new manager, and ease out over the next 30 days.
Times to avoid change: There are two times that you want to avoid making a change if possible. Do not make changes during “recruiting season” or when their production is at a low point. The months of August/September and December/January are probably the two most vulnerable times to make a change. Agents typically have fewer listings and pendings during this time, so making a move is easier. You also do not want to make a change while you are already vulnerable from a prior change. For example, if you just changed the name of your company, don’t change the compensation plan the following week.
Bottom line: The best way to retain your agents if you are vulnerable, is to always be working on retention. Start today by sending thee notes a week to your agents. Think of something nice to say about them and let them know how much you appreciate them. If you always practice retention, the competition will have a tough time raiding your office.
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