Recruiting talented Real Estate Agents remains a top concern for brokers and team leaders across the United States of America. Successful real estate leaders know those excellent agents are the key to growing their business. Competition for top agents, however, is the fiercest it has ever been. What can you do to appeal to and keep the best talent? A report released by Engel & Völkers, "The State of Real Estate Recruiting" concluded that 96 percent of the agents responding were content in their current position. That is almost double the US average of 50 percent. Ninety-four percent think they will be at the same agency next year. Ninety percent would recommend their broker to other agents. If you are hoping that talented agents will walk through the door or call you-you might want to rethink your strategy. All hope is not lost, however. Thirty-five percent of agents said that entertain thoughts of leaving their current broker at least once a year. Selling has a great deal to do with being in the right place at the right time. I know that the home two doors down the street from my house will eventually sell. The two that live there will downsize and move when their child is ready to move on. The thing is that the child has not been born yet so that it won’t happen for at least 20 years. If I want to pitch downsizing to them, I may be in the right place, but it is undoubtedly the wrong time.
1. Be in the right place.
The report found that a vast majority of agents would be willing to recommend their current team leader or broker to other agents. Recall the lessons you have learned and probably taught. The agents that your agents know are part of their Sphere of Influence (SOI), not yours. The agents you are trying to recruit are more likely to be associated with your agents and to be influenced by them. Use that to your advantage. You have a happy customer – your agents. Ask them for a referral to their SOI – the agents they know. They are in the right place, use it to your advantage.
2. "A man is known by the company he keeps” - Aesop.
I would say that a broker is known by the company she or he keeps. Research indicates that while agents say they move for more in commission splits that is not the sole reasons nor is it necessarily the primary reason they will change agencies. Referrals by agents often depend more on an outstanding workplace environment. Consider hosting an event for your agents and their peers. The benefit to you as a team leader or broker from investing in events where current agents bring colleagues, working at other agencies and friends may far outweigh the cost. An added benefit may also be in letting the existing agents feel that they have an active voice in the company. If you can make your agents champions and advocates for your brokerage, then you will start to attract top talent rather than having to rely on recruiting.
3. Reputation as a Leader
Real estate is and for the foreseeable future will be a people based business. Training materials, coaches, and even blogs I have written consistently advocate the human touch in our business dealing with our customers. The thing many brokers and team leaders fail to come to grips with is that their customers are their agents. Investing in these customers at a personal level will build trust and loyalty. When you know about the milestones in their life, about their families, even giving them time to pursue projects, they are passionate about the relationship becomes more personal. If you combine that with an active role in the development of their career, it is far more difficult for them to view the relationship as purely transactional and walk away. The office is not the only place where a leaders reputation is built. Being known in the community, buying from local business, entertaining at local restaurants, supporting and sponsoring neighborhood activities can only help to embellish your reputation. There are many examples in various communities of brokers and team leaders that have built a good reputation this way. One outstanding example is that of Frank And Fran Reali, from Safari Realy in Staten Island, New York. I encourage you to read their stories here: https://www.silive.com/gracelyn/2015/10/fran_and_frank_reali_are_prote.html.
4. The Physical Office Space
Massachusetts, where I live and received my real estate salesperson license, requires that brokers have a physical office space. That is not true universally. Perhaps brokers would be better served if it were required. 86 percent of the real estate agents responding to the survey listed physical office space as a top benefit. I know that I thought the office where I first worked on Newbury St in Boston, MA was a great benefit. Not only did it serve as space, I could be proud to bring clients to, but it also helped establish credibility with new customers as well. Beyond that, it was a communal space where, even though not on a team, I could learn from my office mates, develop comradery and friendships that have served me well in my career. Not every broker can afford office space that reflects their value and brand. If the investment is too significant, especially for small and start-up agencies, look for alternatives to bring agents together. A day of volunteering with a community agency, have agents join local boards and committee groups. It is all about team building and developing natural connections with your team and clients.
5. Mentorship and Coaching
Sixty-seven percent of the agents responding to the survey felt that a lack of mentorship and coaching were areas where they were least satisfied with their current broker and team leader. A full one-third of North American workers lack a career path, and this lack of direction leads to increased turn over. When you consider the high rates of turn over among real estate agents you cannot continue to provide valuable resources to people that you know are going to leave your team, agency, or real estate altogether. If you are serious about retaining your agents, and recruiting real estate agents with top talent offering them career advancement through structured opportunities will increase their loyalty to you as a leader. The top talent got that way by looking for opportunities for professional growth. A broker or team leader that want to recruit and keep the most talented agents must meet the need for professional growth and provide better opportunities for achieving it. These initiatives should have clear goals and a system of accountability. Regular meetings with a mentor, team-leader, or broker should be in place to review goals and accomplishments. Investing in your agents will help you retain them, make them more productive and better performing. Agents will, in turn, invest more back into the business.
Higher splits can be a lure that pulls agents away from your agency or team. However, higher splits do not always translate into more income. Brokers and team leaders that are providing significant value to their agents may not offer as high a split on commissions but may result in more income for the agent. The cost can be high if an agent is required to provide all their leads, pay all their own marketing cost, pay for their own CRM, and other things the costs can be quite high. Brokers that offer better technology and marketing support can often show that the higher revenues received by an agent when higher splits are allotted them, do not always translate into higher income — of course, having a well established highly regarded brand for your business can also be a draw.
Fixes are neither quick nor easy when trying to recruit or retain the type of agents that will grow your business. It requires a well thought out an executed plan. The critical elements of the program should be:
- Use your existing agents to recruit real estate agents
- Invest in your corporate culture
- Establish and maintain a reputation as a leader
- Provide a means for team building
- Provide for career advancement
- Be transparent and consistent about commissions