We know in this business of real estate brokerage, agents tend to move companies several times over the course of their careers. As a broker, I have experienced all sorts of exits. Some of them that were handled extremely well, while others were abysmally inept.
The real estate world really is not that big when you are immersed in the business and in the area you work. Membership in associations, community events, and of course, the day-to-day interaction with other agents is an on-going reality. When agents leave a brokerage with broken bridges, feelings are hurt and division is felt.
Recently, I experienced an exit from two agents who completely mishandled their exit. The first mistake was asking me to a bar for a drink with the two of them as the method they chose to inform me they were leaving. This was wrong on many levels. First, each should have approached me separately and privately. Secondly, a public place like a bar affords no privacy and is too loud to have a quality conversation.
I understand completely that situations change in people's lives and I believe in full and open communication. What I will never agree with is taking the easy way out of having a private one-on-one with your broker. The only time I would disagree with this statement is if there were some allegations or mishandling on either party's part. In this case, not so.
After ruminating on this latest experience, I felt it a good time to put this post out to the universe regardings tips on the proper manner to exit a brokerage:
- Do unto others as you would do unto yourself. This really is important in all of life. Your broker has taken you under their wing and someday, you might be in their seat.
- Keep the communication open. Everyone understands changes happen. Just be honest and upfront.
- Do not attempt to take leads, other agents, or any proprietary materials that belong to the brokerage.
- Return your keys and any other items that need to be turned in.
- Arrange for a private meeting between yourself and your broker to discuss your exit. This is so important to ensure both parties have had a chance to speak, to get everything out on the table, and to agree with the specifics of the departure.
- Do everything in your power to keep the bridge built. Tearing down is never a good business tactic.
- Be gracious. This business is still and always will be about people. People matter, therefore, how you handle parting ways is paramount.
- Own your reasons. It is never constructive to use the blame game or to cover yourself by throwing anyone else under the bus. Have enough respect for your broker to state your reasons for leaving without saying something to the broker like, "Well, you knew this was coming." Unless you've had other conversations prior to your departure, no - the broker really doesn't know what your plans were. This is a method used to try and justify actions without owning them.
- Get in writing, the agreement with the broker regarding any listings, clients, equipment, signs, etc.
- Show grace. Everyone has personal things going on in their lives. None of us truly knows the path another person is walking on any given day.
No matter what, we are licensed professionals and it is imperative to always do whatever we can to remain professional in all areas. Life is too short to burn bridges. Build those bridges even when it means changing lanes.