If you’re a broker who’s ever had a productive agent leave, you’re aware the wound can go much deeper than just that agent’s production alone. An agent leaving can be indicative of negative culture and shortcomings within the brokerage, and the action of them leaving often garners the attention of the other agents under your command, resulting in a snowball mass exodus effect and essentially battering the revenue stream of your brokerage to critically low numbers. There are three essential components to all business. In fact, one can argue these are the only three components to business:
- Obtain Clients
- Retain Clients
- Develop Clients
It’s that simple. Get new clients, keep them coming back, and make them better clients. In the case of a real estate brokerage, it’s tempting to identify home buyers and sellers as the clients, but this is a common misconception. Buyers and sellers are the clients of the agents.
AGENTS ARE THE CLIENTS OF THE BROKERAGE.
Some may consider better technology, lead generation, strong referral networks, training programs, or an adept, responsive administrative team to be the direct cause of brokerage prosperity. However, these are just the tools for obtaining, retaining, and developing agents. Obtaining, retaining, and developing agents is the true catalyst for the prosperity of a brokerage. So how is each one of these contributing factors best achieved? Is there more you could be doing as a broker to recruit more agents, keep them from leaving, and increasing their production?
Every brokerage has means of attempting to recruit experienced agents from other brokerages and reach out to newly licensed agents with a list of benefits of their brokerage. The problem many brokerages suffer here is there is little deviation between each brokerage’s process, offers, and material. As a relatively new agent, I can tell you in the months following receiving my license, I received 10-15 letters from brokers attempting to incite me to hang my license with them. I couldn’t have told you anything specific about any of the brokerages the next day, because all the recruiting materials looked the same and the benefits offered sounded the same. All the materials boasted the best technology, hands on support, or some other vague cliché. What attracted me to the brokerage I ultimately signed with was their demonstration of positive company culture. Agents can find technology driven lead generation and training programs anywhere. Finding a brokerage that treats you like family is difficult. A quick solution to the issue of obtaining clients is actually retention of current clients. Host more events for your agents, give more awards, and cultivate an atmosphere of comradery among them. Once this is achieved, invite potential recruits to these events so they can experience the energy themselves. It may be a data driven industry, but people will always be emotionally driven when it comes down to it.
In addition to changing company culture to better reflect what’s described above, retention of agents can be trickier since loss of an agent is often a result of personal issues that can’t be fixed by the broker, like location of the office. The success of this metric can be better attributed to the delivery of benefits spelled out in the aforementioned recruitment materials. A well-trained administrative team to support the agents is key. Technology, lead generation, digital marketing, and training programs will suffer without regulation. A strong administrative team that can organize, implement, and track the progress of each of these for each agent from initiation to execution will lead to happy agents, regardless of the technology or processes used. Lights and bells can help brand awareness, but nothing correlates to customer retention stronger than good customer service. Treating your agents like customers and training your support staff like customer service is the first step to laying the foundation for a powerful, well-oiled agent retention machine.
This is where the training programs and technology come into play. Once your well-trained administrative team sets new agents in motion on your brokerage’s assembly line that goes through proven course instructors and effective technology education and follow up to insure adoption, your agents will be ready to begin obtaining, retaining, and developing clients of their own. There is a common, but complimentary issue experienced by new agents and seasoned agents. New agents struggle to obtain clients as a result of a lack of experience, while veteran agents struggle to retain and develop clients as a result of flooded inboxes and a general disorientation prompted by lack of organization and time. These problems can be solved symbiotically by instituting mentor-protégé relationships between newer and experienced agents. Newer agents will gain valuable experience and take a small cut of the commission while they learn handling the overflow from experienced agents, while experienced agents can be freed up to not only obtain new clients, but provide more focus to current clients.
Contrary to the behavior of many brokerages who think the secret sauce to agent happiness lies within the client management and lead generation technology provided to them, the answer is to go back to the roots of what made a functional brokerage in the pre-internet era. Worry less about what technology to provide, and more about establishing a competent, happy team. Once that is done, they’ll tell you what technology is best and how it should be implemented within the brokerage.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
- Steve Jobs
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