Editor’s note: Inman News has invited our readers to join in the Roadmap to Recovery editorial project (click here for details). The Roadmap seeks to chart the best course ahead for the real estate industry as it weaves through a devastating downturn. The following is a guest essay by a former brokerage company manager.
A number of years ago, while transitioning from agent to management, my manager called me into his office. I had been appointed to one of the top offices as an assistant manager and was just winding down my listings and deals. The manager had just completed an exit interview with an agent who he had brought with him when he was recruited from another company.
He was most distraught, as the agent was leaving to one of our competitors — a competitor that had a good reputation and a great mentoring manager. As my manager retold the story to me, they were offering a higher commission split, but it truly did not amount to much. When they went through all the deals closed that year and computed the agent’s share using the new level, it came to about $50 a deal more.
Agents leave companies and sometimes the clients follow. "Sometimes" is the operative word, as this indisputable logic is based not on any particular principle of physics or mathematical theorem. No, this logic stems from the fact that there are some good agents and some not-so-good agents.
Agents who work hard and know what needs to market a property and finalize a deal to closing are the ones who earn the highest amounts. Sure, there are agents who are lucky and seem to land a deal or two through friends or spouses that provide a high level of earnings, but luck does not a career make.
As a young manager I was confronted with an agent who had decided to leave and go to another company that offered a much, much higher split. When I talked to him to attempt to talk him out of it, his logic was, "I can make a far greater amount of income at the other company."
My counter was that he had yet to earn a single dollar in commissions and they were offering this split to someone who had no track record — "They are trying to buy you, plain and simple." He left and a few years later I found out that he was a very successful government employee.
Clients follow agents who are successful. How many times have we seen agents leave and not do any follow-up with past clients? How many times do they leave for a higher split and end up making less money in the long run.
Agents are constantly bombarded with higher-split offers and do not take it. Agents, as a norm, are not allured by the promise of a higher split (or marketing dollars or private office, or stipends for technology) to make a change.
Agents are unsure as to the reason for their success and have a difficult time convincing themselves that they can replicate their success someplace else. If that was not the case then why aren’t all the agents at the top companies in a given town?
What they do not want to accept is that the manager is directly responsible for their success. And managers are not always cognizant of what they have done to make an agent successful.
When I left the national franchise that I started my career with to go work for the largest independent real estate company in the county I was immediately struck by quality of the management team at this new company — I finally understood that the work done by these managers directly reflected in more and more agents earning far more than those agents at my previous company.
The only thing that agents pay attention to — and this is after they are courted for some time — is that making the transition to a new company will indeed make them more in commissions. Managers accomplish this by explaining the programs, systems and technology available to the agents that will allow them to move up to the next level.
When made aware of the possibilities, agents will make the transition. Managers need to work on this and be able to educate the prospective recruits as to the reasons beneficial to them to make the move.
In the end, it really has nothing to do with offering a higher split. It has everything to do with offering the agent the one thing they could not possibly have at their old company: a new manager.
Everything else any company can offer — splits, marketing, technology, etc., but without the new manager shepherding them to higher productivity — nothing will come of it.
Interestingly enough, when a top agent "sees the light," that agent may or may not bring other agents along, much to the frustration of management. This is entirely a function of the new recruit wanting old colleagues around.
An agent who has decided to leave DOES understand that the manager is indeed worth more than $50 a deal. The agent has decided that the manager has taken them to a certain level and another company that can take them even higher.
I have never seen a successful agent leave for a higher split. Those who leave for such a split were not — and, most likely, will not — become top agents. Every agent who is successful will leave for a better manager and will follow up with their clients and will have a devastating effect on the bottom line of the old company. All because there were not enough quality managers around.
Manny Garcia has held high-level positions at Coldwell Banker, Long and Foster, Century 21 and GMAC, working with agents and managers. A member of a governmental advisory board in Orange County, Fla., Garcia has also served in roles with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies. He resides in Windermere, Fla.
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