Brokerage

Why agent retention is our greatest strength — and how you can achieve it

  • At Compass, 99 percent of the agents we've hired since 2013 are still with us.
  • Every agent we take on must have two years experience because we know that 95 percent of beginning agents will quit the business within their first 24 months.
  • Our hands-on approach also allows us to troubleshoot personnel issues before they begin -- rather than retroactively addressing problems.

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It used to be that employees might work at the same company for decades, if not the duration of their careers, but that was 50 years ago. But in today’s fickle economic landscape, staffers cycle through offices in rapid succession — not least of all independent contractors such as real estate agents.

At Compass, our agents tend to stick around — in fact, a staggering 99 percent of the agents we’ve hired since our 2013 inception are still with us. And we consider this agent retention rate the truest measure of our achievement.

Why do we feel that retention is so important? Because it authentically reflects the core values of our company, more so than sheer quantity ever could.

Not only does it speak to our agents’ ability to achieve their maximum bottom line here, but it also indicates that we’re delivering on the lofty promises required to recruit the caliber of agent we employ.

The contributing factors are unique to our company DNA and ours alone. Here are the differentiators that make it possible — perhaps they will help you down the line.

We’ve built a diverse team

The traditional brokerage employs real estate professionals exclusively, with its management largely — if not entirely — made up of senior agents.

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But because many of these leaders might have only experienced business, marketing and strategy from a real estate perspective, they are often more likely to adhere to the industry’s accepted practices.

We’ve taken a different approach. In pairing real estate’s top professionals with seasoned leaders from various disciplines, we’re able to build innovative, better ways of doing business.

Rather than rely on existing methodology, we solicit agents’ feedback and actively problem-solve on their behalf. This establishes us as a vastly different — and, we hope, more progressive — type of brokerage.

We hire selectively

Most brokerages’ thresholds are low. They’ll accept almost any agent who wants to work there. This isn’t unexpected — considering that firms traditionally charge a desk fee for representation, these companies have few overhead costs and little reason to turn anyone away.

In doing so, they expect that many of the agents who join will leave and that only a handful of those who remain will actually produce.

Our tactic is very much opposite: we recruit from only the top 10 percent of agents, and among those we meet, we extend offers to just 17 percent.

Unlike competitors, we shoulder our agents’ overhead, but we do so with the confidence that all of our brokers will succeed here.

Every agent we take on also must have two years experience, minimum. Why? Because we know that 95 percent of beginning real estate agents will quit the business within their first 24 months.

Given the lengths to which we invest in our agents’ careers once they’re here, we think it’s only fair that they come to us having done the same.

In the end, we have fewer agents under our roof than competing brokerages, but unlike those firms, production averages across our agent community are uniformly strong. From that foundation, we’ve fostered a collaborative, supportive company culture.

We treat agents like clients

We recognize our agents for the tremendous salespeople they are, and we allow them to be just that. Rather than force additional functions on them, we’ve assembled a dedicated agent operations team to work with each agent on a one-to-one basis and liaise with the company’s marketing and strategy teams on their behalf — including listing photography and technology tutorials, our agents have dedicated assistance from the minute they arrive.

Because we only hire the best agents, we have fewer of them, which allows us to deliver more personalized service. This, in turn, attracts even more exceptional agents and sets a self-perpetuating cycle into motion.

Our hands-on approach also allows us to troubleshoot personnel issues before they begin. Rather than retroactively address problems, we consistently survey our agents on what more we can to do make their day-to-day operations seamless and efficient.

In the process, we flag and address issues that might otherwise compel them to leave us eventually. Ultimately, we view our agents as invaluable members of our team — not as a rotating sequence of dollar signs. Because we invest so thoroughly in recruiting, we naturally fight harder to keep them.

We listen and adapt

What’s the primary reason agents join us? They want to be a part of something great. Agents are building Compass from the ground up — their feedback and input is valued and heard.

They join committees and focus groups and take time from their days to lend their expertise and insights to our continued efforts. At every touch point, we are dedicated to making the agent experience best in class.

And by extracting these insights directly, every resulting initiative we put in place is strategically and intentionally designed to help further their business.

As we have grown, we’ve made a lot of promises in recruiting new agents. The way I view it, retention is proof that we deliver on our word — we’re not just talk.

We’ve built a company where people want to work and where agents can thrive and are gratified, but it extends beyond that.

It’s a testament to our continuous efforts to not only meet our agents’ initial expectations — but also to actively exceed them. Our retention symbolizes our single, most valuable achievement: the success of our agents.

Robert Reffkin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Compass. You can follow him on Twitter or Linkedin

Email Robert.