WASHINGTON, D.C. — Getting a seat at the big boys’ table is the goal for almost every brokerage — but for those lucky enough to get there, a common downfall for many is losing innovation. In an age when products older than three months are old news and the word “startup” carries a certain sexiness to it, growing a real estate brokerage while maintaining a fresh approach is critical for acquiring both listings and top talent.

  • Your agents will notice and appreciate personal touches from the company heads.
  • Consider work-life balance -- close the office for a day or do something else to give your employees a break.
Ariosa (middle) and Menkiti (right) and Inman Connect on the Road in D.C.

Ariosa (middle) and Menkiti (right) at Inman Connect on the Road in D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Getting a seat at the big boys’ table is the goal for almost every brokerage — but for those lucky enough to get there, a common downfall for many is losing innovation.

In an age when products older than three months are old news and the word “startup” carries a certain sexiness to it, growing a real estate brokerage while maintaining a fresh approach is critical for acquiring both listings and top talent. Speaking at Inman Connect on the Road in Washington D.C., top brokerage leaders Cindy Ariosa and Bo Menkiti spoke on the importance of interacting with agents and updating a company’s approach as it grows.

Ariosa, who had to leave early to throw out the first pitch for a Baltimore Orioles game, is a regional vice president for Long & Foster and manages over 45 offices throughout Maryland. Such an honor at Camden Yards is reserved for local celebrities — and the same reasons Ariosa was on the mound Wednesday is why her offices are some of the top-performing in Maryland.

“I go to every office Christmas party and want to burn red by the end of it,” she said. “It’s all about the small details.”

Ariosa handwrites notes to her top 150 agents every quarter and any new recruit in one of her offices, of which there are usually more than 300 per year. By being a “business partner instead of a boss,” she says one of the most important things she can do is be fun, energetic and approachable — even when she’s not.

“People know if you’re not listening, then you probably don’t care,” she said. “Look up your top agents and engage them.”

And employee engagement can go deeper than just asking how someone is doing with a sale, according to Menkiti, who manages The Menkiti Group, one of the fastest growing brokerages in the country.

He believes one of the most important things in avoiding company dullness is culture, both inside the office and outside of it.

“Create a culture inside the office for agents to thrive in,” he said. “Our top 20 percent performers have committees in the office and voice their opinions on how money is spent, growth and office culture.”

As for outside the office, Menkiti believe that interacting with the community keeps agents invested in it. Both him and Ariosa will shut down their offices for a day so agents can work on community projects like building local playgrounds and improving retirement homes.

Real estate is about land, homes and shelter, Menkiti says, which are basic needs for everyone. Although agents are obviously interested in the transaction part of a home sale, getting them to focus more on the client and property health can be more beneficial to growth of a brokerage’s brand — which should make everyone better.

“Show your agents that growth isn’t just something the company does,” he said. “It has to be additive to them.”

Email Thomas Mitchell

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