In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical Miami real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.
A top Miami real estate office is making a major push for market gain, hiring new staff and executives to manage this transition. But some agents are concerned that the firm has become too “top heavy,” with little insight being sought or considered from successful agents. How can the broker balance these concerns?
I am delighted to see my real estate office taking an aggressive approach in recent months, recruiting and hiring new promising agents and investing in better marketing and technology.
My colleagues and I take this as a sign of confidence and appreciate our broker keeping all of us informed of these changes throughout the process.
But we also share a concern about the number of new administrators and staffers being hired and given (what seem to us) extraordinarily high levels of authority. They all seem very nice and professional, but they haven’t quite connected with our office’s culture and appear to have limited actual real estate experience.
The vast majority of agents (especially the top producers like myself, who have been here for many years) feel like our voice is shrinking in this new atmosphere, and we are not happy about it.
We are willing to wait and see how these new changes benefit our production, but we are quickly losing patience.
Even before we made this assertive push, I knew that many of my agents felt that we were too “top heavy,” so I am not surprised by this concern as we grow accordingly. However, guess what the No. 1 thing these same agents say about our office when they talk to their other colleagues? “We get incredible support from our team!”
And they are right!
But this same level of support they enjoy so much could not be provided by having less staff — or could it? What comes first: the staff or the agent? Is human support for the agent a relic of the past, like bricks and mortar?
There are so many real estate companies, from large, international conglomerates to the independent mom-and-pop shops and every kind of office in between. There are offices that are virtual, offering virtual help and no actual “office” of any kind, plus companies that charge for extras like coaching and attorney fees.
But in my opinion (and in the opinion of many of my agents who tell me, unsolicited) there is nothing like picking up a phone or walking through an open door and speaking directly to your company’s broker, manager, trainer, etc. to get the answer or support you need right away. That human touch is irreplaceable.
We offer our agents a wealth of programs and services like seminars, one-on-ones, group coaching, individual coaching and group accountability, just to name a few, and the feedback we get on these make them more than worth the time, trouble and expense.
An example that further emphasizes this point: a few years ago, I produced a series of online video seminars for agents who could not attend in person. Over time, I came to learn that none of the veteran agents (the vast majority of our office) watched them on their own — at all! For them, the “screen-to-face” experience was a barrier, and they could only truly learn in a collective, human environment.
This understanding of their needs influences my policies and makes me as approachable as possible. I host a “Bagels with the Broker” class every month where we discuss “what would you do?” scenarios that expand our thinking and strategy. I often join my agents on listing appointments when they think it will help seal the deal.
If the “cost” of being too top-heavy means we have incredibly low turnover, a collegial and positive atmosphere and a reputation as the most agent-friendly office in town, that is a cost I can absolutely live with.
How to meet halfway
Transitions can be challenging even under the best of circumstances, and agents should allow their broker an appropriate amount of time to initiate and instill the changes they feel confident will lead to growth.
At the same time, the broker should make sure that the agents (especially the longest-tenured and most productive ones) have their concerns addressed and understood throughout the process.
Additional time for the agents to meet and interact with the new executives may also be useful in this situation.
Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, where he actively leads the activities of more than 180 agents. He is also a working agent who consistently sells more than 125 homes a year. In 2017, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce honored him with the R.E.A.L. award in the category of “Real Estate Broker – Residential.”