For small and indie brokers to compete against the big dogs when recruiting, they must be able to articulate their strengths, uncover the agent’s motivation for leaving their present firm and provide them with concrete strategies to help them build their business.

With more than 1,000 Inman posts, Bernice Ross is a long-time contributor whose weekly column on real estate trends, luxury, marketing and other best practices publishes every Monday.

For small and indie brokers to compete against the big dogs when recruiting, they must be able to articulate their strengths, uncover the agent’s motivation for leaving their present firm and provide them with concrete strategies to help them build their business.

Before ever interviewing an agent, brokers and managers must be prepared. This means having a written unique recruiting proposition (URP), a list of powerful interview questions and at least two strategies the agent can use to grow their business.

Your unique recruiting proposition (URP)

To create your URP, begin by identifying your brokerage’s greatest strengths, especially in terms of your culture. Categories to include are office services, tech tools, and most importantly, listing and buyer conversion tools.

It’s also useful to repeat this process with your competitors so that you know where you are competitive and where other brokers might have an advantage.

When agents are considering switching firms, they’re often look at how to increase their income. Most believe that having a higher commission split is the answer, however, there are two ways to defuse that objection.

The first step is to begin by asking, “Are you more interested in your commission split or in how much you actually earn at the end of the year?”

Next, as one of the brokers from the WomanUP! initiative explained, “Commission objections disappear when I show them how they can do and extra five to 10 transactions by joining our company.”

How can you help them do an extra five to 10 transactions per year?

Some ideas include:

  1. Introduce them your firm’s “chatbot” service that never misses a call, converts leads and then hands them off to the agent. Checkout, and best of all, it’s free!
  2. Use the most powerful comparative market analysis (CMA) tool available. WeissAnalytics not only calculates the current value, but traces those values as far back as 2000 and predicts whether the area (and/or an individual house) will be increasing or decreasing in value over the next year.
  3. is a free service that matches properties and buyers with various down payment assistance programs. The average amount of assistance their users receive is between $10,000-$13,000. The large majority of buyers and their agents have no idea about this, so having a local lender who can assist borrowers in obtaining down payment assistance will definitely separate you and your agents from the competition.

Once you have identified what to include in your unique recruiting proposition, display it in a list like the one below.

Once you have completed your URP, the next issue is what types of questions will you ask?

How to ask great interview questions 

There are three general categories of questions that will help you to determine what matters most to the agent, the pain points that are motivating the agent to move, as well as whether the agent is someone you actually want to hire. The categories are:

1. Find out their strengths and weaknesses

Are they trying to break through the glass ceiling of $100,000 in GCI and will need an assistant? What prospecting activities are generating the leads that result in the most closed transactions?

To uncover these and other important data on their strengths, ask:

  • In terms of your lead generation, what real estate lead generation activities do you enjoy most? Which ones produce the most leads?
  • What are the greatest challenges you face in terms of your production?
  • If you could delegate part of your business, what would that be?

2. Ask experiential questions

These are extremely powerful in that you can quickly judge the agent’s competency.

  • If I were to refer a listing to you, how would you market it?
  • If one of your listings was about to expire, how would you go about persuading the seller to relist with you?
  • Last week, one of our agents had XYZ happen. How would you have handled that situation?

3. Don’t forget competitor reconnaissance questions

These questions allow you to uncover what the agent values most about their current brokerage, their broker’s weaknesses, as well as what would cause them to change companies.

  • What do you like most about your present brokerage’s — tools, systems, culture?
  • What areas could stand a little improvement?
  • If one of your friends was going to change brokers, what would cause you to recommend a brokerage other than your current company?

Recruit for profitability, not revenue

As noted in the first part of this series, the No. 1 reason that agents leave their current broker is not commissions — it’s that their broker doesn’t have time for them. Another major flaw in the industry’s thinking about recruiting and brokerage profitability is a focus on revenue rather than profitability.

Although it might sound great to have a $30-million-producer in your office, how much of an impact does that agent have on your bottom line? Assuming that your top producer is on a 90-10 split and you have three agents who are producing $3 million to $4 million annually on a 70-30 split, who is more profitable?

The $30-million-dollar producer in the example above generates an office GCI of $82,800 with an office net of $8,280.

In contrast, the three mid-range agents (sometimes called the “profitable middle”) generated $10 million of GCI total, only one-third of what the top producer generated. In terms of the office net, however, they were more profitable. Better yet, they’re much easier to find and to recruit.

Closing the deal

Keep in mind that having multiple interviews will help you to better assess whether this agent is a good fit for your company. If that little voice inside is saying something’s not right, listen to it.

In terms of the actual close, listen to the concerns they voice, and then show the agent how moving to your brokerage would help them meet their concerns.

For example, if the agent wants to make more money, have them bring in a list of their closed transactions for the past 12 months. Beside each address, have them note whether they represented the buyer or the seller, the price range, location, approximate age of the clients, careers, and most importantly, what lead generation activity resulted in the closed transaction. (The best way to do this is with a spreadsheet.)

Next, look for patterns that will help them to identify their ideal client type. For each category, have them note what shows up most often. For example, they might be attracting women who work in technology who are age 30-40 and prefer two subdivisions on the bus route to where they work.

Second, ask them to focus only on the top 50 percent of their lead generation activities that generated the most closed transactions for the next 30 days. In almost every case, they will find that they will be making more money as well as enjoying their business much more.

Best of all, you’re the broker who cared enough to show them how. If and when they do decide to move, chances are good that it will be to your office.

You can recruit against the big dogs — just create your URP, always have one or two great tools that your competitors haven’t discovered yet and take the time to make each agent feel that he or she would be a welcomed addition to your business family.

To read part 1 of this series, click here

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP ( and, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at and her new agent sales training at

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