One of the main responsibilities of a managing broker is recruiting and onboarding top talent. Sometimes, talent comes in the form of a newly licensed agent. Other times, talent comes packaged as a whole team of veteran agents. In 2018, the opportunity arose for my brokerage to acquire another. Despite the size of the undertaking, I welcomed the challenge of leading a blended brokerage.
A blended brokerage can be composed of agents from different offices, competitor franchises, or even just those with different specialties (residential, luxury, commercial, etc.).
As the owner of RE/MAX At The Crossing, my challenge was integrating a group of 30 agents from a competitor franchise into my brokerage.
From this experience, I’ve learned a few tricks for recruiting new agents and managing a blended brokerage. If you’re considering taking in agents or teams from a competitor, whether it be from a defection or through acquisition, read on to find out what’s worked for us.
Writer’s note: Amid the pandemic, all businesses are experiencing difficulties, especially when it comes to adapting to new business practices and methods of communication. Although my acquisition of this brokerage took place prior to the current circumstances, the strategies I employed at the onset for managing a blended team are aiding in my brokerage’s continued success.
Find a trusted adviser
Even as an owner, you are not leading alone. When faced with important business decisions, look for resources beyond the four walls of your brokerage. Turn to your industry network, franchise support teams and other local business owners for advice. You might not know who is available to advise until you ask.
When I was presented with the opportunity to acquire an entire brokerage, and in turn manage a diverse group of agents, I sought out the advice of peers who had done so previously.
They were able to provide me with an outside perspective about the risks and benefits of such an acquisition, as well as what to expect when it came to managing a blended brokerage. This helped prepare me for the challenge ahead, and it eased several of my concerns.
Define your company culture
Your company’s culture will be a key determinant in building and maintaining a strong team. Although performance is a critical factor, choosing agents who meld nicely into a company’s working environment will benefit the brokerage in the long run.
At the start of my career as a brokerage owner, I vowed to create a welcoming environment for all employees to come. At my brokerage, we consider all members, new and veteran, to be members of one large brokerage family.
Like a family, we work together toward our goals and lean on each other as resources during more challenging times. In my efforts for recruiting new members and managing the office, this continues to be one of my top considerations.
But the work doesn’t stop once recruitment is over.
Now, you must focus on maintaining the culture. For my brokerage, that means prioritizing collaboration, inclusivity and continued growth.
In my own experience, the development and preservation of a family atmosphere has been my primary focus, and it’s top-of-mind during recruitment.
Embrace challenges, and welcome change
Blended brokerages present challenges and opportunities for growth — the key to managing will be capitalizing on both.
One of the main challenges I faced when I acquired an already established brokerage was establishing rapport and trust with agents’ as their new managing broker.
I didn’t want to overshadow the relationship they had with the previous owner, but I did want to establish myself as the group leader. I was successful in my efforts to avoid such a situation by clarifying and communicating the goals for the brokerage from the start. I made it clear that I would prioritize agent development and success above all else (sales, revenue, etc.).
Our goal as a brokerage is to grow together, which means that agent development is a top priority. I’ve found that by promoting agent successes (sales related or otherwise) is a great way to motivate other agents and encourage them to reach out to those who have had such success. In turn, all agents and the brokerage can learn and grow as one.
Although there are challenges, there is also opportunity to improve performance and productivity by introducing new insights, tools and expertise. When agents come from outside brokerages, a lot of times, they bring with them new methods that could help to improve efficiency.
Embrace these new practices with open arms, rather than shying away from them in favor of proprietary practices. The intermingling of agents, both new and veterans to the brokerage, is a great way to pool resources and past experiences.
I would urge broker-owners to promote collaboration and mentorship among agents. At my brokerage, we have found greater success in pairing those with contrasting — yet complementary — strengths. For example, we encourage partnership between those with longer sales experience and those with newer skills, like social media and marketing.
Maintain an open-door policy
Joining a blended brokerage can be just as intimidating as managing one. For agents from competitor brokerages who might be used to different business processes and management styles, additional guidance might be required.
As a managing broker, you should have an open-door policy to hear out any concerns and check in with agents on a regular basis to ensure they are receiving all the necessary support.
This type of interaction is increasingly important should your brokerage run into a difficult business climate — such as economic downturn, changing industry regulations or a global pandemic.
In all, I’ve found that the best way to manage and retain a blended brokerage is to ensure all agents are aware of your commitment to supporting them and encouraging thoughtful collaboration. When all agents are able to effectively work together, a strong culture can be achieved. From there, strong performance and growth will follow.
Michael Jones is the broker-owner of RE/MAX At The Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.