It’s that time of year when agents decide to switch brokerages and chase promises of more leads, higher splits or lower fees. Here are a few behavioral changes that indicate an agent is planning to make a switch.

It’s the end of the year, otherwise known in the broker world as agent musical chairs season. Come Jan. 1, brokers will watch as agents switch brokerages back and forth as they chase promises of more leads or higher splits or lower fees.

If you’ve been a broker or manager for a few years, you learn to watch for signs an agent is getting ready to leave. Here are a few telltale signs to look for in your agents’ behavior.

Change in attitude 

This sign is an easy one to spot. Cranky or whiny agents are easy pickings for recruiting brokers. An agent who complains at the closing table that things are not all rainbows and roses at his office might find himself being recruited by the co-operating agent’s broker later. “Find their pain” is one way brokers get inside the heads of agents they are targeting. 

An agent who comes to the office talking about higher splits at other offices or a certain fee at your brokerage might be comparing compensation plans, thinking they will make more money at a different firm.

The split or fees are only one component of what makes a perfect office fit, but it’s the easiest way to compare offices when searching for a new place to work. Once a competing broker plants the seed of doubt, it can be hard to weed out a dissatisfied salesperson.

Change in routine 

This “tell” requires you to pay attention to your agents and know their habits. Someone who suddenly doesn’t have the time to make sales meetings might be avoiding face-to-face interactions with you or the staff. If agents who generally come into the office daily or weekly don’t seem to be around much anymore, they might be distancing from the office on purpose.

Brokers who can see the back-end of company CRM platforms can check who is logging in daily and who has stopped contacting leads. Check your transaction management software to see who is putting together new deals. If someone working in the system regularly now rarely logs in, they could be planning on transitioning to a new office.

Change in deal flow 

Look at current listing inventory and pending sales. An agent who routinely closes two deals a month who has nothing in the pipeline might be closing out his or her last few transactions with you. A strong listing agent who hasn’t brought in a new listing in a while or who is quietly withdrawing listings might be cleaning up his or her plate to start fresh at another firm. 

Even if an agent is not planning on switching firms, you should be aware of each agent and their pipeline. This opportunity is perfect to re-recruit and let agents know you are concerned about their success and want to help them achieve their goals.

Change in communication  

If you have more than one agent in the office, you’re going to have different personalities and communication styles. Some agents might check in with the broker or manager only when they have a problem. Others enjoy a regular phone call or in-office meeting to go over deals and issues. 

Becoming quiet or checking in less is an obvious red flag. But when an agent who is typically more distant starts calling the broker more often, what’s up? They might be seeking out attention without coming right out and saying this is the case. It could be a form of expressing their dissatisfaction. 

For example, one broker started receiving calls from an agent who had been with the company for almost a decade. She told the broker that they never really talked much anymore and asked questions about how the brokerage distributes leads. These were subtle signs that she was dissatisfied with their relationship and had one foot out the door. 

When you notice one (or more) of the four red flags above in one of your agents, take note of how you feel. Are you relieved? Some agents just don’t fit your office culture or are downright liabilities. Let them go, and help make their transition out the door easy. But if you are concerned and don’t want to lose the agent, take steps to keep them in the fold. 

Let them know you are worried because you’ve noticed a change. Ask if there are particular concerns or problems with which you can assist them. For example, if they want more leads, offer to coach them on how to fill their funnel. 

People cite “more money” or higher splits as the main reason they consider switching brokerages. It’s never that simple. Most importantly, your agents want to know you care. Be there to support them, take their calls, and coach them to success. We talk a lot about recruiting. Remember: Re-recruiting your salespeople is also a form of recruiting. 

People rarely up and quit with zero warnings or red flags. Don’t be so busy that you don’t know what’s going on with your agents. If you pay attention and show you care about them as people (not just as transaction closers), hopefully, you’ll have less agent churn no matter what the season is.

Erica Ramus, MRE, is the broker/owner of RAMUS Real Estate. You can follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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