As we head into September, now is the time to check in with your agents and see how they are doing with their 2021 goals. Many agents simply wanted to make it through 2020 and overcome the difficulties of selling houses during COVID-19.
Hopefully, your agents set realistic goals for 2021, and you’ve been tracking their progress throughout the year. With the inventory shortage issues of 2021, buyer’s agents may be short of their goals, while seller’s agents with strong listings may be ahead of the game.
No matter where your individual agents stand, now is the time to check their sales stats and sit down with them to plan for 2022. Here are four steps I take each year with my agents.
1. Assess agent stats
Pull stats for each agent, and compare them to the prior year. I do this for the entire brokerage as a group and then for each individual agent. See if you can spot any trends.
This is harder this year because 2020 and 2021 definitely were not normal years. But in general, you’ll be able to see up or down trends, and you’ll hopefully spot problems before they turn into bigger issues.
I run these numbers at the end of each quarter. If you see an agent who typically closed six sides a quarter in 2019 and dropped to four per quarter in 2020, you might attribute it to the pandemic. Did production increase again in 2021, or did it drop to two per quarter this year?
2. Schedule agent check-ins
Brokers and managers should make every effort to plan a face-to-face check-in with every agent at least once a quarter. Virtual brokerages and larger offices may find this difficult, but if you have 20 agents or less (as most firms in the country do), this shouldn’t be too challenging.
I have 11 agents, and I check in regularly with each one. More than half of my agents are in the office at least three times a week. The others may live farther from the office or prefer to work from home, which is fine.
The ones who come in regularly have assigned desks. I manage by walking around and sitting with whoever happens to be in the office on any given day. We talk about current clients and files.
Sometimes, problems come up in these discussions that my agents may not normally pick up the phone to call me about. However, because we are in the office at the same time, they’ll often mention their concerns and issues, and we’ll mastermind them together.
When it comes to agents who only stop in to drop off files or use the conference room, I will call them at least twice a month to just see how they are doing and if they need any help. I have had brokers tell me they leave their agents alone if they are quiet, assuming everything is fine. I have a more hands-on approach.
3. Create a custom coaching plan
During my check-ins, I ask if there is anything they need help with or what their pain points are. This lets the agents know the staff is there to support them — and that I’m there to help them achieve their goals.
During a recent check-in, I discovered an agent was struggling with one of our software platforms, and their paperwork was falling behind because of it. I was able to sit with that person and show them shortcuts and best practices to speed up their use of the system.
In another chat, I learned that an agent’s slipping production numbers was due to the fact that he had taken on several other non-real estate projects and side jobs. This led to a difficult conversation about focus and deciding if he would be better off as a part-time agent in another office, as our office only hires full-time professionals.
Once you know where the pain points are for your agents and what’s going on in their personal lives that may be affecting production, you can sit down with them and create a plan to coach them to success. In my office, one size does not fit all. We don’t have one sales playbook or training path. With 11 agents, customized mentoring works for my office.
4. Start building for 2022
Before we know it, we’ll be moving into cooler weather and pumpkin-spice-everything season. In my area, sales cool down the end of August then pick up a little in September. Then, we slow down the closer we get to November and the holiday season.
That’s why now is the perfect time to look at your firm’s trends for 2019, 2020 and what you have to date for 2021. Where do you want to be in 2022?
In my September meetings with agents, I start the planning process for next year. Although we don’t know what the inventory situation will be like next year or what the COVID-19 virus will look like, we should know what worked — and what didn’t — in 2021. Make adjustments to your marketing and agents’ business plans to take into account this uncertainty.
Finally, an in-person check-in with each agent right now might clue you into agents who are feeling restless or unhappy with the office or their production in general.
We see agents the fourth quarter of each year start looking at other offices and considering a brokerage change. You may be able to see this coming before it happens if you have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the office and the mood of your agents.