In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.
A mid-level producer is excited to be the target of another office’s recruiting campaign. She believes the offer sounds interesting and that a switch to another office may be just the thing to take her to the next level.
After coaching her for months and dramatically improving her skills and talents, her broker is frustrated with her decision to join the competition. How can he make her understand that this may not be what she needs without appearing to hold her back?
I’m really excited to have this other office interested in hiring me. After months of working hard to make a living in this market, I must be doing better than I thought to have attracted their attention. My current broker has been an excellent mentor, and I must admit, it’s a bit scary to think of leaving the “nest,” but this other office has a reputation for producing formidable top producers. If they are reaching out, they must believe I’ll fit in.
I haven’t met with them in person yet, but I hear it offers generous signing bonuses and next-level technology, and it will let me keep the same split.
I know that this change will take me to the next level, and I don’t expect too much resistance from my current broker. He already has so many top producers, and I was constantly pestering him with questions anyway. In fact, I’m pretty sure he will be happy for me.
The time invested in personally mentoring an agent can be rewarding for a broker when you finally see them fly — but it’s devastating when they fly off to the competition. It’s frustrating to lay the groundwork of agent development, only to have another broker swoop in and benefit from your hard work.
This frustration goes beyond any personal hurt feelings — I understand that this is a business and these things happen. (And I’ve certainly done the same thing to competitors myself.)
What troubles me is knowing that this agent’s growth is not quite sufficient enough to keep her going to the next level. She isn’t really close to mastering her job. She’s more in the stage of “not knowing what she doesn’t know.”
Real estate is an ever-evolving business where constant training is essential to continued success. If she joins this other office — without the level of support she has become accustomed to with us — chances are, she will lose the momentum she has achieved.
The recruitment game is often a mystery to new and experienced agents alike. Most don’t know that the person reaching out is likely paid according to the number of agents they secure, rather than explicitly targeting them — despite the flattering language used to get their attention. Recruiters use computer programs to spit out lists of agents ranked by production or even lists of all new licensees.
(I’ve even received these inane calls, offering to show me how being one of their agents can benefit my career, which clearly indicates that the person calling has no idea I’m the broker-owner of a big competing office in their same market.)
My agent has not even asked the serious, specific questions one must before even considering a leap like this:
- What is the company culture?
- Will she fit in it?
- Can she swim with those “tough top producer” sharks, or will she get eaten alive?
- Can that generous hiring bonus be rescinded if the agent is unhappy and leaves before a set date?
- Is that split guaranteed, or will it be automatically adjusted later and based on production levels?
- Is there a franchise fee?
- Who pays it, and how is it paid?
- What other fees are required?
Savvy agents know what questions to ask, and they gather their information before even contemplating a major move of this nature. My agent’s failure to do so further demonstrates how much growth and maturing is needed.
How to resolve
All healthy real estate offices actively recruit from their competitors, chasing the most productive agents and those showing great potential.
Although “top producers” might validate an office’s reputation as an established and respected business, their real income comes from agents in the more populated lower tiers.
It’s therefore incumbent on brokers to earn their agents’ trust and provide the highest level of service. Brokers can accomplish this by being available to resolve contract issues 24/7, fighting to get them paid when commission disputes erupt, and stepping in to make life easier when personal and family challenges temporarily make work impossible.
Brokers have two solid options to consider when an agent gives notice of their intention to leave:
- Educate them about what makes the company different and unique.
- Highlight the agents’ growth and value to them. Present a plan that gets the agent where they want to be financially.
It may also be helpful to track and present the production of agents who have not performed well after leaving the office. If the agent still intends to join a competitor, the best option is to wish them well and let them know they are welcome to return.
Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty, with offices in Hollywood Beach, Davie, Miramar, North Miami, South Miami, Kendall, and the Florida Keys, and where he leads the activities of more than 190 agents. He is also a working agent who consistently sells more than 100 homes a year. For three consecutive years (2018, 2019, and 2020), Anthony has been honored as the “Managing Broker of the Year” by Miami Agent Magazine’s Agents’ Choice Awards. Follow Anthony on Instagram.
NOTE: Anthony is not an attorney and does not give legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney regarding matters discussed in this column.