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One of the least-anticipated consequences of the coronavirus pandemic has been an ongoing labor shortage with employees in many sectors suddenly commanding higher salaries and demanding better benefits.
Real estate hasn’t been immune to this trend. Though real estate is dominated by contractors, the weirdness of the last two years has still left brokerage leaders scrambling to find the right agents and support staff and then to keep them around long term. This is, in other words, a uniquely challenging and critical time for recruiting and retention.
In that light, a panel of industry leaders convened at this week’s Inman Connect Now to share their tips for finding the best real estate pros during a session dubbed “How to attract and retain agents in a shifting market.” The panel included Linzee Ciprani, owner of Ciprani Consulting and a partner at the Pennsylvania-based Matt Fetick Team, and Reed Jackson, a managing partner at Ivester Jackson — Christie’s International Real Estate in North Carolina.
Both Ciprani and Jackson were upbeat about brokers’ abilities to find the best talent. But they also said doing so means being smart. Here’s what they recommended:
Make a good first impression
Jackson’s company focuses on luxury listings. As a result, to find the right people Jackson focuses his recruiting efforts around accurately conveying the company’s high-end orientation. He specifically mentioned conducting drip campaigns, digital recruiting and other methods. But one key point he advised keeping in mind no matter what form the recruiting takes: first impressions matter.
“We try to make a great first impression and try to get in front of people,” he said.
Make people feel loved
Ciprani noted that when it comes to staff, the labor shortage has meant the employee “truly is holding all the cards.”
“Right now the employee is the seller in our market at the moment,” she added.
That means providing perks and benefits employees appreciate. Those can include remote work options, more generous paid time off policies, higher salaries and a general policy of flexibility.
Jackson made a similar point noting that at his company employees can work in multiple locations.
But Ciprani also said part of the equation for keeping workers around is wishing them a happy birthday, celebrating when they have their first closing and doing other kind things. The idea is that people need to feel appreciated, she explained.
“It’s so they feel loved and cared for,” she added.
Fill empty niches and look outside the industry
Jackson — whose company has five offices — said that when looking for new agents, he tries to zero in on people who are working in one of his brokerage’s blind spots. This focus on empty niches ensures agents aren’t “all stomping all over each other” in the same neighborhood and helps long-term with retention.
In Ciprani’s case, she also keeps her eye out for people who aren’t in real estate yet, but who may be interested in joining the industry.
“We’re prospecting for people who aren’t in the industry yet,” she explained. “Because that new person who is out selling phones or in the restaurant serving you, that could be the next big agent.”
Focus on problem-solving
Both leaders also argued during Thursday’s session that successful recruiting comes down to explaining how joining a team or brokerage is going to help an agent do a better job. So in Jackson’s case, his company will research potential candidates to see if they’re a good fit and how they present themselves. But in the end, his pitch involves explaining how those agents will be able to step up their own games by joining the company.
“We find people in the community who have aspirations to sell in the luxury market,” he explained. “We have a track record of helping people double and triple their average transaction size.”
Ciprani’s pitch is similar. She said she is looking for people who are humble and willing to collaborate and who prioritize helping clients over their own egos. But when she finds such people, she emphasizes how she can help them “build the business and become a boss.”
“As a brokerage you really do have to show the value there,” she added.
At Ciprani’s company, part of the pitch involves explaining how the administrative staff will help agents do their jobs and become more efficient. The fact that the company has such a staff is a big part of the pitch to potential recruits, and she makes sure they know what they’ll be getting if they come on board.
“We are attracting agents by really wowing them through the process,” she said.