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As the market continues to slow down on its way to normalization, it’s more important now than ever that brokers effectively recruit top talent.
“There’s no hotter topic, in my opinion, than recruitment and mentorship,” moderator Jorge Guerra of Real Estate Sales Force, Inc. told the crowd at Inman Connect New York on Tuesday during a panel on agent recruiting and mentorship.
For recruiting in 2023, Amy Corr of Christie’s International Real Estate said it’s imperative to have a plan.
“The first step is to have a plan,” Corr said. “We get this idea that we want to recruit talent and we can be really scattered in our approach … For some, it may not necessarily be to target new agents .. So having a plan is step 1, and then [step 2 is] thinking about the details to execute on that plan.”
She added that agents want to know what brokers can do for them, specifically, as an individual.
“We have to look at it not as a one-size fits all,” Corr said. “When we’re recruiting, it has to be individual to individual.”
Jack Hawthorne of Keller Williams said that brokerages need to focus more on their long-term commitments than simply wooing agents.
“One of the big things we always specify is most brokerages are really good at dating and they’re really bad at marriage,” Hawthorne said. “If we focused that much once people were with us, it would be a totally different experience … If you’re good enough at retention, you don’t have to recruit.”
He added that making sure a brokerage’s culture is well-known to others outside the company is also an important part of that process.
“Recruiting is a skillset and there are some people out there who are really really good at it,” Hawthorne said. “If you can propel your culture outward and show people what you’re all about, it can really help the process.”
While agreeing with the other panelists on stage, Adam Oberski of Century 21 said that sometimes agents just aren’t the right fit for a brokerage.
“Sometimes you’re trying to force a square peg into a round hole and trying to go after everyone,” he said, while noting that his brokerage has had the most success by far in recruiting agents when it’s happened through some kind of referral. And agents who refer new agents to the brokerage can also sometimes become helpful in onboarding those new agents and acclimating them to the company, or the profession, as the case may be.
When it comes to mentoring agents, the panelists said it’s best to proceed with caution.
“Be careful with this one, would be my biggest piece of advice,” Oberski said.
With one mentoring program his brokerage ran, the new agents were quickly becoming more successful than the mentors, as mentors devoted more of their time to helping those newbies, which ended up being a turn off to those newer agents at the end of the day.
“Over the last few years, what we’ve taken a look at is the idea that we want to [onboard] agents at whatever point they’re in in their business,” Corr said, explaining that @properties/Christie’s International Real Estate has turned their mentoring focus to creating helpful spaces for all types of agents, whether they’re brand new or have a decade of experience, to meet each agent where they need help the most.
Hawthorne argued that a traditional form of mentoring isn’t very effective for the real estate industry.
“Traditional mentorship doesn’t work in real estate,” he said. “The reason it doesn’t work is, if it’s my job to go sell real estate for my family and someone needs help from me and I have a time conflict, I’m going to go work for my family.”
He said an effective mentoring program gives agents one-on-one mentoring frequently and regularly, and is executed with the help of a brokerage’s staff members so that the broker has time to devote to other important tasks.
Oberski noted that each of his offices has a managing broker to run the office, as well as a minimum of two admins who are also licensed agents, so that there’s always ample help for mentoring.
When it comes to retaining agents, “as you scale, it becomes more challenging,” Corr noted. But at @properties/Christie’s, they’ve established small groups for agent enrichment, so that agents can feel satisfied and continue to grow in their business.
“You need to be taking time every single day to pop by and ask people how they’re doing,” Oberski said. With top producers, brokers can engage them by asking what’s happening in their market and how they’re doing in their business.
It is very important for me to hire the right people around me so that they’re an extension of me and make that same impact.
As far as inspiring agents in 2023, the brokers said engagement, community and being a good model to agents will be key.
“It’s back to basics and really engaging with them and telling them it’s ok to be uncertain about what we’re going to see in 2023,” Corr said, “but just get in there and get going.”
“You have to build events and culture and community at your brokerage,” Oberski said.
“Agents will model your behavior, so you need to actually do what you want them to do,” Hawthorne added. “If we can’t walk the walk on it, then we need to pick a different talk.”