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“I think it’s a moment to redefine what you offer,” Kymber Menkiti said on Tuesday at CEO Connect, an invite-only breakout at Inman Connect Las Vegas.
George Canciobello, of Lifestyle International Realty; joined Menkiti, of The Menkiti Group at Keller Williams Capital Properties; and moderator Clelia Peters in a panel discussion titled “Opportunities in Brokerage: Team Reports From the Field Today.”
“The consumers’ actions voted loud and clear. Look at Redfin, right? The consumer hasn’t raced to the model where they pay less to get less.” Menkiti said. “People want more for more.”
Similarly, agents are willing to take smaller splits when their brokerages offer more value, the panel agreed.
This conversation comes amid many stories of high-profile agents and teams jumping to other brokerages. Like Aaron Kirman, a top-producing Los Angeles luxury agent who left Compass to start his own brand in a new partnership with Christie’s International Real Estate last November. And Southern California real estate team Henry Horn Group, which officially launched at Compass on Aug. 1 after leaving Residential Agent Inc.
And there’s a phenomenon of boomerang agents and teams who end up back at their first brokerages, such as Selling Sunset star Vanessa Villela, who left Mauricio Umansky’s The Agency for The Oppenheim Group only to return to The Agency after two years. And Shari Davis, who had been at Compass for about two years when the grass started to look a little greener elsewhere. After three months, she returned to Compass when the promises didn’t match the reality.
People are moving to other brokerages, but they’re also coming back, Menkiti said.
“As a broker, you ultimately have to have thick skin,” she added.
So when agents and teams are quick to jump ship when the desired value isn’t there, what can brokerages do to attract and, more importantly, retain talent?
The panel agreed that the bar for entry is software. Sure, you have to have tech tools because everyone has tech tools. Transaction management and lead generation, especially with teams, are essential.
But Menkiti pointed to agent overwhelm when it comes to tech. They were promised a future integration that never happened, and the tech for them involves a lot of tools, apps and passwords, which she says is an opportunity. Menkiti has agents who are creating their own tools, and she’s investing in her people and those tools, she said.
It’s a lonely space, Menkiti said; agents are looking for mentorship, support and guidance. They’re having a lot of traction with wealth-building and business consulting as a differentiator, especially with teams, she said.
The industry’s largest teams are almost exclusively aligned with big brands — they do not want to go out on their own because they want that support, she said.
Canciobello agreed, semi-quoting Vin Diesel’s Fast and Furious (and all the franchises) character, “Make ‘em part of the family, and they’ll never leave.”
You know your teams are getting pitched all the time, so you want to make sure they’re sticking with you. Make your agents feel good. When you do that, they aren’t going to leave, he said.
Recognize the talent
Both panelists agreed that seeing the potential in your people is the best way to retain talent.
“Cultivate the leadership,” Canciobello said.
Tap them on the shoulder before they raise their hand. That’s huge, he added.
“Recognize the talent!” Menkiti said. She recalled if someone hadn’t tapped her on the shoulder, several times, she wouldn’t be in leadership herself. Because let’s be honest, leadership doesn’t look all that sexy from the outside, she said.
Give them options and paths to leadership. “Because if you don’t do it, other people are doing it,” Canciobello said.