Although broker Troy Palmquist and DOORA Creative Director Janet Pozos know that brokers expect accountability and investment from their agents, the agents need the same thing from their leaders.

When it comes to attracting and keeping the best agents on your team or in your brokerage, there’s a fine line that leadership has to tread between providing value-added services and balancing the budget. Different companies use different strategies to ensure that each agent is investing time and money in building their real estate businesses and not just looking for a place to hang their license.

For some brokers, that means charging upfront when an agent joins the brokerage and charging a monthly fee thereafter in exchange for space, marketing materials, tech platforms and keeping the lights on.

For others, it may mean minimizing fees but requiring consistent proof of the agent’s expenditures on their own branding, marketing and lead gen. In that case, the broker may focus more on transaction-related fees and charges under the assumption that the agent will produce more if they’re working more.

Whichever way you go, the result of not paying brokerage fees or not participating in lead gen is usually finding another place to do business. I know some brokers who are very strict on this score, and agents who drop the ball are gone pretty quickly.

Although it’s necessary for agents to have skin in the game, as it were, there are times when you have to work with the agent to help them get up to speed. This can be true with brand-new agents or even with established agents who simply need some time to learn a new skill or deal with a personal issue.

Instead of cutting someone loose, here are 10 strategies that you can mix and match to design and implement an improvement plan so you can help an agent get better at the business of real estate, improve their performance and meet your requirements.

One caveat: Rather than just asking the agent to improve and presenting some suggestions, it’s essential that you set up a systematic mentoring or improvement plan in writing for the agent to commit to. This is a case of “no such thing as overcommunicating.” They should know exactly what you expect moving forward and what the consequences will be for failure to participate.

1. Implement an in-house mentoring program for the next four transactions

This is especially helpful for new agents or for agents moving from part-time to full-time work. Create an incentive program for your high-producing agents by sharing a portion of the commission when they act as a mentor and assist with generating and nurturing leads, contract prep or evaluation, and transaction management on either a sale or purchase.

2. Require attendance at agent meetings

Assuming you have weekly or monthly meetings with all of your agents, you should have a reasonable expectation that every agent will attend the vast majority of these. If an agent is participating in a required performance improvement or mentoring program, attendance should be mandatory.

3. Require participation in a mastermind or coaching program

Whether you have a coaching program in mind or reserve the right to approve the coach they choose, this is a great way for an underperforming agent to better understand what it takes to build their business. You may also identify a specialty coach, like a media coach or accountability coach, if that’s what they need instead.

4. Require additional training or education

There are plenty of training options available both in person and online at all types of price points. Help the agent identify a new niche, certification or designation, or other professional skill that they’d like to develop in order to improve their business.

5. Require participation in in-house lead gen events

Whether you host community events or hold cold-calling hours in-house, this gives your underperforming agents the chance to both get their hours in and network with other agents in your office. They may figure out some of the things they’re missing by modeling the behavior they learn in an event like this.

6. Require participation in script practice

Similarly, holding script practice and role-playing opportunities for your agents, then requiring agents to attend, is a learning opportunity for both you and the agent. They’ll figure out what’s missing from their presentation, and you’ll find out where they need to improve as well.

7. Require participation in content development

Audit the agent’s social media accounts, website, bio and recent listings to see where they need to improve their content. If they need to update their platforms, post more frequently or otherwise develop a better content strategy, help them do so or direct them to the appropriate copywriting and web development help.

8. Require participation in weekly mentor meetings

You or a member of your leadership team should be meeting consistently with the agent to ensure that they’re on track and implementing the fixes you’ve identified. Again, this is something you and they should commit to and time block for.

9. Require attendance at networking or professional development events

Whether they attend chamber of commerce meetings, an annual industry conference, or meetings at the local or state association, the agent should be hearing new ideas and learning new things. Follow up with them afterward to discuss action items they’ve identified from the event that they want to implement in their business.

10. Assist in goal-setting, time management and lead gen activities 

As you move through the process, you’ll figure out what the missing piece is for the agent. Maybe they’re struggling to balance work and home life. Maybe they just don’t know what to expect day to day, or they’re not sure where they want to go long term. Maybe they’ve got contract skills but struggle to find clients in the first place. This step will, in many ways, inform and underpin all of the other strategies above.

Sometimes, of course, what you’ll figure out as you move through the process is that the agent simply isn’t cut out for the rigors of running their own business or for the insecurity of income that’s tied, at least in part, to the ups and downs of the markets and economy. In that case, at least you can part ways with the knowledge that you both gave it your best try.

It takes time and money for you to find good agents. Don’t write them off simply because they’re not immediately performing at the level you’re looking for. Communicate with them and help them bring their performance up to the level you expect. You’ll both reap the benefits of your patience and commitment.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of DOORA Properties in Southern California, a Side partner company. Follow him on Instagram or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Janet Pozos serves as creative director at DOORA Properties. Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn.

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