Fiona Petrie is the EVP and Managing Director of RE/MAX INTEGRA U.S., the U.S. branch of the world’s largest real estate sub-franchisor.
What sets a “top” real estate brokerage apart from the rest? Generally, it is quite subjective and often based on a broker’s personal vision for their company’s success. In my experience, however, a top brokerage is one whose owner is a true business operator and a visionary leader. This owner has simultaneously attracted highly productive agents while looking for ways to grow beyond the status quo. Based on this definition, the key ingredients to building a top brokerage are two-fold: quality agents and quality brokers.
To create and then maintain a top brokerage, you must realize that your true economic engine is a roster of productive agents. Then, you need to consistently work to ensure you are maintaining a high-quality roster of real estate agents, both through the recruitment of new agents and the retention of existing agents. Like a football team, brokers should always be on the lookout for new talent to draft to their team while also continuing to develop those already in play. The following are the necessary steps to building a top brokerage, including recruiting and retaining top agents and earning the top brokerage categorization.
Make Your Brokerage (And Yourself) Stand Out
One of the main qualities of a top brokerage is strong, dynamic leadership that cares about its agents. When seeking a new office or team, agents often look to the broker/owner as the benchmark for the quality. Those who feel the leadership is trustworthy and are confident in their broker’s abilities will feel more empowered to do their best work, thus increasing the credibility of the brokerage.
Another way agents evaluate a brokerage is by its image. From its physical appearance to its reputation within the industry and its presence in the community, an agent’s first impression of a brokerage often begins the first time they walk in the door. Both publicly and internally, make sure your brokerage is presenting its image in a positive way and ensure it is carried throughout the organization from top to bottom. Also, be mindful that a beautiful office combined with a weak leader will not result in real estate success.
Look For ‘Eagle’ Agents
Brokers who start a brokerage with no agents need to make a significant splash in their marketplace. They must determine what their office culture will look like, rally around it and drive it home. Successful brokerages, in my experience, have committed agents before they even open. Keep in mind that to attract any agent, you must display a high level of leadership and show them how joining your brokerage will benefit them. Make it a goal to attract and open an office with a handful of agents at the ready; especially “eagles,” (i.e., agents who are both highly productive and respected). The agents you have on hand at the start will be an early indicator of the level of success your brokerage will achieve.
Eagle agents may also be referred to as “mega producers,” those who constantly push for their own greater success — sometimes failing to look out for those around them. While this may contribute to the overall performance of the brokerage, in the long run, this type of agent does not always bode well for brokerage sustainability. When recruiting eagle agents, ensure they are congruent to the company’s culture. Look for goal-oriented producers who others will rally around. They will have a positive impact on both the brokerage culture and performance as they build up those around them.
Recruitment Solves Everything
If your brokerage is struggling, it may be due to a lack of leadership or productivity, or the absence of unification across agents.
If your brokerage needs improvement, commit to solving the root of the problem first. Recruitment, including re-recruiting or retaining current agents, can solve many problems in a brokerage. You need to engage in recruitment activities daily by committing to “happy hour,” but not in the typical sense. Set aside one hour a day where distractions are removed and the focus is on making meaningful connections with potential recruits. During this time, you should be making calls. Aside from that, also dedicate time to ideate on new and innovative ways to connect with agents, whether it’s on social media or by sending hand-written notes.
On top of recruiting, never lose sight of the value of retaining existing agents. You must demonstrate to agents that you can be trusted and are an expert in your field, willing and able to help them when needed. However, it can be a challenge to figure out how these qualities can be consistently displayed. Some examples include business planning, one-on-one coaching, personal celebrations and more. I recommend a yearly retention calendar that outlines planned retention activities. As real estate is a highly relational industry, always remember to include some aspect of fun — real estate agents like to work hard and play hard.
While recruitment should always remain a top priority, the unification of all agents is equally important to the brokerage success. This can be achieved by establishing a company mission statement that is both relatable and inspiring. It should be prominently displayed within the office and resonate with the brokerage. By establishing this mission statement, the whole firm will understand what the company stands for and it will help better identify the recruits who will be the best fits.
When it’s all said and done, real estate comes down to selling real estate; however, the brokerages that become best at selling are often those with the best leadership, strongest unity and most productive and well-respected agents. Successful real estate transactions, like football games, are the product of many players, coaches and behind-the-scenes staff that play a role in their team’s success. When you, as a leader, see that brokerage or individual agents have achieved great success, be sure you rally around your team and celebrate their accomplishments internally and externally — shout them from the mountain tops!
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