In an industry where the options are endless as far as where an agent can choose to hang their license, having a strong recruiting and retention strategy in place is mission critical. Bringing new or experienced agents into the fold—and doing everything in your power to gain their loyalty—is an integral piece of the puzzle that can’t be overlooked, no matter the market.
But what does recruiting and retention look like today as the way in which Americans view work continues to change? Is there more to the story than simply offering competitive commission splits, the latest and greatest tech tools, and training and coaching both online and in-person?
Changing the script and understanding your ‘why’
For Nathan Weinberg, co-founder and principal broker of MW Real Estate in Nashville, Tennessee, nothing is off the table when it comes to recruiting/retaining agents.
“Not only do we host happy hours, community events and open-house training sessions for agents across the city, we also produce videos and thoughtfully curated/targeted social media posts,” says Weinberg.
“It’s all about flexibility, and while there is no magic bullet, being in as many places as you can at once makes things more effective,” he adds.
Drilling down further, Weinberg goes on to explain that the firm’s recruiting and retention process consists of four main components:
- Attentive leadership
- A broad and robust suite of services
- Exciting and diverse training made relevant
- A sense of community
“If you don’t create and nurture these things, you’re destined to see a fall off in your ranks over the course of time,” says Weinberg.
In fact, overlooking or ignoring these aspects can have a negative effect on a firm’s ability to recruit and retain agents, which, according to Weinberg, is all it takes for agents to question whether the grass is greener elsewhere.
“Loyalty doesn’t just happen, and when you’re involved in how someone is paid, loyalty isn’t equal,” notes Weinberg. “We have to demonstrate value for the money agents spend to be associated with us.”
To that end, changing the script has been instrumental in MW Real Estate’s recruiting and retention playbook in light of the Great Resignation.
“We have pivoted to talking about how lonely this job can be, focusing on the family that is our brokerage and sharing how being part of that family makes you a better agent and leads to more work,” says Weinberg. “We used to talk about what we offered, but now we talk about how it feels to be here.”
Understanding your “why” will help strengthen the conversation even further, especially given today’s competitive market.
“Agents can get all the tech tools and training they need anywhere, so being able to talk to how that training is applied, how it’s trained and how those are used matter,” says Weinberg. “Providing a more bespoke onboarding and retention experience makes people feel more special, and makes them better agents, too.”
A unified voice delivering a powerful narrative
At Coldwell Banker Realty, recruiting and retention is a true team effort.
With 600-plus branch managers, recruiting has become a big part of the firm’s culture. In fact, 2021 was the culmination of six years of a dialed-in focus that places more emphasis on organic growth rather than the traditional acquisition.
“Recruiting is a long game, and while it’s often hard to get experienced agents with production to take the time to explore the options available to them, we were able to have those conversations and get them to hear what we had to say,” says Peter Sobeck, a 2022 RISMedia Newsmaker in the Trailblazers category.
The chief recruiting officer played a large part in bringing 8,000 agents through the door in just the first half of 2021 alone.
“Recruiting is a balance between both the recruiting and retention part of the job,” says Sobeck. “There are times when agents come in and run out the back door, so I like to say that retention is locking the back door.”
The challenge with the Great Resignation, according to Sobeck, is the fact that a lot of people were displaced—many of whom went out and reinvented themselves and began a new career.
As the world began to open up again, Coldwell Banker Realty leveraged the opportunity to go out and tell their story.
Firing on all cylinders, the brand’s narrative was shared far and wide, thanks to a concerted effort to reach out via multiple channels.
“It’s extremely powerful to have so many people going out and singing our praises,” says Sobeck, who goes on to explain that there’s a model for every agent.
“You could be sitting on a great set of assets, but unless you go out and tell people that you have them, what difference does it make?” asks Sobeck.
With real estate agents typically averaging only a handful of years at any one brokerage at any given time, there’s no denying that rosters are continuously changing.
But staying ahead is all about being aware of the rate of turnover within the industry and constantly bringing people in.
“The only way to stay ahead is to stay on top of bringing in a steady stream of quality people you can grow, support, train and get producing, knowing that in a year or two they may break your heart,” says Sobeck.
When it comes to his best advice as far as recruiting and retention is concerned, Sobeck emphasizes the importance of simply getting it done.
“It sounds simple, but with so many things going on, the key is scheduling it into your calendar,” says Sobeck. “It needs to be a daily activity that’s done on a recurring basis, not something you do when you feel like it.”
Providing certainty in an uncertain world
“Attracting great real estate agents and helping them succeed has always been a focus at Fremont, California-based Legacy Real Estate & Associates, ERA Powered,” says Marketing Director Judi Nield, a 2022 RISMedia Newsmaker in the Futurists category. “However, we shifted our recruiting strategy and took a surgical approach to help people thrive during the global pandemic,” she adds.
Inspiring people to explore a career in real estate became more important for the firm as the world shut down due to COVID-19.
Deemed an essential business, Bill Aboumrad, president and broker/owner of Legacy Real Estate, hired 40-year real estate veteran Helen McNutt Gentile to come onboard as the firm’s director of talent acquisition.
Working closely with the leadership team, an agent recruitment campaign was created, which generated 160 new agent leads in just six months in 2021.
“The campaign spoke to people in a way that resonated with them during a time in our history when much was uncertain,” adds Nield.
“The idea of a real estate career was something people could entertain and buy into as an investment for themselves for a brighter future,” she explains. “While the goal was to create dialogue, invoke curiosity and inspire action, the campaign also helped people see that they have options—and that real estate is a viable career path.”
The successful enterprise was a boon as far as helping the firm combat the Great Resignation.
Developing a system that worked in tandem with the campaign, Nield goes on to explain that recruits were guided through the process associated with getting their license and starting a real estate business.
Better yet, the system enrolled recruits into the firm’s Apprentice Coaching program. The 14-week virtual program focused specifically on mindset, sales skills, contract review and best practices—setting the stage for success from the get-go.
“All of this worked to foster renewed life, increased engagement and greater productivity among Legacy agents,” says Nield, who points to Aboumrad’s leadership as a key factor in the firm’s ability to remain open, fully staffed and operational during the global pandemic.
As the future unfolds, and no matter what it brings, Nield says that the secret to recruiting and retention will always boil down to relationships.
“Even when a global pandemic stunts face-to-face interactions, it’s still about relationships,” says Nield. “Align with growth-oriented people who bring out the best in others, find creative ways to bridge gaps and develop systems that focus on helping others succeed.”