Photo credit: Benny Sibbitt, Photography in Motion
For brokerages, convincing agents not to leave for new employers, especially in challenging times like now, almost always comes down to one thing above all others, and it’s not money. That was made crystal clear at RISMedia’s 26th Annual Power Broker Forum, held Nov. 11 at the NAR NXT, the REALTORⓡ Experience Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Moderated by RISMedia founder, CEO and President John Featherston, the Forum included four industry leaders who have achieved great success. They are Whitney LaCosta, general manager, Coach REALTORSⓡ; Cindy Ariosa, senior VP and regional manager, Long & Foster Real Estate, Towson, Maryland; Kymber Lovett-Menkiti, regional director at Keller Williams Realty, Inc., District of Columbia; and Christina Pappas, vice president, The Keyes Company.
Featherston, with 40-plus years of industry experience within the media realm, led the group on the theme, Demystifying Agent Contracts and Compensation. It got a lively response.
LaCosta: During calm seas, every ship has a good captain. It’s not until you get to rough seas that a really good captain comes into play. The good leaders shined during the pandemic. Communication was critically important. Any of us who have been in the business long enough have seen a few cycles go round. If you thought the pandemic time was hard, well I believe in the next 24 to 36 months, you’re gonna have to step up even more.
Your leadership skills have to be top. That’s the key to retention. In a survey it came out that most people don’t because of money. It’s a matter of them feeling that they have what they need within their own company in order to stay.
Ariosa: It’s all about culture and caring. Out of 1,700 agents that I oversee, 985 have been with me for 10 years or more. We all have technology, everybody’s got a widget. You want an environment of ‘We want to be in the office, we want to be around people.’
Pappas: While the first thing out of an agent’s mouth is money and splits, the real question is, Do you have my back? If they don’t feel they have the backing of the manager or the backing of the broker, they will leave. They want to know that no matter what, you’re on their side, even if they’re wrong.
Lovett-Menkiti: In the absence of value, price becomes the conversation. We need education, training and accountability. When there are less houses to sell, the sales go to the most-skilled agents. So how are we making sure that our agents are equipped for that? Ask your agents, what do you need right now? Those are powerful conversations.
Educating agents was next up. Featherston surmised that it was not that difficult to be buyer/seller agents when the market was sizzling hot with low mortgage rates. But as the rates climbed steadily upward, things changed to where agents, especially newer ones, needed to be able to explain ideas that facilitate sales.
Ariosa: Instead of making an offer for $25,000 less, have the seller buy down the mortgage payments. Have them buy down the rate. Pay 2 ½ points. It benefits the buyer and it benefits the seller. For the agent it gives them the confidence to be able to talk to the buyer or seller and say we can do this. Go buy the house and refinance in three years.
Pappas: People are just echo chambers. They repeat a headline, then someone else repeats it. We have to be the ones that have the correct message, the positive message, the calm message. That the market is still a good market, it’s still a buyer or seller’s market. Agents are looking to you for confidence and clarity. And if we are unable to provide it then there’s not a chance they can provide it to the consumer.
Lovett-Menkiti: We are the local economist of choice for your agents. How are we distilling the data, how are we understanding at the leadership level exactly what’s happening in the marketplace? As many as 80% of agents were not in the Great Recession, they weren’t in the business. So they don’t even know how to have a conversation on price reduction with clients when they’ve only been having escalation conversations. We have to make sure they have the tools they need to maintain the market share you’ve built.
LaCosta: We treat culture like it’s a living, breathing thing. Your culture is so crucially important to your company’s success. You have to feed it, and maintain it. If you do not, it’s going to fall apart.
Pappas: It’s like the old adage…no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s never truer than with your agents. Showing that you care for them in a personal way will take you way farther than any tool, technology or coaching. All of that they need, but they want the human aspect.
Ariosa: You have to make connections like your life depends on it. And if you don’t make connections then your life isn’t going to be dependent on it, and you’re not going to last.
Lovett-Menkiti: Logic makes you think, but emotion makes you act.
Stay tuned for more coverage from RISMedia from NAR NXT: The REALTOR Experience in the coming days and weeks.