Recruiting Strategies for This Emerging Market

We have a huge void in our industry related to one of the most important topics any Broker, Manager and Recruiter will ever face…. information, training and coaching on the subject of recruiting and retention. I am happy to open this new Recruiting and Retention dialogue for RealBlogging and all my fellow recruiters, brokers and managers. Recruiting is the lifeblood of most real estate brokerages. It doesn’t matter if it is recruiting to your RE school for new licensees or reaching out to the top dogs in your market. What worked for us a year ago does not apply to this emerging market. (Actually, what “we thought” worked for us has never really been the best solution.)

Let me bring you through the typical in-office recruiting meeting with a new to mid level agent. (I will address recruiting highly experienced agents in future contributions.) The agent meets you at your office. You take them on a tour, show them your pretty decor and introduce them to your staff. You bring them back to your office where you present a branded folder, flip chart or Powerpoint Presentation showcasing all your widgets and gadgets. You inundate them with information on how wonderful your compensation plans are. The meeting ends with the agent’s eyes glazed over overwhelmed by all the “stuff” you just presented. The last thing out of their mouth is “I have to think about it.” Game over.

It is not about all your widgets, gadgets and compensation plans. We created that reality by selling ourselves that way for so long. It is about you and the value you bring to that agent. People hide behind the tangibles because it is easier to sell “things” than to demonstrate their personal value. Every brokerage has widgets and gadgets. Some are better than others. The real questions to ask yourself are: What is your personal value to this agent? What skill set do you have to relay to them that can help them in their business? What systems/personnel have you put into place to assist them in reaching their goals? That is what it is all about. My friend Jon Cheplak says it so well, “Agents don’t join or leave a company, they join or leave the Leader.”

We have done ourselves and our agents a huge disservice by playing the compensation card. I can’t tell you how many recruiters open their conversations with how much more money an agent can make if they join their company. Some broker recruiting sites even have a compensation calculator embedded. One critical thing to remember is that whatever you use to draw an agent to your company is what they will use to leave you. Agents only bring up the compensation plans because they have been brainwashed into thinking that is the most important issue in their careers. It was the only thing of power most brokers felt they had to offer and it worked during the lunacy of the past market. Very sad.

Why is this happening? My opinion is that most leaders in an organization have not honed in on their own personal leadership skill set. A majority of brokers and managers are ex-agents who tired of selling so they moved into ownership and management. Sorry, this is hard to swallow but it is true. I have had very personal experiences with my own management and trying to motivate them to recruit. It is not an easy job. How interesting it is that we train our agents to “recruit” buyers and sellers by making friends, staying in contact and being of service and yet we don’t see how to apply the same strategy to recruiting agents.

How do you change it? Start by building on your own personal skill set and changing the way you view the interviewing process. On your next interview, bring the agent directly to your office (no tour) or meet off site. Leave the widgets and gadgets in the drawer. Have a notepad and pen in hand and turn on the best listening ears you have. Ask the agent one question. “What 3 things about a brokerage are important to you?” Write down what they say. If compensation plans are one of the three, put it at the bottom of the list. Address the first 2 by asking them why these things are important to them. Take notes. This creates a foundation of respect and understanding to work from and you will know what is important to them without regurgitating a bunch of stuff they could care less about.

By the way, you can narrow down what those 3 important things are by asking your own agents. It is also a great conversation starter at any realtor events. You can say you are doing a survey so you can better serve your agents…which is the truth. You will see there are only a few topics that consistently come up. You can prepare your value proposition, do some research and get yourself trained in the areas that are most important. When was the last time you had this conversation with your own agents? Just a thought.

Before you discuss any compensation plans ask the agent “Do you see value in what we have to offer you?” If they say no then you haven’t done a good job of presenting your skill set. Start over by saying “Perhaps I haven’t done a good job of presenting our value package as it relates to your needs. Can you tell me why you feel what I have shared is not of value to you?” The key is this, why would you even talk money if they do not see value in the information you have presented based on their personal idea of what is important to them? No amount of money will make up for dissatisfaction in the meeting of their needs.

The money talk will kill you in the long run. It will become the focus of all that goes wrong. When an agent leaves you for a 2% pay raise to go across the street where they have no support whatsoever and have to cover all their own expenses….It is not about the money, believe me. Of course compensation plans are important but I don’t think they are as important to the agent who knows they will be more productive and have great support and systems. Stifling the money conversation can be challenging in the interview but not impossible. Just say “When you believe this company brings value to your business, then we will discuss our compensation plans. Why would you want to work for a company that does not bring value to you not matter what the compensation plan? Is that fair?”

This emerging market will require more tools, focus and work for the agents who want to capture a high percentage of the available business. They need you more than ever to be skilled and versed in all the areas of their business. Start by advancing you knowledge. There are some great free articles on my friend Jon Cheplak’s website under the products tab. Jon is an innovative thinker and will open your mind to a new way of recruiting and interacting with your agents. If you buy anything from his site, mention my name and you will get a discount.