Attracting and retaining talent to a real estate office has never been more important or more challenging then it will be in the decade ahead. Not only has the housing market seen dramatic changes, but the expectations of current and future industry professionals have dramatically altered.
During the market boom of the early to mid 2000’s, the frenzy to recruit anyone with a license reached a fever pitch. Generally speaking, brokers were both eager and generous in growing their companies by offering higher and higher compensation packages to incent agents them to choose their particular brokerage. Companies began competing on price and not value for the steady stream of new agents. An increasing average house price and number of transactions masked the negative effect this tactic had on the bottom line.
During this same period, the focus on attracting experienced agents diminished. This area of talent attraction for most brokers and managers has always been more challenging. Several mantras became common place: “Experienced agents have baggage, I can train new agents to do business the way I want, and experienced agents are just other people’s problems.”
It’s not that there isn’t truth in these statements, but for many they just became excuses.
With the current rate of licensed REALTORS® as reported by NAR dropping (down 9.96% July 08 to July 09) and expected to continue to decline for years to come. Brokers looking to expand their agent base are faced with additional challenges. Newer agents will be fewer and farther between and the need to attract experienced agents will require a new kind of expertise; one that takes into account that depleted budget brokers have to “buy” agents based on compensation plans of the past.
The experienced agent will need to be a focal point of office growth through the next generation real estate brokerage. Today, the average REALTOR® has been licensed for about 10 years and is 54 years old. They have weathered a dramatic change in the market and are poised to excel in this profession as long as they choose. The criteria they use when choosing which company name they will carry on their website and business card is changing.
They’ve lived through downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, buy outs, office closings, rebranding and more. All of these decisions, for the most part, were beyond their immediate control and made without their input, but each impacting them on a very personal level. Moving forward they will evaluate their local brokerages with a different set of eyes.
Leadership, financial stability, support, training, environment, vision, relationship, technology, online strategies, lead generation, business systems and culture will rank just as high or higher as compensation plans for the reasons to join or stay with a particular brokerage.
Next generation brokerages must figure out how to communicate their value proposition and core messages in these areas to their current agents, potential new agents to the industry and existing agents with other companies. A nice brochure or presentation isn’t going to cut it.
Potential and existing agents have more tools than ever to continually monitor and evaluate a brokerages commitment to them and their success. They will rely on multiple experiences created by the company to act as their measuring stick.
These experiences will include the interaction with the broker or manager, the physical office, the culture of the company, the online presence of the brokerage, how training and coaching is conducted and more. Walking the walk will be way more important than talking the talk. To attract and retain tomorrow’s real estate professional a broker must do more than talk about culture; they will have to present it and allow the agent to experience it themselves.