Understanding Agent Retention
These days I am occupied with building a new office for the company I work for. In our new neighbourhood, there is a bit of a buzz from local agents. We are building something unique. It hasn’t really been done before in the city. Over the last few weeks I have met with many agents who are interested in what we are doing. While they see the value of what we are creating, their main motivation in talking to me is less about being part of a new brokerage and more about getting away from the office they are working in now. This led me to consider the notion of agent retention and how to avoid losing good agents to the competition. There are many reasons agents leave. Some you can avoid, some you can’t. Here are some in no particular order.
- The agent has moved their principal residence and doesn’t want to commute. This is more likely to happen to the agent who comes into the office regularly.
- The agent has a conflict with another agent in the office. This is a big issue to tackle. As a manager/owner, it is your job to make sure that conflicts are dealt with fairly. Agents should always come away from a dispute knowing that, regardless of them winning or losing, you have looked at the facts accurately and explained your position clearly.
- Management issues. Believe it or not, some companies don’t get the fact that the agents are the clients, not the public. Our job is to provide agents with the tools to do their job well. Whether it is through training, front office support, advertising, etc, agents will abandon ship if you are not supporting them.
- Office aesthetic. The office should be current, clean and functionally laid out. Agents not only need a good work environment but they need a place to bring clients. Torn carpets, dirty bathrooms, and poor maintenance issues need to be addressed quickly. Agents will maintain a clean environment when they are proud of their surroundings.
- Commission structures. It is a reality of life that agents are looking for the best splits. Let’s face it, no one has yet to build a business model where the agent gets 100% of their commission and the office personnel does everything for them. The key is to simply be progressive and ahead of your competition. The difference in the take home commission of a mid range earning agent is negligible when you look at pay for service brokerages versus the full service models.
- The fun factor. Many companies, for whatever reason, lack office camaraderie. Managers and owners should make it part of their mantra to plan events and have fun as a group. Everyone should feel like they are being treated as a key part of the team. Our offices actively participate in golf tournaments, mini ski trips, social events and barbeques.
- Education and weekly office meetings. Management needs to be proactive in making sure agents are up to speed on current topics, policies and procedures. Presuming agents are doing it themselves will land your brokerage in a heap of trouble.
- Offices are too big or too small .I talked to a couple of agents who felt that they were simply lost in the shuffle. When they first started working at their brokerage there where fewer than 50 agents. Within 6 years, the company had grown to over 300 agents. Regularly there was a line of agents that formed outside the manager’s office. All of a sudden, asking a simple question became an hour long ordeal. I met with another agent who worked for a terrific little boutique company but there was no one even answering the phones. The few agents that worked there had to do everything from clean the offices to confirm appointments. There is no advertising budget and no one to update the website.
- Technical support. A strong brokerage needs a solid online presence. The web site needs to be constantly maintained, accurate and updates.
- Agents overstay their welcome or get fired. Surprisingly, many companies don’t check with the governing bodies to see if a potential new agent has complaints laid against them. There are agents out there with absolutely no respect for rules and regulations. You should avoid them at all cost as they are surely to be repeat offenders.
- Finally, there is something to be said for being part of something progressive and different. The day of the cookie cutter mentality is long gone. Agents today want to be a part of something unique.
It is a reality of life. Agents will move around but hopefully, if you are aware of the reasons why they leave, you can take steps now to eliminate or minimize the disruption to your office.
The views expressed in this blog may not represent the views of Bosley Real Estate, Brokerage, Ltd.