RISMEDIA, July 2, 2011—The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS® and Charlie Oppler, NAR’s Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations.
Charlie Oppler, Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, NAR
Sherry Chris, President/CEO, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Parsippany, New Jersey
Jeff Barnett, VP/Regional Manager, Alain Pinel Real Estate, Silicon Valley, California
Ron Phipps, President of NAR and Broker/President, Phipps Realty, Warwick, Rhode Island
Charlie Oppler: If there is one thing every broker would agree on, it’s that real estate is all about people—the people who buy, the people who sell and, most importantly, the people who manage those transactions. Perhaps more than anything else, it is the knowledge, passion and professionalism of the sales agents that distinguishes one real estate company from another and helps build the reputation of a market leader. Clearly, then, it behooves every broker to hire the best prospects—and to train and develop them in ways that encourage their success and keep them with us over the long haul. Today, we’ve invited three industry veterans, with three very different perspectives, to toss around ideas on what attracts good agents to a company in the first place and how we can most effectively develop and retain them. Sherry, your position with a branded franchise is at one end of the spectrum. Why do agents join your company?
Sherry Chris: In our case, we were fortunate to have a long-standing reputation as a respected and well-loved brand, a lifestyle brand for many years. But today, we are seeing a huge shift in demographics, as some 73 million young eco-boomers become as great an economic force as the 78 million baby boomers who preceded them. So, one of our goals is to be sure our brand remains every bit as relevant and responsive to this new generation of buyers and sellers.
Jeff Barnett: I agree. Reputation is vital. The Alain Pinel brand isn’t nearly as old as BH&G—we’re coming up on our 20th anniversary—but we have definitely established ourselves as the discriminating brand in the high-end Silicon Valley market. We’ve always maintained that if you control the high-end, you control the market, and so everything we do projects the upper-end image we cultivate. Sales professionals who are seeking a presence in the affluent market definitely seek us out.
CO: Ron, when you’re not presiding over NAR business, you are leading your family-run real estate company. How do you attract and develop top agents?
Ron Phipps: Because our company is so grounded in our family roots, the reputation we’ve developed as a valued real estate partner in the regions we serve is just as important—maybe more important—than it is to any larger company. We hold a disproportionate number of advanced credentials and real estate designations. We speak five languages, and we are as technologically capable as anyone. But we don’t have a lot of turnover, so our goal is to maintain the edge we’ve built by making sure all of our sales associates are constantly honing their proficiencies.
SC: Because the demographics are changing, our training methods are very different than they were years ago. Instead of long, boring 3-day seminars, we have new media boot camps to maximize the use of social media. We offer “sound bites,” podcasts, short spurts of focused video and face-to-face training that reflect the needs and the lifestyle of today’s agents as well as the clients they serve.
JB: It’s also important to provide your top agents with the kind of marketing support that reinforces their place in the industry. For us, dealing primarily in the high-end, that means everything from our upscale office environments to our award-winning advertising reflects who we are and who we serve.
For an expanded version of this article and other NAR Power Broker Roundtable topics, please visit www.rismedia.com.