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Commentary by Walt Baczkowski

RISMEDIA, Jan. 10, 2008-We all know the current and likely near-future situation in the housing arena, so it begs the question: what are we going to do about it? At RISMedia’s Power Broker Reception & Dinner during the NAR convention, we had the opportunity to speak with many industry leaders. In every discussion, the topic turned to reducing internal costs, creating greater efficiencies and enhancing lead generation and conversion. A troubling thread in these discussions was the reduction in agent training that appeared to be the most direct, and bottom-line affecting, way to reduce costs. In my opinion, this short-term resolution to immediate bottom-line issues will have a significant impact on a broker’s long-term viability.

In several conversations with brokers operating multi-office companies, it was apparent that the “manager-as-trainer” alternative was implemented due to dissatisfaction expressed by the managers at having the training costs being assessed to their office’s bottom line.

This alternative may be successful if the manager is in fact a good trainer. However, many exceptional, top-quality office managers make lousy trainers.

What’s more, the additional time devoted to training may take the manager away from more effective, needed activities, which could affect profitability. “Shadowing,” or working with an experienced agent, also could cut into the experienced agent’s sales production.

Working with a Realtor association, basic and advanced training programs can be developed, or existing programs enhanced, to provide agent and manager training that meets the market’s needs.

This will improve the consumer experience and eliminate complaints about poorly trained or prepared agents.

Walt Baczkowski is president of the Metropolitan Consolidated Association of REALTORS.

To contact him, please e-mail