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One Company’s Plan for Attracting the Best Talent

By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, Dec. 3, 2008-This year marks an especially challenging period for the real estate industry and never has it been more important for brokers to attract and retain top-quality talent. Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate, Realogy’s newest brand, understands what’s at stake for its broker network and brings its unique approach to the age-old problem of attracting, selecting and retaining the best real estate professionals.

With her 15 years in the business, Wendy Forsythe, vice president, broker services and product development, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, is happy to remove the term “recruit” from her team’s vocabulary once and for all.

“Agents have little desire to be ‘recruited,'” says Forsythe. “Building a successful team goes well beyond any one-dimensional ‘recruiting activity;’ it requires a long-term commitment by all parties-the broker, the agent and the brand.”

Forsythe believes that the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate team has combined the right online tools with a solid strategy and hands-on coaching that will help real estate brokerages compete for the best talent available. Along with a team of industry specialists, Forsythe drives the brand’s “Talent Attraction Platform,” a four-pillared approach to talent attraction and selection: Attract, Bond, Commit and Develop.

Pillar 1: Attract

To begin, the company leverages a special section on its consumer website ( to attract top-tiered talent considering a real estate career. The site serves three main purposes:

– Generates career inquiries for the brand’s franchisees
– Generates overall interest in the brand
– Educates visitors about the real estate profession-whether they are new to real estate or have been in the business for 20 years

“You need to provide people with information that answers their questions about a career in real estate and gets them engaged with your company,” says Forsythe. “Today’s talent is attracted by online interaction and engagement. They expect tools like video, career simulators and virtual career events.”

For industry beginners or those considering becoming an agent, the site’s Real Estate Simulator is the ideal tool to try out the role of an agent in an interactive, online setting. For those further along in their career process, the site introduces candidates to the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Business Building System by offering them the Introductory Business Plan tool.

“The online careers section of the website is amazing,” says Yarrow Wilkins, president, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates. “We have sent several prospective agents to the site and have received overwhelming responses to the tools, especially the Business Building System.”

Pillar 2: Bond

In order to build upon and sustain the relationship established with potential candidates through the initial contact, the brand engages candidates in a continuing dialogue through various drip campaigns and follow-up activities. Forsythe feels this is necessary as people may often consider a career in real estate or changing to a new office for many months, or even years, before making the decision.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate specialists also consult on and distribute inquiries generated from the career’s website to the appropriate franchisee so that they feel an ever-present connectedness to the brand. “We believe in being active partners with our franchisees to assist them in growing their businesses,” states Forsythe.

This partnership was evident to Wilkins when, on one occasion, she brought a potential agent candidate to the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate corporate headquarters.

“We had a prominent agent who was going to come on board and we decided to take a road trip with him to the corporate offices so that he could meet the team,” says Wilkins. “The day was a huge success and an affirmation of the connectedness between the online attraction and bonding tools and the resources that are available to us anytime.”

Pillar 3: Commit

Once an agent joins the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate network, the brand then takes every step to demonstrate its own commitment to the agent by providing him or her with a brand orientation and program overview, along with a complete set of productivity tools.

“When an agent joins the team, we make sure they understand the brand, but also feel valued by it,” says Forsythe. “We make sure they know they are an important part of the network with programs such as ‘Welcome to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.’ With this particular initiative, each new agent receives a personalized welcome letter from our president and CEO, Sherry Chris, a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine and a personal welcome training call from our career development team.”

Pillar 4: Develop

For today’s office manager, developing the skills necessary to attract talent needs to be a top priority. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate specialists work closely with franchisees and office managers in their local markets to coach and assist them with planning and strategies. The brand also hosts quarterly conference calls featuring leading talent attraction experts. Naturally, the power of the brand plays a large role in drawing talent through the doors of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate franchisees.

“When we first came onboard, we were a bit skeptical when told to ‘brace ourselves’ because the phones were going to start ringing immediately,” remembers Wilkins. “However, the day we launched, we began receiving calls from sales associates who wanted to come onboard. It exemplified the power of the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand and its impact in the industry.”

Forsythe and her team recognize talent attraction as one of the fundamental aspects of brokerage management. As with any real estate organization, attracting, selecting and retaining a motivated team of productive individuals is paramount to success. In executing on its Talent Attraction Program, the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate leadership will look to best position its network for growth and success in the months and years to come.

For more information on Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate’s talent attraction tools, visit