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The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS®. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Jeff Barnett, Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR

Robert Bailey, Co-broker/Owner, Bailey Properties, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Jason Waugh, President/CEO, Prudential Northwest Properties, Portland, Ore.
Richard Haase, President, Latter & Blum Realtors®, New Orleans, La.

Jeff Barnett: Most of us would agree that good training is the very foundation of a successful real estate career. In fact, real estate trainer Brian Buffini believes a good coach can get more out of you than you can get out of yourself. So how do we, as broker/owners, spend our training dollars? How do we establish a dynamic training program that will best serve our agents? Robert, how do you invest in coaching and training?

Robert Bailey: Coaching and training are the crux of career development. Without a comprehensive program, no agent can successfully compete—especially in today’s market, where an uptick in our industry and high unemployment is bringing in a new crop of candidates who are looking at real estate as a career. In our company, my brother, Paul, is heading up a multi-tiered, in-house program. For new licensees, it teaches time management, lead generation, organization and budgeting. For the more experienced, it becomes part coaching, part brainstorming, and it’s focused on our local market.

Jason Waugh: For us, career development training is pretty much priority one. To that end, we’ve just brought on a director of Career Development, charged with creating a consistent approach to succeeding at every level. I want to put our money into breaking the mold of general practitioner in favor of developing smart and specialized professionals. Experience tells us people will pay for unparalleled service. Our priority is to be very sure our agents are equipped to provide that.

Richard Haase: We have 1,300 agents in the companies we operate, some in the top 1 percent of producers nationally. We use their expertise in agent training councils and success panels as the basis of our in-house training programs. In my 34 years in the business, I have never seen more rapid change in our industry than we have seen in the last few years. So we’ve begun a national search for a director of training and education—someone who understands training needs analysis, curriculum development and instructional design.

JB: I understand the importance of investing in the kind of training that incorporates information from a variety of resources but adapts it to specific needs. In our Silicon Valley region, where the average selling price is more than $1 million, it would make no sense to encourage agents to get out there and knock on doors. Our training needs to be about what our agents need to become top achievers in our market.

RB: No matter the market, though, a good training program has to focus on commitment and accountability. That starts with the broker and must continue with the agent. What are your fears? What’s holding you back? How can you maximize your time and skills at this point and in this market? The market is changing at breakneck speed, and we have to have the commitment and flexibility to change right along with it.

JW: I agree. Effective training is not about, “Here’s how you handle short sales.” It’s about, “Here’s how to sell yourself, to identify the needs and personalities of your customers and connect with them in a meaningful way.”

RH: As Stephen Covey says in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” you have to sharpen your saw. That means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—yourself. No matter how bright you are, if you don’t stay current, your business will slip away.