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All real estate brokerages want to be successful, but in order to meet their goals and go beyond, they must first increase the success of their producers, according to the “Arming your Forces: Recruiting, Retaining and Motivating Must-haves” panel at RISMedia’s 2014 CEO Exchange. Moderated by RISMedia President & CEO John Featherston, the panel gave brokers the inside scoop on what they should be doing to select, train, motivate and retain the right agents that can help their brokerage compete in the marketplace.

Kevin Levent, Anthony Hitt and Mike Schlott participated in the Recruiting and Retaining Must-Haves panel at RISMedia’s 2014 CEO Exchange.

Providing a unique European perspective to the panel was Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & VölkersNorth America, who explained that in markets around the world, there is no licensing for real estate, nor are there MLSs or organized real estate as we know it.

“Just being an organized real estate company with websites, tools and systems, we immediately set the standard in the [European] marketplace,” he said, noting that traditional classified ads and interviewing led them to finding the right candidates. Though as he noted, here in the States, it’s a different ballgame.

“Here, we have to be proactive about selecting the right people for our branch. We have to create something people are attracted to.”

John Featherston moderated the panel, which included the CEOs of Engel & Völkers North America, The Randall Family of Companies and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers.

Hitt took over as CEO in 2012, wanting to take the company back to its roots, re-evaluating the company’s distinct look, concepts and brand promise, and using those values to help attract and recruit.

“Be who you are. Be authentic. Whatever your roots are, whatever your brand promise. If you go back to that root, there are likeminded people who want to be a part of what you’re doing,” he said.

Mike Schlott, president of The Randall Family of Companies spoke next about developing a culture and making agents feel valued.

“Once agents realized we cared about them, then the real backbone of what we try to do evolved,” he said. “Create a culture of recruiting.”

The Randall Family of Companies is an amalgamation of six brands, three residential and three commercial, located in the states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The Randall Family kept brand names where they saw brand value, but stitching those together was a challenge, says Schlott.

Kevin Levent and Anthony Hitt

“Getting the agents in the different marketplaces to identity each other is a challenge, but we’ve found they greatly respect and value the fact that we see value in them and their local brand. It gives them a sense of pride that they’ve built something over the years that isn’t just getting thrown out,” said Schlott.

A key question to consistently ask oneself, says Schlott: “Would this producer fit into this office or would it upset the culture?”

Kevin Levent, president & CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, is a self-proclaimed “king of change.” After changing brands five times in less than 20 years, Levent has proven that if you build a great culture, you can live through those kinds of shifts.

“If you can do that five times and make it through, you’ve done something,” he said. “You really know you’ve got it when you change and don’t lose anyone.

“The goal of culture is not to make people like you – you can’t sustain that very long – but to make them think and believe you care. Don’t take that the wrong way, but that’s what culture is about,” he said, candidly.

Levent continued saying that the culture created for retention purposes causes people to stay and finds common values among them.

“It creates an environment where agents want to use the core services. Build homegrown people from the inside – aligned agents will always help the new agents in the office.”

At the end of the day, brokers should strive to have a well-managed company with core values they stand by. That is something agents, current and future, want to be a part of.

Stay tuned to RISMedia for ongoing coverage of this year’s CEO Exchange.