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If agents are going to be successful in today’s rapidly changing market, the more training and tools they have at their fingertips, the better. Those that can hit the ground running with the skills they need are more likely to be able to build business. Real estate firms are paying more attention than ever to their training programs and are strongly encouraging—if not themselves providing—coaching.

“If you can bring on new agents and help them be effective quickly, that’s a real asset, rather than having to recruit only experienced agents. Any brokerage has to grow though bringing in new and experienced agents. Training is at the forefront of that process,” says Mike Schlott, president of Randall REALTORS®.

Randall REALTORS®, which is comprised of 500 agents in 27 offices in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, offers an 8-week, in-house training program to its new agents to get them up to speed. “It’s really all about building their business. They learn organizational skills, contact building, farming and business development so they can build a sphere of influence,” says Schlott.

Coaching is part of the equation, too. The company has a dedicated real estate coach on staff, who is available to all agents.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, which is comprised of 2,700 agents in 110 offices, says his company does extensive internal training, and also encourages employees to pursue outside training and coaching programs as well, such as the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation, as well as real estate coaching businesses like Buffini & Company, David Knox, Tom Ferry, and Ninja Selling.

“We walk in with the expectation that new brokers will be productive immediately. They work with mentors daily, helping them move forward,” says Scott. Our approach is focused on a positive mindset, skill mastery and personal engagement activities, i.e., connecting with clients.”

Training Reinforces Culture
Training can be a great avenue to instill and reinforce buy-in for the company’s culture. This is especially so when the company’s senior-level leaders are involved.

Scott describes training as integral to John L. Scott Real Estate’s culture. “It’s just what we do. It’s who we are. Seventy-five to 80 percent of our work is direct repeat business. That doesn’t happen without transactional excellence. Training and coaching keeps agents inspired and gives them new concepts to try.” Scott visits all 110 offices at least once a year to go over the game plan and philosophy.

Bill Plattos, executive vice president of First Team Real Estate, says that President and CEO Cameron Merage puts training atop the list of organizational priorities and stays involved in the company’s training program. “Cam trained me. He has been reviewing the program and reinstituting it. He’s also taken the time to meet with each of the offices and go over their training. He gives them his input, and then the manager implements it,” explains Plattos.

Maryann Vitale Alles, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties, is involved in her company’s training program, Select University, which is led by Gretchen Adams. “I invest my time with regards to training and development by talking with the agents at the branch level when I visit their offices — creating enthusiasm for the programs currently being used and programs that will be introduced,” says Alles.

What Works?
What skills are important for agents to get from their companies’ internal training programs?

Alles notes that Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties’ training program focuses “on helping our agents develop careers, not just write contracts. For instance, our new agents take a 30-day class where they attend five in-house classes, have 30 days of activities and meet with  their mentor or manager for follow up. This style of class helps develop good prospecting and work habits,” says Alles.

Says Schlott, “Transaction management, time management skills, working intelligently, finding ways to develop business. If they can do those things, they have a pretty good chance of success.”

Plattos adds, “Once you have the basics, you need to know how to farm. Farming and sphere of influence are what most of our most successful agents have mastered.” He adds that follow up is critical. “It’s not enough just putting information out there, but also asking: Did you try it? How’d it work?”

Don’t Let It Get Stagnant
Given how quickly the market changes, keeping training fresh is important.

“Our industry changes weekly, and we need to adapt. Training is a reflection of where the industry is, at the time, so training needs to change with the industry,” says Schlott.

Scott agrees. “We have a shortage of inventory right now. Now what do we do? You focus in on your presentation and your business development activities. With buyers, you focus on getting ready on day one to purchase a home, otherwise they have no shot.”

Says Alles, “The real estate market is in continuous change and requires the ability to adapt to those changes. Coaches help professionals stay focused and help push them forward by using their own skill set, while classes and training help agents stay abreast of market changes.”

A Productive Workforce is a Well-Trained (or Coached) One
Training and coaching are both conducive to success. And the more successful both new and experienced agents are, the stronger and more profitable the brokerage. It’s no wonder that training and coaching programs are gaining importance as a differentiator.

“Offering a different set of tools than our competitors gives us that edge we need to retain our current agents and recruit new ones…it’s no secret that success attracts more success, and if we can offer coaching and training solutions to breed more success, that is what we will do,” concludes Alles.

Reva Nelson is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Chicago. She has been writing about real estate and professional services for more than 15 years. Reva lives with her husband, their two sons, and a Russian tortoise.

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