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This month, moderator J. Nicholas (Nick) D’Ambrosia, Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations, NAR and Broker of Record, The Long & Foster Companies, Chantilly, Va. Interviews participants Mike Brodie, Broker/Owner, Keller Williams Realty, Plano, Texas; Lori Arnold, President/Owner, Coldwell Banker Apex REALTORS®, Dallas, Texas; and Robert Bailey, Broker/Owner, Bailey Properties, Santa Cruz, Calif., about the best practices of onboarding new agents.

Nick D’Ambrosia: For most brokers, bringing on new agents, training them, and setting them on a clear path to productivity is a time-consuming and often expensive job—but because agents are the lifeblood of the company, it’s also one of the most important. Today, we’ve invited three seasoned brokers to talk about onboarding strategies. Mike, where does the process begin for you?

Mike Brodie: It starts with bringing in the right people, whether they’re new or experienced. We get many referrals from our own agents, who are good at spotting quality. I look at their experience—in or out of real estate—and for a pattern of past successes. But it’s also instinctive—a kind of “it factor” I can sense…charisma, potential for leadership. I can teach them real estate, but the “it factor” has to come first.

Lori Arnold: We, too, are very much into quality. Whether it’s an experienced agent wanting a change or a brand-new licensee, we look for serious, career-minded people who will work hard and who understand that this is a people-first business. Consumers deserve better than part-timers or agents who aren’t fully committed. I’d say we make one offer for every eight people we see, and only to those who “get the message.”

Robert Bailey: We’re a mid-sized independent with good brand recognition in our coastal market and a strong, collaborative company culture that drives our competitive success, so we look for people who are a good fit—who will not only thrive within our company culture, but will represent us with distinction and strengthen the whole team.

ND: Okay, so the newbie’s on board. What’s the structure of your training?

MB: For new licensees, it starts with six-to-eight weeks of training on basics like database-building and marketing. Then, they move to succeeding levels, with specialty seminars, in-house productivity coaching and business objectives training. At some point, and also for experienced producers, we offer “mega agent production systems training.” This is a specialized and comprehensive training that agents must pay for—and it isn’t inexpensive. Our statistics show that the people who take it earn 168 percent more than those who don’t.

LA: We’re very big on accountability, and we’ve revamped our training program to inspire and motivate new agents. Recently, one group of 35 agents produced 39 pieces of business within their first 30 days. For experienced agents who are new to us, we focus on finding and filling any holes in their business model, helping them make a smooth transition.

RB: Everything we do is activity-driven, learning and applying. What do you do on your first day, in your first week? What does your first quarter look like? We start with the basics and use in-house coaching to fast-track more complex topics. And because we’re a collaborative team, we meet weekly to share information and best practices, and keep the excitement going.

ND: What’s the rate of attrition?

RB: We have a high retention rate—an average 10 percent turnover, and that includes retirees and those who leave for other reasons. Take on team players with a lot of drive and a good work ethic, and retention should be a given.

MB: We lose perhaps 20 percent a year—less than the national average.

LA: A good retention rate means a strong company, and that starts with who you bring in. The NAR 2015 Member Profile data show 82 percent of new members plan on staying in the business for two years or more. Those who are still here five years from now will be better at their craft.

The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors® and Nick D’Ambrosia, NAR’s Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.