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Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty Chief Creative Officer Joe Rand moderates RISMedia’s 2017 CEO Exchange session “The Verdict Is In: Agent Loyalty Is Out – Now What?”

Recruiting and retaining agents is the name of the game for brokerages large and small, but for many, it’s a practice that boils down to being easier said than done. A hot topic at RISMedia’s 2017 CEO Exchange this past September, an esteemed group of panelists—moderated by Joe Rand, chief creative officer at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty—offered their insight from a firsthand perspective.

According to Michael Mahon, president of First Team Real Estate, recruiting/retention is all the same. “The foundation for what we do as brokers is the same,” said Mahon. “While we face the same challenges, it’s all about empowerment and getting agents to a different level, while getting them to identify the brokerage’s value proposition.”

For Stuart Siegel, president and CEO of Engel & Völkers New York City, timing is everything. “Retention begins at the first recruiting meeting,” noted Siegel, “when expectations are set and the brokerage’s value proposition is explained.”

While many brokers continue to recruit through traditional means, Penny Nathan—co-founder, president and CEO of Ascent Real Estate—said that her firm’s training program centers around three core values: hire, develop, retain.

“Training is development,” said Nathan, who explained that the productivity level of the firm’s new agents actually dropped when they migrated from doing small group training in favor of larger group training that took place over the course of a few days. “Having since returned to one-on-one training, the core competency of the classes being offered has tremendously increased productivity,” noted Nathan.

Looking at the disruption associated with outside changes being brought into the real estate industry, panelists agreed that leadership is key when it comes to keeping agents relevant and ensuring the agent/brokerage relationship remains intact.

“It’s the broker’s responsibility to ensure they’re providing inspired leadership,” said Felicia Hengle, president of Ohio Operations, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies. “It’s also crucial that the broker be very connected to the goals of each and every agent.”

Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies President of Ohio Operations Felicia Hengle

“Not only is it leadership, but it’s also understanding what the agent is looking for in terms of being part of the bigger whole,” added Siegel. “Disruption also breeds the ability for a brokerage to provide a safe harbor. That’s what we try to do.”

Panelists also had a lot to say in terms of the generational divides found at the brokerage level across the board today. The consensus? Meeting in the middle is critical.

“With the different generations found in brokerages today, if your value proposition is to retain and keep everyone comfortable, you have to meet them where they are,” said Hengle.

“It all boils down to communication, and being willing to tell your story on a daily basis,” added Mahon.

“Agents don’t leave the brokerage,” concluded Nathan. “They leave the person. If you know what they want to be valued for, you can do a better job.”

Stay tuned to RISMedia for continuing coverage of this year’s CEO Exchange sessions:

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com.

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