This month’s National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable discusses the agent experience.
Jim Imhoff: In a discussion with brokers last month, we zeroed in on the need to define our value proposition, and what doing so means to the success of our companies, our brands, and our most important clients: our agents.
This month, we thought we’d take that a step further. What, in this age of keen competition and shiny new business models, can we do—as part of our evolving value proposition—to ensure that we have the best educated, most technically prepared, most professional agents on the block?
Our panelists are innovative and experienced leaders with their fingers on the pulse of the industry. What’s changing, Chris, and how can we respond?
Chris Kelly: What’s changed for me is that I once saw the brokerage—and the brand—as an umbrella under which the agent works. Today, I see them as a foundation for the agent—a base upon which every agent can grow in his or her own unique way, whether as an individual or as part of a team. Our job as brokers is to provide the tools and support every agent needs to build their own successful brand, because if we do it right—and this is something that has never changed—their success is also ours.
Christy Budnick: I hear you, Chris. There are a lot of different business models out there, some of them high-split, but little or no support. We take pride in the support we provide, and in defining ourselves as a Ninja company. We are focused on building relationships, listening to the customer, and helping both our agents and their clients achieve their goals.
Kim Bakey: As an agent-centric company, we have to know—even anticipate—what our agents need, whether it’s more education, one-on-one coaching, specialized technology, or maybe just getting them out from under all the paperwork so they can be out there doing what they do best.
JI: For busy agents, getting away from the paperwork can increase production dramatically.
CK: It’s one of the reasons agents develop teams, with admin to do the paperwork for them.
CB: It’s very helpful to relieve agents of paperwork, but it’s just as important, as the support team behind them, to help them excel at building relationships. That’s a chore we take off their shoulders with an automated program called AutoFlow that literally does their marketing for them. Once the agent signs up for it, we reach out to everyone in their database three times a month with e-cards, newsletters, even coupons to the local venues we partner with, all branded to the agent. These pieces go out automatically, keeping the agent top of mind with their clients.
JI: Do agents actually see tangible results from it?
CB: We’re finding that the agents who use it are as much as 50 percent more productive than those who don’t—and it’s a way to be sure we’ll never hear people say, “I would have used my agent again if I could only have remembered her name.”
KB: Another advantage: the one-stop shopping model. Having brokerage, mortgage, insurance, title and settlement services integrated throughout our operation provides an efficient, streamlined experience for consumers and agents. It’s a key value proposition that’s been a part of our culture since our earliest days of operation in the 1950s. It is so much a part of our fiber now that we sometimes take its value for granted.
JI: Like technical and social media proficiency, and the ability to work remotely, that may indeed be a solid underpinning of our value proposition as brokers—and of the value we bring to helping our agents distinguish themselves from the competition.
CK: Also, in this digital world, we see enormous value in maintaining a dynamic office environment. We encourage our agents to be part of this—to surround themselves with top producers, who are their best, most supportive role models. The best producers know the pie is not finite. They are generous in sharing their time and knowledge.
JI: Often, too, sharing, mentoring and a spirit of camaraderie go hand in hand with giving back, as a unified team, to the communities where we do business. People like to do business with people who give back, and it’s one more way we can perpetuate success and ensure that our brand remains viable well into the next generation.
KB: I think the question for all of us, brokers and agents both, is, ‘How can I be better?’ It’s a question we must always be asking—and that means taking a deeper look into every aspect of our business.