This month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable discusses internal messaging, and how it’s evolving in the face of inundating technology.
Joan Docktor, President, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, Philadelphia
Chris Trapani, Founder/CEO, Sereno Group Real Estate, Los Gatos, Calif.
Jim D’Amico, President/CEO, CENTURY 21 North East, Boston
Jim Imhoff: In today’s work environment, with offices scattered, mailrooms shrinking, and more agents working remotely, sharing news and views via sales meetings and print pieces may be going the way of the Rubik’s cube. Yet there’s much to be said for cohesive messaging, not to mention the esprit de corps that’s the bedrock of company culture. So how do savvy leaders in the digital age keep everyone on the same (virtual?) page—and keep the messaging interesting enough to make it worth the read? Joan, your company has more than 4,000 agents spread out over a three-state region. How do you get your people to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves?
Joan Docktor: For one thing, we try to keep it personal. Every new agent gets a welcome email from everyone on the executive team—and congratulations and an appropriate note whenever they have something to celebrate. Our managers make sure we stay informed about those events, because this kind of personal touch with every agent helps to make a big company seem smaller. On a larger scale, we like to do video emails to share the scoop on company news and updates—and, of course, Facebook and Instagram. Every office has its own Facebook page—and YouTube is great for sharing.
Chris Trapani: We are pretty selective about group emails. We work very hard to maintain a culture of intention, curiosity and trust. When we show up in their mailbox, our agents know we have meaningful content to share—intentional content—and they are curious. They want to know what we think. They tend to be learners by nature. Then there’s trust. They trust that we have their long-term interest at heart—that the content we choose to share electronically will help enrich their lives or careers.
Jim D’Amico: Much of our electronic messaging is technically focused—new tools, social media training, etc. Video conferencing works well, especially for agents who tend to work remotely, and we produce our own training and YouTube videos.
JD: A short, three- or four-minute clip is especially effective for training. You can even embed a link if you need to.
JI: It’s no surprise that video and electronic messaging have revolutionized our internal marketing and communication—company news, continuing education, rolling out products and services. So what goes on at local or regional meetings—or do we still hold them?
JD’A: We don’t do big sales meetings as frequently as we once did—and the content has changed as well. We do smaller lunch-and-learn events, where agents can ask questions face-to-face with panels of top producers—or networking groups or specialized training sessions where agents can learn by doing. We have an event-planning group charged with putting together meetings with content that resonates.
CT: Our meeting patterns have changed, but we do still have them, both locally and regionally. But here again, they’re meetings with intention, for sharing the kind of valuable content that helps them grow their business—iBuyer trends, macroeconomics…good, close looks at the pulse of the market, up close and personal.
JI: What about big annual company conventions? Is there still a place for them?
JD: We think so, yes. Like our annual Community Service Day, the annual convention is an opportunity to build brand and team spirit, and to recognize and honor what we do.
JD’A: We still hold an awards ceremony in the spring—that’s pretty traditional. Then we host a holiday party at the end of the year that brings together about half of our 800 agents from a wide swath of the Northeast.
CT: We host a mid-year, company-wide meeting, but the awards we give are not production-based. In keeping with our culture of service and giving back, we honor the most inspirational of our agents. We like to bring in speakers like economists and social media experts, or wealth managers who can help our people advance their financial positions.
JI: So, it seems there’s still a place for the traditional, even in the digital age we live in.
JD’A: What’s important, I think, is keeping our people onboard and connected in as many ways as possible. As Joan said, a personal email from the boss can go a long way with an agent.
JD: And with a customer. Our sellers get a thank-you from management when they list, and another after the sale to thank them for choosing us.
JI: I think what we’re saying here is, messaging with accessibility. That seems to be the goal, no matter how we choose to go about it.
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