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Expect the unexpected: the mantra of 2020. While having an annual recruiting plan is always a good idea, this year has given extra credence to planning for the better and for the worse.

Every year, I’ve put together a recruiting plan. I’ve always suggested certain initiatives based on historical data and subsequent growth goals. For the most part, certain elements stayed consistent, which enabled our team to optimize our staff and marketing initiatives. This year was indeed a challenge, as many of our recruiting tactics forced us to pivot. Events and in-person interviews shifted to simple phone appointments and Zoom calls. Real estate schools closed, and career fairs were canceled. Because of COVID and economic uncertainty, we had to adapt to new regulations and agent interactions. Because of in-person limitations, we relied more on digital automation and new marketing technologies (video email, paperless contracts, personalized texting, etc.).

As you solidify your 2021 financials and project agent growth, plan for a best-case scenario, a real scenario and a worst-case scenario. At a minimum, planning for a worst-case scenario will allow you to prioritize your resources and identify the most vital components of your recruiting strategy.

Here are the most vital questions to ask yourself when you develop your recruiting plan:

Where did your recruits come from? Being able to track hire sources (referrals, marketing, recruiting staff) will help establish benchmarks to build upon.

Did you run promos? Doing a deep dive analysis into your promotions will allow you to examine your ROI and determine their overall impact regarding agent count.

Where did you hire from? Understanding your feeder brokerages will provide you with insight into your overall value proposition, which can be scaled and replicated.

Who did you hire? Having insight into what type of agent you attract (new licensees, producers, teams) will allow you to optimize certain tactics, while also identifying problematic gaps.

What cost you recruits? Knowing why agents left your brokerage (technology, fee structure, office locations) will only improve your awareness of where investment needs to take place.

How was your online training curriculum? Given the ever-changing real estate conditions, brokerages need to best adapt to agents’ needs.

Based on these answers, you can better allocate budget, time and resources. Having a formalized plan will give you a roadmap for success and help you develop useful templates that can be used for years to come.

You have to ask yourself: What do agents need and does our brokerage fulfill those needs? Is the value proposition of your brokerage in line with desired trends? As you attempt to plan for 2021, and beyond, it is vital that you stay nimble, yet embrace your true culture and identity. Understanding the underlying nuance as to why agents joined your brokerage in 2020 will allow you to formalize a plan geared around optimizing your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses.

The most important question to ask is: What would you have done differently if you had to do it again? This process has forced me to consider new ways to adapt and recruit, and not rely on what I thought to be were tried and true measures. Most importantly, having great people as your recruiters will always be your saving grace. Whoever does your recruiting, make sure they have empathy, passion for your brand and an innate ability to thrive in any work environment. Developing a true recruiting plan will be appreciated by your staff and will best prepare them for the challenges they will inevitably face.

Zack Cramer is responsible for agent recruitment amongst HomeSmart’s corporate-owned brokerages.