It’s Not How You Say Hello, It’s How You Say Good Bye!

It’s not how you say hello, it’s about how you say good bye.

It's Not How You Say Hello, It's How You Say Good Bye!A reality in the real estate industry is attrition.  It comes in all forms; people relocate, quit the business, and unfortunately join a different company.  For over 10 years I have tracked these numbers in real estate companies throughout North America and have found the number to be in the 30% range.

Let me define my measurement:  If you start the year with 100 agents on your roster and don’t recruit agents, you will typically end up with 70 agents at the end of year. Interesting to note based on this empirical data, to experience 20% agent growth you will need to recruit 50% of your beginning of year agent population number.

One of the biggest blunders I see with leaders take place is in the exit interview with agent.  We’ve all been there and it’s one of the painful learning experiences of our role as a leader.  I call it a learning experience because I am of the belief agents join the leader and leave the leader, not the company.  Growth in this process is for you.

Before I go into the responsible process of exiting an agent, I do realize there are isolated incidents where you must take extreme action and sometimes the exit isn’t pretty for anyone, while striving to take the high road.

Here’s what you need to know. When an agent tells you they are leaving for another company, 99% of the time it’s too late.  The decision was made based on an experience that happened months ago.  Something just happened to take place recently to cement that decision.  Productive agents rarely leave abruptly, they are methodical in this process.

Now you have some choices.  You can do what most leaders will do and try to cut a better deal and make all kinds of offers to get them to stay.  I can promise you whether they stay or not, you are opening a can of worms.  They will tell the other agents in the office either way, you have caved on your leadership principles, and the line will start forming for the rest of your “loyal” agents to start cutting their deals. I’ve see it happen over and over.

Here are the responsible steps to exiting someone with respect and dignity for all parties. Oh by the way, your current agents are watching how you handle this very, very closely.

  1. Have them move before or after business hours.
  2. Meet with them and have the following dialogue:
    1. I am the leader, I am responsible for all outcomes so I would look for your feedback as we go through this process.
    2. What would you have done different in this business relationship if you were me?
    3.  Take the feedback and say “tell me more, what else?”
    4. Ask if there is anything that could be done to make the business relationship work.
    5. Thank them for all their contributions and let them know the door is always open.
    6. Send an email announcement out to your agent population immediately simply acknowledging the agent for their contributions and letting them know that the agent has decided to move on with their career and we wish them the best of luck.

It’s called taking the high road.  The biggest mistake is making it some big secret.  All this creates is further curiosity.  I believe in transparency and honesty in leadership, get the message out to everyone and get it behind you.

Now the beauty of exiting someone with class is the amazing opportunity that presents itself.  Hopefully they went to a competitor in the marketplace you would love to recruit some agents from.  Typically things are NEVER as good as the agent thought it would be.  You will always check in with them (not asking them to come back) to see how things are going, acknowledge any production, and see if there is anything you can do to support them. If and when things don’t work out, you have kept a high level connectivity so that that doubt doesn’t interfere with them rejoining you.

There is no stronger statement in the marketplace than when they come back and they will most likely bring some people with them from the office they leave.

Oh and when anyone tries to pry or gets snoopy with the “What really happened Jon, why did he leave?”  Don’t get caught in the drama someone is seeking, “They made a business decision they felt was best for them and I respect that.”  NOTHING FURTHER.

It’s not how you say hello, it’s how you say good bye. 


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  1. Robyn Yates
    4 years ago

    Really well said. I have had agents leave and many return…not all have returned but many have and a big big part of their comfort in returning is the exit interview. It is painful when someone leaves but the agent has their journey as well. Really awesome when they return.

    • Jon
      4 years ago

      Absolutely Robyn. I KNOW you are a “high road” leader. Good Stuff

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