Why Do Your Productive Agents Leave?

We Are In The Human Resource BusinessIt's Not About The Commission Splits

What is the most critical part to any successful business? You don’t have to look far to discover the attraction and retention of quality human resource is a challenge facing every business in the world today. Having worked in the real estate industry at the branch, regional and company level, I can attest to the fact that recruitment and retention of quality agents is the number one factor in profitability of a company. To this day it is the most daunting task for organizations.

Let’s focus on determining why agents leave.

It’s not about the commission splits or fees

That’s right, it’s not about the commission split or fee. What is the reason most agents give for leaving? Very often, perhaps more often than we care to acknowledge, they will say they are leaving because they are getting a “better deal” at company xyz. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could define what a “better deal” really is? It may be interpreted as commission splits, when in fact, the “better deal” for an agent is simply put, investment/return. But, as a manager or owner it is easy to accept the “better deal” excuse, because it lets you off the hook. I learned long ago that personal responsibility for all experiences in leadership would dictate my success and the same stands true for those I coach.

Agents don’t join or leave a company, they join or leave the value in the relationship they experience with the leader. Strong statement? Let’s explore a little further with some questions to consider.

  1.  Could your current agents go into the marketplace and get a better deal? Of course they can, someone at the most extreme level will recruit based on the “loss leader” principle with the the hopes, and many times the result, they can create a momentum and extract even more agents from your company. I personally participated in the walkover of 50 plus agents closing $7 million in GCI using this strategy.
  2. How come all of your agents have not left and joined a company that is offering a better deal? They are getting bombarded every single day with a better split, a lower fee, profit sharing, more marketing..the list goes on…but they don’t leave?!
  3. Do you have a multi-office organization where the business model is the same across the board for all branch offices, yet only one or a few have a retention and recruiting issue? Is it still about the splits or is it about the leadership experience?

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Here it comes! There he/she goes!

What a surprise. Whether it’s the voice mail saying, “We need to meet” or worse yet walking into the office in the morning and finding a top producer’s desk cleared out, we know IT happened. IT is not that your office has been burglarized, IT is one of your agent’s that no longer sees value in the business relationship. Let’s be honest, we have all been there at one time or another.

What happened and why?

Once again, it’s not about the commission splits or fees! Agents do not leave the company, they leave the manager. I know I am challenging you with that suggestion, but stay with me on this point. We are in a human resource business that is built on relationships. Simply put, when we don’t meet the expectations in the business relationship it fractures and agents leave. Retention of your agents is dictated by you and the continual value you offer to the manager/agent relationship. Agents actually leave based on the way you hired them…the expectations and agreements that were made and now are not being kept in the agent experience. If agents are inspired in their current environment with valuable leadership, insight, and competency that contributes to the growth of their business, you will find retention is rarely an issue.

Here are two big questions for you to consider in your leadership:

  1.  Are your agents attending more training and growing their skill-sets at a faster pace than you?
  2. Are your agents passing you up?

Let me share a couple examples of this

Video is the most impactful medium of marketing today. You can’t escape it. Do you expect your agents to use video? Are you using video in your role as a leader? Can you coach and lead your agents to dramatically impact their business with video based on your implementation?
Social media is where everyone is. Here are some compelling numbers for you to consider: 100 million people login to Facebook every single night from 8pm – 10pm…more than all 3 major television networks. I think we are safe to say that agents are hanging out there. How are you positioned on Facebook? How are you using Facebook to grow your office or company? How are you coaching and training your agents to use the most powerful environment to grow their business?

These are just two of hundreds of examples we need to inspect in our ability to provide value to our agents…in our responsibility of being the most competent and relevant leader in the marketkplace.

I have one more and it’s the big elephant in the room everyone is talking about…Agent TEAMS. It’s not going away any time soon and as a matter of fact the word I would relate to agent teams is momentum. One of the biggest desires productive agents have today is to build a team. Are you able to coach an agent in their transition from stand-alone agent to building a team?  If not, they will go where they can get that guidance.

Leadership is a privilege..with that privilege comes responsibility…the responsibility of constant expansion of our knowledge and capacity. We must be the most competent and relevant leader in the marketplace. Relevant is being “there”..where the business is progressing today…Competent is knowing what to then do “there” so that you can transfer that knowing…transfer that strategy and system to your agents and impact their business…constantly…

Here’s The Problem… The agent no longer sees you as a valuable business proposition so they leave……
They are no longer getting the return they desire from the investment of a portion of their commissions in the business relationship. There are no two ways around it. Leadership has shared with me for years that agents join and stay because of the culture. This is certainly a part of the equation and I will go into that in a later blog, but in the end, they are there to make a living.. and feel good about the environment. Retention has its duality. One quick thought on culture. Can you sell culture? My belief is not..people have to experience culture. How is your current recruiting system set up to allow prospects to experience your culture before joining?

What makes a good manager or leader? Contrary to most beliefs, problem solving and being liked are not the most important attributes of a branch manager and do not factor in highly when an agent considers joining or leaving a company.  Those are just expected. What real estate agents want is a business coach and leader, not a manager. Answers to transactional questions can be found from any leader…a good business coach as a manager is rare. Loyalty lasts with agents only as long as they are receiving value from their leader. Agents spend thousands of dollars every year for coaching and training so that they can grow their business. Are you that person? If you were would they be leaving? Agents have a desire to learn and grow in their business. Your greatest value is as a coach, not a manager that is liked and fixes problems.

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Keep it simple, keep your agents

Use your leadership and coaching abilities to be a constant valuable business proposition to your agents and take them to the next level.  If the environment is inspiring and you are injecting value into your agents business consistently, your retention problems will go away and you will discover its not about the splits.  A funny thing will also start to happen…more agents will start to join you.

Your agents will always be offered a better deal.  You have no control over this.  What you do have control over is your personal commitment to growth…expanding your knowledge.  Don’t let your agents pass you up…otherwise they will keep leaving.

Need more help with recruiting and retention? Start Here

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  1. Oh great this is really great service so far!


  2. Gerardo
    3 years ago

    This article NAILED IT! Thanks Jon!


    • Jon Cheplak
      2 years ago

      Indeed and was written over 9 years ago..Stands the test of time

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