By Real Estate Recruiting Coach Judy LaDeur
I have had several requests to write an article about how to protect yourself against a raid from your competitors. Interestingly enough, my research has shown that if you consistently show your agents that they are valued and appreciated on a regular basis, and they know that they, and their needs, are your priority — you probably don’t have much to worry about. Let’s examine why an office becomes vulnerable.
Change is the #1 reason for vulnerability. When you implement change, there are a certain number of agents who will be unhappy with the change, and therefore you could lose a few. In addition, if you lose a good agent, you can easily lose another one in the next 10 days. If you lose 2-3 agents in a few weeks, you could be in trouble. Why? The grass always looks greener on the other side… (But most agents forget that it is just as tough to mow!) You are most vulnerable if you lose an emotional agent. They usually leave if they are hurt or angry. Unfortunately, they will want their friends to follow them. You must always take proactive steps when an emotional agent leaves. You should have a one-on-one meeting with the agent who is leaving. If you can not correct the problem, or convince them to stay, let them know that they are always welcome if they want to return. Keep it businesslike and professional. Do not get angry with them. You would not believe some of the stories that I hear, such as the managers who threw the agents stuff into the parking lot while demanding that they leave in front of their peers.
Next, have one-on-one meetings with their close friends, and get their feedback as to why the agent left. Ask how you can create a more favorable environment for the agents who are there. If the agent who left insists on calling your other agents, confront the agent who left. Let them know that you were supportive of their decision to leave but you are hurt that they would intentionally try to harm or disrupt your office. Emotional agents usually back off if confronted.
Also, you need to remember that about 70% of all agents are emotional in nature, so they make emotional decisions. For Example: If you do something that they feel hurts them emotionally or betrays their trust, you can lose them. You can also lose them by not giving them the recognition they feel they deserve. The bottom line is this: If they are hurt, they might leave. The good news is that they usually do not leave for money. They will say it is for more money, but that is rarely the case. Most agents do not worry about the money. They know that if they are happy, the money will be there. Here are a few tips:
With regard to change: It would be impossible to implement a change and have everyone happy with that change. When implementing change, try to involve your agents whenever possible.
Location: If you are changing locations, ask a few of your agents to help you locate a new location, then go out with them to scout out the options. Let your agents sell the group on the new location. You could also set up a committee to determine the new colors for the office and ideas for office design.
Compensation: If you are changing compensation, or implementing a new fee, try to time that change with the implementation of a new service. Such as: We are implementing a transaction fee of (dollar amount) but you will no longer be charged for (service). You can also “grandfather” the existing agents when you are changing the compensation. Or, you can grandfather all agents whose production is above a certain amount. You could say, “If you are generating GCC of $90,000.00, you will be grandfathered with regard to the new changes.” You can also grandfather agents who have been with the company a long time. For example, you can say, “If you have been with our firm for 10 years, or your production is (dollar amount), you will not be subject to the new changes.” Keep in mind that emotional agents will leave, not because of the money, but because they are hurt that after so many years, or at their level of production, that you would take money out of their pocket.
Management: A management change is also risky. Whenever you change managers, you should consider the personality of the manager that is being replaced. If the manager that is being replaced was very friendly, emotional and well liked by the agents, you could be vulnerable if you put a logical manager in that office. Better to use an interim manager, or yourself, while they go through their mourning period over the loss of a manager they liked. If you can keep the personality the same, that’s the best option.
My research has shown that 70% of agents are emotional in nature. What that means is that they need to feel appreciated, they need to like you, and also believe that you like them. The competition is always “courting” the good agents. They enjoy the attention, but they like you best. If you suddenly get angry at them for talking to the competitor, you could lose them. When I knew that my agents were going to lunch with the competition, I would always say, “If you are not getting at least one call, letter or invitation each week from my competitors, then you need to look at your production. The best agents are always being courted!” I would then ask them where they were going to lunch. If it was not an expensive place, I would say, “Are you kidding? You are one of my best agents! Call them back and tell them to meet you at (fine restaurant name). Order something expensive! You’re worth it.” I knew that if I worried about them going to lunch, or became defensive or angry, I was far more likely to lose them.
Bottom Line: I have discovered over the years that what it takes to get them is what it takes to keep them. They just want to be appreciated and know that you care about them, and their success.
Start today by sending three notes a week to your agents. Think of something nice to say about them and let them know who much you appreciate them. If you always practice retention, the competition will have a tough time raiding your office.
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