How to Retain Your Best Agents

And Attract New OnesGood Job

By Real Estate Recruiting Coach Judy LaDeur

The top two reasons people leave their jobs is NOT money.  In fact, the two reasons people cite the most are lack of recognition and poor working environment. Is it time to do a “checkup” of how your company fares?

Negative agents can scare off every customer they speak with for good, which means that how your agents feel about the company has a direct impact on your profitability.

  • 65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year.
  • 9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they’re around positive people.

There is a great quote in the book: Open Your Big, Bold, Beautiful Mouth by Alphonso Belin and A.J. Polizzi. “The highest achievable level of service comes from the heart, so the company that reached its people’s hearts will provide the very best service. “

The Keys to Retaining Your Best People

Having a good time is the best motivator there is.  When people feel good about a company, they produce more.

In a recent study of more than 1,500 employees in scores of work settings by Dr. Gerald H. Graham, professor of management at Wichita State University, the most powerful motivator was personalized, instant recognition from their managers.  “Managers have found,” Graham adds, “that simply asking for employee involvement is motivational in itself.”

Graham’s study determined the top motivating techniques:

1. The manager/ owner personally congratulates those who do a good job.

2.  The manager/owner writes personal notes about good performances.

3.  The organization used performance as the basis for promotion.

4.  The manager /owner holds morale-building meetings to celebrate successes.

Here a few great ideas from other industry leaders and some things you could try in your organization as well:

  1. When employees at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, California, hit their goals, they ring a large brass bell.  Why not put a bell in the office and let the agents ring it when they get a listing or sale?
  1. The Pinellas County, FL public school administrative offices have designated a small area where employees can drop off clothing for dry cleaning in the morning.  A local dry cleaner picks it up and returns it by the end of the workday.  Many real estate offices offer this service to their agents as well. It does not cost you anything but offers a great service to busy agents.
  1. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics said, “Every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’  If you can do that, you’ll be a success not only in business but in life as well.” She was known for the way she made people feel. Did you know that when she was talking to people, she kept eye contact with them the entire time, even though people around her were always trying to get her attention?   Give your undivided attention to your agents when you are speaking to one another.  No distractions, no excuses. It’s not only a great way to make them feel important enough to pay attention – it’s a great example to set as a standard for communication.
  1. People today are looking for much more than a pay-check.  They want to be treated like human beings.  That may sound obvious, but a lot of employers still don’t get it. During the busiest times of the year, executives at the Cigna Group, personally push coffee carts around the office, serving drinks and refreshments to their frontline partners.  As they serve, the executives coach and encourage their colleagues as well as hear about real consumer issues from those who know customer concerns the best.  Maybe make this a practice once a month in your office, or host a round-table breakfast just to catch up?
  1. Herb Kelleher, CEO and co-founder of Southwest Airlines, has discovered that by becoming personally involved in the workplace, and in the jobs that his employees do, he can unleash a tremendous amount of energy among his workers.  For example, Kelleher often helps flight attendants serve beverages to customers when he flies on his airline.  Ask around your office, speak to every one of your agents.  A simple, “Is there anything I can help you with today?” can mean a lot.
  1. At Hewitt Associates, new employees are made to feel special. “I joined the firm about six months ago as a writer/consultant in New Jersey,” said a new-hire “I was surprised at the level of detail that had gone into the preparation for my arrival.  One of the more experienced writers left a welcome note on my desk, along with a “survival kit” (including a candy bar) …and everybody came by my office to personally welcome me to the team.  For the first two weeks or so, every day somebody made a point to stop by and ask me to lunch.”  What Type of reception do your new agents get when they join?

Some great “non-cash” ways to show you care

  • Call an agent into your office just to thank him or her; don’t discuss any other issue.
  • Post a thank-you note on the agent’s phone.
  • Volunteer to do an agent’s least desirable work task for a day.
  • Have the President of the company or the regional manager call an agent to thank him or her for a job well done.
  • Have someone wash the agents’ cars in the parking lot during lunch.
  • Carry a supply of your cards with you and as you ‘catch people doing something right,’ immediately write ‘thanks,’ ‘good job,’ ‘keep it up’ and what they specifically did in two to three words.  Put the person’s name on the card and sign it.
  • Have lunch or coffee with a group of agents that you don’t normally see.

In the book, The Leadership Pill, Blanchard and Muchnick explain profit this way:

“Profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for people.”  Remember this, that your agents ARE your customers.  Going the extra mile to make them feel appreciated and respected will not only ensure that they remain loyal to your organization long term, but your culture for caring will resonate with other like-minded agents throughout your market, making it easier for you to recruit top producers who might not be getting the recognition they need elsewhere.

COACHING TIP OF THE WEEK:  Put at least ONE of these strategies in place

There are lots of ideas here.  Take some time this week to determine which one or more of these ideas would work for your family of agents. Then don’t delay! Put them in place for the next three months and see what takes off.  If you’ve got a management team in place, make this topic a priority and have everyone come up with additional ways you can make your agents feel appreciated, then make them a daily, weekly, or monthly practice.

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