To recruit good agents, Monte Mohr tried engaging his managers and hiring third-party services before taking it on himself. “I do not believe anyone can be as effective as the leader of the pack calling other agents and having a conversation to see if they might be a good fit,” says Mohr, broker/owner, Realty ONE Group Music City in Nashville.
After 37 years in the business, Mohr was able to change his mindset from generating business to recruiting agents and helping them achieve their goals. “There’s nothing more important for a broker than to recruit agents into their company,” says Mohr, who grew his company from 17 to 200-plus agents in less than three years. “Retention is important, culture is important, but with more agents, you have more business coming in.”
Bob Bronswick, managing partner, Realty ONE Group in Lone Tree, Colorado, agrees with that do-it-yourself approach to recruiting. He personally recruited 37 agents in 90 days for his firm, which now has about 225 agents in two Denver-area offices. “I’m old school,” he says “[Real estate] recruiting and retention have always been a passion for me, and I think they are the two major drivers of our industry.”
Both brokers have tried other approaches, such as engaging phone, email or mail service firms, without as much success. Mohr says the main issues are cost and commitment. “I hired someone to make calls for me, but couldn’t pay enough to keep her,” he says. “As for managers, I don’t think they have enough skin in the game.”
Bronswick adds that agents get tired of being flooded with text messages and email campaigns. “When I was an agent, I respected a company owner who would take the time to call and then meet with me.”
Best practices for brokers
For brokers, there’s no better way to recruit or retain agents than making personal phone calls, says Mohr. “Don’t be afraid to pick up the telephone,” he says. “It’s easier to send a text message, but the chances of getting an appointment are higher with a call.”
Mohr says his goal is to have five meaningful conversations a day with new people or current agents. He has a growing list of agents in the Nashville market who have listened to his podcasts, follow his newsletter or connect on social media. When he picks up the phone to call a prospect, he starts the conversation about a recent topic. “In that way, it’s a warm conversation, rather than a cold call,” he says. “You also need to be consistent and follow up [with] every one of those warm leads.”
Bronswick’s best practices for real estate recruiting include using a software system — BrokerMetrics — to find agents within a certain radius of his office. He also cultivates agent “cheerleaders” who are out in the field every day. “When we first opened, they helped us get some really good people on board,” he says.
Once Bronswick has made contact, he asks questions and focuses on the agent’s situation, asking questions like, “What is the perfect environment, the perfect culture or the perfect platform for you?” As a broker, you have to remember, it’s all about them, not about you, he adds. He notes that real estate recruiting is all about solving problems.
If there is an interest, Bronswick takes time to explain his transaction-based brokerage model. “I know it takes time to develop a relationship, so I explain our philosophy and, as well as the financial side,” he says. “It can be a long courtship process, getting someone to move to your company.”
Both Bronswick and Mohr look for mid-level agents doing 10 to 40 deals a year, rather than superstars. “That gives you a larger pond when you go fishing,” Bronswick says. “It’s also easier to get in front of someone who’s not a top producer.”
As for retention, there’s no substitute for a high-touch, high-tech approach, says Bronswick. Every day he sends out about 10 text messages to his agents to let them know he’s thinking about them. “When they have a closing or a big deal, I reach out and congratulate them,” he adds. “During the pandemic, we brought in coffee caterers and food trucks to our parking lot, so we could all get together while distancing correctly. That way they don’t feel like they are alone on an island.”
Investing in a nice office environment can also help retention, says Mohr. “We have a beautiful facility with lots of space and a rooftop entertainment area,” he says. “It’s a great setting for meetings, training and social events, as well as a workspace.”
Show your commitment
Regardless of tactics, a broker needs to show a personal commitment to the agent to succeed in real estate recruiting and retention, says Mohr. “I don’t think this is something you can delegate,” he adds. “You have to show your heart, along with your dedication to excellence.”