In the RealTrends exclusive study, “Secrets of top-growth real estate brokerage firms,” we examined the performance of the largest 731 brokerage companies from the years 2011 to 2020 in four categories: growth in agent population, closed transactions sides, closed sales volume and per-agent productivity.
We then reached out to brokerage leaders of the highest-performing companies, a total of 107 firms, as to what enabled them to achieve these outstanding results.
We received responses from over 20 companies. When asked about what strategies, tactics, programs or tools they have used to recruit and retain effectively and how they boosted productivity, there are more similarities than differences.
- Each reported that they had a well-developed plan.
- Each involved the active personal involvement of the owner/leader.
- Each said that current agents were a top source for bringing new people on board.
None mentioned technology as a driver of recruitment or productivity. Rather, from their comments, having a useful tech platform is more ‘table stakes.’ Meaning, you must have a reasonable tech offering, but it is not, at this time, a driver of the metrics of growth in the brokerage business. So, what are these meaningful strategies in which top-growth firms excel?
People still matter
In a 2006 study by RealTrends, called People Still Matter, there were seven attributes of the top- performing companies at that time. Those seven attributes were vision, transparency, communications, accountability, empowerment, discipline and community.
Each of these were cited by nearly 170 top-performing sales professionals from the 15 best- performing companies — at that time — as being the most important attributes attracted them to their respective brokerage companies.
It is our opinion that those seven attributes are still relevant today.
What successful firms do to outperform their peers
Culture. It is almost universally agreed upon by these 20 companies that building and maintaining a strong culture within their own company is the most important attribute in attracting new agents and retaining existing agents.
Training. In-house training, mentoring programs, skills development and other such educational programs were all mentioned by brokerage leader respondents as being hugely important in the retention of existing agents but also in creating an attractive environment for new agents.
In almost every case, these top-performing companies shared that in-house training, both for new and experienced agents, is of paramount importance to the building of culture, the growing of agent productivity and establishing the attractiveness of their firm to other agents.
Agent retention. As several of these companies told us, it is vitally important that retention is the most important development for a successful brokerage company. Further, they mentioned that training, along with other support services, would create an environment that became attractive not only to those with your company, but make your company attractive to those who are outside your company.
Technology. It is interesting to note that of the 20 companies that responded — and our general knowledge of the top 107 top-performing brokerages over the last 10 years — technology was not only not mentioned as contributing hugely to their growth and success, but our general knowledge and looking at the variety of brokers who were ranked among these top performing companies, very few had prominent technology offerings.
Recruiting. In terms of recruiting, the great majority of the 20 firms who responded to our inquiries said that their success in recruiting came from several sources.
Overall, leaders of these 20 companies reported that they spend an average of 20% of their weekly time on recruiting new people to their firms. Further, those who have management teams engaged in recruiting practices report that these teams are expected to focus 20% or more of their time on recruiting activities. Also, their compensation and continued employment is tied to the performance of the ability to recruit new talent to the brokerage company.
Creating a strong culture of support of your existing agents enable them to easily recommend your firm to agents from other firms. That is a very important source of new talent for your company. Also, these firms reported that leadership, whether the owner of the company or the managers, were engaged in planned, consistent recruiting activities.
Leadership’s focus on people. What we found among the 20 companies who responded was that the leadership team’s attention was focused mostly on people issues. The brokers surveyed said that the care and development of the people who are with their companies took on primary importance.
Virtually every one of these companies said that successful recruiting and improvements in productivity began from that intense focus on their own people first.
Focus on key areas
In conclusion, RealTrends finds that the reason certain brokerage company’s outperform most of their peers in the key growth areas comes down to paying attention to people issues and not peripheral issues.
Just as in our 2006 study, People Still Matter, soft issues, such as building a sense of community, providing vision and leadership, strong communications and empowerment are those attributes that will matter the most.