A common thought among brokers revolves around the idea that if your gross commission income or office size is not increasing, you’re not successfully growing your brokerage.
However, the tactical approach of regular check-ins and focusing on retention as a cornerstone of fortifying your real estate agent ranks is often underestimated or overlooked.
While brokers frequently prioritize sophisticated recruitment tactics and having the best technology stack, it’s vital to revisit the fundamental elements of human interaction and organizational retention underpinning a successful brokerage.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average tenure of an agent with a brokerage is six years. If your brokerage is not meeting or exceeding that number, it’s time to reconsider your retention strategy.
The real estate market is saturated with brokerages offering almost identical commission structures, technical support and growth opportunities. These have become the basic requirements for attracting agents, but they hardly suffice for retaining them.
High-performing agents seek brokerages that match their energy and, most importantly, office culture — one where they feel professionally nurtured and personally valued.
The psychology behind regular check-ins
The need for autonomy and affiliation
Top-producing agents are often entrepreneurial spirits who value their autonomy; however, they also understand the benefits of being part of a well-aligned team. Regular check-ins serve by opening up conversations about how agents can best utilize brokerage resources while still fostering a collaborative atmosphere.
During these meetings, you can explore how agents might better utilize the brokerage’s resources — be it marketing support, technology tools or training modules — to maximize their independent initiatives. Simultaneously, you can discuss team projects or communal goals, fostering a sense of shared responsibility and belonging.
Striking this balance satisfies the agent’s need for self-direction and creates a collaborative culture that amplifies collective success.
Anticipating burnout: The subtle warning signs
Peaks of high earnings and troughs of scrambling for new deals define real estate. This cyclical nature can take a significant emotional toll on agents, making burnout a real and present danger.
During the first half of this year alone, more than 60,000 agents exited the real estate industry, according to NAR data. Regular check-ins act as an early-warning system, offering brokers a window into the emotional well-being of their agents.
Look for subtle indicators like decreased enthusiasm, increased absenteeism or a decline in proactive communications, as these could be the first signs of impending burnout. By identifying signals early, brokers can proactively offer solutions like workshops, additional training or even a reallocation of leads to reduce pressure.
Quantifiable impact on business metrics
Decrease in turnover costs
When discussing turnover costs, most brokers consider immediate expenses, such as recruitment advertising and training resources. However, the costs are much more extensive when considering elements like lost client relationships, disrupted team dynamics and even the potential reputation damage from high agent turnover.
Regular check-ins are a simple, effective way to reduce churn. By building stronger relationships and understanding agent needs, you’re more likely to retain agents for extended periods and lessen the sunk costs of getting new agents up to speed.
To assess agent performance, brokerages often lean heavily on KPIs like closed sales, listing turnover and client conversion rates. While these are undeniably crucial for day-to-day tracking, regular check-ins offer a more nuanced approach to performance assessment.
They can shed light on subtler indicators like client satisfaction levels, agent responsiveness or even negotiation skills, which often get overshadowed by flashier numbers.
For example, if an agent’s listing turnover rate is high but the client satisfaction scores are low, a regular check-in becomes the ideal platform to address this disconnect.
It could indicate that the agent excels at closing deals but may need to improve client communications or after-sale service. These insights not only enhance individual agent performance but also contribute to the brokerage’s overall reputation and client retention rate.
Strategic implementation of check-ins
Leveraging technology: the data-driven approach
With advancements in analytics software, brokerages are now better equipped to make their check-ins more effective and timely. Previously, you were very much limited to tracking through Excel or recruiting and retention across separate channels.
Now, technology platforms can automatically flag agents that warrant a check-in, such as those with a sudden decline in key performance metrics or a protracted period of inactivity. Utilizing technology that automates these simple processes can be the difference between an agent staying or leaving.
CRM use is another area that can help monitor agent engagement, but it requires your agents to use it. Your office managers can help encourage CRM use through the “60 capacity rule,” coined by Dr. Ben Spears of the “Brokerprenuer” podcast: “Help them find that one thing that matches want to prospect and then help them get to 60% capacity of whatever that thing is. Once you do that, they are hooked and they come back to you and say, ‘What else should I do?’”
The ability for your brokerage to streamline and automate retention depends entirely on having reliable data on your agent’s activity.
Customization over generalization: The personal touch
The art of effective check-ins lies in their adaptability. Agents are not monolithic entities; they differ in career stage, client demographics and sensitivity to market fluctuations. For a newer agent, discussions may focus more on training and basic sales techniques.
For veterans, topics could range from advanced client retention strategies to building their own team. Recognizing and adapting to these individual nuances will make your check-ins more engaging and actionable, providing value-added guidance that agents can immediately apply.
The give and take of feedback: A two-way communication channel
It’s important to remember that check-ins should be a dialogue, not a monologue. Most brokerages consider these sessions an opportunity to offer feedback to agents, but what about reversing the lens?
Encouraging agents to voice their opinions and suggestions about the brokerage’s operations and policies can offer invaluable insights. Such open lines of communication can help identify gaps in current systems, suggest new training modules or even inform significant strategic shifts.
Agent retention is a nuanced game requiring a multifaceted approach. While technology and commission splits are critical, always appreciate the power of well-executed and thoughtful regular check-ins.
They testify to your brokerage’s commitment to agent development and are essential to cultivating a culture of inclusivity, transparency and shared growth.
Jim Turner is the founder and CEO of Brokerkit, the leading agent recruitment CRM for real estate brokers.