Want to keep your top agents? Work on your relationships
In a down market, the grass might look greener elsewhere. But if you regularly — and genuinely — connect with your agents, they'll have a reason to stay.
- Retention is a long-term strategy. Day to day, brokerage and team leaders should focus on connection and relationship building.
- If conversations with agents aren’t happening naturally, schedule them.
- Supported agents are generally happy agents. “When someone is thinking about leaving, it’s never about their split."
It's natural that a shifting market may have some real estate agents wondering if the grass might be greener elsewhere. Would a team with a bigger marketing budget be a better fit? Might a move to a luxury broker be beneficial? Does it make sense to get out of real estate altogether?
Meanwhile, brokers and team leaders are scrambling to ensure their best agents don't jump ship. Retention's the name of the game. And, according to industry veterans, it's best viewed as a long-term strategy.
"We don't talk about recruiting and retention," says Chris Speicher, head of the Speicher Group, doing business in the Mid-Atlantic and Hawaii. "We focus on attraction and connection. We're dedicated to connecting with each of our agents on a personal level and understanding their 'why.' That's not something you can do once. These are ongoing conversations."
Authentic, human connections matter, says Kelly White, executive vice president of Talent at T3 Sixty. "I know it can seem overwhelming when you're talking about teams of 50, 60 or 100 agents, but it's important work. Leaders need to know what's going on in their agents' business and personal lives."
And team members need feedback. "Agents need to feel cared about and appreciated. If they're doing great, they need to be told they're doing great. If they're not producing, you need to ask them how you can better support them. It's simple stuff," said White. (Note: Real Estate News and T3 Sixty share a founder, Stefan Swanepoel.)
White gave the example of the recent ice storms that hit Texas, where she lives. "Two of my bosses got on the phone to check on me and ask how I was doing. It may seem like a little thing, but it showed they care about me — both as a person and a team member."
Regular one-on-one conversations are ideal. If you have a small brokerage or team, that may happen naturally over coffee or lunch. If you're running a larger team, or if your team works remotely, you're probably going to have to be more intentional about connecting.
Set up lunches or coffee dates with small groups of agents. Get these meetings on your calendar and make them a priority. When you meet, plan a date three or four months out when you'll gather again. If you're running a really large brokerage, you may have to depend upon managers to do some of the connecting for you.
Celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries are little things that can inspire loyalty. Similarly, a note of congratulations or condolence can make an agent feel cared about on a personal level.
Jon-David Lenard, leader of the Lenard Team based in the Long Island, N.Y., area, agrees relationships are the key to retention. "It starts with me," he says. "If you're a team leader and you're locked away in your office all day every day, you're not leading."
"When someone is thinking about leaving, it's never about their split," he says. But given the cooler market and agent concerns about having enough business, now is the time to double-down on relationships with agents and help them recognize the value you provide, beyond commission splits.
"Show them you care. Tell them how you're going to help them achieve their goals and how they play into the overall goals of the team. And remember: those things have to be in balance."