Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Agents Decoded: Who needs a coach, and how do you pick one?  

Anyone can benefit from coaching — even experienced pros — if you find the right fit. Veteran agent Jay Thompson offers tips on how to choose a great coach.

February 15, 2023
5 minutes

The direction of your business depends on decisions you make every day. Agents Decoded can help you by presenting the perspectives of seasoned pros who have been there, made mistakes, and found success.

Venture into any discussion with real estate agents and, in short order, you'll come across the subject of coaching:

"I'm a new agent and thinking about getting a coach. Where do I start?"

"I'm a grizzled veteran agent. Why would I need a coach?"

"Holy smokes, coaching is expensive."

"My coach _____." (Insert: sucks, is amazing, exploded my business, provided no ROI, is worth their weight in gold.)

Who needs a coach?

In theory, anyone can benefit from a coach. If you are a new-ish agent, you may be overwhelmed, feel clueless or wonder if you made the right decision to endure licensing classes and embark on a career in real estate. If you're that grizzled veteran with hundreds of transactions under your belt, you may think no one can tell you anything that would help your business. 

But even those at the top of their game employ coaches. Look no further than professional sports. The Kansas City Chiefs, recent Super Bowl winners, have 21 coaches on their staff. (Keep in mind there are only 11 players on the field at any given moment.)

Professional golfers have a swing coach. Some have a putting coach and even a "life coach."

If a world-class athlete pulling in millions of dollars a season utilizes coaching, don't you think you could benefit too?

What are the benefits of coaching?

You don't need to run faster or throw farther, so what can coaching do for a real estate agent?

Plenty. It depends on what you need. A good real estate coach can help you:

  • Set up business plans and processes 

  • Expand your lead generation tools, strategy and tactics

  • Set (and achieve) goals 

  • Help with time management 

  • Hold you accountable 

  • Increase your confidence 

  • Improve your work-life balance — and more. 

Given all that, why doesn't everyone have a coach? Some people don't understand what a coach does and how coaching works. Others believe they don't need a coach or think coaching doesn't work.

And of course, coaching is a commitment, in both time and money. Fees vary and can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand a month. Some coaches require a time-bound contract, some do not.

How do you pick a coach?

Googling "find a real estate coach" returns 109 million results. The results include individual coaches, coaching systems and countless "top coaches" lists. That is a lot of information to sift through, but it's a good place to start. Keep in mind that, like every agent, a coach is trying to sell their services and expertise to a potential client. This results in biased claims and plenty of sales-speak. 

Also like a buyer or seller trying to find an agent, trusted referrals can help you narrow down your list of potential coaches. Ask your broker for recommendations. Ask your agent friends who they coach with and how they feel about the return on their investment.

If you are thinking about one of the "mega-coaches" (say Tom Ferry, Brian Buffini or the like) understand that Ferry or Buffini won't directly coach you. They have multiple coaches who've been vetted and trained in their systems, and those are the people you'll be interacting with.

What to look for in a coach

One of the most important things in picking a coach is finding someone you connect with on a personal level. Yes, you need to like and trust your coach. You're going to be sharing important business and personal facts with them, and it's important to feel comfortable with them and their techniques and systems.

A good coach understands this and should be willing and able to explain how they work before you make a financial and contractual commitment. Don't expect free coaching sessions, as they have a business to run. But you should be able to get a consultation that will help you determine if a coach or system is a good fit for you. Ask about your options if you later determine they're not the right fit. 

A good coach will also be able to help you determine what type of coaching you need. Do you need tactical help? Better accountability? Systems for lead generation, business planning or growth? No coach is ideal for every scenario. Be wary of one who claims they are. They know what they specialize in and how they can help, and they should be more than willing to share that with you.

Many extremely successful agents employ coaches, some even multiple coaches. Anyone can benefit from the right coach for them, and it might be just the boost your business needs.

Jay Thompson is a former real estate agent, broker-owner and industry outreach director. He is currently an industry consultant and sits on several boards. The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

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