Roseann Schumacher was a relatively new agent when she discovered that one of her two managing brokers/partners would be leaving. After she had been at Century 21 Langos & Christian for just five years, one of the co-founders wanted to retire, and wanted Schumacher to take his place as part owner.
Why would this experienced managing broker pick Schumacher to succeed him? He not only recognized her drive and her willingness to work hard, but also her love of mentoring new agents and creating new ways to do things. For the early ‘90s, Schumacher was quite innovative, taking the initiative to create new systems herself for her whole office when agents were having trouble.
“I was known as the ‘systems girl,’” she says. “I started to put things together for myself first – an agent knows what an agent needs. Then, people started borrowing my systems.”
This quickly turned from agents merely borrowing her systems to Schumacher ushering in new agents and mentoring them, teaching them her systems and helping them in any way she could. She listened to what these agents needed, and what they might struggle with – remembering everything necessary for a listing appointment or closing – and Schumacher created a system to help them. For example, for listing appointments, Schumacher created checklists for agents to make sure they had everything they need. Then, support staff would write anything the agent might have missed at the end of the form, so the agent could be prepared and get what was missing.
The co-owners of the brokerage, Al Langos and Robert Christian, saw that she was a good trainer – and that she was training agents without being asked to – and first encouraged her to keep creating systems for the office to help everyone, including herself. When Langos decided to retire, he and Christian felt that Schumacher already did so much of what a managing broker does – help agents make the best business decisions and help them work to their full potential, making them the best that they can be. By 1995, when Christian had retired, Schumacher was the owner of Century 21 Langos & Christian.
Real estate was changing rapidly at the time – the boom years were about to happen – and Century 21 needed managing brokers who could put the company on solid financial ground, build the company and train agents effectively. Schumacher credits her former years as a teacher for her natural abilities when it comes to teaching, mentoring, problem-solving and creating systems, which have all helped her become an effective manager.
“Most older brokers don’t want to be bothered with changes and dealing with those changes,” Schumacher says. “That’s really how this whole thing evolved. Business was changing quickly, technology was coming into play more and more, and more deals were being done, so the systems needed to change. I took control of that, and that’s how I got to where I am today.”
Chuck Goro, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage vice president and branch manager of the Lincoln Park Plaza office, is another “superstar” managing broker – he has been a managing broker for more than 30 years, and his office was once the highest-grossing office in Cook County; it has since been among the top 10 highest-grossing offices in Chicago.
“I made a decision a long time ago to be the type of manager that brokers need, so I quit selling,” he says. “I am an agent-centric manager, I believe that the agents’ sphere of influence will create our present and future business. I support the agent to assist their clients and constantly update our services so that our client support remains an industry best.”
According to a 2011 Chicago Agent survey, 57 percent of agents were very satisfied with their managing broker, and in our “Truth About Agents” issue earlier this year, 90 percent of agents were not considering changing brokerages. Although several factors go into making a decision to switch brokerages, a good managing broker is a very strong factor.
In addition, our 2011 survey showed 68 percent believe that the managing broker is one of the most important factors to consider when switching brokerages. This is the person agents should feel comfortable going to with any challenge, or even celebratory situations, including legal advice, commissions and sales. This is the person who, no matter how many agents are in his or her office, will make every single agent feel like his or her single focus.
But this is something Schumacher places great value on, and does with ease: she focuses on her agents, listens to them, gets to know each of her agents as an individual and then tailors her management style to what each agent needs.
“You need to figure out how to approach each agent,” Schumacher says. “For example, I need to limit the amount of time I spend talking to detailed people, because I tend to overwhelm them if I talk a lot. It is all about knowing your own weaknesses and strengths so that you know how to approach people. You cannot talk the same way to two different agents, because each person is unique.”