Reputation, Motivation and Education: What Are Managing Brokers Actually Managing?

by Brian Block, AG Beat

Today is my first day as the new managing broker of one of our brokerage offices. For six years, I’ve been a real estate agent. A year ago, I got my broker’s license. Since New Year’s, I’ve been “training” to be a managing broker. It’s exciting – I’m excited. It’s the beginning of a new journey in real estate.

Most of our managing brokers continue to sell real estate. I will do the same. However, with rank comes responsibility – instead of just dealing with problems that arise in my own transactions, I’ll be dealing with everyone else’s, too. In a busy office of 40 agents, this will no doubt keep me very busy.

What Do Managers Manage?

Real estate is different from just about every other industry. Agents are all independent contractors – whether they act like it or not, they all are running their own businesses: Me, Inc. Thus, apart from making sure that agents do not run afoul of the law, the Realtor Code of Ethics or various company policies, there is very little control that a managing broker actually has over the agents in his or her office.

Here is What We Manage

Reputation – an agent’s and a company’s reputation are the most important assets in real estate. Mess up and forever tarnish your image in the eyes of the public. One agent screws up and it can (rightly or wrongly) diminish the reputation of the entire office forever.

Motivation – a managing broker’s job entails keeping the agents in their office motivated. Whether the market is good, bad or otherwise, it’s the manager’s job to keep the agents focused on their goals. Agents who don’t have their goals in writing should meet with their managing broker to discuss this. A managing broker must be a cheerleader for the office and their agents.

Education – one of the largest roles any broker can fulfill is to educate the agents in the office about the newest developments in the market, the laws, the policies of the MLS, etc. Moreover, making sure that brand new agents are up to speed about the ins and outs of real estate is crucial to the success of the office. This is why we have a mentoring program in place.

Ethics/Law – more than anything else, a broker is responsible (and liable) for ensuring that agents do not do anything unethical or illegal. I’m fairly certain that my background as an attorney and having practiced real estate law helped in my selection to be a managing broker.

Unlike traditional managers in the corporate world, managing brokers do not tell their agents what to do. We may advise on how to do it. We’re there to answer questions and help an agent discover a solution.

Perhaps I Need a Couch in My Office

In training to become a managing broker, my mentor explained that the most important attribute of a manager is the ability to listen. Listen to what an agent says – listen intently. And then ask a question – “Is that it? Is there anything else you want to tell me?” Then, wait and listen some more. According to him, agents rarely, if ever, tell the full story. You need to listen, listen, listen and listen some more.

We all repeat the maxim that “Buyers are liars. And sellers are too.” Now, before I go accusing any agents of this character trait during my first day on the job, let me just say that I’ll wait and listen. Hmmm…how does that make you feel?

Some New Things to Focus Upon

As an agent, my focus has always been on how to get more prospects, how to sell more homes, how to help my clients and how to solve their problems. Since I’m still selling, these priorities will still remain.

However, there will be some new things to focus my energies on as a manager. Yet the same skill sets will be applied. As a broker, the priority shifts to recruiting new agents for the office, helping agents focus on and exceed their goals, making sure that the office is profitable and maintaining an esprit de corps within the office.

Brian Block practiced law until he heard every single attorney joke and decided becoming a real estate broker was a more fun way to earn a living. Proud of the plaques and diplomas adorning his office wall, he’s even more proud of his marriage to a beautiful and talented ballroom dance teacher and fellow entrepreneur. Every day, you can find Brian doing what he does best – advising Northern Virginia homebuyers and sellers.


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