For Natasha O’Connor, the managing broker for @properties’ Glenview office, the most important aspect of managing a brokerage is providing agents the tools they need to succeed in the field. This includes the MLS, marketing support and apps. Many brokerages now also offer their own apps – in our January Agent Insider survey issue, almost 50 percent of respondents said they use a brokerage app – which is an option managing brokers will need to weigh as technology offerings evolve.
“You have to make sure that you are providing the most comprehensive and relevant tools for your agents,” O’Connor said. “That will, in turn, allow them to do their best work and to grow their businesses.”
For Allen-Tiernan, that means viewing her subordinates as clientele and doing what she can to make sure business is conducted smoothly.
“I am in the business to help people, and I always have been,” she said. “My clientele has just changed, from buyers and sellers to an elite group of Gold Coast brokers. The level of service that is expected from 50 top agents is not much different from the level of service that was expected for my clients. Now, I have the support of an amazing and bright staff of 30-plus individuals. But their clients have now become mine, because when my brokers succeed, I succeed.”
Some agents may be wary of how leads are split and managed between selling managers and their agents; they may worry that managing brokers will save the best leads for themselves.
Managing brokers who successfully strike the balance recruiting and then retaining the right people often don’t have time to keep up with selling. They have staff goals, office goals, and the nuts and bolts of running a business to concern themselves with. Depending on the company, culture will be developed through resources, training, staff initiatives and incentives, but there’s another element to building agent loyalty that’s impossible to quantify. When that element is missing, agents’ assessment of the value they’re getting from their brokerage is fairly straightforward.
Inspiring lasting loyalty and happiness in a team is a long-term, piecemeal process: meeting and remembering family members; keeping track of birthdays; rewarding goals that are hit or exceeded; handling tech issues or resource need promptly; and responding to requests and questions in a timely manner. It all boils down to demonstrating one’s investment in one’s people.
The Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers also found in its 2014 survey that 58 percent of its managing broker respondents are affiliated with an independent, non-franchised office, while 25.4 percent were affiliated with an independent, franchised office.
Finding the right company in which to grow one’s career is an important step. Real estate agents are infamous for a tendency to move around from brokerage to brokerage, but agents who want to hone their skills before taking on the extra responsibility of managing an office will benefit from staying to work their way up through one company.
Riberto began her career with Coldwell Banker, then spent two years with a small, family-owned business before returning to Coldwell Banker and stepping into her current role.
“Small business models and big companies both have their advantages, but with the national brand recognition, customers walk in knowing exactly what to expect,” she said. “When I was with the small, family-owned company, I had to spend a lot of time explaining to customers who I worked for and how that benefited them. When I came back to Coldwell Banker, they understood and consumers really trusted that brand.”
The opportunity to build up leadership skills without jumping straight into a leadership role is a rare one, but one that offers significant advantage to would-be managing brokers. It’s a smart move for anyone seeking to make the transition into management in a more gradual manner.
O’Connor started as an assistant manager at Baird & Warner, a role that helped her attain her current position. “I was able to work on all the aspects of the business, but while being supervised,” she said. “I felt like I had a couple of years of being mentored. I covered every aspect, whether it was on the corporate side, coaching, training or mentoring myself. I’ve used all of that in my current role. You get more involved in all aspects of the business, and see more of what goes on with the other side from the company level.”