Cover story: Training for success—how brokerages provide great support for their agents

by Jason Porterfield

To maintain their real estate licenses, agents are required to complete continuing education — but these courses offer only part of what they need to succeed in the industry and at their individual brokerage. Brokerages can provide further support to both new and experienced agents with technology, educational resources, and direct instruction in either group or one-on-one sessions. Finding the right balance is an essential part of the brokerage’s continued growth — and it starts with an accommodating approach.

Drussy Hernandez, managing broker and director of compliance at Compass, says her company’s supportive culture and hands-on training help prepare agents to succeed. She makes herself available as a resource for agents who need help, and they can also call on their sales managers for guidance. The sales managers in every office play a key role in helping agents learn the basics of the business.

“The agents should never feel like they’re alone, that they’re not being supported, that they’re not being heard,” Hernandez says. “We want to make sure they are heard and we’re addressing their concerns and offering support when needed.”

Amy Harris, a managing broker at @properties, emphasizes the need to create a strong foundation of training and support that can help agents provide the best experience possible for their clients.

“There’s a lot of thought and care that goes into the training content for our brokers,” Harris says. “Everything, including our training, centers around our company’s core values which are the importance of relationships, improving innovation and striving for excellence. From our top-notch administrative and marketing assistance, to state-of-the-art tools to attending classes with our senior trainers, I will then work with my agents one-on-one.”

Also in this issue

Why ongoing training is necessary for agent success

Survey: What agents think about their brokerage’s training

Why millennials are buying more homes in suburbs than cities

Learning from experience

Over time, managing brokers often identify proven training methods that work best for their individual approaches to the real estate business. A system that gives positive results time after time isn’t going to require much tinkering. Putting together a solid education platform for agents can help both new recruits and experienced agents.

New agents joining @properties can expect to take the company’s Real Estate 101 course, says Harris. The class takes place over several weeks and lays the groundwork for the agent to become familiar with every aspect of a transaction. Experienced agents can get up to speed on the company’s way of doing business through an orientation course.

“Over time, the classes will get much more in-depth,” Harris says. “We offer a class for perfecting your listing presentation. If the agent has had a couple of sales and the testimonials are coming, we will work on prospecting and asking for referrals to stimulate lead generation. We focus heavily on the professional development of all agents here at @properties. I also arrange to have our outside experts come in for lunch-and-learns. This creates a good working relationship with our agents in addition to the broker learning more about the experts’ products and benefits.”

A team of experienced professionals who are dedicated to helping new agents reach their potential can be a tremendous asset to managing brokers. A dedicated training staff can provide answers to questions and offer helpful advice on how to conduct business.

“We don’t hire many agents new to the business,” says Jim Miller, executive vice president and managing broker at Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty. “Most people who join us are already experienced professionals. We have a dedicated team that is devoted entirely to helping agents who join us and who work with them as they get used to the systems and tools we use. They all have their specialties. One person focuses on marketing, one focuses on lead generation and so on. Agents know that they can direct any questions to them and get the feedback they need.”

Miller says his company does not hire many new agents, but that even the experienced professionals can learn new ways to do business through the brokerage’s Take Flight education program. The in-depth classes teach agents practices that can help them develop a high-performing real estate business.

“It covers lead generation, time management, database management and a myriad of other areas that will help an agent grow their business,” Miller says. “It’s all aimed at helping them become the best agents they can be. It’s a six-week course that meets for two hours every Wednesday. We’ve had tremendous response to it from our agents. It’s all very positive.”

A hands-on approach that enables agents to learn as they go can help them see what mistakes they’re making and get help correcting them, according to Hernandez. Group settings and one-on-one sessions can both be effective ways to introduce agents to new tools and practices. Agents can benefit from being in front of a computer and using the tools to accomplish the tasks being demonstrated.

“It’s very intense in terms of trying to get the agents to understand how to use it step-by-step,” Hernandez says. “We’ve done videos so they can see how to do technology step-by-step. We’ve done everything to make sure that the introduction of anything new is fully comprehended and something they can do on their own in the future. It’s learning by doing.”

Making the transition

Hernandez takes an active part in training agents through office visits, demonstrations and one-on-one meetings. Compass also has a designated group of staffers who go to each office. A calendar lets agents know when training will be held at their office so they can sign up for sessions. New recruits receive training right away.

“A new agent that comes to Compass has one-on-one sessions with our introductory team,” Hernandez says. “They’re called agent success managers. They sit with the agents and explain things, whatever they need to be guided through. The new agents will have to have their phones set up and their computers set up. All of that is handled by those agent success managers. They teach them how to use the basic tools.”

A well-established system is in place at @properties to help agents quickly establish themselves, Harris says. Agents are given access to the technology they will need early on and are encouraged to seek help when they need it.

“Our onboarding is seamless, informative and hands-on,” Harris says. “Once a broker is transitioned into @properties, I immediately schedule a follow-up meeting where I help our agent navigate our tools, ensure all network and communication connections are working properly and register the agent for the classes that are desired. I encourage every broker to sign up for classes right away.”

Ongoing support

Even experienced agents can benefit from more training and ongoing educational opportunities. Instructional sessions and demonstrations can give agents insights into new ways to better serve their clients.

At @properties, there are 20 to 30 classes for agents each month, depending on the season. Experts in various fields comes in to teach agents about what they do, according to Harris. Specialty classes are taught by a variety of professionals, including attorneys, loan officers, managers, top producers and consultants.

The company also makes instructional materials readily available to agents, both during the training process and after. “We have a variety of ‘how-to’ videos in addition to one-on-one training,” Harris says. “Accessibility and availability allow the agent to work at their pace and convenience but ask questions along the way.”

Compass recently hired a director of learning and development, Maria Malin, to work with agents and help them become more successful. “She works with agents on business planning, their production, their goal-setting,” Hernandez says. “She works with agents on their needs in terms of having the opportunity to grow their business and the steps they need to take to move their business forward. We’re very excited about the programs she has instituted.”

At Jameson Sotheby’s, agents receive continual support on the company’s systems and with the technology systems provided by Midwest Real Estate Data. Miller says that agents should be able to use those resources to their fullest capabilities. Agents who have completed the Take Flight course can join a private Facebook page that features additional information and training materials there that they can refer to as needed.

Miller also offers agents useful information every week during his brief “Monday Morning Pep Talk” sessions.

“Every Monday morning I talk for 15 minutes on a topic that’s relevant to the market at that time,” Miller says. “They’re all recorded and stored in SoundCloud so that agents can access them at any time. It’s a little extra guidance that they might find useful.”

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