Many brokerages recognize their top producers with incentives, special trips, awards or even just by noting who’s on top at the weekly sales meeting. But what if the method of recognition also had the potential to help top producers expand on their successes and make connections that have the potential to improve their business further?
That’s the theory behind Baird & Warner’s Ascend events. The company brings in special speakers twice a year, in early spring and late fall, to both impart knowledge and expand the networks of its top-producing agents. “The idea is to help our already top performing broker associates take their business to the next level,” said Sarah Grossman Pelton, vice president of learning and development at Baird & Warner. “It’s also a high-powered producer networking opportunity.”
She also noted that not all the speakers are directly connected with the industry: “We bring in specialists from fields outside of real estate who have developed proven approaches for top producers to take their business to the next level.”
The program began in 2015 and recent events have featured speakers with healthcare, communications, relationship building and storytelling expertise. Pelton said it’s a way for them to expand on events designed to support agent growth across all production groups. “Our Ascend program goes a step further,” she said. The programs cater to agents who are fully committed to living and breathing the real estate industry every day. “If your career is your life, you’ll benefit from new perspectives on outperforming the competition.”
Sheila Doyle of Baird & Warner’s Evanston office has been invited to Ascend multiple times. A real estate coach in addition to one of her office’s top producers, Doyle said attending the events has helped her get a fresh perspective, and underlined the usefulness of fact that speakers tend not to be in the real estate industry.
From the little things like how one talks about oneself to much bigger things like making sure there’s time amid all the running around to be with family, Doyle said she walks out of the sessions energized every time. Doyle said an Ascend speaker many years her junior once made a point she’d never considered: never use words like “just” or “only” when talking about yourself. She’s since woven this bit of wisdom into mentoring and coaching work. “I always leave with at least one gem I can use in my business or in life,” she said.
Making time to recognize good work
Some real estate brands create rewards concepts for top producers that are designed to emphasize their company culture. Take for example @properties’ Road to Rolex program, which recognizes those who achieve at least $10 million in annual closed sales volume and $250,000 in gross commission income for their first time with @properties. Each winner receives a Rolex watch at @properties’ annual @awards.
Fulton Grace takes a two-pronged approach to recognizing top agents. The boutique brokerage of about 150 agents treats top quarterly performers to intimate getaways (most recently renting out a top floor space at the Dana Hotel in River North). Fulton Grace also invites its top agents each quarter to share what they know with their colleagues by speaking on panels open to the whole company.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group takes a longer view; the company has a Hall of Fame for recognizing lifetime achievers. The annual induction celebration often features top-notch talent — in 2018 top producers were treated to an exclusive Jennifer Hudson concert.