What I Learned From 5000 Cups Of Coffee And Real Estate Recruiting Interviews
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
August 18, 2022
By John Meechan
Over my 18 years in real estate, I’ve played a key role in managing companies across the spectrum, from national brand franchises to local indie firms. One of the key aspects in every leadership role I filled was recruiting, as real estate agents are the gasoline that fuels brokerage success. During that time frame, I interviewed over 5,000 agents over a cup of coffee.
I learned a great deal about what makes for a successful agent and how the structure and culture of a brokerage directly influence that success.
THE QUALITIES OF A SUCCESSFUL AGENT
Looking back, I calculate that 80% of the agents I interviewed are no longer practicing full-time. Many have left the profession entirely, some have put their license into referral and the balance of that 80% are still active but at a low transaction level.
But that 20% who continue to hit it out of the ballpark? They demonstrate that they know what it takes to be successful and share traits I look for in every interview now.
They know they are salespeople – this seems shockingly obvious but the day in and out activities a successful agent needs to perform to build their business are sales activities: prospecting, networking, and negotiating. While real estate tends to be cyclical, successful agents steadily focus on acquiring listings in order to maintain a steady stream of business. The media presents a sanitized version of an agent’s life where they seemingly walk through beautiful homes with well-financed clients. However, business growth happens in the back office and good agents make this their daily focus.
They know they are entrepreneurs – whether they work at a big box national franchise that appears to have an add- water-and-stir market strategy or a smaller, scrappier shop, the successful agent knows that this is their business and they are ultimately responsible for its growth. They figure out what works for them and they apply it rigorously. They invest in personal development and in marketing. They have a budget and a business plan.
They know they are professionals – many people get their license as a second or third career. Some agents describe themselves as doing “real estate on the side” or “doing a little real estate.” Some agents prioritize their emotional connection to their office and team over their personal business growth. Successful agents are proud of the profession and determined to succeed. They embrace how they entered the profession as part of their backstory, have a positive and healthy connection with their colleagues -- and get to work.
THE BROKERAGE AS AN ADAPTIVE ENVIRONMENT
As I write this, I look back on how The Gallery Residential Brokerage has evolved since opening in 2017. Like any other brokerage, we have certainly seen our share of ups and downs over the years, and worked diligently through a pandemic as well as a highly competitive seller's market. The question we get asked most often by the agents we are recruiting is “How are we different?” And, “ Why The Gallery?”
I love answering these questions.
With nearly 20 years of experience as an agent, sales coach, office manager, and broker/owner, I know very well what works and doesn’t work in this business, and I set forth to design a brokerage that served our community by enabling agents who demonstrate the success traits above. They deserve an environment that put them first and did not consider them a profit center.
All I had to do, I realized, was get out of their way.
We removed all the complexity around splits and how people are compensated – we have a set transaction fee for each side of a deal. And we have incorporated a generous commission split option, as well as an option that enables agents to collect 100% of their commissions after making an annual upfront payment. None of these are performance-based – and agents are able to retain their commission plan with no annual reset.
We’ve eliminated all miscellaneous fees – that 6% admin fee, typical of so many companies in our industry, doesn’t exist here at The Gallery. (Agents are still responsible for expenses designated by the board: license, E&O, etc., that are not incurred by the brokerage.)
We have no pre-canned marketing anything – Agents drive their business ethically and the way they see fit. However, we offer tons of coaching, marketing services, and administrative support.
We have no corporate requirements for meetings – or things like “floor time.” We want our agents to be focused on their business, not ours.
We offer a modern interpretation of “going to the office” –all agents can access our New Jersey office 24/7. We help empower agents by operating a paperless and mobile-forward environment, leveraging the cloud and our corporate resource portal.
We’ve eliminated cut-throat competition – your lead is your lead. If an inquiry comes into the office about your listing or you – they are immediately directed to you.
We are very serious about having a high professional standard and we recognize that The Gallery is not a fit for every agent. All associates are expected to run their business independently and get their broker licenses when they are eligible. And if someone is referred to us, we are happy to interview them but do not offer incentives or compensation for bringing someone on board. When one agent refers another to The Gallery, it is because they feel their fellow agent would benefit from our business model and culture.
It is a simple premise that we are built around what great agents need and we believe our communities need outstanding, professional agents who serve them skillfully.
5,000 interviews and how many cups of coffee later, I still love talking to people who are ready to step forward and take control of their real estate careers. If you are intrigued about The Gallery, then I would welcome a conversation and another cup of coffee. My treat.