This piece originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Summer 2016 Terra Firma magazine.
You know it isn’t very difficult for an agent to shine in the real estate profession. In some cases all they have to do is return a phone call or follow through on something they promised. I think it is pretty sad that the bar is set that low….
You can have a beautiful building and offices, state of the art website and office equipment and you can spend a fortune on PR, social media and marketing. However, at the end of the day, if your company is not represented by professional real estate agents you are hurting your business, your brand and the real estate profession as a whole.
Make no mistake, when a real estate agent, regardless of who he or she is licensed with, represents himself in less than a professional manner due to his or her poor work ethic, lack of skill or dishonesty, every single one of us in the real estate profession pays the price.
One very common real estate business model is to hire as many agents as possible, offer them a large split and let them beat it out. Meanwhile, whether those agents know what they are doing or not, they may acquire a listing or two simply because a friend or family member feels obligated to list with them. This approach is strongly why over seventy percent of the real estate agents will quit this profession within two years. I feel this business model is extremely unfair to the agents; unfair to the public; and catastrophically harmful to the image of our industry.
Forget the representation of your company for the moment and consider the amount of money that exchanges hands along with legalities, complexities and the consequences associated with the sale and purchase of land. I believe our objective as brokers and leaders should be to hire the best people and support them through training, marketing and structure. In essence, we pour everything we can into them to ensure they are successful and in turn we will be successful because our relationship will be bilaterally equitable.
Our primary recruiting resources are online companies like, Monster, Indeed and Zip Recruiter to name a few. We target the nearest major metropolitans to the areas we wish to populate. These companies cast pretty large nets in that they often have sub-chapters/boards and communities that extend their radius. Our collateral resources include: our own career page on our website; social media; LinkedIn careers; The Outdoorwire; outdoorindustryjobs.com; AGcareers.com and AgHires.com to name a few.
What we do not do at Whitetail Properties is try to recruit/steal-away other broker’s agents. When you consider that we work in an industry where we work together through co-brokers and referrals, trying to recruit agents away from other brokers does not feel anymore ethical to me than calling another broker’s client. If agents from other companies call us, we are more than happy to talk to them; however, we will never call them first.
The prospective agent’s initial phone interview is with our HR executive (we provide her with the qualifying criteria). If the prospective agent makes the cut, HR then sets up a second phone interview with our three-person interview panel. We then rate the candidate on a scale of one through ten on a ten-line score sheet. If the candidate makes the second cut, we then setup an in person interview. If the candidate gives a good personal interview we sign them up for the next orientation after they’ve obtained their real estate license. It’s important that they attend orientation before we allow them to represent our company and our brand.
There are a lot of real estate companies that will hire anyone who has a pulse and the ability to acquire a real estate license. I believe that this, along with a lack of training, is why many people stereotype real estate agents as a bunch of incompetent crooks.
We have four basic cornerstones when considering a new agent: First and foremost, the prospective agent has to be an honorable person; the prospective agent has to be passionate about land and every aspect of land; the prospective agent has to have a strong work ethic; and the prospective agent has to be professional.
We can teach real estate, but in my opinion by the time human beings reach adulthood we can’t make them love land or teach them to be honorable!
- Financially Stable
- Ability to work full time
We are accountable for and to our agents. For this reason, we do not allow our agents to represent our company until they have attended orientation. At Whitetail Properties’ three-day orientation, our goal is to give our agents everything they need to start their career on a successful path.
Our weekly webinars provide our agents with solid career building knowledge. The topics cover everything from utilizing your sphere of influence to recognizing a property’s highest and best use. Training is not something that you do once in a while. Training has to be scheduled and repeated on a regular basis. The key is to keep it fresh, informative, relative, productive and entertaining.
Maintaining Pro-active Contact
It’s important to maintain regularly scheduled calls with agents in order to review, mentor and coach them. You see, the agents who contact their brokers for assistance are generally the ones working deals. However, the agents who typically need help the most are the ones we don’t hear from because they are not working anything so it’s very important that we reach out to them and explore what they are doing and how we can help them
Every member of our staff is employed for the sole purpose of helping our agents become successful and continue to grow their businesses. In addition to the office and administrative staff, the following employees are at our agents disposal: we employ our own graphic designer, marketing director, advertising team, creative director, production department, IT department, compliance officer, accounting department, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Executive Officer as well as team leaders and brokers. Of course we did not start off with such an extensive staff. We realized early on that in order to grow our business and our agents’ businesses, we had to develop a formula where we employed key staff members for every X number of agents.
The most important thing we teach our agents is that our client’s experience is the single most important part of their jobs. None of us will sell every tract of land we list, but when our ultimate goal is not necessarily to sell the listing but rather to provide our clients with the ultimate land buying or selling experience, we will sell more land. In addition, we will receive more referrals and elevate the image of our company and of the industry.
There are too many real estate companies who feel making the sale is more important than working in their client’s best interest; more important than building a relationship; more important than being a professional and even more important than being honest. This has to change.
Our Most Valuable Asset
Our agents are unquestionably our most valuable assets. However, we can’t just wind them up and turn them loose. Through explanation and repetition we have to instill our company’s core values in our agents. Our company’s ideology is the foundation from which we’ve grown our business. Without a solid foundation based on integrity you are not developing or nourishing your most valuable assets.
As I mentioned before, we have to provide a consistent training program. We have to take every opportunity to mentor and guide our agents and we have to teach our staff how to best assist our agents to ensure their success. Along with this, we don’t allow agents to simply “hang their licenses” with us. If we teach, train and mentor our licensees they become our most valuable assets. However, if we do not teach, train and mentor an agent, that agent becomes our biggest liability!
We take our obligation to our agents; to our clients; to the public; to the States where we are licensed; and to all of our fellow brokers and agents in the industry very seriously. Although as brokers we are held responsible and accountable for every one of our agents, there is no possible way that we can be present every single time our agents interact with buyers, sellers, customers or clients. However, we can pour into our agents on a regular basis to ensure they conduct themselves, knowledgably, honestly, professionally and responsibly. After all, they are our most valuable assets.
About the author: Dan Perez, RLI Member, is the CEO, Chief Broker, and one of the Founding Owners of Whitetail Properties Real Estate as well as the host of the ever-popular Whitetail Properties television show. Dan is passionate about the land business and driven by hiring and developing real estate agents to become multi-million-dollar land specialists.