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Want To Keep Agents For Life? Shift The Focus From Money To People

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As the market shifts and home sales normalize from their breakneck pace of the past two years, brokers have a lot to lose as some agents may search for seemingly greener pastures with higher commissions.

If that’s your fear then famed real estate coach Jon Cheplak has one piece of advice: Shift the focus from money to people.

“You’re talking about the wrong thing. Raise your hand if your agents could go get a better split or a better deal anywhere else,” Cheplak said while slyly chiding the Broker Connect crowd at Inman Connect Las Vegas, for refusing to raise their hands. “[Instead] I want you to focus on the people that you have the deepest psychological and emotional bonds within your organization, and be a third-party observer and ask, ‘What am I doing? What have I done to create that relationship?’”

“Then just duplicate it,” he added. “The growth of your business isn’t from something magical, the growth of your businesses is already there; you’ve got elements of success in everything that you’re trying to do — just stop going wide and go deep.”

Here’s Cheplak’s recipe to create your best year of recruiting and retention yet:

In real estate, it’s a numbers game first

Cheplak said the key to reaching your sales and transaction volume goals boils down to recruiting and retaining the agents needed to meet that goal.

“It’s a bodies game, period, end of discussion. I will debate it with anyone on the planet,” he said. “If you triple your net agent population over the next year, you will double your sales volume. I have track records of it over and over and over again.”

Stop trying to sell to the salesperson

Brokers’ recruiting pitches often lead with catchy phrases and intriguing statistics about commission splits, sales records and all of the bells and whistles their brokerage has to offer. Although that may get some people through the door, Cheplak said what really sells is experience.

“Stop feature dumping on people, okay?” he said. “No one believes what they’re told, they believe what they experience. Create an experience of what it’s going to be like when people join before they join.”

Instead of rattling off your greatest hits, Cheplak said brokers should approach initial interviews like a training session and use that time to prove their value beyond dollars.

“People don’t join or leave a model or a company,” he said. “They join or leave the competency and the relevancy of the leader.”

“You need to pattern interrupt because you know what the rest of your competition is doing — ‘We’re cuter than they are and we’re better than you know who.,’” he added. “Stand out by demonstrating your competency and relevancy.”

Build community over tech stacks

Effective recruitment and retention centers around mastering emotional intelligence and understanding how that applies to your business and the people in it, Cheplak said.

“With all due respect to your lead gen, your lead conversion, your tech stack, your ISA department is all for nothing if you don’t have the people,” he said. “If you’re a leader right now, you’re not in the real estate business, you’re in the human resource, human development, human attraction and human behavior business.”

“If you want to succeed as a leader, you could literally pause every single bit of your real estate knowledge and not worry about the next 12 months, he added. “And I’m going to tell you, my army of people that build community are going to outperform all of your bright shiny objects.”

When you focus on building community, Cheplak said, you’ll have a group of people who are “enrolled and aligned” with your vision through success and struggle.

Help people meet their goals, not yours

In the quest for finding or creating a high-producing agent, Cheplak said most brokers end up creating a hostile work environment where agents are motivated by stress and worry.

“What most leaders do is they create stress which shuts a human being down, and they will leave you,” he said.

Although brokers shouldn’t keep agents who aren’t working at all, Cheplak said brokers must stop pushing agents to meet their goals and instead support agents in achieving their goals, whether it is becoming the No. 1 agent in their market or simply making enough to live a comfortable life.

“Your bottom third [of agents] need a little bit of training and a whole lot of accountability,” he said. “So constantly coach them up or out — end of the discussion, period.”

“For your middle third, you’re all trying to get them to do more, but when’s the last time you sat down with all of them and said, ‘What’s the best way I can lead you over the next 12 months?’” he added. Do you want to grow your income and move up into the top third? Where would you like me to support you to maintain the income that you have right now?”

Although that may seem counterintuitive, Cheplak said that approach helps agents feel safe in the brokerage and enables brokers to show three of the top attributes in a leader — humility, vulnerability and transparency.

“People are leaving you because you’re not meeting them where they’re at. Find out where they should do more,” he said. “They don’t want to do more. It’s not your freakin’ picture. It’s their picture.”

Choose accountability over judgment

According to Cheplak, a crucial part of helping agents paint their pictures of perfect careers is shifting the focus from judgment to accountability.

“You don’t know how to hold people accountable because you judge them. Lose the word ‘why’ from your vocabulary and in your coaching — it’s a word of judgment,” he said. “It’s going to change the game for many of you. You shut people down. Human beings want love recognition and approval.”

“Accountability is the highest form of love and it’s observing and noticing without judgment, and inspecting and allowing someone to choose what they’re going to do,” he added.

Higher productivity starts with mutual accountability

Although most brokers approach recruitment and retention from the top down, Cheplak said brokers must make room for them to be held accountable as well for the ways they fail or succeed as a leader.

“When you connect the principle, you can scale your capacity to get greater movement from human beings,” he said. “It’s on the leader and agent in step one, and step two  — action — that’s on the agent.”

“Step three is accountability, which is inspection, and then we can take step four, which is building skill,” he added. “And step five is recommitting. Stop overcomplicating the process.”

Email Marian McPherson

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