Last week I re-introduced the 5 Challenges of Owning and Maintaininig a CRE Brokerage Firm. I committed to reviewing each one of these challenges in greater detail, while also introducing our newest coaching platform, the CRE-BOSS, our Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Owners Success Series, which addresses and provides solutions to each one of the five challenges.
So, without further ado, let’s get to Challenge #1: Recruiting
The fact still remains, if you cannot grow your commercial real estate brokerage, it will die. After all, no matter how good you are at retaining your existing brokers, you are going to lose some. Some will retire, some will move and others will just decide to do something else. Worse, others will stick around and become less productive.
To address this challenge, there are three different types of candidates you need to recruit: new brokers, mid-career brokers, and “whales.”
You will need to take different approaches towards recruiting each of these pools, and you need to bring all of them in. A good recruiting program will do just that, but it will do more than just replacing lost personal: It will bring new talent into your office while also exhibiting to your existing brokers how others believe working with you and your firm is a good idea. Done right, recruiting can really step up your morale and increase motivation.
How to develop a top class recruiting program is just one of the topics covered in our Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Owners Success Series.
Most new brokers will be recent college graduates. They are energetic, hardworking and, thanks to the proliferation of collegiate real estate programs, might be the most technically skilled people in your office. Get to know the people who run the Real Estate and Business programs at your local colleges and recruit from their pool. While you are doing this, web ads at the local college and at major job posting boards will also bring new candidates to you.
New brokers are typically worried about one thing: can they succeed? To successfully recruit them, be ready to explain how you will be able to get them trained and supported for success. Most managers either have a training program or have teams of brokers that are looking to grow and to take on training duties.
Furthermore, you need to confirm, and then reconfirm that these recruits have the ability to support themselves, without compensation for up to six months, and more reasonably one year. You must also reiterate your expectations and ideally team them up with a mentor so they can learn, while making limited mistakes.
Mid-career associates will usually come from your competitors or from other industries. They should have some baseline knowledge of how to do the business and are just looking for a better place to do it. The best way to find these candidates is to stay involved in the brokerage community. Go to events, speak on panels, get quoted in the local media and generally make sure that they know who you are. If you really want to get aggressive, pop them a friendly email or call every time that they close a deal or a lease.
Another absolute is your current associates’ ability to articulate your company’s value proposition. It is one thing for them to share with recruits that you have a “great place to work”, but what you really want is your team to understand why others may be looking to make a change and communicate with them why your firm is the best platform for them to succeed.
You know who the largest and most active brokers in your market are. Imagine if one of them joined your team. You’d get a big revenue boost while you send a strong message to every other broker that your office is THE place to be. Big prizes take big efforts.
While everything that you do to attract mid-career brokers is an important part of attracting whales, bringing in a major player will require you to go much further. Recruiting major brokers starts with getting to know them. If you can build a relationship with them and gradually demonstrate that you can add value to them, they will let you know when they are ready to make a move. This process can take years to unfold, but brings major benefits.
I watch brokerage owners simply assume they cannot land the whale. Similar to associates assuming they can’t get bigger listings. This is a huge mistake. Whether it is equity, team support, a new opportunity or simply a change, whales have pains and gains that you can leverage.
Regardless of the level of broker you are targeting to recruit, you must have a recruiting process. Going with your gut is simply no better than winging it. We screen every coaching candidate, with online assessment tools that define their natural behaviors. As do our owner-clients with their associate / broker candidates. Your process should have several steps, from team interviews to background checks to competency validation. Recruiting a friend or someone who is “a nice guy” is nothing more than applying a “mirror test” and hoping they have a breath. This is no way to build your practice.
In my next post, I’ll discuss the second challenge in brokerage management – managing the brokers.