By Julie Escobar
We’ve covered a lot of fourth quarter strategies this month, but haven’t touched on the topic of recruiting for a while. This week I thought we’d show all our broker, owner and management team friends a little love with some top tips just for you! To do that I called my long time friend and extraordinary recruiting expert Judy Ladeur. She’s been helping brokers grow their businesses, power up their production and recruit new team members since before I met her 20+ years ago!
Here’s what she had to say!
Julie: Hey Judy! It’s been a while, but it’s always great talking to you! You’ve been busy these days (as always) helping real estate brokers build better, stronger, more productive teams. As we dive into this fourth quarter – what are some of the most important things brokers should be doing to ensure a great end of the year and set themselves (and their companies) up for success in 2012?
Judy: Hey Julie – great catching up with you too! Love following everyone on Facebook-don’t you? To answer your question — For most brokers, instead of jumping in and making calls, they should spend time getting themselves positioned to recruit the best agents, which is more than just making calls and booking interviews. We have spent most of this past year helping brokers understand what a “value proposition” is and what it is not! We have determined that 90% of brokers have no idea what their value proposition is – even though it is the most important element in their recruitment arsenal. The value proposition is NOT their tools. However their tools determine the value of their value proposition.
What we are teaching brokers to do is to identify their 12-20 most powerful tools and the results that each tool produces. You would be amazed how many brokers do not have a handle on this information. Knowing the results of the tools you have allows you to share them in a way that educates the agents in your market about the opportunities that you can provide to them as a member of your team. If you’re not sure where to start, poll your agents. Ask them the value of the tools that you provide as an organization. When the agents tell you what your systems mean to their real estate career, that is your value proposition to that agent. It is different for each agent, but these insights can give brokers what they need to figure out a minimum of 12 powerful tools with results that are unique in their market or things that they are doing that others are not doing. It can be a little tedious and it takes a while to complete but it’s well worth it. Next, they need to create visuals for each one as well with the results on them.
For any broker out there who wants a strong 2012, this is a task that they should completed long before the new year begins. Then sharpen their phone and interview skills so they can hit the ground running. We actually have a program here in the first week of December designed to position the broker to hit the ground running on January 1st and to have consistent results all year long.
Julie: Wow, Judy – that sounds comprehensive. When you say “tools”- can you give me an example?
Judy: Sure, when we bring brokers together for our retreats we ask them, “what are the 12 – 20 things you are doing–or doing better than you competition?” Surprisingly, many can’t answer that. Some will say “location,” or “a great broker like me!” That’s great – but really is not going to cut it in today’s world. Specifically, what is different about you? Think about it – if your answer is, “Great team” – what do you think your competition is saying? Theirs is a lousy team? You have to find the DIFFERENTIATORS. If you can’t quantify those things in terms of time, money, energy saved, production, etc.–then it goes off list. Here’s one, “We give agents leads.” Next we’ll say, “Ok – how many leads year to date have you given out per agent? What is the conversion rate? You have to have the ability to bring it down to the numbers. How about “Training program.” Ok – what kind of results did the agents get? Many simply say, “I don’t know.” And that’s fine – it gives them a starting point. Sometimes they have to go back and track results after the next training, talk to agents who’ve been through it and ask for their results so they can get those numbers. If they don’t have that information, this fourth quarter is a great time to do that so you can start the new year strong. Sometimes a broker will tell us, “We have the best agents.” Then we’ll come back to them and ask them to quantify. For example, according to the MLS, our agents are doing an average of seven transactions more than our nearest competitor.
For a lot of brokers this exercise is a big eye opener. First it helps them identify more clearly where they are NOW. And secondly – it forces them to put themselves in the agents’ shoes — sometimes for the first time in years.
Julie: What’s new in terms of recruiting now that is significantly different than say, how brokers recruited even five years ago?
Judy: Social media is definitely the biggest change and is bringing great results and a whole new perspective to recruiting. It’s easier now than ever to build relationships and comfortably stay in touch with prospects as well as your own agents. It’s also much easier to ask for referrals by using social media. Tools like Facebook and LinkedIn are really helping to break down barriers.
Of course in terms of the things brokers want to hear – value proposition may be number one – but social media is a close second! So many of them are still looking at social media as just a place to post when you’re having a coffee at Starbucks. For those brokers – it’s time to get on board. Social media is not going away – and for those that embrace it – it’s a terrific addition to their marketing. In fact – if you look at agents who are really using it – they are staying in touch with their clients and sphere far more effectively today than they ever have. Brokers can do the same via a company fan page and their personal page.
Julie: Oh I can hear the groaning now – can’t you? Let people into their PERSONAL lives? I’m sure you’ve got some push back on that one-right?
Judy: Oh yeah! While I know it’s outside the comfort zone for a lot of brokers – truthfully, agents want to get to know you – the real you – before they are willing to consider your company as a place to hang their hat. In fact, Let’s face it – 70% of potential hires are emotional – that means they’ve got to like you! For the brokers that say “I don’t want to!” We say, “If you want to hire 40-80 agents next year – you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone!” Let people in. Share a little about who you are – not just what you offer as a company. On your fan page you can share success stories about what your agents are accomplishing – spotlight their successes. You can talk about what’s happening in your market area.
On your page – share a great picture of a grandchild, post a little inspirational quote, share a great new restaurant you tried. These forms of media allow you to reach people you never would have before – to break down barriers and ultimately recruit agents you never would have been able to hire in the past. What’s funny – is that once we teach brokers to embrace social media – it becomes their FAVORITE thing to do! Why? Because it means they don’t have to make the phone calls. We laugh, because we know they’re not going to make those calls anyway! They SHOULD be on phone daily – but many just don’t create that good habit. Listen, recruiting is a relationship business – so reaching out in EVERY way you can regularly is the way to build that relationship – and ultimately – build your business.
Julie: Great stuff Judy! What tools – both online or offline would you recommend that brokers put in their recruiting plan?
Judy: I would say a broker needs to add a Facebook Fan page for their company, lead generation tools, online marketing support and coaching. Most brokers today want to stick with technology – namely: email. But our ratios haven’t changed — we STILL say that only 25% of your recruiting marketing efforts should be email or online. It’s just too easy to get blocked or not read. Plus – many times the real nudge that helps bring a recruit in the door is when the spouse or significant other sees the recruiting materials coming in the mail! I know many brokers who will say it’s too expensive – but we fire back with one recruit will pay for a year of marketing. It’s time to look at the budgets and make some adjustments.
It’s also important to know what agents are looking for. A NAR survey four years ago said that agents didn’t care about leads – they were too busy. Now that’s the number one thing with affordable marketing tools coming in second.
I say just start somewhere. Send postcards. Send the top 10-25 recruits “lump mail” – something like a magnifying glass with a note that reads “time to take a closer look at what we have to offer.”
Julie: Best success stories of recent months that can inspire brokers to break out of old habits and grow their organizations?
Judy: Well I’ve got to say there are two things that are getting great results right now:
- Contacting smaller independent brokers in your market and offering them a chance to roll their company into your company and go back to working as an agent.
- Contacting agents who left you when times were good and tell them that you miss them and would love to talk to them again about rejoining your firm.
I mentioned before about knowing your results. I am coaching a broker whose market position increased this past year through recruiting experienced agents was greater than the entire production of any team in his marketplace for the entire year. When he discovered that, he was amazed. Arming himself with that knowledge has allowed him to hire many of the top producers in his market and he is acquiring another brokerage firm in the neighboring city.
Sharing results like that is a great way to get the attention of brokers and agents and get them on the phone which leads to an interview and potential hire. Another broker that I am coaching discovered that her agents had a $33 million dollar increase in their sales volume in 2010. By sharing this with other agents in the market, she has piqued the curiosity of area agents eager to know what she is doing to help her agents sell more real estate. Her office is now full and she is moving to a larger location to continue hiring the best agents she possibly can!
Julie: Wow! That’s amazing! So any predictions for the year ahead?
Judy: Oh yeah! I believe that 2012 will be one of the biggest years for smaller companies rolling into bigger companies.