Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
– John F. Kennedy
I usually meet new agents once they decide to join our office. I get to teach classes and help them get started and I love doing it but I had a thought today about how to decide on your 1st office (or your next one if the 1st one didn’t work).
I chose my 1st office in 2003 and thought they were interviewing me for a ‘position’. Really I should have been interviewing them but I didn’t know that much less know what to ask them. Maybe this will help a new agent make a great choice.
First, I want to be clear. This is not directed at any particular company. There are great companies with terrible offices out there so you have to be clear on what you want. Don’t pick based on the big name. Clients don’t do business with your company, they do business with you but as a new agent your needs are specific.
Let’s categorize the choices into 4 large groups.
- Big, national brands that everyone knows. Remax, Keller Williams, Century 21 are probably the top 3 of this category today. There are more but these guys have the largest agent count, sales volume and transaction count. Most of these companies will offer lots of training, chances for new agents to help more experienced agents with open houses and other productive tasks. Some offices will offer coaching and mentoring in a very organized way.
- Mid sized, regional firms that have multiple offices. Harry Norman, Northside and Tucker come to mind but only because I am familiar with them. They have the resources and potential to cover a large area geographically but they are not national brands. These have more resources and if the fit is good for you it can be a great choice.
- Small, boutique firms with 1 or 2 offices and only a few agents. Many of these will feel like family and relationships are likely the attraction in the first place. I’d suggest you tread carefully with these unless you have a connection going in. It’s a bit difficult to break into the inner circle sometimes.
- Discounter type firms with little support but offering a flat fee and low cost. Many licensees choose this sort of firm to their detriment because there is less training and encouragement and those things are important when you start out. Some people refer to these as real estate agent hospice.
With those out of the way, let’t talk about what you need when you get started.
Encouragement would be the first thing on my list. In my first office I got a lot of advice that didn’t fit with what I wanted for a business. My objective was to work by referral and I really didn’t want to make cold calls or door knock. Most people I know don’t want to do that either. If I was changing offices today I would ask questions about coaching and consultation with the broker or team leader. Is there someone I can talk to when I need them. Mentoring is a great option if you can find an office that has that as a program. I’d pay attention to the questions they ask me too. If they don’t seem to care about what I want in a business I’d have to keep looking.
Training but with a specific goal is also necessary. There are lots of opportunities for training in this business. We can spend 40-50 hours a week in classes but at the end of the day we don’t know how to run a business and that is sad. Avoid the classes on home inspection or mold or riparian rights for now. You can take them later but instead focus on lead generation (I can speak to that more later), budgeting and time usage. If you can get a handle on those 3 you’ll do well.
Culture is another big thing to dig into. How do the agents, leadership and support staff say they will treat each other? There ought to be a clear message about what is acceptable and expected. Be careful though because most companies have a ‘mission statement’ and it has lots of flowery language to disguise the fact it doesn’t say anything really.
Here is an example of a nonsense mission statement
It is our mission to authoritatively build adaptive intellectual capital and continue to meet our customer’s needs.
It’s just nonsense that seems to say something. Ask the the person you’re talking to what it means and if they can’t tell you it’s a big red flag.
I believe these sort of statements need to be short and clear. It ought to address how you treat each other and how you treat the clients and agents you come into contact with. That will help define your culture.
You can get a feel of the real culture by attending some team meetings, listening to what’s presented and also the side conversations in the hallway or break rooms. Talk to the vendors who come to the meetings, talk to the agents in the room and just see how they interact. You’ll get a sense of the people in the room and you must listen to your gut. It’s likely pretty accurate.
I believe you can find a good fit in any of the first 3 groups I listed above. The 4th group is really not going to serve you well for that 1st year unless you really want to be on your own. I’d suggest checking out offices from each of the groups, try different companies and ask for referrals from agents you know and like. It’s a good chance you’ll resonate with one of them.
If you still have questions then email me at Jerry@WorkRDO.com. I’ll do my best to answer and help. Comment below and watch for the next post. I’ll dig into something else that can help.
Thanks for listening,
PS: For more info now and to make sure you don’t miss anything, sign up below for the free eBook I wrote. We’ll show you how to work by referral from day one. No cold calling. Ever and we’ll never spam you or sell your info. It’s just so we can stay in touch.