When agents love where they work and the people they work with, and they notice the effort you put into ensuring they have fun, it makes their decision to leave much harder. Sure we have an excellent training program, fantastic support and great systems, but the culture is the glue holding everything together, says broker Ian Hoover.
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Retaining your agents should be your top priority when you own a real estate brokerage. It isn’t easy in our business these days, but having a fun and exciting culture can help combat the recruiting calls your agents receive daily.
Tech giants like Google have revolutionized the culture experience. They, too, must compete with other giants that want to steal their best employees. Their retention rate is bolstered by building a culture that allows their employees to thrive. Here are six ways to create a great culture.
A year after opening the brokerage, I decided to start doing awards. We do monthly, semi-annual and annual awards, which include prizes. These prizes can be gift cards, free lunches and even event tickets. We also post the awards on social media to ensure our agents receive the outside recognition their accomplishments deserve. People love to be noticed, and this is a great way to add some excitement to your culture.
Have the right equipment
Agents are always on the go, and they don’t always plan correctly. Equipping your office with the right tools to get work done is essential. Complete computer setups, printers, strong internet connection and office supplies are all things they might need at the drop of a hat.
Why have them go somewhere else? Have your office ready. The more reasons they have to use your office, the better.
Our next step is building a recording studio where our agents can record their videos and podcasts. This is just one more reason they want to come in and be a part of our office.
Stock the kitchen
We stock the kitchen with snacks, coffee and other beverages; we also have alcoholic beverages. Agents often skip meals, and showing them that you care and have some healthy snacks on hand will show them how much you appreciate their hard work.
Our fully stocked kitchen also allows us to have an in-office happy hour without much setup because all the amenities are already here. A few hundred dollars a quarter will keep your office stocked with all the goodies that keep your agents refueled, refreshed and ready to sell houses.
Remember to check with your regional and state regulations about ABC laws before setting up a full bar. Also, consider that some team members may be living sober, and make sure to create office happy hours that are not just centered around drinking.
Finally, if you have employees and independent contractors consuming adult beverages onsite and then driving home, you may want to have them sign a waiver or check with your insurance provider to review liabilities.
Think location, location, location
With agents being less dependent on offices these days, brokerages must plan carefully on the location of their offices. The days of neighborhood offices are probably behind us, but a central location is still important.
If your office is located too far from airports, downtown or other exciting attractions, it will be hard to recruit agents who seek to be close to those things. Having only a short commute to most areas in town will be critical to the growth of your business. Nobody wants to travel an hour for an office event.
Create opportunities for fun and stress relief
If an agent is trying to decide between joining two offices, one that is more traditional while the other is out of the box with a casual low-stress atmosphere, which do you think they will choose?
Our conference table becomes a pool table with an attachment for ping pong. Our office also features a dart board, chess board and other multimedia entertainment accessories. Speakers around the office play music, creating a nice vibe when touring or hanging out.
Focus on team building
In addition to our monthly happy hours, we host multiple company outings per year. Our most popular annual event has become renting a suite at a Pirates game. It is incredible how much fun you can have when everyone gets along and wants to be a part of a fantastic team.
Culture is our top priority. In our market, like most, large companies are calling our agents regularly. They get told how fantastic these companies are, how they will have the “brand,” and how large of a check they will see if they join.
When agents love where they work and the people they work with, and they notice the effort you put into ensuring they have fun, it makes their decision to leave much harder. Sure we have an excellent training program, fantastic support and great systems, but it is the culture that is the glue holding everything together.