How a Mentor Program Should Work

Teaching new agents takes time, structure, and discipline, but it can really pay off for your entire company.

March 3, 2015

As broker-owners, we’re constantly trying to find solutions to increase agent retention and add more value in the workplace while remaining profitable. But retention challenges are not going to be solved by throwing money at the issue — or, in this case, at the agents. High commission splits might seem like a way to attract more agents and keep them under your roof, but the truth of the matter is, you can kiss your salespeople goodbye the second they discover “the next best thing.”

Your biggest asset to your agents is not the money they earn on each deal, the lead generation system you share, or the fancy office they get to sit in. It’s you.

The trick is not to hire everyone who wants a job. Consider focusing your business model on recruiting new licensees, who tend to be people who are ambitious and eager to build a career. Spend enough time with someone who is coachable, and watch that person become a valuable asset, both internally and externally. Internally, they’ll be doing business and adding to your bottom line, and externally, they’ll be your No. 1 fan, recruiting more high-quality salespeople on your behalf.

At my brokerage, RE/MAX Prestige in Costa Mesa, Calif., we offer a mentor program. New agents who come on board are assigned a mentor who is responsible for training them on anything and everything about the business. A mentor can be the broker-owner, a manager, or a seasoned agent who is ready for the next step in their career. The mentor shares in the profit by receiving a percentage of the new agent’s sales, thus creating more buy-in, more retention, and more loyalty as the cycle goes on and on. This model requires due diligence, interviews, and a set action plan to ensure that the mentor’s time is not wasted.

The most critical thing brokers need to understand about training agents is that it can’t be theoretical; it has to be practical and hands-on. Here are a few elements that must be included when training new recruits:

  • Make sure they have a firm grasp and understanding on the value of being a REALTOR®.
  • Teach the ins and outs of the most commonly used contracts.
  • Coach new agents on how to acquire and retain clients on both the listing and selling side. (Our mentees are taught how to get buyer representation agreements signed with every buyer they work with.)
  • Share negotiation techniques.
  • Physically drive new agents to their first few listing and buying appointments (we call these “home buyer counseling sessions”) to help them learn in real-life settings.

By developing a mentor program at your company, broker-owners and managers are able to weed out bad habits and mold the ideal agent from the start. Once you have agents in the office lining up to be the next mentor, you’ve built a scalable and self-sustaining practice that will encourage collaboration and productivity.


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