The Merit of Mentoring

Looking to launch a mentorship program at your brokerage? Here’s how two different companies have done it.

June 3, 2015

Establishing a mentorship program at your real estate company can be a winning proposition for all involved. A good mentoring program gives newly licensed agents a chance to thrive under the guidance of an experienced colleague, and it gives seasoned agents a new opportunity to grow as leaders.

But in order to ensure both mentors and mentees actively participate, the program must be thoroughly outlined with specific goals that provide value for everyone.

Here’s a look at two different, successful mentoring programs.

Brokers Take Newbies Under Their Wings

Sammer Mudawar and Jay O’Brien, co-owners of RE/MAX Prestige in Orange County, Calif., have a different way of picking their agents.

“We don’t recruit top producers. In fact, we don’t even want them. Most of the time, you are just getting the bad habits and egos,” O’Brien says. “Instead, we go after the people who haven’t even signed up for classes but have always been interested in real estate.”

A new agent could be someone who was really good at selling cell phones, O’Brien says. He had been a retail manager himself before he started as Mudawar’s first agent in 2011. Within two years, the two were partners. They now have more than 20 agents in two offices.

Mudawar and O’Brien have set up their business so they personally can mentor their new recruits in three 30-day plans set up with specific tasks to accomplish. They also expect their mentees to be in the office every workday.

“We role play with them and walk through everything. We also go with them on listing appointments and all of the other meetings. There is no other way to make sure they do things correctly without investing time,” O’Brien explains.

Besides all the time Mudawar and O’Brien spend throughout the week with their mentees, they also set up individualized appointments with them once a week. By the time the 90 days is up, the mentees have experienced almost every real estate interaction. But the mentorship program doesn’t stop there: Mudawar and O’Brien continue to meet regularly with their recruits and follow their progress closely for several more months.

“They will still be in the mentorship for about one year before they can be on their own,” Mudawar says. “It’s such a difficult job to learn, and you need thousands of hours to learn it.”

Nearly all of Mudawar and O’Brien’s recruits are between the ages of 26 and 32. They are very plugged into Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. As mentors, Mudawar and O’Brien also guide them on how to use those platforms for real estate. In fact, 70 percent of O’Brien’s business came from Facebook last year.

Despite being brokers who also sell, Mudawar and O’Brien say their program works because they do not compete with their agents for client leads. “Sammer and I are working brokers, and our clients come from referrals only,” O’Brien says.

Agents receive 52 percent of the commission even when the Mudawar or O’Brien is with them in the beginning, doing much of the work.

In addition to the formal workday interactions, the pair also sets up monthly dinners with the mentees. They go out casually as friends and colleagues, and they bring staff from both offices together every two months for a happy hour.

“Everyone works hard in the mentoring program, but you have to have fun, too,” Mudawar says.

Established Agents Give Back

Last year, Jeri Cobb, broker and director of career development at John R. Woods in Naples, Fla., got together with a few other managers to plan out a new mentorship program at their company.

“Our managers are handling such large offices now that they don’t have time to mentor new associates in the day-to-day operations,” she says. “And we found that when agents first get their real estate license, they don’t have a clue how to run a business.”

So, they decided to pay the mentors for their time. It works like this: Managers recommend mentors – who are established agents – to Cobb. The mentor gets 50 percent of the commission on the mentee’s first three transactions, and the company and mentee each get 25 percent. The new agents are also required to complete six weeks of classroom training, which is usually about three-and-a-half days a week.

Cobb says that mentors must have five to 10 years of business experience before they can be candidates for the program. Both the mentee and mentor sign an agreement specifying that they meet at least weekly and accompany each other on business activities. It is even stated in the agreement that “the mentoring program is not a tool for the mentor to use the mentee as an assistant.”

In addition to being paired with a mentor, the company’s classroom training curriculum for new agents covers prospecting for buyers and sellers, handling objections, closing techniques, risk management, and fair housing.

“We teach it all, including new construction, gated, no gate, golf communities, and more. Their duties are spelled out,” she says. The program is so successful, in fact, that brokers of other companies are sending their agents to the John R. Woods training program (for a fee, of course), Cobb says.

As for the mentors, Cobb says the program has proven to be just as beneficial for them. “Everybody grows,” she says. “It reminds them of the things they first learned.”


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Lee Nelson

Lee Nelson is a freelance journalist from Illinois. She writes for several state REALTOR® association magazines along with and She has written for Yahoo!Homes,, and TheMortgageReports. Contact Lee at