Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine. Connect with her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lure Big Fish to Your Brokerage
Learn how one Hawaii-based real estate company is attracting top producers and keeping them happy.
July 2, 2015
Take it from Paul Mayer: Big fish need a lot of room to swim. Several top producers have surfaced at his Hawaii-based brokerage, Elite Pacific Properties, and he gives them the freedom to explore oceans of opportunities to expand their business.
One sales associate in particular, Greg Burns, hosted the Golf Channel’s media crew at one of his listings during the PGA’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the island of Maui this year. In exchange, the Golf Channel gave Burns a segment on a show in which he toured Kapalua-area luxury homes.
Elite goes after high-producing agents and gives them a long leash to create the type of connections it takes to sell multimillion-dollar listings, says Mayer, the firm’s managing partner.
Mayer, who owns the largest luxury brokerage in Hawaii, opened up about his management prowess, offering insight on how to retain agents who want to soar.
How do you recruit, and why would an agent choose your brokerage?
The top producers want to be associated with a firm that’s very selective; they want to know their reputation is safe. We’re highly selective of all the agents at our firm. Everything at our company is about high standards, from the listings we take to our professional photography and the quality of our written contracts. It’s in everything we do.
To recruit top producers, you need to build a long-term relationship. Sending e-mail blasts or using traditional marketing doesn’t work. Get to know agents as people, and gradually introduce them to the benefits of your brokerage. We usually attract top producers through their peers — the agents who currently work for us. The vast majority are experienced. Not all of our agents are top producers or sell luxury, but we’re not interested in part-time or inexperienced agents.
We have policies and practices that offer a tremendous amount of free support and free technology to all our agents. Successful agents spend 30 percent of their time on marketing and escrows, but we can probably get that down to 5 percent of their time. We have 20 support staffers for 110 agents. We have four full-time marketing staffers who help market every listing and do personal marketing for agents as well. We have three full-time staffers whose sole focus is transaction management. We have admin and tech support. We take away all the busy work, all the drudgery, and let agents do what they do best, which is selling.
How much room do you give your agents for big ideas like Greg Burns’ Golf Channel relationship?
Greg Burns is a really creative guy who comes up with phenomenal marketing ideas. It’s my job to help agents leverage our resources. We make sure they comply with the state laws and help with logistical elements, but it’s also my job to help support them and help expand on their ideas. And our marketing staff is there to help implement plans and make them successful. Teamwork and sharing of ideas is also part of our company culture.
How do you acknowledge your agents?
If we have a big announcement or want to celebrate an accomplishment, we congratulate people publicly at events and in press releases, which helps them get publicity. I have zero interest in taking credit for anything our agents do.
What types of support systems do top producers find most valuable?
Technology is a requirement. If you want to attract professional agents, you have to give them a full technology platform: a search engine optimized lead generating platform, a CRM, tools like DocuSign and zipForm, and transaction management software. And all of that is cheap once you have the infrastructure in place because at that point, it’s only about adding licenses.
Lucrative compensation is probably what most people think you need to attract top producers. The truth is, we compensate on a tiered commission split that grows with their volume each year and as they move up. All of our agents are on the same plan, and they all get exactly what they earn each year. It tops out for top producers to be extremely high, and they get credit for everything they’ve closed that year even if they’ve been with another company.
How do you build company loyalty?
Our top producers give input on things like company policies and office locations. Their ability to provide input is valuable because it helps them feel like they have a stake in the company. We meet once a quarter to go over business direction and strategic planning and to discuss recruiting, and we’ll ask for opinions on who would be a good fit.
Looking to the future, how do you plan to grow your business while maintaining those standards that attract top producers?
We are going to focus on growing our market share in Hawaii over the next 10 years. Our sales last year were up 45 percent over 2013 and triple over 2012. Commercial real estate is a possibility for the future, but that requires a different level of support and knowledge. We do our due diligence; we’re not a company that wants to do it part-way. We’ll need to get the staff and support systems in place before we make that commitment. If we do decide to get into commercial, we’ll do it in a bigger way.