Nicole Slaughter Graham is a freelance journalist and writer based in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Why Agents Stick With a Real Estate Firm
From their perspective: Agents give insight on how brokers can attract and retain quality salespeople.
July 29, 2019
The overall real estate market in the U.S. has been strong for the past several years, and a strong market means more agents—and more brokerages—entering the industry. With greater competition and the rise of new approaches to selling, retaining agents is more complicated than ever.
But it’s not impossible.
Agents are looking for the right brokerage where they can grow their business. So, gain insight from the mouths of the agents themselves on why they’ve chosen their current real estate companies.
Support That a Feels Like Family
Mindy Smith has spent the majority of her four-year career as a real estate agent at Century 21 Beggins in Madeira Beach, Fla. However, she launched her business at another brokerage where she felt her career wasn’t taking off in the way she knew it could. “I like to try to make things work, though, and I wasn’t looking to switch, but a friend of mine in the business convinced me to meet with her broker,” Smith says.
She knew after the initial meeting with broker Jeff Beggins that his company was where she wanted to grow her career. “I felt like I had support immediately. Like I was home.”
Support, Smith says, is the single biggest factor what won her over in that first meeting, and it continues to win her over today. As a newer agent, she’s still learning the ropes, so the weekly calls and training sessions her broker offers are helping her career advance. “Every Tuesday, we can log on to Zoom and listen in on the call. Our brokers are always providing useful information on contracts or giving us important updates on new processes. I feel like I have a full toolbox to offer to my clients,” she says.
Plus, the company has a team in the office that works on contracts, which is a big support to agents. Smith also likes not having to pay for certain things, such as signs, photocopies, or the use of a desk.
When there’s a tool missing from her toolbox, Smith knows she can count on the office team or her broker to offer advice or assistance. “If I need help, all I have to do is make a phone call. My broker really fights for me and my clients,” she says.
Invested in Strong Relationships and Leadership
Cole Slate has worked in real estate for seven years. Joining EXIT Real Estate Gallery in Jacksonville, Fla., he says, was an easy decision because he already had a longstanding relationship with the brokers before he moved over to the firm.
“When I first started out in the business, I went to every networking event and training event I could to get my name out there and meet people in the industry,” says Slate. He was constantly running into Sonny Downey and Raymond Rivera, the brokers at EXIT Real Estate Gallery, and developed a relationship with them over time. “I honestly believe that at the end of the day, the relationships we create in this industry are what matters, and my brokers worked hard to create a relationship with me first.”
The fact that his brokers were involved in all facets of the industry intrigued Slate as well. “Our brokerage gives the agents the most opportunity to succeed. For example, they have a relationship with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the local arena football team, the minor league hockey team, and the PGA tour on some level. That means we have the opportunity to work events with those organizations and get our names out there. We even have an office in the airport,” Slate says.
The brokers at EXIT Real Estate Gallery put effort into making sure their agents have every opportunity to grow their businesses, he says, and they’re available for support the entire way through. “My brokers answer their phones, texts, and emails within 24 hours at the latest.”
Slate also loves the wide range of opportunities available to him through his brokerage. He has online leads, floor time in the office, and the ability to work at events and fundraisers. “Creating a successful real estate business is all about multiple streams of potential revenue,” he says. “My brokers make that possible.”
The fact that his brokers have a wealth of experience and knowledge that he can easily access is important to Slate as well. “If I need to pick their brains about a new software system or have a question about something I’m working on, they’re available for lunch or through email or on the phone, and they’re always willing to share what they know,” Slate says.
Reputation and the Ability to Withstand Fluctuation
In Seattle, Windermere Real Estate is a well-known, respected brand, says Laura Brodniak, who’s been with Windermere Real Estate Kirkland for more than 20 years. Brand recognition is important, she says, but it’s only part of what keeps her at the brokerage.
“I have stayed because of the core values our office upholds,” she says.
Being at one brokerage for so long, Brodniak has weathered several market shifts, including the crash of 2008. Having a strong broker-owner like Geoff Wood behind her has made a big difference, she says. “When things are slow, he provides courses on forms, managing costs, and marketing,” she says. “If an agent is struggling or has just had a rough experience, he coaches them. He helps with confidence building.”
Brodniak says that Wood also helps agents navigate different kinds of markets. “In a seller’s market, a lot of buyers lose, and it’s important to know how to help those clients.” Market fluctuation is a constant, and agents value a broker who will help them navigate the changes, she adds.
Wood has a reputation that precedes him, which is another reason Brodniak stays with the brokerage. “He’s immersed in the industry and highly respected. He holds himself and his agents to high ethical standards, and I really appreciate that,” Brodniak says. “When there’s an issue, challenge, or problem, having someone with the reputation that my designated broker has is huge. It’s added strength in my arsenal.”
Nowadays, some brokerages are attracting agents by offering 0% splits and buying agents by offering bonuses for signing on. At the end of the day, these offerings won’t sustain a long-term business, Brodniak says, because agents want a brokerage that will help them grow.
“So many new agents are told, ‘Here’s your phone. Here’s your desk. Have at it and good luck,’” says Brodniak. “Agents want a broker who will bring things to the table to help them build a successful business.”