The real estate broker’s dilemma: what if I train him and he leaves?

According to broker Jay Thompson, a strong training and development program is very likely to improve retention and attract new talent. While you may occasionally lose someone, you’ll also have happier, more satisfied agents – and clients – working for and with you.

Do you receive Inman Broker’s Edge? Make sure you are subscribed here.

Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent over six years working for Zillow Group. He is also co-founder of AgentLoop. He “selectively retired” in August 2018, but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His Inman Column is published every Wednesday.

Sometime after the Dark Ages ended, I got my first leadership position. Young, sometimes dumb, but eager to advance my career, I was lucky to have a great mentor. He sat me down on the first day and gave me sage advice.

There are three things you need to remember to successfully lead and manage people: First, hire the right people and never stop training and developing your team members. Second, acknowledge their efforts and don’t take credit for their success. Third, never screw up their salary.

After sitting in a meeting watching my manager take all the credit for a project I had just completed, I fully understood the second point. Going through gyrations to fix a missed paycheck more than once made point three obvious.

Training and development? It was quite new to me. I worked on a semiconductor manufacturing line that used very complex machinery to process products and I was well aware that pressing the wrong button could literally ruin a batch of products worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Obviously, training in the operation of the machine was important.

We had a very structured training. Load a batch of products like this. Monitor the software like this. Review process checklists. Step A, then step B, then step C. In short, training is when an employer teaches their employees how to do their jobs.

Development goes beyond training. Training is generally short term while development is long term. Development involves learning new skills, giving workers deeper knowledge and understanding, and enabling them to progress in their careers.

We could masterfully train someone to operate a piece of equipment. We could develop them further by training them on multiple sets of equipment, teaching them what the machines actually do to the product, and helping them develop “soft skills”.

Soft skills are the personal attributes that allow you to interact effectively and harmoniously with others and include things like communication, problem solving, decision making, leadership, and teamwork.

Training and development takes time and money. It’s time and money well spent, because many studies show training and development not only increases employee (and independent contractor) retention, but is also proven to attract talent.

From Semiconductors to Brokerage Property

This example of semiconductor manufacturing from my pre-real estate life carried over into my life as a real estate broker. License courses teach very little about how to close a deal or succeed in a career selling real estate. This extremely important task falls to the broker or team leader.

There is definitely a need to train agents on things like list entry, CRM software, lead generation, etc. Developing soft skills and translating those skills into sales can be even more important.

What if I train them and they leave?

In countless discussions with brokers and team leaders about training and developing their agents, I often hear something like this:

“So I spend a lot of time and money developing an agent and then they go to another brokerage! Why should I do that?”

There’s an easy way answer to “What if I train them and they leave?” and i.e. “What if you don’t, and they stay?”

“When a cynic asks, ‘What if we train them and they leave?’ the winning organizations answer: “what if we don’t train them and they stay?” -Peter F. Drucker

Of course it might be a bit cliche, but it’s true.

Never abandon training and development on the grounds that an agent (administrator, deal coordinator, copywriter, marketing professional – anyone in your organization) might leave. A strong training and development program is likely to improve retention and attracting new talent.

Sure, you may lose someone once in a while, but you’ll also have happier, more satisfied agents – and clients – working for and with you.

Long after leaving the semiconductor industry and delving into real estate, Sir Richard Branson best summed up the conundrum “What if we train them and they go”.

“Train people well enough that they can leave, treat them well enough that they don’t want to leave.” —Sir Richard Branson

Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and co-founder of AgentLoop living in the Texas Coastal Bend. Follow him on Facebook, instagram and Twitter. He holds an active broker’s license in Arizona with eXp Realty. Called “the hardest working retiree ever”, as the founder of Jay.Life, he writes, speaks and consults on everything related to real estate.

Previous The real estate buying frenzy is over
Next North America Real Estate Software Market Report 2022