Learning how to manage a brokerage can be intimidating — there’s a huge learning curve from being an agent to managing agents.
We spoke with real estate broker John Walker, who has been a licensed real estate broker in North Carolina since 2004. His real estate partnership with his father, Ken, is one of the highest producing partnerships in his area. He’s also a licensed real estate instructor in North Carolina. Here’s what Walker had to say about how to manage a brokerage and start off as a new broker in the industry.
What’s the most difficult aspect of managing a brokerage?
The most difficult aspect of managing a brokerage is making sure that every agent has all the resources and support they need on a consistent basis from the firm and management in order for the agents to achieve their goals. The industry changes rapidly both in terms of market conditions and in terms of the way agents interface with clients. The firm has to strive to be ahead of the changes as much as possible in order to put their agents in a position to succeed. If you put talented agents in a position to succeed and give them the resources they need the results will naturally follow.
Where do you find inspiration for growing your business?
We focus on retention as much as we focus on recruiting. It seems that the popular trend is for firms to grow as big as they can and as fast as they can. We take a decidedly different approach. Our focus is on trying to find agents who will be a good fit for long-term success. Our desire is that every agent will have an outstanding experience in their day-in, day-out experience. We do not recruit in a flippant manner or without researching whether or not someone would be a good fit with our team. That does not mean that we do not want to grow as a firm, but it does mean we want to grow a certain way. When I learn about an agent who is not happy with their firm, it is a motivation for me to share with them our opportunity and why we believe it may be the fit they are looking for. We cherish the environment that has been cultivated over a long period of time, so the inspiration to recruit and retain derives from the goal of keeping that atmosphere going for a long time into the future.
What strategies have made you most effective in helping your agents grow?
It sounds overly simplistic but the most effective strategy for agent growth is positive reinforcement and celebrating agent successes. We try to do a good job of keeping agents up-to-date on the latest market trends and tools available to them, but the biggest thing is just making sure they are in a good place mentally to succeed. Real estate is a business that is predictably unpredictable. Every day brings new challenges for the agents and it can be easy for agents to get discouraged and lose confidence in the middle of all the challenges. The manager’s job is the help them overcome those challenges, to find the excitement they enjoy when helping clients, and to believe that their biggest success stories are ahead of them and not behind them.
How do you set realistic goals for your business?
The first goal we have is to always be better than we were yesterday. We try to constantly keep a long-term, big picture goal in mind but we also try to break it down into a specific activity that will make that long-term vision possible. We cannot control market conditions but we can control how we adjust to changes. We can control how much we are educating ourselves on the industry. For specific goals we try to analyze the data that is available to us and find ways to improve and change for the days ahead.
What’s one practical piece of advice for new brokers?
The most practical advice I can offer a new broker is to find your niche in the industry. So often new brokers are told “this would be a great fit for you,” when in reality they would be far happier in a different segment of the market. New brokers should try to experience as many different areas of the industry as possible as quickly as they can. Explore working with buyers, sellers, specific types of properties, areas of practice like property management, commercial, luxury properties etc. If you have an interest in a specific niche, pursue it and do not be deterred by the fear that can result from a lack of experience…everyone starts somewhere. You CAN do it.