Company News April 6, 2012

On Being a “Competing” Broker or Manager

The discussion arises in the real estate agent community about the pros and cons of working in an office where the broker or manager is also in the field actively listing and selling real estate themselves. In offices where the manager is in the field they are considered a “competing” manager, and if they are not active in the field and fulfill only a support and administrative role they are considered “non competing.”

I have heard horror stories about competing managers poaching clients from their own team, and I could certainly tell horror stories about non competing managers. For the record, I am in the field actively listing and selling properties. However, I dislike the label of being a “competing” broker because I do not consider myself in competition with my team for reasons I will get into shortly. I prefer to categorize managers as being in the field or not in the field because competition is very subjective.

The advantage of working for a broker or manager in the field is that they have first hand knowledge of exactly what it is like to work in the current environment. They see homes. They sit at kitchen tables. They go to inspections, deal with appraisers, lawyers and loan officers and get the climate we are all in. Their skills out to be sharp because of this, and if they accompany one of their team on an appointment they can be more valuable. Unfortunately, some managers who are in the field DO compete with their team members, and sometimes that causes issues when they get a client and beat out one of the other agents in doing so.

I can’t say much about managers who do not actively list or sell. I am not one of them, I never worked for one, and the bad experiences I have had are, I hope, anecdotal and could just as well have happened with active managers. For example, a manager who plays favorites with client inquiries doesn’t have to be out f the field to do so. The same goes for managers who tolerate misconduct from their agents (a HUGE pet peeve of mine).

About 5 years ago I got a phone call from one of my agents. He congratulated me on “getting” a listing he had been working to procure. Apparently, the people who called me and subsequently listed their home with me were also advertising their home as being for sale by owner, and my agent was trying to get them to list with him. I felt bad that I won and he lost, so I asked him to co-list the property with me. That was a mistake. I should have entrusted the listing to his primary care. He knew the folks, they liked him, and they would still have access to us both anytime they wished.

My philosophy since is that if I am ever competing with one of my agents for a buyer or seller, I will do everything in my power to secure the client to the company- and see to it that my agent gets the deal. As owner of the company, I win when my people win. I don’t need to be a glutton and shut them out. It is counterproductive to the long term goal of growing and strengthening the team, and erodes morale. But if I make sure they win, we all benefit. This role shifts me from being in competition with my agents to being their biggest resource. They never have to hide anything from me, and they never have to worry that their company is not 100% behind them.

This may sound self serving or self promotional in nature; it is not my intention for this to be a mere fluff piece to recruit more agents. But you know what? It is self promotional. We are growing the firm, and I feel it necessary to put my views out there. People get passionate about the discussion. We only want agents who will operate with the highest standards for our clients, and if that is to be so I have to do the best by the agents.