Commentary September 23, 2017

On Recruiting Real Estate Agents

One of the jobs of a real estate manager is that of a recruiter.

Sadly, recruiting often devolves into poaching. Hiring managers pour over programs and stats for hundreds of hours to see who they can pitch, what they can offer, and how to woo them to consider leaving their firm. They look for small signs, vulnerabilities, and run small test flags up the pole ad infinitum to those ends. One of the cute approaches is the “post close” letter they send to agents on the other side of a transaction:

 Dear Agent Whom I Know Can Sell Because We Just Had a Closing:

I am the Manager at XYZ Realty, and I wanted to take time from my busy day to congratulate you on the recent sale you closed with our firm.
My agent, Thor, told me what a professional, fine-smelling, well-groomed, and um, professional person you were in the transaction.

Hey, if you ever want to have a chat about your career or a future that could be awesome <insert benign sounding hint that my firm is superior to yours without overtly saying so>, I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee. Of course, everything would be completely confidential.

And stay classy!


XYZ Manager (who will announce on Facebook that I have again changed firms in 6 months)

My agents get these letters all the time. They show them to me. I tell them to include them in their listing presentation, so when a prospective client voices a muse about listing with XYZ Realty, we can show them that XYZ Realty is so awesome that they aspire to hire our agents. 

So, in no small way, I appreciate the favor.

Jenn Maher got one of these letters and laughed- she and the other agent (who was clearly poorly trained and/or had attitude issues) had substantial conflict and the manager never bothered to edit their form letter. Can you say “bad form?”

I’m actually not decrying the practice of writing a letter to a colleague at another firm after a closing to test the recruiting waters. There is some wisdom in that you know this agent is active and productive, they have hopefully seen how your licensee is enjoying their professional home and benefits from your tools, and they may be open-minded. What I am saying is that if you’re going to reach out, do so mindfully so that they feel spoken to, not spoken at. 

Recruiting is part art, part science. I don’t pretend to be an expert. I will say that our best recruiters over the years have been our agents themselves. I cannot think of any agent that left our firm with “the letter” as a catalyst, and as a matter of fact (knocking on wood) our attrition is pretty low. The mechanics of changing firms, depending on the amount of business one does, is actually a pain in the rump. Therefore, for many, things have to be pretty bad where they are to justify the hassle. 

In many ways, it’s a lot like dating or prospecting for listings. You kiss frogs, experience rejection, hone your message, and look for new ways to find and attract talent. Even then, the process of onboarding and retaining the talent is another universe of skill and craftsmanship.

Retention, unlike recruiting, can be summed up more simply: Be too good for them to ponder leaving. We aspire to do just that.