Follow these 10 tips to attract top talent to your company.
Some commercial real estate
companies have the magic touch: They attract and retain the best and
brightest brokers. Others aren't so fortunate. Maybe they hire good people, but they soon lose them to the competition. Which type is your company?
Commercial Investment Real Estate
asked leaders of brokerages with reputations for recruiting, hiring,
and retaining top performers to share their secrets. Their tips can
help you draw the best brokers - even those independents who never
thought they'd settle down with one company.
1. View all encounters as recruiting opportunities.
Successful brokerage managers understand that recruiting isn't done
only when companies need to hire: It's part of day-to-day business.
are attracted - or turned off - by how you work with them in
cooperative situations, says R.J. Neary, CCIM, SIOR, vice president of
Investors Realty in Omaha, Neb. Approach all encounters as
opportunities to draw other brokers to your company.
meet brokers and develop good working relationships during
transactions," says W. Greg Rothman, CCIM, president and chief
executive officer of RSR Realtors in Lemoyne, Pa. "Over time, if
brokers see you as knowledgeable, ethical, and competent, a door is
opened. We try to make [other brokers'] jobs easier and deal with them
with complete fairness. If you treat competing agents as if they are
part of your team, someday they might be."
These encounters also let you observe potential recruits in action, not merely in the rarefied interview atmosphere.
Van Ness, based in Irvine, Calif., has discovered that sharing listings
with the entire brokerage community increases its visibility and
expedites the company's growth. "We put our listings out there and
share the fee," says David A. Frosh, president of the company's
brokerage arm. "We don't market or pressure when sharing listings, but
[brokers] become aware of us. It creates a good link."
be advised: If each encounter is a recruiting opportunity, then each of
your company's employees is a marketing representative. Word gets out
if they are treated well, but it gets out even faster if they're
treated poorly. Likewise, employing mediocre talent conveys a message
about your company. "Brokers make the brand," Frosh says. "If you have
good ones, your brand will take off."
2. Designate and train a recruiter.
Assigning recruiting functions to one person helps focus your efforts,
says W. Darrow Fiedler, CCIM, CRS, GRI, regional director of Keller
Williams Realty in Redondo Beach, Calif. Even if you can't devote a
person full time, cultivating a recruiter/coach from within assists
both recruiting and retention. If you have a strong coach, good brokers
will find you, he says. "Who wouldn't want to play basketball for Phil
Training is crucial, he adds.
For example, a team leader in each Keller Williams office takes on the
recruiting function. "Specifically, we build 'black belt' team leaders.
To qualify for this opportunity, the [team leader] candidate must show
the desire to add value to [other employees] and achieve at the highest
level. Once we find a match through the Career Visioning [testing]
process, it then becomes a training issue," Fiedler says.
company uses team leader training boot camps for candidates. "We
believe that training is a career commitment to stay [on the] cutting
edge and sets an example for the rest of those involved."
still has to start with the right person; training alone doesn't make a
winning broker or recruiter. "What we have found through experience is
that if you have a high-minded, learning-based individual with
integrity, the rest are training, coaching, and consulting issues,"
3. Know your company's story.
To attract like-minded brokers, you need to know your company's
mission, ethics, and goals. "Decide what your company's culture is
going to be and stick with it," Neary says.
be tempted to adjust your company's image to land a particularly
alluring top producer, he adds. In the long run, maintaining an
identity pays off: You get the brokers that best fit your organization.
Having a story is a significant factor
in Sperry Van Ness' growth. "In a business where everyone sounds like, 'blah blah blah,' have a story that is different," says Frosh, who has
been using his organization's story to lure brokers from top companies
In addition to
articulating the story, "be able to back it up with stats," he says.
For example, last October the company successfully recruited a top
national broker who now serves as a senior adviser for Sperry Van Ness
in Cincinnati. Since 1999, the broker had been in the top 20 percent in
sales for his former company. "[The recruit] was very impressed with
the Sperry Van Ness story," especially its exclusive proprietary
marketing software that allows advisers to create unique marketing
material, Frosh says.
4. Grow your own.
Several owners and managers have found top talent by looking beyond the immediate commercial real estate community.
do we solicit existing brokers due to the competition it creates within
the office," says Rick DeKam, CCIM, a partner at Midwest Realty Group
in Portage, Mich. Instead, he recruits related-industry professionals,
such as attorneys, environmental engineers, and accountants. "We look
for people who have worked on the fringes of our industry."
model is best suited for small companies, such as Midwest, where
brokers typically work in teams. When the company bids on projects,
each member brings a particular discipline to the team, which "often
demonstrates a depth of expertise that sets our firm apart," DeKam
Midwest's approach requires
rethinking the traditional compensation structure: DeKam generally
gives recruits straight salaries for about two years before moving them
to a commission basis. With ongoing mentoring and training, it can take
three to five years to bring an industry outsider up to speed, he says.
However, "While I stand behind our
mentoring/training process, I must admit that it does not work for
everyone," DeKam says. "Since our process still provides a weekly
salary and expenses, although low, candidates in the program do not
have that 'do-or-die' incentive that 100 percent commissioned agents
have. Therefore, we have found that you still need to identify and work
with highly-motivated individuals who can see the benefits of this
career path and who have a fairly high level of passion for real estate
Investors Realty follows
this model successfully. "We're trying to grow our own," Neary says.
Recruits from outside the industry can, if needed, receive 'survival
salaries,'" he says. "We adjust the commission split until they are up
and running, which is usually a year or two."
well as expanding the potential pool, recruiting from outside the
industry provides exposure to new professional networks. DeKam cites
another benefit: You don't have to undo bad habits. "You get a
high-caliber person who you can mold into doing business the way your
company does business," he says.
5. Interview extensively and share the burden.
Recruiting a strong candidate is only the beginning. Ensuring a good
match requires taking the time to dig deeply, ask questions, and tap
into the expertise of the brokers in your office.
company recruiter brings only one perspective to the hiring process.
Including other brokers strengthens the team and allows you to draw on
the insights of those who may be working most closely with the new
recruit, according to many hiring experts.
example, at Midwest all brokers vote to bring on a new person, DeKam
says. "We also attempt to have our key personnel and brokerage agents
sit in on final interviews with prospective new hires. While this can
become cumbersome, it usually pays big dividends in morale and
6. Use testing that reflects the job description.
companies use testing devices during the screening process. Each system
has its advantages, but the one you use should accomplish your
company's hiring goals. Developing or finding a system that helps you
identify the right talent is critical, Fiedler says.
for the job description, not to find a clone of yourself or your
company, Rothman advises. You want a match, not an identical twin.
uses the Predictive Index test, which identifies candidates' natural
personality strengths and weaknesses. Using traits associated with his
company's top brokers, Neary has developed a typical profile against
which recruits are measured. "We don't all fit that typical profile,
but it helps build the team," he says. Over time, he's learned that
recruits who are similar to the typical profile are a better fit than
those who aren't.
uses a variety of testing tools, including DISC, Caliper, and Career
Visioning. The company's intensive, multiday testing process delves
into career history, motivations, goals, accountability, and other
issues company leaders believe are critical to succeeding in their
environment. To develop the system, Keller Williams adapted the best
practices of many types of businesses into an approach that works for
it, Fiedler says.
7. Conduct background checks.
Don't roll your eyes: It sounds like a no-brainer, but busy recruiters
too often skip this step or fail to give it the attention it deserves.
However, successful recruiters realize it's essential.
completes extensive background checks on all prospective personnel for
a good reason, DeKam says. "A false start with a new hire is far more
expensive in terms of time and training than proper qualification."
outsources the function to Arrin Systems, which checks criminal, civil,
financial, and legal backgrounds, contacts references, and confirms
applicants' educational credentials.
background check need not be extensive; it just has to work. Take
Neary's, for example: "We ask people we know. It is a small city."
8. Take your time.
Several hiring brokers likened the recruiting process to courtship:
Everyone is on their best behavior on a first 'date,' which is not a
good environment for making life-altering decisions. Likewise, spending
only a few hours with candidates doesn't give you an accurate picture,
Fiedler says. Most recruiters move slowly, conducting multiple
interviews and spreading the process out over days, weeks, or even
"Getting to know this person is critical to not making mistakes and having to go through the process again," DeKam says.
9. Look beyond money but never forget it.
Money may capture attention, but brokerage owners and managers have
learned that it often isn't the biggest draw. You have to offer
something more, especially to independent brokers who need something
special to entice them to join a company.
Keller Williams, all brokers are considered partners and can
participate in the company's international profit-sharing pool, Fiedler
says. Brokers are vested after three years and then can receive
lifelong profit sharing, as well as leave it to their heirs.
a limited basis, Midwest offers brokers the opportunity to partner with
principals in new property investments and ground-up developments. This
year it plans to launch a program to involve key personnel in the
company's ownership structure.
experts agree that compensation packages should cover marketing tools
and continuing-education costs, including conventions, seminars, and
professional-designation and graduate-degree courses.
advocates providing 'better-than-par' brokerage tools; accordingly,
Midwest invests heavily in technology. Brokers have access to an "expanding software library, a large legal document library, a variety
of marketing templates, and numerous custom real estate models for
analytical purposes," he says.
convinced that looks matter: A better-than-average work environment
includes a top-tier office. "A quality office environment is a
requirement today given the excessive number of hours that most
successful brokers work."
10. Don't give up.
"Recruiting in an up market requires tremendous perseverance," Frosh
says. Don't be tempted to settle, cut corners, or hire a solid producer
who isn't really a good fit - it's not worth it. You'll make the best
hiring decisions by remaining true to your vision.