In California, we have a new purchase agreement that agents across the state began to use on Monday, November 24. The California Association of Realtors® (CAR) made some pretty complex and sophisticated changes to the agreement—so many changes, in fact, that CAR now offers half-day training courses on the new contract.
The thing is… nobody bites. Agents don’t attend the training because they believe that they can do it themselves—that they do not need to study and understand the contract changes prior to writing an offer. In the words of one agent that I spoke with recently, “I wrote an offer. I just went through it, and checked all the appropriate boxes.”
Yet, in the same conversation, when pressed to discuss how he handled a request for corrective termite work now that this component is omitted from the contract, he backtracked and admitted that perhaps it wasn’t quite as easy as he thought.
The tremendous problem with this approach
The concern is this: agents need to learn the contracts in order to reduce brokerage liability and best represent their clients, yet the brokerage is not permitted to require independent contractors to attend meetings and trainings. That is, the brokerage can provide and arrange for the training.
Yet, if our agents continue to be independent contractors, we risk a number of legal battles if we start to put increased requirements on them.
Unfortunately, brokers need to walk a tightrope when providing or requiring training. You cannot require an independent contractor to show up for a training class, but those that do not train are a huge liability. The trouble is that the broker may need those agents—no matter how much of a liability they are—in order to keep the doors open, to cover the rent and the monthly expenses.
Two Ways to Address So-Called Required Trainings
Depending upon your brokerage model and depending upon how important you believe training and education is to your business, you may need to make some changes.
Cut bait. Be disruptive. When hiring agents, tell them that you expect a lot of your agents: that you expect them to attend the weekly trainings and round tables. Perhaps even go as far as telling them that they may not be a good fit. Make them beg. Cut bait for those whose values do not align with your own (in my opinion, those agents usually get lost over time anyway).
Provide training through multiple channels. At our brokerage, most trainings do occur at the office, but they are also available via recorded webinar and can be watched from home. Each week, we send out a weekly newsletter and it includes a list of the recorded trainings. Short of the fact that you don’t have Internet or a computer, agents at my brokerage have very few excuses for note participating in or watching a training.
If having high-quality, passionate, top-producing agents is important to you, then it may mean that you drop those that don’t fit the mold. In doing so, you can save by moving to a smaller space. If you are worried about dollars in, you can even add some ancillary services (such as property management) to offset the costs.
The key is to make a decision and make it now. If you want to start 2015 strong, then decide whether you will allow those whose heart and body are not in the game to be part of your 2015 team.