The phrase “herding cats” alludes to the attempt to control something or some group, which is uncontrollable or chaotic. Having never had a cat of my own, I cannot say that I have experienced this herding thing personally. However, I imagine that herding cats is analogous to running a real estate brokerage. It is an extreme challenge to get a group of independent contractors to march to the beat of the same drum.
On the one hand, why should they? After all, real estate sales agents are independent contractors. Isn’t it their right as independent contractors to come and go as they please? Isn’t it their right to make their own hours and to set their own policies and procedures? Can’t they manage their clients as they see fit?
On the other hand, as independent contractors are to be supervised by their broker and it is the broker that holds the responsibility and liability for each and every transaction, there should be a level at which it is acceptable for the broker to set and establish policy and procedure. Clearly, this continues to be a very gray area when it comes to running a brokerage.
Each and every brokerage model is unique, and it is the broker or the sales manager who establishes the office structure. But, what should that include? How can you create a structure that encourages success and fosters education and training?
Brokerage Routines That Foster Success
Over the years, I’ve fallen into a pretty good routine. My routine seems to provide agents with learning and training opportunities, while also permitting a level of freedom with which most feel quite comfortable.
- Set a regular schedule for office meetings and trainings. Our meetings are set for Mondays at 9:00 a.m., which is admittedly not the best day for that. However, we had to select a day that was not also a scheduled day for local “broker opens” because we didn’t want our agents have to decide between the two meetings.
- Send a weekly newsletter. Every Monday morning, all of our agents receive a weekly newsletter. It contains the activity calendar for the month as well as other important goings-on. We introduce new agents, note topics discussed in the office meeting (in case agents miss the meeting), and have links to important webinars and trainings. We find that the weekly newsletter is a good communication tool for those agents who don’t come to the office much.
- Bring in speakers and trainers. We invite speakers and trainers from organization such as the association and the local MLS to come to our office and train our agents. Of course, trainings are always offered at other locations, but our agents prefer the convenience (plus, it is also a good recruiting opportunity).
- Contact all agents weekly. I make it a policy to speak with each of my agents once a week. If you have 100 agents, this may not be possible, but you could text them or send them an email and make sure that they don’t need anything. When you speak with your agents regularly, you may be able to head off any trouble before it occurs. You can also make suggestions for best policies and provide solutions for tough situations. This is a good way to find out what’s up with those agents who don’t hang out by the water cooler.
Is a running a real estate brokerage kind of like herding cats? It might be. But if you have some good, solid systems in place, your agents will know that the structure is there if and when they need it.