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Keeping Your In-house Training on the Rails

Keeping Your In-house Training on the Rails

Real Estate Training is one of those buzz words in the industry similar to real estate tech, often used by managing brokers in some sort of recruiting capacity to make them sound hip to the modern real estate jive. They make hefty claims to possess the BEST training platforms or the BEST tech available for their agents. But if we scratch the surface a little and peak behind the curtain, most brokerages have little if any valuable training for their Realtors. 

I think we can all agree that the courses we take to become a licensed salesperson are very good at educating prospective realtors on how to fill out paperwork and to best avoid litigation, but the preparation really stops right there. You can be amazing at paperwork but if you don’t have any clients to demonstrate your meticulous new skill set to, you won’t be around long in this industry. The lack of proper preparation is the major reason Realtors have such a high failure rate in the first couple of years. Agents are not sufficiently armed with career building strategies and the vast majority of brokerages are not helping them get off to the start they need. Despite the promises, the training and the early support for their career just isn’t there. 

As a graduate of teachers college and a lifelong learner, I am definitely guilty of being perhaps too passionate about education. Training and development is critical to the growth and success of any career and is absolutely vital to a company’s culture. A successful company, that is. In real estate, the moment we think we know it all, is the moment our business begins to head in the wrong direction. This industry is constantly changing and we all need to be changing with it. Educating ourselves on the latest best practices, technology, marketing techniques and consumer needs is truly a non-stop endeavour.

Align yourself with the Right Sales Philosophy

Many brokerages will say they offer training but I think it’s important to delve deeper into what they actually mean by training.  How frequently is it?  Who is the trainer? Is it a Broker, is it some 3rd party that I need to pay for?  What is the company’s sales philosophy? Now this is a huge one because it better be aligned with how you want to interact with your clients?  Does it sound like there is a story here? Well there is…

Previously in my real estate career I was actually head of the education department at one of the big franchise brokerages (I won’t say who but I am sure you can guess by the end of this paragraph). This company often touts themselves as having the best training program in real estate. Naturally this got me excited when I first joined the company with a background in education and a desire for knowledge. My excitement didn’t last long.

I soon realized the training was all about the sale and not at all about building the relationship with your client.  Cold calling, door knocking, scripts and objection handlers, I soon felt like I was in some sort of “Wolf of Wall Street” for real estate.  The training was delivered in a very instructional way, with the trainer at the front of the room and the class would simply listen or repeat back scripts like robots. I saw very little group discussion, open dialogue, or practical in the field experiences which I know from my education background are the best forms of learning. I just couldn’t get comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, these sales tactics do work- I have seen it firsthand.  However, when you are constantly manipulating people and pressuring them to work with you the chances of repeat and referral business is drastically diminished.  The result? Agents 10+ years into their careers still having to go out and door knock and cold call, using outdated and illegal practices to keep their business afloat. Personally, I have never made a cold call in my life, and before stepping back from my sales career my wife and I were consistently over 60 deals/year based strictly off our database and those lucrative referrals.  

We built a business on relationships, not on the turn and burn mentality. I couldn’t imagine spending my career constantly on the hunt for that next transaction. So the point here is to make sure you align yourself with a company that has the same sales philosophy that you do. Ensure you and your Brokerage have a shared vision for the future of this industry because the training they are promising will be useless unless you believe in the methods yourself.

‘Mentorship’ is often a word that is thrown around with training, but again, don’t simply take this at face value. You need to examine exactly what does a Broker mean by ‘mentorship’?

From my experience, mentorship means “we will throw you on a team and they will raise you.” Many Brokers will instruct new agents to jump on a team, in essence, passing the responsibility of training these people onto the team leader. Great for the Broker, but let’s not forget that it is typically these large transaction-focused teams that have the most consumer complaints filed against them. So now our new agents are learning these poor behaviours, and giving up 50% of their commissions for the privilege? Doesn’t sound like mentorship to me.

I believe that true mentorship comes in the form of non-selling Brokers who are always available to support their Agents. Toss in an office culture that promotes sharing and collaboration amongst Realtors and you have the makings of a true mentoring environment.

It’s profitable when it’s FREE

You know why the big franchises say that they do ‘training’? So they can profit from it, end of story. It’s disgraceful. As a Broker, you have a responsibility to nurture, educate and prepare your Realtors the very best that you can.  

Training should be free, not another income generator for the brokerage.  If Agents are properly trained, guess what? … they are more productive which results in the Broker sharing in that success. Too many Brokers just don’t see the big picture here. Offering training platforms for an additional fee or pushing third party trainers or coaches that don’t know the local market, or even how the industry works here in Canada. It all makes zero sense.

How Often? Often

The frequency of training is vital. If you are experienced in the industry we have all been to one of those 1-day or weekend ‘rah-rah’ sessions that pump you up for a week or two, but the energy and optimism never last. The problem with these once a year weekend sessions is the Agent leaves and inevitably falls back into the same old unsuccessful routine. There is no accountability, no one to share in those little victories, or more importantly, to help you through the struggles.  

This is why we feel training needs to be done through a variety of methods and on a weekly basis. Group learning where Brokers create cohorts of agents who are in a similar stage of their business, who meet weekly to learn together. They can share in each other’s victories and support and learn from one another, becoming like family.  We have seen this first hand and the impact it has on the office culture is truly priceless.   Pair the group learning environment with mentoring from non-selling brokers who have the time and skills to role play, stay on top of the latest industry trends and continually provide their realtors with new tools to help them run a successful business and you have the makings of a true training platform.

As we discussed in our “The Independent Movement in Real Estate is on in Canada” blog there has been downward pressure on brokerage/agent splits leaving most brokerages fewer and fewer resources to provide to agents.  So one of the first things to go is training. It’s expensive, time intense and easily passed off to a third party for a fee.  This is the wrong approach.  Brokers need to realize that training solves all problems… agent productivity, office culture, agent retention etc. etc. and every dollar and minute invested in training will come back tenfold. 

Let me leave you with this…

How well would a professional sports team do if they decided practices were too expensive and time consuming and we are just going to play strictly games now?

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