The Boutique Broker's Guide to Delighting Agents and Winning Star Talent

Seth Price
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Seth Price
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The icing on the cake: Miscellaneous offerings that make the difference

When the world isn’t being hamstrung by a pandemic that’s limiting in-person gatherings, one way that West + Main Homes stands out in the crowded Denver market is by offering brokerage networking and events that clients love.

“We do four big client appreciation parties a year,” Staub explains. “And we do a lot of in-the-storefront events—first Friday events featuring local artists every month, and pop-up shops featuring makers, creators, crafters.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, she says they’ve pivoted to feature more artists and small-business owners on the West + Main Homes blog, which they also update regularly with market news, home design trends, and other items of interest to Denver homeowners and aspiring buyers.

Another way that West + Main has changed up their agent services post-COVID is by creating more connection opportunities between and among agents and staff, so everyone feels looped in and, ideally, less isolated. “We used to do so much in-person and in our offices, but we weren’t doing any kind of sales meetings before COVID. So when the lockdown first started, right away, we implemented a weekly check-in.”

At first, the check-ins were centered around what was happening with the pandemic and how different agents were dealing with it and solving problems for their buyers and sellers. When Staub and Fischer realized they were getting 100% participation and enthusiastic engagement, they wondered how they could use it to better support agents. It’s since evolved into a sort of hybrid between educational opportunity and mentorship group, where they’ll bring in guest speakers or ask a team member to walk attendees through a different exercise or aspect of the transaction.

Staub might have an appraiser come in and discuss appraisals; she likes using appraisers from out-of-state because she says they can sometimes speak more freely to agents about what exactly goes into an appraisal. She’s also booked economists, industry consultants, and others who can give agents a fresh or wise perspective.

“As the year went on, I started feeling like our agents needed more touch than that.” So Staub created small team groups comprising a spectrum of seasoned veterans and brand-new agents, who can discuss what they’ve learned in the educational sessions together and support each other. The groups decide together how often they’ll meet and what format makes the most sense for them; some have regular Zoom meetings, while others gather on a patio.

“We find those groups really serve one another,” Staub says, “and the seasoned agents really get inspired by the energy of the new agents, and now they lean on them for help and overflow in their business.”

The pandemic also threw a wrench in the works at Ansley, but McCormack believes that acting proactively instead of reactively has been key to keeping agents happy and productive.

“One of the things we did as soon as COVID hit was come up with some policies that were protective for the agents, the buyers, and the sellers,” she says. “We spent time with our agents helping them understand the need for those policies, but we didn’t drill fear into their heads. There’s something with the pandemic that we watched with other companies: If they put fear in the agents, production stopped. But if you embrace the agent, they keep going.”

Ansley implemented company-wide Zoom meetings and used them as opportunities to transparently address anxiety and admit where the leadership team would need to seek more information. They included discussions about mental health and offered resources wherever they could for staff as well as agents.

They also started an “agent expert” series of meetings, where agents could learn from each other.

“Recently, we had one with an agent who does an enormous amount of social media; she is all over everywhere and does tons of video,” McCormack explains. “We take agents who are doing something a little different, put them in front of our other agents, and let them learn from each other.”

Maintaining camaraderie and goodwill across the company wasn’t always easy, especially with groups of agents who are used to seeing each other regularly and take a lot of pleasure from spending time with people. Zoom happy hours, as we’ve all learned, are not the same.

“At Thanksgiving, every agent in the company got a present from us—French toast from a special bakery, with special syrups and a recipe. It was a comfort thing,” notes McCormack. Ansley also sent out Jo Malone diffusers for Christmas. “We’ve really stepped up our game and made sure agents know they are connected.”