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

Seth Price
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Seth Price
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Sparking agent happiness with technology support

We know: It’s really not always easy to set yourself apart when it comes to technology platforms. There might not be much competition for transaction management tools, for example … and most brokers have learned that switching from one system to another often creates as many new problems as it solves old ones.

However, it’s also a given in 2021 that agents do expect certain things from their brokerages, and for better or worse, technology tools to help streamline their duties and get transactions across the finish line are always going to be on the list.

At the very least, agents will expect brokerages to offer some kind of technology solution (paid or unpaid) for:

  • A CRM
  • Transaction management for both listings and buyers
  • Digital document-signing, in most markets

Those are the bare minimum. Most brokerages are also expected to offer some kind of technology solutions around:

  • Website production and marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Compliance
  • Coaching
  • Networking or lead generation
  • … And the list goes on

For most boutique brokerages, this will mean outsourcing or contracting for these technology tools and services as opposed to building them in-house. That’s more or less a given; what’s left to determine is how to handle ongoing training and support around those tools. Brokerages have a choice between creating a training repository of “how-to” materials that agents can look up at will after onboarding, setting up some kind of group

  • sourced system to offer training and support, or designating an in-house expert whose duties include (but might not be limited to) learning everything there is to know about the technology tool in question—and training and updating the rest of the team on a need-to-know basis.
  • Whether or not you use videos or document guides to train agents during onboarding, it’s a good idea to have an easy-to-navigate bank or brokerage wiki of some sort that walks agents through basic tasks that might have slipped their minds since training. Use the onboarding checklist as a jumping-off point, then build your guides from there.
  • “Provide on-demand, easy-to-understand ongoing training,” suggests Adkins. “Some sort of intranet service, easy links to find videos, and include a link in your company-wide email every week: ‘Here are our brokerage training materials.’” This way, you can make it easy for agents to easily find details on how to automate birthday gifts or greetings for their clients in their CRM, or the steps they need to take to send out an email newsletter to their sphere of influence.

What if the agent needs a refresher course on something that isn’t included in your repository, or needs to learn something that wasn’t covered in onboarding at all? The next step is to set up some way for agents to ask questions about the tech tools they’re using.

Too many brokerages aren’t giving agents any way to request support, and the result is that agents’ plan to get help is: “I’ll just call the broker-owner or front desk,” says Adkins. (Sound familiar?)

“There’s no plan for how to get the help. They’re emailing, asking, texting everybody who’s the wrong person—or they don’t know what to do, so they don’t do anything.”

Realistically, it is not a simple task for brokers to set up ongoing tech support help for every tool their agents might be using, up to and including email and Facebook. But there are still ways to solve this problem without leaving agents out to dry.

Adkins recommends setting up a tech support channel in your Slack platform or your Facebook Workplace, where people can ask questions and groupsource solutions in a protected and internal environment. Setting up a “techhelp@yourcompany.com” internal email address is another option that can scale with you as you grow; you can always designate that email address to different people or groups without asking agents to change their behavior around how they seek support.

“Are you creating a culture where people feel like they can get an answer and it’s not all a scramble?” Adkins asks. “Be organized enough so that agents know where to go.”

Best-case scenario: You designate a go-to tech point person at your brokerage. Possibly even one for every different platform that you use. And of course, vendor selection is important; a tech vendor that can provide you with dedicated support representatives, and an actual human you can call and beg for help if everything breaks one day, will be a lot more help than one that requires you to call a generic phone number or send an email using a form.

The transition manager at Ansley, who holds agents’ hands throughout the entire onboarding process, is the result of Ansley’s tech partnership with the Chicago-based boutique brokerage @Properties. The system includes a CRM, marketing tools, CMA builders, internal communications, and transaction management rolled into it, and part of the transition coordinator’s job is to know the platform (literally called pl@tform, in this case) up and down.

“The transition manager has been what I call the

secret sauce to help an agent feel good,” notes McCormack, “because now they can go to our transition manager and the office manager and the managing broker for questions, and they feel like they’ve really got a lot of coverage for what they need.”