Placester Insights: 10 Brokerage-Building Tips from Lanier Property Group CEO Stephanie Lanier
By Matthew Bushery
About Agent Basics
Recruiting and retaining real estate agents to your brokerage all while ensuring your existing team of agents has all of the necessary resources to meet their sales goals and continue to grow can become tiresome for brokers with even the best time management skills and dedication to the job. Thankfully, there are ways for brokers to ease this strain, as Lanier Property Group CEO and Placester customer Stephanie Lanier recently stated in a Placester webinar.
If you were unable to catch our webinar — “How to Recruit and Retain Agents with Great Technology and Culture” — be sure to check out several of Lanier’s tips below, which cover topics relevant to brokers: from how to make your firm more attractive to top real estate agent talent to the importance of having the right technology and training in place for your staff.
Also, download the recording and transcript of our webinar here:
1) On the Benefits of Sharing Your Joy for the Job …
Even if you’re not a real estate brokerage, every company needs to constantly be looking for talented folks, so we try to be really proactive.
Our newest agent I met at a Christmas party from the [local] university at the chancellor’s home, and I just started sharing about my job, and her eyes were lighting up, and her husband had said, “She always wanted to be a real estate agent.” And that was December , and she started about a month ago [April 2016] with us.
So I think some of it is your contagious enthusiasm for the industry gets people excited. And I think if you’re a broker-owner, that’s actually still selling real estate as well, it’s really nice because you can talk about the industry, not just from a management perspective, but also from a real-life perspective. So that’s been a big part of recruitment for us is just talking about how much I love this industry, what it’s meant to our family, how it’s created lots of opportunities for me to be a mom that can be there for her kids, and also make a good income for our family.
Real estate, I think, is just uniquely positioned as an industry to allow for that, so I think that message really resonates with women who want flexibility and want to have more control over their earning potential.
2) On How to Avoid Making Unnecessary Enemies in Your Market …
I’m not into this competitive back-fighting sort of thing that the industry sometimes can be known for. I have great relationships with every broker-owner in this town, and I want to keep it that way, so that I can make sure that I’m serving people and doing what’s best for them.
That’ll come back to all of us. Great agents help the whole industry, and those getting the support and training they need helps all of us, so I think that’s really important. People may come back to you. If we’re not the right fit for them at the time, that doesn’t mean the door’s not open [later on]. That’s so much better than when I hear people come interview us and they’ll say, “I was at all these companies, and they were trash-talking each other.” I don’t think there’s a need for that.
If you have a strong enough value proposition, you don’t need to talk about anyone else. You can just talk about what you bring to the table.
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3) On How to Ensure Your Agents Are Comfortable at Your Firm …
I mean, [your real estate brokerage office] should be this safe place you can come back to after a really hard day being beat up on negotiations or repairs. I think that’s a huge part of the brokerage, so when no one’s entertaining your sales meetings or in your office to drop off stuff or check in, I think it’s not a healthy sign.
We have almost 100% attendance at all our sales meetings because we want to make sure that the agents that, if they give us 60–90 minutes of their time, it’s really worth it. As a broker, you just have to constantly have to think value, value, value: What do your agents need, and how do you serve them? It’s not even that complicated. That’s the only thing that you need to be thinking about when you’re thinking about recruiting and retaining agents.
4) On the Importance of Choosing the Right Real Estate Technology …
As a broker, it’s your job to go look at the technology options and then sort out what’s going to make sense for you. The last thing an agent needs to do is test 10 different CRMs. It took us five to get it right at our company, and I think that agents should be out selling houses and not running around figuring out how the different services talk to each other.
I think for tech to fit, it has to serve a really clear purpose. You need to demonstrate to an agent why it’s either going to help them work faster or help them make more money. Otherwise, they’re just not going to be interested, and rightfully so.
Also, if you have to train people [on how to use your technology] for more than one hour, I don’t know — good luck. It’s just very difficult in a sales organization to get people to train for more than an hour. … You need to get training down to an hour, and if you can’t, you should get a different solution.
5) On How Continually Improved Hiring Practices Will Help You Grow …
The first few people — and this is true for startups, as well — the first few hires are critical. You want to “hire slow, fire fast.” Hopefully, if you’ve hired slow and right, you won’t have to fire people. So I think it’s just really important to spend time figuring out who the right people are.
Our best hires have always come from within — reaching out to our friends at church, our friend group. … Almost everyone who works at our company knew someone else who worked here, and I think there’s a reason it works that way, because if someone has gone to church with someone for two or three years, worked on a bunch of projects, knows how they interact with people, it’s much better than somebody we’ve never met before and don’t know how they’re going to interact in stressful situations or how they’re going to treat outsiders — all the things that matters to us.
6) On Dealing with Issues That Will Inevitably Arise for Your Team …
I think Sheryl Sandberg said, “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on, don’t [ask what seat].” But I think that rocket ship analogy is great, because there’s this idea that you’re building it while you launch, and that’s inherently messy.
You have to constantly communicate that to your team: “We’re going to have a lesson learned every day, and we’re going to celebrate that, and we’re going to make the most of it, because we’re not perfect.” People begin to buy into it and it almost becomes humorous, you know, like “Wow, we tried that, and it was a complete failure! Nobody would come to [our event]!” But on the tenth time you try an event, you hit it, and you have the magic happening finally.
I think so much of leadership is articulating where you are in the process and helping people see the vision of where you’re going. It’s really fun. Being able to build something from scratch is the coolest thing. I’m having the time of my life doing it. … You have an idea and start a business and go for it.
7) On Getting the Right People to Help You Lead Your Agents …
If you just started a brokerage and you don’t love people and you’re not just fascinated by human growth and development … you might want to hire someone to help you with this, because this is my very favorite part of running a brokerage. You will absolutely never hear me talk about running an adult daycare center. I think it’s offensive.
I know that broker-owners say, “But my people know I love them.” I’m like, “That doesn’t sound like love to me.” I think being called a 3-year-old doesn’t indicate respect and love. I really, really care about my folks, and I want to see them be successful. I’m committed to their success. We’re not just here to convert online leads and knock on doors — of course, that’s real estate 101. We’re here to help people accomplish a goal or live out a dream. I think about our brokerage as a dream factory.
We have so many single moms who are providing for their families who were home for 18 years and could have never made $50,000 or $75,000. Or some of them are on track to make six figures this year after going to class for like 70 hours. That’s crazy. Real estate is the coolest industry. If you will work your tail off and you will be coachable, so many things are achievable. That’s exciting. If that’s the kind of stuff you love, then this is the right kind of job for you. If you do not like dealing with people — because people are messy and will call you at 11:30 at night crying because they’re stressed out — then you need to get help. You need to get someone who’s really great at that, because I think that’s why people have stayed [at my brokerage].
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8) On Building a Company Culture Other Brokerages Will Envy …
Culture is completely knock-off–resistant. You could come here and look at our culture, but you couldn’t recreate it, because it’s about people. Unless you’ve got the exact combination of people in a small beach town with all this … similar history, et cetera, you couldn’t just replicate it.
I think focusing on your culture and making it … as weird you’re willing to make it — like, nobody needs another vanilla cookie, you know? … It bores me to death, like please don’t say you have a foosball table in your office. Boring! We’ve been doing that for 10 years now! Do something different. So I think that’s a huge part, too — to just be okay to say, “You might think what we’re doing over here is a little bit weird, but it works for us and it’s a part of being a part of our team.”
9) On Routinely Rewarding and Empowering Your Team Members …
On people’s first year work anniversary here, we give them these rain jackets that have our logo monogrammed on them, and it’s become a thing where people become really excited getting their jacket. When it rains, the people who haven’t been here one year are like, “I really want my jacket!” because they really love the company and they’re proud of it. It really makes me proud that we’ve created something that means that, because the cool thing about starting a brokerage or even running one that maybe your parents own … is that you get to create a community.
You created something from nothing, and that’s really cool. When people buy into that and care about it like you do, of course the customers are going to like it. But first things first: You’ve got to understand the order in which these things work. I think that that’s key. You’ve had this experience as a consumer: You love a company, then you find out they treat their employees poorly, and that changes how you feel about the company.
10) On Sticking to Your Business Principles 100% of the Time …
We can’t have our manifesto hanging on our wall and all over the place and then not reward and measure people based off of it. I mean, if all you’re rewarding and measuring is closed deals but the first line of your manifesto is you value people as a principle over profits, that’s a disconnect. You can’t say family comes first and is a precious gift and should be savored and have nobody seeing their family. There’s got to be some connection between your beliefs and your behavior, and I think a lot of companies get into trouble that look pretty on a wall, but the people who are working there would say, “Oh, no! My boss doesn’t really value family time.” … I think that that’s really, really key.
If you want to [have] the same kind of workaround, call the company and call a bunch of agents and ask what it’s like to work there. If you’re thinking about joining a brokerage or you’re building a brokerage, what are they measuring? How do they decide who gets rewarded? How do they decide who gets promoted? How do they decide who can’t stay on the team anymore? That’s going to give you a whole lot of indication about what they really believe.
How does your real estate agent recruitment strategy work for your brokerage? Do you bring on lots of new, top agent talent? How do you keep them onboard? Share your brokerage-building tips with us below!
Published on May 18, 2016
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.