There is certainly power in the spoken word, more in the written and even more in action. We’ve all heard it – “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”, however sometimes Brokers forget that soliloquy. We get so caught up in the day-to-day paper-shuffle and firefighting that we forget that from time to time we have to show our agents a thing or two. We get to set the example.
For non-competing brokers, this can be a challenge in that we aren’t out there taking photos, entering listings or making videos. This post will explore 8 things Brokers can do to engage their agents, sharpen their skills and better their offices. However, there are plenty of other ways that we can engage and show that we’re Brokers of Action…
Action Tip Number 1 – Market Something
There is always a new agent in your flock that may need a little extra help with their first or newest listing. Consider coming along side that agent to show them “how its done”. Ask that new agent if they would mind if you helped them with their listing promotion. Work with them on creating a listing video, putting together marketing pieces, promoting the property, taking photos and getting all that cleverness to the right marketing venues. Get it posted on OnLocation, get the property description to come up on Google’s first page results for listings in that subdivision, get 100 hits on the new YouTube video. Show them how its done…
Most managers remember not only the cool feeling you had the first time your listing promotions were noticed, but also how lost one can feel the first time out. This is a great Action Tip to show you still have the knack and that you’ve still got the touch. It will also show your agents that you’re still in the game – while also showing that you’re out there helping out the rookie. It can be a great bonding experience. Just one note… Don’t co-list. Not only are there agency issues that could create a conflict, it also places you out there as a competing broker.
Action Tip Number 2 – Create
Coldwell Banker and other industry leaders have really been embracing the need for video for a long time. A lot of Brokers do encourage their agents to create videos, but very few do so themselves. A few have put together some pretty good recruitment videos, but how many have created internal training videos? Below is an example of a video I put together for my firm on how to use the routing tools in Docusign.
Doing this type of video serves a myriad of purposes. The primary purpose for our firm, is that we believe in “right now learning”. Whenever possible we try to create tools that the agents can access at anytime, from anywhere and show them how to do that ONE task that they need right now. Too often we try to create extensive training videos or manuals (as if this industry needed more reading material). Often the agent just wants to know how to do a specific task. We’ve created a pretty decent library – and it keeps growing.
In doing this, we show the agents that we believe in the tools the web has given us, we create a reason to come back to our company blog or website and it sends a pretty strong message to our competitors about our innovation. I don’t care if the competition finds the videos, because they then become good recruiting tools.
Action Tip Number 3 – Digital Signatures
This one is pretty straight forward… Digital Signatures are a great tool for risk-reduction, customer service and just ease-of-use. A good power move for a Broker is start allowing your agents to send you documents that require your signature by a digital signature service. So, no matter if you’re in the office or out, you can quickly acknowledge the forms your agents need. This lets them get the task over with and allows them to move on to other matters, all in an expedient manner.
Action Tip Number 4 – Don’t Just Push, Walk Alongside
There are a plethora of tools out there to point our agents to, including some great stuff from CBU. Coldwell Banker University’s BlueView Agent Portal is outstanding and it is designed for the self motivated learner. However, you’ll find that your agents often forget about the resource or simply don’t prioritize it. You can tell them it’s good for them and they should go, but not all will. It’s kind of like the dentist. I know I should go, I need a cleaning and check up and I eventually book it – but if I get a toothache, I somehow find the time to go right now.
Sometimes a good maneuver would be to remove yourself from your broker status and be “one of the guys” for an hour. Ask a rookie and a veteran agent to sit with you and review a training session or two. Tell them that you think it’s important to brush up on your own skills and that you’d like their perception or feedback about the session or sessions that you’re taking. Sometimes our veteran agents are embarrassed to think that they “need” training, so asking them to help vet a program gives them some clout and shows their importance in your ranks. It also may help expose them to some groovy stuff they wouldn’t have found on their own.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you know everything or that your agents will think less of you for taking courses. To the contrary they will respect you more when they realize how on top of things you are and how willing you are to keep learning. This is true even for staff instructors. Learning with your students is very valuable. Brining them information is the priority, not just being the source of it all.
Action Tip Number 5 – Put It In Writing
Take some time this week and write a personal thank-you note to one staff member and one agent. Do this every week until every staff member and agent has received a personal thank-you from you. Don’t make it related to how much money they make the firm, make it specific to a kind word they gave, help they offered, the effort they take in their own training or something they did in the past that you thought was great. It doesn’t even have to be in the recent past. Think about how you would feel receiving a note that said “I was just thinking about that time last year when you showed that house for agent X. I know that she appreciated that and since I was thinking of it, I wanted to let you know that its little things like that leave a big impression on all of us here at CB X”.
Sometimes I hear brokers say that hand-written notes aren’t their style… Get over it. There is nothing wrong with sending a thank you card to your agents. They’ll appreciate it and respect that you took the time. No, don’t email, tweet or Facebook it – write it.
Action Tip Number 6 – The Gift That Keeps On Giving
One day, out of the blue, give a gift card to an agent just because you thought they had earned it. No game, no big deal in front of everyone, no sales competition – just a gift between you and the agent. The card can be an IOU to pay for a class at CB University, a gift card to the local REALTOR® store at the Association, tuition for their next designation or training course or a cornucopia of other options. Don’t buy the gift, buy the option to buy a gift. Give them some sense of control and when to use it.
Action Tip Number 7 – Night Court
Agents learn best when they can participate and are involved. One of my favorite classes to put on is the Code of Ethics Mock Hearing. Without warning to the agents, turn your next office meeting into a court hearing. Take whatever hot topic is going on and turn your meeting room into a staged court room. Find an agent to be the complainant, the respondent, they judge and the facilitator.
When your agents come trudging in expecting a routine meeting you can introduce them to a “hearing” that will help give you and idea of how prepared your agents are and will give them an experience. Be prepared to see how sharp your agents really are. Many brokers are surprised at just how much their agents know and how ready they are to share with others in the room during this exercise.
Here’s an example of what I used in the early days of my Mock Hearings:
Action Tip Number 8 – Sit With Your Staff
Ok, so sitting, although a verb, isn’t necessarily what one thinks of as an “action”, per se. However, your staff are the backbone of the operation and I don’t know about you, but I know that I am not fully aware of what they do all day. My plan in the upcoming months is to actually sit with a variety of staff members for a half or whole day and just watch their processes, their frustrations and their successes.
Don’t assume that you know their job because you know about their job. Sometimes Brokers overlook things that could be more efficient or even tasks that no longer need to be done at all when they really take the time to see what everyone is doing. Spending some time with your staff will help show them that you aren’t beyond them, that you value their efforts enough to make sure that you understand them and that you want to make sure that you’re up to date on all they do.
This exercise also has the additional added value of letting you know where you can make improvements on workflow, inner-office resources and make sure that you know everyone’s job well enough that if you have to step in, you could.
Don’t make excuses – do it. Make the time.
This list could go on and on and certainly you are all welcome to add your own power-tips in the comments below. There is a never-ending list of things that we all must do, but it’s important to step out from the routine and engage in different ways. Its fun to change one’s pace for brief periods of time and many of these ideas will build a better and stronger connection with you and your staff and associates.
Trust me, it’s worth the effort and it will not go unnoticed! Good Luck!