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Why independent brokers should set up agent training programs

By February 17, 2015 One Comment

Here’s a thought: “In five years, 50 percent of the transactions will be completed by an agent who is not currently licensed.” That’s a quote from the incoming president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, Ron Croushore.

It makes you stop and think about where these new agents are going to come from … and who is going to train them.

I own an independent brokerage. There are lots of us in the same situation; the number of independent brokerages is over 80 percent of brokerages in the marketplace, and it’s growing.

I don’t have franchise training programs to rely on. When I started my brokerage a couple of years ago, I realized I would have to develop my own talent. Yes, I have read numerous articles and tips about recruiting, but I still realized early on that I would have to train staff if I wanted to grow my brokerage quickly

I sit on a state-wide committee for the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, which is essentially used as a “think tank” to consider upcoming issues facing our organization. In the first meeting, a member at large pointed out that the committee comprised members who all appeared to be over 40 (“No offense,” he said). He then asked this question: “How many of you have worked with a new agent in the last year?” After I raised my hand, there were no more agents or brokers who had worked with new agents in the room.

This is the challenge for our industry.

I decided not only to create a training program for my agents, but also to start a licensed school where we could provide pre-license classes and continuing education. Different states have different regulations about starting a real estate school; Pennsylvania has a pretty reasonable process, as does Florida — two states where we are currently licensed.

It takes quite a bit of effort to get the school licensed and up and running, but once you get it going, running a real estate school really has some benefits:

  • A school provides continuing education for your existing staff. This is a significant advantage; you can get courses authorized that benefit the training programs you think would be a good fit for your agents. Too often, the agents can fall into a trap of just taking bare minimum continuing-education classes, and those may not be a great fit for your organization or cover a topic in an area of emphasis for your agents.
  • Pre-licensing classes can be a boon to your organization. In many cases, you can offer classes at no or low cost to prospective agents who complete the course and join your brokerage. When I started my school, I didn’t realize that I could offer scholarships — I learned that afterward when I was attending a district Realtor rally. I met a school director from Pittsburgh who provided classes for a large brokerage. It was a revelation for me — and perhaps you knew this already, but this strategy could be a tool to help grow your staff.

By no means do you have to start a real estate school. You might decide a better alternative is to partner with a local or regional proprietary school. You might also find that your local or regional board of Realtors can help with classes on a regular schedule or a customized basis.

One suggestion to get your training program going is to work with a school who can license a branch setup. This would enable a broker who wishes to have the in-house ability to teach their own agents. They would be able to designate a trainer agent with both skill and knowledge and get them licensed through a proprietary or association-owned school to deliver training and provide a competitive edge.

YouTube videos

We set out to create a playlist of videos. We have recorded more than 50 of videos and have built a library to teach agents about a variety of topics that are of interest to our brokerage. This is a fantastic — and free — tool we use to help onboard new agents.

Because they are available online (and therefore nearly everywhere when accessed on a cell phone or tablet), they are particularly helpful to the new agents — and especially to those new agents who may have time to view our training videos in the off hours and at their own leisure. The videos are also helpful as refresher tools for existing agents. As the broker, when I get calls from agents who need help on a particular topic, I will often refer them back to the training video and point out that they need to catch that episode for some training or a refresher.

These are just some of the best tools I found to help me develop in-house training. I am sure there are others. Let us know about them in the comments!

Adam Conrad Jr., MBA, is the founder and broker/owner of Perry Wellington Realty, licensed in Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland and West Virginia.

Email Adam Conrad.

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