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Positioning Yourself To Hire The Next Generation Winners

Jan 19, 2011

Posted by

Carla Cross

About Carla Cross, CRB, MA International speaker, trainer, and coach specializing in career development, business planning, brokerage management, leadership, and instructor development. What sets Read more

The average age of a broker is 54.  The average age of a real estate agent is 51.  What’s the average age of the agent you’ve been hiring?  Although this isn’t a new concern, it’s a larger concern than ever.  A few years ago, I was helping grow one of the largest and most successful franchises in the Northwest.  The owner of the franchise told me he was worried that the agents in his top office were dying (literally!) and that no younger, energetic agents were being hired.  The unvarnished truth:  Unless you’re hiring fresh, younger faces, you’re not assuring the future of your brokerage.

The Problem with Having Too Many “Mature” Agents in your Office

The franchise owner I mentioned observed the very real, and somewhat disturbing phenomenon happening in this office.  When the manager hired a new, younger agent, the “old guard” put every barrier in the way—almost assuring that new agent would fail.  In other words, to succeed as a new, younger agent in that office, you had to have nerves of steel, unbelievable tenacity, and unassailable confidence.  Not only did you have to deal with those thousands of “nos” from potential buyers and sellers—you had to deal with the negative reinforcement of those seasoned agents!  No wonder few new agents survived.

Do an “Inventory” of your Group Now


If you’re already hiring Gen X and Y—congratulations.  If you’re not sure of your office “contour,” take a minute and set up a Career Life Cycle chart.  Divide all of your agents into four categories:  New agents who are in their first year;  This is the “Introductory” phase. The “Growth” phase includes agents in the one-to-three-year category.  Those who have passed the three-year mark are in the “Maturity” category.  Put the names of your agents in their appropriate cycle (just estimate).  Where are most of your agents?  Probably in “maturity.”  Or, perhaps, you have a preponderance of agents in “introduction.”  Not so fast.  Not only do I mean where they are in terms of agent development, but, what AGE of agent are you hiring as “new”?  

Note: I know mindset is not just determined by age.  You and I have both known “old geezers” that were twenty five!  We’re generalizing here.  But, with four generations of agents working together now, it’s important that we address the needs of each group—not just our dominant group in the office or the group that we’re most comfortable with.

Five Shifts You Need to Make

1.) Recruiting: Communicate Value-Based Messages with New Media

Have you added social media to your recruiting strategies?  If not, it’s time to start. As you do, be careful of the kind of messages you create—and the mediums in which you create them.

What social media probably WON’T do for you?  Don’t expect your next great agents are going to see one or two of your posts, email you, and enthusiastically join you!  Social media is mainly a method to communicate via “institutional marketing”—that is, to continually offer messages that reinforce your competitive position—your unique value.  How are you communicating your unique value?  Do you have a separate recruiting website (blog)?  Do you have a Facebook  business page?

Don’t try to sell them on these sites!  Provide helpful information.  Pretend they are just getting to know you.  Go slowly and establish a relationship.  This is the era of FREE information.  When providing that information, remember to imbue every bit of that information with the look, the feel, and the words that reinforce your unique values.

How to find those values? Look at your vision and mission statements.

Which mediums should you use?  Use more video and lots less words.  Gen Y is used to seeing short uTube videos.  Make your videos no more than 3 minutes.

By the way, I found neat (and free up to a point) software you can use to post audios and videos to your Wordpress blog (or your website):  The reasons I like this software are that you can post longer videos than uTube allows, and it will post automatically to your site. You just put your cursor where you want it to post.

You can also do educational webinars with any of the various webinar tools, record them, and post them to your website with

Want to make a recorded webinar and post it?  I use .

Who should you feature in your videos?

All the people involved with helping that agent develop a great career: your president, your manager, your training director, your mentors.  Also, feature testimonials from other Gen Y agents in your office.  Remember:  A third party endorsement is much stronger than your saying it!  (Besides, if you’re in the average broker age group, Gen Y doesn’t believe you so much…..)  

Some advice about inquiries from Craig’s List, Career Builder, etc.  When you place ads in non-targeted places like employment sites, you must also have a dynamic screening system.  Develop some “knock-out” questions for you or your assistant.  Develop a great interview process.  Otherwise, you’ll be spending time with candidates who really shouldn’t be candidates.

2.) In the Interview: Stop Talking—and Stop Talking about Your Top Agent

Most interviews are not “interviews.”  They’re sales jobs. Instead, make the interview all about that prospective agent.  Ask many more questions. Find out that prospective agent’s skills, his background, his values, his goals.  DON’T sell so much!

Note: If you’d like a copy of my 8-step interview process, excerpted from Your Blueprint for Selecting Winners, my eBook on a professional selection process, click here to request it.

Stop using the top agent as a “bell cow.”  The manager tries to convince that prospective agent to join because “the top agent in the company works here.”  Hey—Gen Y doesn’t buy that, because the top agent works there, he too will be a top agent!  Gen Y doesn’t care about that top agent.  He wants to know how YOU are going to help him succeed.  Besides, that top agent is probably one of those “seasoned agents” Gen Y doesn’t want to hear about! 

3.) Stop Being an Enabling Parent as a Management Style

Gen Y doesn’t want another parent.  They want a mentor.  They want a guide.  They want someone who leads a team in a collaborative, not top down, environment.  Drop out of your dialogue:  “You have to be with us to succeed”.  “We’ve always done it this way.”  I know that many large companies have recruited in the past by appealing to prospective agents’ need for

security.  In a way, that’s still there.  Prospective agents want to know that the company will still be in business in a year!  But, they don’t want to hear that the company is old school, top-down, ruled by navy-blue suited men.  And that’s why that new agent will succeed.  He NEEDS that.  Don’t get all huffy.  Gen Y is used to diversity.  They saw their mother tackle the ladder to success.  They have much less respect for old-school authority.  (What does that suggest about how you dress and where you interview?)

4.) Design (or Re-Design) Your Company Structure as Collaborative

In most real estate companies, it’s still “every man for himself (or woman).”  Gen Y doesn’t like that.  In fact, they are much less interested in getting ahead of the next guy.  They’re much more interested in joining a collaborative, supportive TEAM.

What is your company structure?  Is it top down?  Where’s your collaboration?  As I write this, I’m preparing to do a three day symposium for an Association of Realtors.®  In it, I’ll help managers go from “top down” to “spiderweb,” or collaborative structure.  This sounds easy, but it’s a very challenging paradigm switch.  Why?  Because it concerns:

• How we recruit

• How we select

• How we train

• How we coach

• How we weigh the value of our agents

• The configuration of our offices

• The services we provide

5.) Stop Relying on Company Training to “Fix Them”; Start Coaching

Even though we’ve been talking for years about segueing from the company training “fix all the problems in five days” type of schedule, most companies are still relying on the “talk to them until they’re sick of you” type of training.  Gen Y just doesn’t buy it! Instead, break down your training into small segments.  Add “alternative delivery methods” (stop talking and start facilitating).  Provide action plans, self-discovery, and collaborative exercises. In other words, stop training as the real estate industry executes it. 

Most important, add a real coaching system to develop each agent.  That means you:

• Train yourself as a real coach

• Have a reliable coaching game plan and implement it with each agent

• Dedicate time each week to pro-active coaching each agent (not just solving problems/crisis management)

• Create a peer coach/mentor system that you actively manage.

We Can’t Avoid Moving Forward any Longer

It’s difficult for brokers who have owned their companies for years to make these changes.  Most of them are truly “mind-set” changes:

• Drop the “top-down” father/mother knows best thinking;

• Stop trying to manage and motivate a group (those boring sales meetings!);

• Decide to develop the talents and skills of each agent you have—and develop the skills to become a competent coach;

• Develop alternative training skills (NOT lecture) and switch your training from I tell them and then they know it—to we work together to establish processes, systems, and dialogue and solve problems;

• Start communicating via new media—and have fun with it!

• Decide that younger people can lead YOU in some instances—and enjoy it!

Be flexible and excited about re-inventing your company.  Those who do will reap the benefits of hiring and retaining committed, creative, energetic agents.