I have had the same phone conversation a few hundred times with top agents around the country. They call me up and say, “Greg, I am thinking about changing offices. XYZ Realty has been pursuing me for a long time, and they are offering me a higher split. I would make $X more dollars over there, doing the same volume, than I am making right now. What do you think?”
My response always starts by asking the questions every agent should ask before changing offices. How does the office environment compare between your existing office and where you are thinking about going? Whose values do you feel match yours the best, your existing manager or the new manager you are thinking about working for, and why do you feel that way? Which manager do you feel will help you reach your full potential as an agent and as a person? What is each company’s philosophy about personal marketing and company marketing? How does each company’s business plan and mission statement compare with each other? How much momentum will you lose in the transition?
The most common answer I get to these questions is “I don’t know” and “I didn’t think about that”. About 70% of the time, I hear the sound of disaster. They say, “Greg, those are some interesting questions, but did I tell you that I would make $X more than what I am making now?” I want to set the phone down and walk away because I know that they are going to give me their best close on why they should make the move, even though they have an uneasy feeling in their gut that prompted them to call me in the first place. They cannot see anything except the dollar signs.
Don’t Underestimate the Intangibles
The reality is that working for the right manager in an office environment that supports you personally and professionally is critical to your long-term success and happiness as a real estate professional. Unfortunately, most agents change offices for all the wrong reasons; it invariably costs them more in lost productivity than they ever realize. On top of that, the problem that drove them to leave will also show up at their new office as well.
Looking for a simple answer, agents ask, “Greg, if you got back into selling real estate, what company would you work for?” The reality is that there is no simple answer to this very important question. But I do have some valuable advice that thousands of agents have told me would have been excellent advice, if they would have listened to it.
First, I believe that your success will not be significantly affected by the name of the company you work at. The difference between saying you are with any chain in particular is, in reality, totally insignificant. I know that this is hard for some of you to swallow, but it is true. Realize that, especially if you understand and apply the principles of personal marketing, you as the agent will be what generates business. Think about it this way – how many deals do any of these companies guarantee you each month if you go to work for them?
Match the Manager
Agents say, “Well, if that’s true, should I just go to the company with the highest split?” The answer is firmly, no! What will affect your income, your happiness, and your enjoyment of your real estate career more than any other single factor is the manager you work with. The key question to ask yourself, “Is this a manager who can help me tap into my full potential both professionally and personally?” If I were going to sell real estate in Westport, Connecticut, I would go and convince Mike Murray, the Broker Manager at Prudential CT Realty in Westport, to hire me. If he would not, I would keep in touch with him until he did. The commission split he offers isn’t even close to the highest in town.
So why would I beg to work for Mike? First, he has a plan to help each and every one of his agents make the most of themselves. In his office, he has cultivated an atmosphere of learning and personal growth. He has helped some of the people become MegaAgents earning spectacular sums of money. In essence, he is like a coach to a star performer helping them to maximize themselves. He also has people who seem to look like they are average performers, but in reality are achieving their personal goals of more time off, serving a special group of clients, or spending more time watching their own real estate investments grow.
Each year, Mike sits down with each agent and finds out what their personal goals and objectives are and then works with them to set up a plan to accomplish them. Sometimes, he has to tell them things they don’t want to hear; sometimes, he has to hold them accountable . At times, he prods them, at times he encourages them, helping them to constantly think and grow both professionally and personally. He helps them learn how to enjoy each day of their lives so that they develop a sense of satisfaction and joy that few agents ever find.
After watching Mike over the last ten years, on the few occasions that agents have left his office for bigger splits, they ended up regretting it. Their production usually dropped off, and they lost their love of doing real estate and that positive feeling that comes from working in an environment of positive energy that great managers bring to an organization.
Finding a Nurturing Environment
On the other hand, I have also seen agents who desperately need to get out of the office they work in because the manager is literally draining the life out of the organization or there policies are so hopelessly behind the times that they hold the agents back. I remember a phone call I had with Phil Herman, one of the top agents in the country about ten years ago. At the time, he was a partner with Heritage Realtors in Dayton, Ohio. He was one of 16 to 20 co-owners at the company. He had started a strong personal marketing campaign and his personal sales were growing rapidly.
He emerged as the top agent in Dayton. Like usual, some of the agents in the office were jealous of his success and felt like he was overshadowing the company. So the company started creating policies that limited Phil’s ability to differentiate himself and forced him to stop doing the personal marketing that was working so well for him. I had recommended to Phil that he leave and join one of the many progressive companies that would have support for his personal marketing effects. Phil loved Heritage and was hurt and frustrated that his partners were not excited about his success. When he finally did leave, it was like a breath of fresh air. His productivity skyrocketed, and his passion for real estate and personal happiness were restored.
The Honest Truth
If you are working for a manager who does not support your personal marketing efforts and is not helping you grow and coaching you on how to make the most of yourself, then you owe it to yourself to find a new office. No matter what you think they are doing for you, or what ever commission split they offer, it is costing you more than you will ever know.
Each year, we conduct our MegaManaging seminar for hundreds of managers across the country who are committed to coaching and helping their agents to reach their full potential. It’s not the company you work for; it’s the care and coaching of your manager that makes a difference. I know managers at every major franchise and large independent that I would love to work for.
Redefining the Critical Question
Before we started Hobbs/Herder Advertising, my partners and I had the opportunity to be exposed to the great personal development trainer, Jim Rohn. One of the things that we learned from him is that in any job you must learn to stop asking, “What are they paying me?” Instead, he taught us to focus on “What is this job making of me?” Is it making you more valuable as a person, as a professional?
If you focus more on what your manager is helping you become on a daily basis, you will find that, in the end, you will make more and be happier than if you are always chasing after a higher commission spilt, or moving to a company that has the best location, or spends more on house advertising than anybody else.