As brokers, how do you manage professionalism through your office?
With many Realtors® on their own schedules, it can be difficult to maintain a sense of professionalism across all areas. PAR’s leadership team weighed in on how to pass along their best practices.
“While good managers, training programs, on-going classes and mentorship are all critical components to building professionalism, nothing is more important than the culture supported by the office as a whole. I recall a new licensee raising her hand during a training class and asking if I knew why she joined our company. Since I did not think it was my spectacular personality that was the draw, I asked her why she did. She explained that of the four companies with which she interviewed, our office was the only one that immediately submitted new listings to the MLS. That seemingly simple comment I made during the interview made an impression on her. Our company was the type of professional environment in which she wanted to work,” said PAR President Todd Umbenhauer.
“Both experienced and new licensees need to know that there are resources within their company that can be accessed at a moment’s notice when they experience something in the field and are not sure how to proceed. If an agent is not sure what the next step should be, they should know exactly what persons can be contacted in their office to work through the options,” Umbenhauer added.
PAR Treasurer Chris Raad stressed the importance of re-instilling basic common courtesies, values and goals through sharing past experiences and continued education.
“Storytelling can be a powerful way to help others learn to handle future situations by hearing real-life details from some one who was in the situation and how they handled it. Education can come in many forms as technology continues to change and many need encouragement to keep learning and growing. Also, we need to keep in mind that simply treating everyone with the same respect you would appreciate is the easiest way to create a solid work environment for colleagues and clients alike,” said Raad.
A Realtor® needs to understand the entire transaction, beyond sales, said PAR Vice President Bill Festa. “Professionalism in our business is extremely important and there are many things you can do to encourage it. Part of my new agent training was about understanding the mortgage process and title insurance as well as professional sales techniques,” he said.
“The agent also needs to know the markets they are selling and they must have a personality that takes all of this information and is able to communicate it to others clearly. Finally, and there’s no getting around this, there needs to be experience. For some agents, it could be a few transactions and for others, it may be several more before they feel totally comfortable. They also need to have a broker, manager and/or mentor that gets them involved in continuing education, and by that, I mean involvement at the local, state and national levels as well as advanced sales training. When the agent finally internalizes all this they will be a real estate professional,” Festa added.
Show your agents how to act by setting an example yourself, said Kathy McQuilkin, PAR’s immediate past president. Her office also practices going through everything with new agents until they understand. “New agents will have a mentor for their first few transactions. They will have one-on-one weekly sessions on contracts, documents, expected actions, interaction with cooperating agents/brokers, our mandatory documents, personal promotion, etc. They will meet with a technology person at least once, more if new, and our marketing person for whatever needed of sessions needed for their business and to the extent that they want to utilize services.”
“We, as owners, try to set the example with everything from RPAC to professional dress. Each of us participates in presenting at our meeting, which also provides speakers of importance for every facet of our profession, our community/customer appreciation events, as well as personal notice of our agents’ successes. We have another three or so meetings per year with special items of timely education/speakers or broadcast events from RE/MAX including yearly agent appreciation get together.”
It’s not all work with no play though. McQuilkin said that the summer monthly meetings conclude with a casual lunch barbecue at the office. Balance is important as well.
PAR President-elect Bill McFalls said professionalism goes back to the basics. Think kindergarten.
“I was recently reminded of a book I read over 25 years ago and I think it may offer some clues on how to define professionalism and how to bring it back into our offices and industry. The book is titled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. The book provides essays and thoughts on basic principles, like sharing, playing fair, returning things to where you found them, cleaning up after yourself, apologizing when you’re wrong and living a balanced life.”
“The basics of what is professionalism is all there,” added McFalls. “We can practice it everyday. We can easily create adult metaphors to relate these basics to ourselves, industry and offices. It is a pretty simple concept that can break down easily when everyone doesn’t follow it.”