Whether your new agent comes to you with no experience or has been an agent for years, your onboarding process should give them the support they desire and the tools they need to be successful.
“Onboarding is something that is extremely critical,” says Anthony Lamacchia, CEO of Lamacchia Company, Inc., headquartered in Massachusetts. The company has 500 licensed agents, and Lamacchia credits retention and a smoothly run brokerage to a streamlined onboarding process. “It is not only something that we have had a very specific process for since 2015, but it is so important we are always paying attention to it and making changes to it at least a couple of times a year.”
Lamacchia’s COO, Jackie Louh, emphasizes that onboarding sets the tone for the agent and how their business will run, and a brokerage that prioritizes communication and commitment to agent success has a better rate of agent satisfaction.
“We hear too often agents join a company and are thrown to the wolves and have to figure it out all on their own,” she says.
A robust onboarding process goes a long way with agents new to a brokerage. Ease agents’ minds and anxieties with these tips.
Provide an Open-Armed Welcome
Transition rattles people, even when it bends toward the positive. Whether new in their career or seasoned professionals, agents transitioning to a new brokerage still must get used to the unique ways in which that brokerage is run. They need time and space to learn the protocols, procedures and expectations. Bringing them in with open arms and letting them know they have the support they need upfront can help.
“The team leader introduces the new agent to the brokerage,” says Lisa Hill, broker associate at The Lisa Hill Group powered by Keller Williams in Orlando, Fla. “Work with them at a more concierge level to accommodate a smooth transition.”
Give Them the Rundown of the Systems
One way to help agents get used to the systems is to train them on the offerings. Louh says that her brokerage’s process includes learning and using their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, marketing platforms, and listing and buyer presentations.
“It’s all systemized. If you stick with it, it’s tried and true if you use it,” she says. “We have a lot to offer.”
Though new agents aren’t expected to figure out and implement everything right away, Louh says the training gives agents the information they need to start using the protocols when they’re ready.
Have Documents Ready
Paperwork is part of every business, and real estate professionals will need to get set up in the MLS, have their licenses transferred, make sure tax forms are set up, etc. Brokerages who help streamline this paperwork process make a big difference in easing the transition.
“It has to be done quickly so there is no lag time,” states Valerie Belardo, broker-owner of RE/MAX at Home in Columbus, N.J.
Stick to a Training Schedule
Louh says that her agency offers a “Crush It Basics” course for new agents or those who closed fewer than 10 transactions annually at their previous brokerage. The office requires these agents to meet twice a week for training for three weeks from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
“We teach them everything from all the systems, programs, tools and specific real estate things such as negotiating, writing offers and so much more,” she explains.
The brokerage offers training for more seasoned agents as well. The “Experienced Agent Orientation” provides those who are transferring to the company a two-day course where they learn how to maneuver the programs offered through the brokerage, learn all the systems and operations and have an introduction to the marketing tools available.
Explain How the Business Works
Many real estate professionals come to the profession from traditional jobs with regular hours and paychecks. If they weren’t already working for themselves, the transition to a career with commission and no set hours can be jarring. Explaining the difference is an essential part of onboarding.
“First, the team leader sets the groundwork for what’s to come,” says Hill. “This is a business and not a job. In anything a business has to do, the agents are expected to do it.” New agents need to understand the differences and know that they have support through the transition.
Help Them Update Their Online Presence
Whether your company has a marketing department or not, encourage and help the agent, especially those who are leaving another agency, to update their website, Facebook page, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media platforms to reflect their latest information and company. Provide a branding kit that includes logos, colors, fonts and styles that will help agents get everything updated. Louh says it’s also useful to remind them of the places they might not remember to update information, like email signatures.
Put It All in One Place
Belardo hands out a binder with all the onboarding information and then sends new agents a digital copy as well. Hill’s company does something similar.
Louh says her company gives the agents a checklist that outlines the various invites they’ll receive to create logins and all of the programs they’ll be added to. Agents are also provided with a binder that includes detailed information on each program or service offered.
Give New Agents Time to Adjust
Whether new to the business or just new to your brokerage, Hill and Belardo agree that it takes 90 days for an agent to get acclimated. Build in time for an adjustment period before you make any changes.
“Real estate is a passion. You are all in or all out,” Belardo says. “You can tell if they will like it in that time.”
As Hill says, the agent must be willing to use the tools and services offered to succeed. Both agent and broker should know if the fit is right within those first three months. “Onboarding is two-sided. While the onboarding process is vital and required, the agent has to be completely ready to do their part.”