Agents want a brokerage that will help them do their job well and have their back. That’s no secret, but what does that look like in practice? For some brokerages, this means providing a range of spaces and services designed to help an agent succeed.
Each brokerage is unique, meaning what it offers to agents will also be unique. There are no fixed rules on how to help agents succeed and thus keep them, but there are some quality examples of what’s worked.
Create a Collaborative Business Hub
Jack Conway & Co. Inc. in Norwell, Mass., offers a full suite of services in a state-of-the-art building, which makes life easier for agents and their clients.
During the 2020 lockdown, the building that served as the company’s original headquarters in nearby Hanover in the 1970s burned down. Luckily, the space was empty, as the 15 commercial tenants were working from home. Still, the building served as a reminder of the company’s beginnings and held a special place in the company’s history.
“It was very tragic,” says Carol Conway Bulman, GRI, CEO and chairman at the brokerage.
Bulman decided she wanted to rebuild. She had a vision for what she wanted the brand-new sales center to look and feel like, which would incorporate the most up-to-date technology, space for collaboration, and all the resources a real estate agent could need to conduct business, conveniently found on one floor.
During the 18 months of construction on the three-story building, Bulman showed up every day to monitor its progress. The ground floor operates as a hub for real estate professionals. It includes the Conway Creative marketing team, which supplies free, professionally designed materials like postcards, mailers and digital marketing assets for the agents.
On that floor, agents will also find collaborative workspaces, a large, high-tech classroom and a help-yourself café with “every possible type of coffee and drink available.” Bulman says, "Anytime anything is going on, we always have food from sandwiches to charcuterie boards.”
Her goal was to create a space that agents would want to come to that provided the necessary space and amenities they need in order to do their jobs well. The building, with all its amenities and tech offerings, is bustling with agents and staffers, proving that even in a changing world where working from home is the new normal, people can and will come to the office when it provides what they want and need.
“I come around the corner every morning as I’m driving here, and I get a full view of the building. It’s a happy place,” Bulman says. “We even got a new listing because of this new building. They watched it being built, and they walked in and listed their property.”
Offer a One-Stop Shop
Jack Conway & Co. Inc. is more than a brokerage. The company is a one-stop real estate company that offers all the auxiliary services needed to complete a transaction. Many of the services are geared toward clients, offering them services such as mortgage lending through Conway Financial Services through property insurance through Conway County Insurance, under one roof.
Bulman says the company also offers a range of services for investors from property management to commercial sales and management. Additionally, agents can provide clients with relocation help, renovation services, and staging for sellers.
Having all these services at the ready is a value-add for agents and their clients. It takes the weight off the agent to find their own service providers, and it shows the client that no matter what they need in the real estate realm, they can find it at Jack Conway & Co. Inc.
The company recruits up to 175 agents a year. In the past, the percentage of experienced agents coming to work with Jack Conway used to be 10% to 15%.
“Now, it’s 50%. We are attracting more people from other brokerages,” she says. “A lot of companies have gone to remote everything, but when they immerse in the Conway experience, they grow two to three times over the years forward. It’s proven to provide an opportunity to grow.”
Take Some Guesswork Out of the Business
Marketing and content creation are time-consuming and can be expensive. An agent's time creating video walkthroughs of a home or graphics for Instagram takes them away from building relationships. Some agents are more comfortable with this aspect of the business while others find it tedious or difficult.
ECHO Fine Properties in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., wanted to take the marketing responsibility off agents. As a result, the brokerage offers its own in-house team of experienced journalists, photographers, videographers, printers and graphic designers to handle all the marketing needs for agents and for their listings.
“Having people who are comfortable being in front of the camera, interviewing people, editing and handling the camera to produce things professionally and quickly on a deadline is a major advantage,” says Jeff Lichtenstein, president and founder.
Another benefit to having everything in-house is the collaborative factor. All these professionals, experts in their marketing field, work together and with the agents to provide cohesive, on-brand messaging.
Lichtenstein says these services help with agent recruitment. Once they see the caliber of work produced by the in-house team, they realize how much time they’ll save, and can trust the quality of the work.
The company also offers the Home ECHOnomics Campaign, which is a boon for agents and their clients. Agents present a list of tailored services ECHO will provide when listing the home. The list includes in-house night photography, open houses with cookies and Mylar balloons, TikTok/Reels storytelling, an in-house rental specialist and a closing celebration.
“When sellers see what they are getting in writing, we usually win the listing,” Lichtenstein explains.
Additionally, ECHO provides a wealth of other services to agents, such as in-house lead generation, assistance with converting to an in-house IT department and personal one-on-one training.
“This frees up the agents time from doing tasks that are not really their thing and lets them concentrate on income-producing activities,” he adds. “The end customer benefits from all of this.”
Helping Agents Set Themselves Apart
Real estate is one of the top wealth builders, but only if clients know how it works. Keller Williams believes that agents have a unique opportunity to help their clients with wealth management. The real estate company recently started the KW Real Estate Planner program, which is designed to provide agents with certification, training, and networking so they help with wealth management for their clients, says Darryl Frost, director of public relations and media relations for the company.
The planner certification is a 12-month program with four independent certifications: Senior Relocation Services; 1031 Exchanges; Delaware Statutory Trusts; and Trust and Probate Sales. Each of the four certifications takes about three months to complete.
After each participant passes the section test with a score of 80% or better, participants take a final test; successful participants receive the internal designation of "Certified Real Estate Planner."
“We have financial planners, attorneys, certified public accountants and 1031 exchange accommodators providing training for REALTORS®,” Frost adds. “Our mission is to build a community of real estate planners that facilitate conversations, provide solutions, and execute plans to build generational wealth and accomplish the goals for families.”
Keller Williams hopes this effort empowers the agents and arms them with the knowledge to create solutions to challenges within real estate and center their business with a heart to serve clients’ interests before their own, Frost says.
If you're thinking of adding auxiliary services to your brokerage, consult legal counsel to ensure you're not violating any laws or regulations. Even if you don't plan to offer auxiliary services and don't plan to build out an entirely new office suite, there are still ways to attract and retain agents. Create partnerships with local experts and services so that agents walk into a space where they have what they need to close a deal. Provide training and resources. Retrofit offices in a way that makes sense and promotes collaboration. Give agents access to the tech they need to succeed. Figure out what you can take off their plate so they can focus more fully on building connections.