Building a Successful Training Program
Mark Schnurman Oct. 15, 2014, 10:45 a.m.
Over the last 18 months Eastern Consolidated has had unprecedented success in training new brokers with our AdvanceTrac program. We constantly assess and improve the program based on ever-changing market conditions and what we learn from previous cohorts.
First, the results. Never one to confuse brains for a bull market, I remain amazed at the speed and magnitude of our brokers’ success. Over the last 18 months Eastern hired 28 new brokers and retained 21. Of the brokers who have been at Eastern for over a year, all but one have consummated at least one deal. Four of the brokers have generated a mid-six-figure income in that time. Deals have gone hard in as little as two months from hiring. Eastern brokers are working for themselves in a dynamic team environment and sourced these deals themselves.
There are two pieces to a successful training program. First, the firm must have the right platform, structure, support mechanisms and culture to facilitate success. Second, the firm must select the right individuals for the program. This article will discuss the first aspect and my next article will discuss selection. Now, to the takeaways.
It takes less time for brokers to learn the business than I previously believed. I trained at Morgan Stanley, ran the brokerage-training program for a major U.S. bank and worked for another real estate brokerage and thought I knew how long it would take to launch. I was wrong.
At Eastern, we increased the intensity of the training program but shortened its length, allowing our brokers to get up to speed very quickly. They may not have all the answers on day one, but they are supported by a team of brokers, analysts, marketing and administrative professionals that help them at every turn.
Training must be iterative. For each new training class we adapt the training based on changes in the market, analytics, feedback, general observations or competitive analysis. In real estate you cannot remain static. For example, we recently launched the “Eastern Consolidated Institute,” which will deliver more comprehensive real estate training on a quarterly loop.
As the chief sales officer, I learned to manage differently. Command and control is replaced with autonomy. We guide, coach and counsel our brokers but there is no need to overly structure their activities or micromanage them. Their entrepreneurial nature drives their efforts and success. People are going to behave and make choices in a manner that reinforces their view of themselves. We just help them. Our brokers covet the flexible nature of our culture. Eastern’s culture is not for everyone and the less entrepreneurial should seek more rigid firms.
Compensation drives behavior. Our new brokers are commissioned salespeople and therefore unbelievably motivated. True brokers eat what they harvest (as a vegan I needed to change the typical analogy!) and we teach this early. Salaries for brokers tend to reduce motivation and activity.
Cross-selling. Our open architecture allows our brokers to source any deal from the sale of a property to retail leasing to debt or equity financing. Our sourcing brokers act as the point on these deals. This was an iteration that we incorporated in the first quarter of this year and it has been very successful. It enables our brokers to increase wallet share, deepen relationships, add value to their clients and increase their income.
Independence matters. Our brokers are bright, innovative and driven. They bring a fiercely independent mindset that our culture and model reinforces. We guide our brokers but they choose the property types and neighborhoods they want to work in. They choose whether to work on deals in an off-market or exclusive basis. They choose to work on investment sales, retail leasing or financing opportunities. Eastern provides the platform and guidance but our brokers’ autonomy enables them to perform to their potential.
The platform. Ultimately, our brokers have access to a state-of-the-art technology platform and, most importantly, some of the best brokers in the industry. We create dynamic teams on a deal-by-deal basis, identifying the right senior broker to partner up with based on factors such as property type, location, deal size and of course preexisting relationships with the owner. All of the other carefully created pieces to the puzzle would not be if we lacked the amazing breadth and depth of knowledge and skill of our senior brokers.
In my next article I will discuss the second half of the new brokers equation: hiring right.
Mark Schnurman, the director of sales and training at Eastern Consolidated, is a veteran sales manager and coach with diverse sales management, training, recruiting, strategy and coaching experience in real estate and financial services.