Why I Left My Broker
Salespeople speak candidly about why they switched companies. Their
insights get to the heart of a critical industry challenge: agent retention.
Brokers say it all the time: Sales associates don’t leave a company because
of money. It may be a factor, but money
alone doesn’t drive them away.
So what does? We asked sales
associates—some of whom had been
at their previous brokerage for many
years—to talk with us candidly about
why they switched companies. Two main
themes emerged: First, agents don’t
begrudge their broker’s profits—unless
they perceive that those profits come at
their personal expense. Second, just like
buyers and sellers, salespeople need to
feel that their success truly matters to
their broker. If owners and managers are
unable to convey that they care about
an agent as a person (not just as a profit
center), they have little reason to expect
that agent’s allegiance.
The agents who spoke with us didn’t
want to be fully identified because of the
sensitivity of the subject. But their comments offer lessons for brokers seeking a
better handle on agent retention.
Jim: Location Still Matters
I’ve been at five companies over the past
decade. I’ve been with my current company for more than a year and was at my
previous company for three years. I was
at three different companies before then.
One of the companies was persnickety
with fees. There was a monthly desk fee
and a transaction fee. If I did at least one
transaction in a month, the desk fee was
waived. But if I did three transactions
one month and none the next month,
the broker still wanted the desk fee the
second month. Another top salesperson
there wanted the broker to wire a commission payment to him. The company
was busting his chops over the $30 wire
fee. The agent even offered to share
the cost based on his commission split,
which meant the company would pay
only 20 percent of $30. That broker was
penny-wise and pound-foolish.
I left another company to join one
that I thought had a better location. I’m
a great believer in floor time. So I’ve
always looked to be at the location with
the best walk-in traffic. I was at a company
for three years in an area with a lot of
restaurants and people walking by. But
the walk-in traffic wasn’t what I expected.
People would stop and look at the listings
in the window, and you’d try to chat them
up but get no good leads. The demo-
graphics of the walk-in traffic didn’t match
the demographics of the properties we
sold. There was also no parking in front.
A good location has both foot traffic and
vehicle parking so people driving by can
see the “real estate” sign and pull right in.
My message to brokers: Don’t put
your profitability ahead of ours. A fee
here and there is OK. When salespeople
feel assaulted by fees, that’s a problem.
Also, location still matters. And the
amenities that go with the location, like
nearby parking, matter, too.
Michael: Looking for a Partner
I was with my former company in Atlanta
for seven years and was relatively