Everyone of us go through periods in life where we experience disappointments. It is during those times that we personally grow the most. The problem is, is that during the time we are growing through them we don’t see the growth. We only experience the emotions. It takes getting through them to be able to look back and see the A- Ha moment.
In December I tweaked my Buyer Agents contract. Yes, I said tweaked. Most of it changed very little. The big part was on the commission splits I had with my team members. It changed by 10%.
I changed my contract because as primarily the listing agent I was paying for and doing all the marketing of the homes. If you or your Broker is doing a good job, then there is a ton of expense getting the exposure the home needs, both in time and money.
With the price point in Ann Arbor going down the last few years, when my agents turned in the Commission Reporting Form, I was walking away with a huge deficit in what I was spending to market the home and what they were walking away with for listing the home.
My conversation was, “You can market the home and we can keep the same split, or you can refer it to me, or the split must go down by 10%.”
I wish I could say that ended well.
It did not.
Tearing Down To Build Again
I’ve always applied the principal that when a construction company is building a new bridge over the water, you have to build the new bridge first. Once it is complete, then you tear down the old one.
Oh, I could have said, “hey guys, I’m sorry…we will keep things the same.”
But, I knew in my heart I couldn’t continue to work at a loss.
I knew as a Small Business Owner that it was not financially profitable to do that, so I let the proverbial wall fall down. I have always had a team but over the last couple of years it had grown due to the amount of internet leads we were acquiring, so I added more buyer agents to handle them.
Before each buyer agent was/is hired for the TEAM, I administered the DISC test to see if it would be a good fit. I also gave a 3 month trial period to continue to see if it was a good fit.
Disclosure: I am not a detailed person, I am a visionary. I do not want to and hate to micro-manage. Perhaps that is one reason why my first two team members are still with me.
As Realtors we are Independent Contractors, and self employed. I believe one reason people are attracted to our profession is because we like independence and are for the most part self motivated. Successful agents are find the drive and motivation within themselves.
The first thing that hit me was fear. What am I going to do with all these leads ? How can the few of us left possibly take care of them in a time frame that potential buyers need to be responded to?
So I went to work, reviewing the production of each buyer agent that left. There were only two, that made any significant money. When I looked at my net for the last few years, I realized that I was netting the same amount of money whether I had a large team or small team. In fact, when it was just me and an Assistant I was netting more.
By looking at the raw data…numbers don’t lie, I realized I could do it. The fear left.
Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not an absence of fear.”
Yes, I was disappointed in how some of them handled it. I have never understood how in our profession, agents pack up in the middle of night and leave. When I left my first brokerage I refused to participate in this unprofessional (juvenile) way that I had observed my first year in the business.
I sat down had an intelligent conversation first with my manager and then the broker owner. After they realized my mind was made up, and I was convinced I could make more money and work more independently elsewhere I gave them the keys. Can I say they didn’t speak to me for 5 years, but now we are very friendly?
Back in the Saddle
Shortly after the mass exodus, one of my former team members that went to work in a 9-5 job to provide benefits for her child, called and said she wanted to come back. I welcomed her with open arms.
Just this week, another agent who had left my Brokerage (not team) called to say, he would like to get back into Real Estate. He had been doing mortgages for the last year and realized he didn’t like it.
So after doing the DISC test, I welcomed him to my team.
There are many lessons to be learned from this, the most important to me was about change. People don’t like change. I should have anticipated that. What seemed like a little tweaking to me, turned out to be HUGE to them.
I also learned that you must be willing to accept the results of any changes you make.
For me it meant build the bridge before tearing down the old one.
I still question myself if I should have just let the current team members stay at the current split and when I hired new ones changed it for the new ones. However, I’ve always felt one of the big mistakes Brokers make is when they give different splits to different agents it hurts everyone overall.
I guess it is OK, to second guess yourself.
We talk a lot in the blogosphere about raising the bar in real estate. How we treat other agents when they decide to move on, or how they move on is one area that definitely needs that bar raised.
If I want to let someone go, I don’t send an email. If someone wants to move on to bigger or better shouldn’t we step up to the plate and have the discussion.
Fear and disappointment are a part of life. It is up to us in how we face it, deal with and move on. It is not fun going through it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and a bridge can be built to the other side.
Thanks for reading, if you made it this far. Must be the longest post I have ever written.