I am often asked by people interested in getting into Real Estate “What does it take to become an agent? How to get into Redstones Property?” The first thing you need to do is take and pass two pre-licensing courses. Once you complete those courses you must pass the state issued exam. Once you pass the exam you are licensed and ready to practice real estate. This is the point where most agents will begin to fail.
They fail because the courses do not teach you how to sell real estate. The pre-licensing courses are designed for one purpose, and that is to enable you to pass the exam and get your license. Once licensed it’s up to the rookie agent’s broker to adequately educate and train that new agent. Statistics prove that most brokers do not do a very good job. Roughly 80 percent of new agents leave the business within the first 5 years. Historically most brokers adopt a “Here’s your desk, here’s your phone. What you do is on your own” philosophy when it comes to training new agents. Because real estate agents are 100% commissioned most brokers work the numbers by hiring as many new agents as they can and hoping a few will go on to become productive and profitable to the company while letting the others fall by the wayside.
At the Bowen Agency we take different approach to educating our agents. Since there is a sizeable investment required to get into the business, often between $1,000 and $1,500. This includes the pre-licensing courses, exam prep, association dues, MLS fees, and supplies. We feel that if someone is willing to invest in their business they deserve to be given the tools to help them achieve success thereby making the company successful as well.
For an agent to rise to the level of top producer they must develop two separate skill sets. The first task is to become a marketing machine. Because it doesn’t matter how much you know about your local market, and the contracts and forms we use if you don’t have any clients to use this knowledge on. We educate our rookies on the need to prospect every day. Time management is the key to accomplishing this task. Talk to anyone in sales and they will tell you that their least favorite activity is prospecting for new business. New agents are encouraged to set aside a block of time each day dedicated to prospecting. We are also teaching salesmanship techniques at this point as well. This encompasses objection handling techniques, sales scripts to use when on the phone, and closing skills that enable agents to ask for the business.
The other aspect of our training system focuses on the “technical” side of the job. This involves educating the agent on the forms and contracts that we use on a regular basis. As our society becomes more litigious it is very important to limit risk by knowing the documents, and the process of representing buyers and sellers and managing a transaction from start to finish. For most people their home is the largest investment they will ever make. So it is very important to have a knowledgeable and well trained agent on your team to guide you through the process. To educate our new agents we set aside several hours a week dedicated to training on the most used documents and best practices until the agent is comfortable.
Once the agent has the knowledge base it’s time to develop some practical skills. Each of our three offices has a broker or associate broker who is responsible for managing the agents. These brokers will go out on appointments with the agents to demonstrate proper techniques at first. Then as the agent grows more comfortable the broker will allow the new agent to take the lead and act as a safety net if needed. This shadowing continues until the new agent feels comfortable working on their own. We also utilize our more experienced agents to guide and mentor the rookies through their first year.
I believe that it takes at least a year for a new agent to feel completely comfortable with the job. However, our educational process does not stop there. This business is nothing if not ever changing. There are constant updates to the contracts and forms used and well as changes in lending practices. It is important that agents be kept up to date on all new information. At the Bowen Agency we use weekly sales meetings and training sessions to keep all of our associates up to date on the latest information. We often invite guest speakers in to educate our agents on new updates in the mortgage arena, or other ancillary service providers will discuss aspects of their business such as home inspectors, or title companies. We also engage in open discussions where agents have a roundtable forum to ask their peers how they might handle a particularly challenging situation.
At the Bowen Agency we believe that education, training and development is never ending. This philosophy produces the best trained, most knowledgeable agents in the Susquehanna Valley. From a company standpoint the time and effort invested in training our agents is well spent. We have developed a corporate culture that fosters cooperation among our agents. This produces happy, productive agents and decreases turnover. All leading to increased earnings for our agents as well as the company.