By Susan Doran
Some figures show that an alarming 90 per cent of real estate sales reps fail and wash out of the industry within the first couple of years, says Richard Miller, owner and broker of record of newly launched Realty Executives Allegiance in London, Ont.
He’s convinced that more comprehensive training at the brokerage level could fix this.
“I think our industry is one of the most lax where training is concerned, not in the (provincial) education sector but in the brokerage,” he says. “My interest is to introduce the world of real estate to a new way of doing business. My motto is training, training and more training, both in and out of the office. I believe training is key.”
In a unique twist it appears that where training is concerned, Miller – whose office specializes in both residential and commercial real estate and officially opened just a couple of months ago – will even be happy to accommodate sales reps from other brands.
“All are welcome. It’s an equal playing ground. No one has the market cornered so why not work together?” he asks. “My belief is that no one brokerage or franchise or company has all the answers.”
A fresh chapter in real estate is beginning, he says, and he wants to break new ground.
“We need to fix the weak link in the industry. Education is the answer,” he says. “I want to be the go-to destination for outstanding and progressive training in real estate. The goal is simple – extend a helping hand to all new and practicing agents.”
Miller says he believes that training within brokerages will soon change altogether and that a “more dedicated real estate broker will emerge to provide more intensive training” than ever before.
“The industry will demand higher and higher standards for all agents and brokers. That will in turn create the need for specialized training,” he says. “It is time to start thinking outside the box… There are lots of changes currently in education. We’re on the frontier. I believe training will be your biggest ally.”
Today’s under-trained agents, who are being “unleashed” on the public after an inadequate “quick start” training program by their broker, are being set up for failure, in Miller’s opinion.
“We need better educated agents before they hit the streets,” he says, citing poor training and lack of availability of brokers as sales reps’ main complaints.
As a new Canadian franchisee under the umbrella of flexible-fee structured, global brand Realty Executives International, and with over 12 years as a top sales rep under his belt, Miller believes he can help turn the tides.
It’s among the reasons he went into real estate after years working as a mechanical engineering technician. His own initial experiences buying investment properties were “not pretty,” he says. He claims to have found the agents he used so lacking in knowledge and ethics that he decided to go into real estate himself because “I thought I could do a better job.”
The same idea came to mind regarding certain brokers he worked with over the years. He recalls one who was “anywhere but in the office” and another who considered being asked questions a major annoyance.
“I was expecting more,” says Miller. “I’m not blaming anyone, simply taking responsibility for the lack of training and doing something about it.”
At the time of this writing his new brokerage had a team of three – Miller, his wife Kim (who is a licensed sales rep) and one new hire. Miller’s goal, which he admits is “lofty,” is to be joined within a few years by 100 like-minded sales reps who are positive thinkers, embrace continuing education and understand the art of listening to clients.
“I expect them to come down the road looking for that extra training that their brokerage won’t facilitate,” Miller says.
“I will also put on job fairs for agents and I’ll invite other institutions to join me…but I fear I’ll be the only one there,” he adds, laughing.
It’s Miller’s perception that often, “Brokers don’t get that when they hire someone, they have to train them in an efficient manner, so that they don’t have too many questions for the broker. An hour of training, 12 hours of training, one-week programs, training once a month, are not nearly enough to make someone a professional.”
With his brokerage, there will be continuing education for established agents, while newbies – so long as they’re up for it – will get a full year of initial theoretical and practical training, both in the classroom and in the field, five days weekly, Miller says.
“I want time to get a return on that investment. So, I am looking for a contractual commitment of three years.”
As an incentive, he’s offering sales reps partial reimbursement of their provincial real estate course fees.
Miller stresses that the training he provides will be in-depth, with topics including:
- General business skills/knowledge (“Many agents have very little understanding of how to run a business. For example, many have had dealings with the Canada Revenue Agency due to tax issues. Managing taxes is an integral step of running a business”);
- Creating an individualized marketing/advertising platform (“We’re embracing multi-media”);
- Understanding the practical aspects of property ownership/upkeep;
- Cultivating relationships with clients (“Hang on strong.”);
- Guidance on wealth management and retirement;
- How to lead a healthy, balanced life. (“Real estate will eat you alive and spit you out if you don’t take care of yourself.”)
Miller, a firm believer in learning by example, says he intends to be out on the streets regularly with new agents helping with practical training.
“This method catapults learning,” he says. “I will be available every step of the way for their first year. Every contract they write, I’ll go over. And every quarter we’ll have a group meeting and updates, which will include special speakers such as lawyers, investors, politicians, you name it.”
Miller has even bigger plans and dreams for the long haul.
“We’re aiming for a global training reach,” he says. “I told my wife we’ll be on stage one day telling people how we became so successful. That’s my manifestation.”