By Don Kottick
If you ask any owner/managing partner of a real estate brokerage about the greatest challenges they face on a regular basis, the most common response is, “It’s so difficult to find a real estate brokerage manager and even more difficult to find a good one.”
In the past, the major brands used to conduct in-house management training programs for up and coming prospects, but with the shift to franchises these types of training programs have essentially been eliminated.
One of the few remaining management training programs is available through the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC), on behalf of NAR, called the Certified Real Estate Brokerage Management (CRB) program. Gareth Jones, vice president at REIC says, “Our FRI designation is much more popular, but we are starting to see more interest in the CRB designation as there are not many other options for a structured management training program.”
Working as a real estate manager can be very rewarding, but it is not just a career choice. Being accessible after hours and on weekends makes this a lifestyle career. The number of calls, emails and texts a manager receives is directly related to the experience level of their salespeople.
Each request often has a sense of urgency and usually requires immediate guidance or direction. If you manage a brokerage with a large number of part-time or inexperienced salespeople, you should expect your phone to continually ring during the evenings and weekends, if the salespeople are doing business. As a real estate manager, you need to determine if you want to work for a full service brokerage with experienced agents, or work at the other end of the spectrum, which is the “warehouse style” company hiring part-time agents with recruiting volumes as their primary objective.
The ratio of agents/managers is also a good indicator for potential and existing managers, but also applicable for salespeople, to use when they are selecting a brokerage. For example, if a brokerage has 200 agents, with two managers (excluding “phantom managers” – admin staff with licenses masquerading as managers) – the ratio is 100:1. If the salespeople have reasonable productivity of five to eight transactions per year, then this would subjectively be considered a good ratio.
If the brokerage has 500 agents with two managers, with lower productivity, then the ratio is 250:1. In this scenario, the managers are probably over taxed and potentially overworked due to the inexperience level of the salespeople and the volume of support calls. A little due diligence on agent productivity levels is always a good idea before accepting a management position.
I asked some seasoned brokers and owners about the traits and characteristics of great managers.
Dianne Usher, senior vice president at Royal LePage’s Johnston & Daniel Division in Toronto says, “It takes a special individual to be a real estate manager, as you need to be a problem solver, a diplomat, a communicator, a mentor, but first and foremost a leader.”
Dave Peerless, owner/managing partner of Dexter Real Estate in Vancouver says, “A great manager cares about the people he or she works with and sincerely wants to help them succeed. They treat their associates like partners with a goal of mutual success and provide mentoring and support in order to achieve positive results.”
Nelson Goulart, owner of Better Homes & Gardens Signature Service in Mississauga, Ont. says, “I love my job as a manager. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is when, through coaching and mentoring, a salesperson exceeds their sales targets. In terms of hiring for a management position, we look for a passionate, empathetic, knowledgeable individual who works well on a team and communicates very effectively.”
Jack Fusco, manager at Royal LePage Your Community in Richmond Hill, Ont. says that “the reputation of the brokerage is tremendously important. Ask around if you do not know. You should find out about the turnover rate of their management team. If the management team has a high turnover rate that usually signifies bad leadership at the top of the organization and probably some cultural cracks in the foundation.”
Fusco adds, “One of the most important reasons salespeople choose one brokerage over another is due to the knowledge level of the manager. While negotiating a deal, the salesperson wants to be able to reach the manager, but also feel comfortable that a solution to their question will be provided.”
The remuneration package for a manager varies greatly based on the experience level of the individual, the geographic region (urban versus rural), the reputation of the company, selling versus non-selling managers and the type of brokerage. The position typically includes a base salary with a bonus that should be objectively based, quite often with a focus on recruiting, retention and/or profitability. The bonus should be achievable and may include a “slight stretch element” used for motivational purposes. Always be sure to put the remuneration package in writing to ensure that the clearly defined parameters are fixed to avoid any controversy.
What are some other questions you should ask about a brokerage before accepting a real estate management position?
- How many part-time agents versus full-time agents are registered? (speaks to quantity of calls)
- How many agents will I be managing? (very important)
- What kind of back-up support and coverage do I have? (speaks to workload)
- Will I have legal support? (a requirement for those difficult questions)
- Are there any minimum hiring criteria or do we just hire anyone? (speaks to the reputation of the brand)
- Do you have any management training after I am hired? (speaks to culture)
- Do I have any assistance with compliance related issues? (speaks to workload)
- Will I be responsible for sales training? (speaks to culture)
Real estate brokerage management can be an exceptionally rewarding and fulfilling career when you are with a reputable, ethical organization that has a solid track record of looking after its management, support staff and its sales team. If you have not considered this as a career option, it is definitely worth exploring further, because there is a big demand in the marketplace for a good manager.