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.”


  1. I am so glad and excited that many people have read the article. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a definite need for more training. My whole emphasis, for the article is to bring forth, awareness, reach out to those that train today and for those that need the training tomorrow.
    Most of us understand that the requirements for entry into this profession is minimal. As well, the education is limited and basically provides a good overview of the practises that are employed in the understanding of contract law, procedures, documentation and education associated with cases studies, research and development of people skills to name a few items of study.

    However what seems to be a major deficit in training beyond the class room, is not recognized as a problem when it comes to training, it is TIME. There must be a component of training that involves working experience in the field based for a “time requirement.” Most brokerages will provide training, most will guide the student, and sooner than later after shadowing around various agents within the brokerage will get a sense of the business. But at this point in time or in the program are they released to practise their real estate business in the real world?

    I believe what is required as much as more education in the class room, is the need for an apprentice system to be employed. Example, 1 year of training under a broker of record and trainer (specifically educated, with over 5 years of real estate sales experience) trained and recognized as a professional Real Estate Trainer by RECO, OREA and the local Board for that region. This Trainer person will have passed an array of subject matters to be able to train these new and upcoming student/agents in a timely and effect manner. This training will not be only in the classroom but on the streets, in the car, at peoples homes, business, industrial site and in the field.

    If we want to survive as a culture, then we need to change today. Over the next few months real estate will be impacted by companies and systems that will engage the public with more and more information. The trend of real estate will soon take a turn and if not educated and trained to absorb this new impact of companies coming to Canada to take over this lucrative business we will be all left behind. Get ready…..Zillow, Trulia and even Warren Buffet have announced advancement in real estate in Canada. We have choice today, get ready now or be left behind tomorrow.

  2. The fact of the matter is training and ongoing education are very important but the reality is that this business, to quote a real estate trainer, “You dont try Real Estate, Real Estate tries you”, which explains the high turnover rate of new agents, it’s just not that eady and suitable for everyone. My suggestion is to work at a larger brokerage with hands on progresive management.

    • The “You don’t try real estate, real estate tries you” quote is so true, but what is also true, sadly, is that too many consumers end up trying too many incompetent real estate sales people, thanks largely to Organized Real Estate’s “Let’s keep the turnstiles well greased (both in and out models) but especially the “in” model” attitude. Becoming a professional Realtor should not be easy, but becoming a real estate salesperson continues to be measured directly in concert with the ongoing massive failure rate; it is quite simply too easy to get in and fail. All that it takes is naivety, money to burn, time to waste and false bravado to collapse, all that usually occurring within a year or two.

      I sure am glad that my doctor, lawyer, dentist, auto mechanic, plumber, electrician, computer specialist etc. did not travel the same short-cut path to professionalism that Realtors still travel.

      Not to keep banging on that same old drum…but……………

  3. With 32 years of full time selling and ownership I agree completely with the comment above. Richard’s enthusiasm is admirable and positive. However, as Barbara’s comment suggests, our industry success rate won’t actually improve unless new entrants are properly prepared and understand the business before they become registrants. Real training should start before course 1.

  4. I appreciate your enthusiasm around the need for solid training, it has been my passion for nearly 2 decades.

    Having been in the industry since 1987, and currently the VP of Career Development for our firm I can honestly say that the ones that need the training the most rarely show up in the classroom. So training “if they are up for it” is not nearly good enough.

    The only way to raise the bar in this industry is to make it “mandatory” that the fundamentals are taught BEFORE we issue a real estate license.

    A bachelor in business or an E-Commerce degree will provide tomorrow’s real estate professional with the basic fundamentals that are missing in our industry today. I would like to see an undergraduate degree with a narrow focus on business to be the new minimum standard prior to entry to take the licensing programs. And to clear out the wreckage of the past, a mimimum standard in terms of production to maintain their license. These standards would classify us as a profession in the business community, which is not our present reality. Just my 2 cents :)

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