How to bring out the best in your people

One characteristic that Canada’s Top 100 Employers (2022) all have in common is that each company, regardless of their industry, has invested in opportunities for career development for their employees. A 2022 Environics survey found that 73% of executives agree that employers have a responsibility to provide career management programs for employees. Further, Forbes reports that 87% of millennials prioritize professional growth and development in their job, as do 69% of employees from other generations. Ongoing professional training is not only a valued benefit, but also creates more valuable employees while sending them the message that they are a worthy investment.

We attract a lot of agents because they know we provide great coaching and opportunities in an environment where agents succeed,” says Justin Havre of Havre & Associates of Re/Max First in Calgary. “The training and amount of business they get exposed to in a year with us is equivalent to what they would get in seven years on their own. While the average agent does three to four transactions a year, an agent on our team will do well over 30 transactions a year.”

While a real estate course may provide context about the history of the industry and instructions on how to fill in an order, “no one teaches you how to run a business,” says Josh Gibson, a Winnipeg-based realtor with Goodfellow Realty. Ongoing career development is essential to staying relevant in the businessafter all, in this industry you’re always learning, he says.

One area both Havre and Gibson say is important when it comes to additional training is customer service skills. “The wonderful part of the job is you have to deal with a lot of people. The challenging part is you have to deal with a lot of people,” says Havre.

Agents must be equipped with the tools and resources they need to understand human behaviour and not take on all the emotions of a client through a transaction. There are few purchasing decisions as emotionally charged as buying a home, says Havre. A good real estate agent manages expectations and tailors the buying or selling experience to each client.

“Residential real estate is an emotional decision ⁠— you might be buying because you’re starting a family or newly married or selling because of a divorce, job loss or death,” says Havre. “You need to be very good at building relationships with your clients, because you want them to last a lifetime.” Indeed, a 2022 MoveSnap survey found that ‘change of personal situation’ was cited as the biggest factor impacting moving decisions, right after the usual suspects (cost of housing and location).*

Understanding what motivates both sides at the table is essential to developing solid negotiation skills, particularly in today’s whiplash-inducing real estate market. “My favourite real estate coach is Phil Jones who wrote ‘Exactly What to Say for Real Estate Agents,’” explains Dave Dubbin, senior vice president of sales at Sotheby’s International Realty in Toronto. “He really breaks it down on what to say to avoid objections and have difficult conversations. Anyone on my team gets a copy of that book.”

For some, navigating Instagram and Facebook ads will likely be second nature, but that’s not the case for everyone. It’s now more important than ever for realtors to know how to effectively use these tools to propel their success, as the ways in which consumers prefer to engage with businesses has changed permanently since the Covid-19 pandemic. A research study by Vonage found that consumers’ preference for connecting with businesses using video soared by 300% since January 2020, while preference for messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger has doubled. 

Other areas Gibson says are important for ongoing learning include contracts training, buying and selling condos, and construction knowledge. “I tell new realtors to go on every home inspection they can for the next three months and soak it in,” he says.

Here are the best ways to develop a real estate agent training program and the key areas on which it should focus.

Key areas of training your real estate team

Powerful Negotiation Skills

The Real Estate Institute of Canada offers online Real Estate Negotiation Expert certification for real estate agents who want to sharpen their negotiation skills. This two-day virtual course is packed with tools, tips, and techniques to lift your game, including recognizing patterns, adjusting communication styles and crafting a strategy for negotiation

The organization also offers an online Consumer Behaviour and Negotiating course that provides insight into how personality styles, conflict and communication play a role in negotiations. 

Since most courses are now held online, you don’t need to stick to local or regional institutions and can instead widen your search to find the curriculum and schedule that works best for you. The University of Toronto’s school of continuing studies, University of British Columbia (UBC) Sauder School of Business and University of Calgary’s Continuing Education department all offer virtual courses in negotiation skills.

Social Media Skills

Social media skills are important for real estate agents to master and social media marketing companies are experts in this field. Consider contacting a social media professional in your area to lead a workshop tailored to your industry and the skill level of the staff.

You can also get started with LinkedIn Learning’s online tutorial in social media marketing for the real estate industry. The course covers building your online brand, social selling techniques, and creating compelling content. Hootsuite also offers 15 free social media training courses and resources. Individual realtors who want to learn more can also sign up for more comprehensive training programs in social media strategy through continuing education courses. HubSpot Academy also offers a range of free online training programs, including a certificate course in social media or shorter models on developing an Instagram and Twitter marketing strategy, as well as building a paid media strategy.

Building a brand 

While realtors work under the umbrella of your brokerage, they are also to a certain extent their own brand. UBC Sauder School of Business offers an online course in Marketing and Technology Considerations for a Real Estate Business that delves into identifying your customers and building a marketing strategy, among other topics. 

The Canadian Marketing Association provides in-house training and educational programs that are customised to meet your brokerage’s objectives. Many post-secondary institutions such as the University of Toronto, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and Seneca College also offer marketing courses and certificates through their continuing education programs.

What brokerages can do to facilitate career development  

  • Organize an in-house workshop for real estate agents.
  • Share the expertise your agents already have through informal lunch and learn sessions.
  • Keep abreast of professional development courses and share information with your employees.
  • Establish a mentoring program at your brokerage where new realtors can shadow more seasoned talent.
  •  Provide an annual bursary to staff for continued training.

Offering ongoing career development opportunities can attract and retain talent in a competitive market, while also contributing to workplace culture and boosting your company brand.

Read more in our series on Attracting and Retaining Top Talent in Canadian Real Estate Brokerages 

*Based on a MoveSnap survey conducted in Toronto, ON between January 4-12th, 2022 of 201 Canadians across Canada who moved in 2021 or plan to move in 2022. 

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgement of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.