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6 Ways to Retain Agents — Without Face-to-Face Meetings

While recruiting and retaining real estate agents has always been an in-person business, the COVID-19 health threat has changed the game. Here are some virtual strategies that can create opportunities to stay connected.

“Whether in person or online, the most important thing is letting your agents know you are there for them,” says Seth Kaufman, chief sales officer, ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in Coral Gables. “You also have to find a way to maintain your culture in a virtual setting.”

To help sales professionals working from home feel connected to the company, ONE Sotheby’s has been holding monthly town hall sessions with its 900-plus agents in 18 offices in Southeast Florida and the Treasure Coast. The 60- to 90-minute sessions allow the company’s leadership team to speak directly with agents, according to Vanessa Stabile, chief administrative officer.

“We also hold virtual meetings for each of our offices,” says Stabile. “We don’t restrict attendance, so an agent from Miami Beach could attend a session for our Melbourne office or vice versa. This promotes networking among our agents and supports our culture of collaboration.”

In keeping with that strategy, ONE Sotheby’s organizes virtual networking sessions with agents from different markets across the country and its international affiliates. “Our agents can share best practices and learn about referral opportunities,” Stabile says.

To promote agent retention in its Florida market, ONE Sotheby’s uses other virtual strategies, including:

1. Virtual happy hours, for a special company-wide event

“Several hundred agents ordered wine in advance of a virtual wine tasting hosted by our CEO,” says Kaufman. “We all shared a glass while learning from a Miami sommelier about pairing wines with foods. It was a great bonding experience for our team.”

2. Professional life coach

To help agents balance their business and personal lives, ONE Sotheby’s offers virtual life coaching sessions for agents and staff. “One recent session focused on what you can and cannot control in your life,” said Kaufman. “That means staying centered, and not letting your fears hold you back.”

3. Custom business plans

“Our managers help our agents develop individualized plans to grow their sales,” Kaufman says. “We brought in a trainer who supports our agents within each office.”

4. “Power-up” sessions

Agents can hear from attorneys, accountants and mortgage professionals about trends affecting their business. “One of the hot topics this summer was the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA),” says Kaufman.

5. Roundtable sessions

Small groups of agents gather online to share best practices.

6. Leadership support 

Rather than drive from office to office, company leaders can jump onto video sessions with an agent and manager, opening up the channels for two-way communication.   

All these offerings are promoted via email and group texts and posted on a master calendar on the company website. Kaufman adds that ONE Sotheby’s virtual approach is working, as only a handful of agents have left in recent months.

Reflecting on the importance of regular contact, Kaufman says, “Agents working from home can feel alone in the world. We want to treat them like family. We know that taking care of their needs helps them deliver great service to buyers and sellers.”

Richard Westlund is a Miami-based freelance writer.