Brokers add fun and volunteerism to boost agent morale
By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau
At the zenith of the real estate market, some practitionersenjoyed an array of perks, such as office coffee bars, priceyoutings, and sometimes even in-house massages.
Today, brokers are focused on perking up salespeople’sspirits and helping them to animate their businesses.
More often than not, feel-goods now come from helpingsalespeople pinch pennies and enhance skills, as well asproviding volunteer opportunities.
Bits of Joy
The Select Group of Companies, Sacramento, for one, aimsto help salespeople drum up business inexpensively. DanielJacuzzi, Select Group’s president and CEO, notes that agentswho have been in the business for less than 10 years likelyneed assistance broadening their skill set to serve the needs oftoday’s clients. Thus, the company is emphasizing strategies forworking short sales and REOs and properly advising underwaterhomeowners. “Our emphasis is ‘build your business withoutspending any of your own money,’” comments Jacuzzi.
The company also decided to continue its annual LakeTahoe retreat. The focus has shifted just a bit, however. Pastspeakers frequently involved lifestyle and self-motivationtopics. Today, they deliver talks on real estate nuts and bolts,skill-building, and maintaining and expanding client bases.
But Jacuzzi also acknowledges the importance of joy. It’swhy cocktails, dancing, dinner, and prizes are part of theretreat’s mix. “It’s important to inject some fun. Just work,work, work isn’t enjoyable,” he says.
Refocus Energy, Skills
Lori Ramirez, branch manager of Coldwell BankerResidential Brokerage in Los Feliz, also is pulling salespeopleaway from the grind a bit. As the market turned, she noticeda dip in morale and camaraderie, and people coming to theoffice less frequently and arriving with lower energy levels.A structured volunteer program with a charity for homelessteenagers, My Friend’s Place in Hollywood, has givensalespeople an emotional lift.
Every other Friday, several salespeople go to the facility toorganize donations of food, clothing, and other items. “It’s acouple of hours when they can turn off phones, take a breakfrom real estate, and meet other agents and people in thecommunity,” comments Ramirez. “It’s a release.”
In addition, the Coldwell Banker Greater Los AngelesCommunity Foundation launched a program, the 10KChallenge. Between April and June, it made a $30 donation toMy Friend’s Place for every hour of volunteer time until suchdonations for all participating offices reached $10,000.
“Many agents are facing difficult financial choices andmay not be in a position to give as charitably as they couldin the past,” comments Bob Foster, regional vice presidentof Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in GreaterLos Angeles and chair of the advisory committee of thebrokerage’s Community Foundation. “The 10K Challengeprovides an opportunity to drive a monetary donation topeople’s favorite charity with only a time investment.”
Marilyn Kagan, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapistand co-author ofDefenders of the Heart: Managing theHabits and Attitudes That Block You From a Richer, More Brokers add fun and volunteerism to boost agent moraleSatisfying Life,lauds volunteering, notingthat it’s an extraordinary antidote todepression. “Volunteering makes us feelproductive and that we’re necessary.Without a purpose, depression andanxiety can become more powerfulagents,” she adds.
Ramirez has found that salespeopleare finding new energy and realizethey can use their skills to make apowerful impact. For instance, they’vetapped their network to connect MyFriend’s Place with a bank for a possiblerefinance of the building to fund facilityimprovements. Others saw needs forwashing machines, appliances, andmaintenance and brought the charitygeneral contractors, electricians, andplumbers to perform upgrades.
“You realize that outside our doors,there are people in situations that area lot more difficult,” says Ramirez.“Even if people can’t give of theirpockets, they can give of their timeand get a boost.”
5 Tips to Jump-startMorale:
1. Establish time for low-key gettogetherswhere agents can chat andswap knowledge, such as one-hourgroup walks before weekly caravans.
2. Reward performance: Considerhosting a cocktail party or casualreception for honorees.