PASSING THE TORCH

Over the past months, several large real estate groups have developed their own youth training programs to groom potential leaders for the future

STAFF RETENTION and recruitment is a constant and significant challenge for agencies, with a third of principals identifying it as a factor for concern in the coming year, according to the 2012 Macquarie Relationship Banking Benchmarking Report.

And finding younger staff can be particularly problematic, said Andrew Bell, principal of the Ray White Surfers Paradise Group.

He said the average agent’s age has increased over the last decade – the result of a large number of young professionals leaving the industry around 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis.

“In the tougher times, it was the younger generation that left the industry because they had no money in the bank or resources to fall back on,” he said.

“So what the industry has been left with is a lot more people of a mature age creating an imbalance in the workforce.”

It’s this imbalance that is creating a surge in recruitment and training programs as major groups seek out the best young agents in the country.

“We love young people – they’ve got a lot of energy, passion, drive and they understand technology. So, yes, it’s very important for us to bring them into our business. When senior people retire, or maybe want to take it a little easier, we’ll have the new generation coming through,” said Mr Bell.

TRAINING OUR FUTURE LEADERS

LJ Hooker has had recent success with recruiting young agents, after launching the LJ Hooker Future Captains Program in March.

According to the company, the 25 agents who participated in the inaugural training course at the LJ Hooker Institute jointly generated over 20,000 prospecting activities and listed 130 properties in their first 12 weeks in the marketplace, after completing the four-day program.

“This means that each agent listed two properties per month on average – double what a typical new agent with no training or accountability program typically achieves,” the company said.

The LJ Hooker Institute has graduated 200 new agents since March from the first stage of the elite training course.

Graeme Hyde, LJ Hooker’s head of network sales, said, “Most recruits can do very well when given the right tools, so we see no reason to limit our elite training course to a small group.”

According to LJ Hooker, which has added 500 new agents in the past year, the new graduates show a 400 per cent increase in the number of properties they have already listed, on average, compared to the typical agent who has not completed the course.

McGrath Estate Agents also launched its own training academy to identify and educate 25 of the industry’s next generation of elite professionals.

“There are plenty of young people with talent and ambition who find themselves in situations where they will never reach their full potential,” said John McGrath, CEO at McGrath Estate Agents.

“The [McGrath] Academy sets out to change this and become the elite training ground for the best real estate professionals in Australia.

“When you look around the top performing agents, you will frequently find they learned their craft at McGrath, operating in a workplace which nurtures talent and teaches the skills necessary in today’s highly competitive and demanding real estate environment.”

The company said the McGrath Academy has been established with the goal of offering a structured pathway for skills development, training and mentoring to a select group of 25 students each year, under its Future Leaders Program.

First recruits will start the 18-month course in January 2013.

THE TALENT SEARCH

Mr Bell took a different approach to recruiting and training the next generation of top agents.

The Ray White Surfers Paradise group recently asked aspiring agents to send in a video of them attempting to sell sand, with the best entries earning the chance to learn the ropes at the Gold Coast franchise for a year.

“We received hundreds of entries, and we even had to extend the cut-off date. We’re trying to get it down to 50 or so finalists, and then there is the interviewing process after that,” said Mr Bell.

“We have 15 operations under the Ray White Surfers Paradise Group, and over the last five years we started to downsize through natural loss.

People were leaving the industry as times were tougher, but now with more activity on the coast, we need more people.

“We were always good at bringing new people into our industry, but we’ve generally looked for jobseekers in our area. I wanted to open it up to a national market because we didn’t want to just limit ourselves to the Gold Coast; we wanted the best people in the country.

“It’s the concept of offering people an opportunity in the number one office in the number one group in Australasia. It will give the cadets the opportunity to work with our agents, on an incredibly broad range of activities to get an in-depth knowledge of everything from getting and processing loans, and conducting open homes, to courses with universities.”

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