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Mentorship in Brokerage: Which Strategies Truly Drive the Bottom Line?

Many are beginning to view the traditional model of mentorship in brokerage as broken—and for good reason.

There is a lot of talk surrounding how to recruit, mentor and work with up-and-coming agents in commercial brokerage. Much of this is based on assumptions—admittedly, some rooted in fact—surrounding the work habits and desires of the millennial generation, as well as anecdotal evidence. Due to the dynamic nature and varying personalities, learning styles and goals of professionals in that generation, it can be difficult to pinpoint which mentorship and training strategies actually drive performance and bottom-line results company-wide.

How can commercial real estate brokerage firms determine which initiatives intended to attract, train and satisfy millennials in the field are having a true impact on the bottom line, and therefore, worth the time?

Our team at DAUM Commercial Real Estate Services established a unique young professionals group four years ago, and we’ve been steadily tracking results. During this time, we’ve seen higher production among brokers under 35, and have attracted more young brokers to the firm.

Below, we highlight which initiatives aimed at today’s mid-30s-and-under professionals actually drive bottom line success, and address how to best measure results.

Get to what works by understanding what does not

Many are beginning to view the traditional model of mentorship in brokerage as broken—and for good reason. When a younger agent assists a more tenured broker with a transaction, it can be a means of gaining basic experience, but rarely does this repetitive process drive careers forward.

This is because a veteran agent, with his or her deep connections in place, will likely transact regardless. Thus, a junior agent brought on to conduct research can find value in learning the process and market, but will not be challenged to make the critical decisions and motions to close deals or bring in their own.

In fact, junior agents might hold back—not working to their full potential and limiting their own growth—knowing that the more experienced agent may take a large piece of the pie from the fruits of their labor. They could even become resentful of their mentor or organization.

So, if the traditional model isn’t working, how can commercial real estate brokerage firms drive the growth of their best up-and-comers?

The good news is that junior agents can thrive when part of a mentorship program does not involve simply relegating them to completing menial tasks, but empowers them through a combination of resources and network of support.

Best practices for supporting new agents

The key to any training and mentorship program, across roles and industries, is empowerment. The ultimate goal of a mentorship and training program is to strengthen an agent’s skillsets, knowledge bases and networks, while fostering an environment where they are comfortable asking for advice or support—and also empowered to trust themselves.

At DAUM, we build this through camaraderie, shared resources and open lines of communication.

The primary challenge is that, in truth, not everyone learns and interacts the same ways—even among millennials who have chosen a career in brokerage. Therefore, the best support a training program can offer is providing a wide range of resources that newer agents can take advantage of on their own timing and as it fits their needs.

For example, as part of DAUM’s young professionals group, we host six formalized seminars a year, as well as several social events. For some agents, the structured seminars provide the information and discussion needed to support them on their journey.

For others, the casual social events can bring just as much value, bringing together younger agents and mentors to discuss whatever might be on their plates or minds, while building strong bonds that drive loyalty to the firm as well.

Further, a large portion of our program exists outside these events, in the form of open access to marketing templates and other resources. This allows newer agents to focus on building and fine-tuning their skills, as well as bringing in deals, without having to worry about the smaller details.

We also offer a phone line that is always open for young professionals group members looking for guidance and support.

Measuring success

Taking the time to closely monitor the results of a program from inception is critical to long-term success. Not only do we measure success, but we also drive it forward, evaluating what is working and what might need improvements.

In determining the type of program that is a fit for a specific brokerage, benchmarking should occur before implementation. This includes an evaluation of all agents in a company by age and/or years in the field or with the company. By conducting comprehensive benchmarking prior to implementation, firms can begin to measure results within just a few months.

Higher (and eventually, sustained) production output by newer brokers is the bottom-line goal of any brokerage firm’s mentorship program.

For example, one way DAUM measures our program is by looking at the number of under-35 brokers who qualify for our President’s Club, or our top producers in a given year.

We’ve seen an impressive 114.3 percent increase in the number of agents under age 35 who qualified for our President’s Club since the young professionals group started in 2014.

Another place to track success is in hiring. After a program has been in existence for one to two years, its impact on recruitment can be significant enough to see when looking at the firm as a whole.

For example, DAUM saw a 55 percent increase in the total number of agents under age 35 from the four-year period before the young professionals group was created and the four-year period following its establishment.

By keeping close track of recruitment patterns and in particular, the number of brokers under 35 who have joined the firm, we have seen a difference at DAUM since 2014—an impact that is heavily influenced by satisfaction among current up-and-coming brokers at the firm, due to our mentoring program.

Driving the bottom line

Today’s young agents in commercial real estate brokerage are ready to hit the ground running, while at the same time valuing a proven and supportive team behind them.

The traditional model of junior agents supporting tenured brokers with menial tasks simply cannot sustain the strong growth required of new agents in the competitive field or drive the satisfaction that up-and-coming millennials in brokerage—and most other fields—crave.

By offering a comprehensive program that delivers support at every step, and monitoring that program to ensure it is driving bottom-line results, today’s brokerages can succeed in boosting revenue while also attracting the industry’s top young talent.

Mike Barreiro serves as an executive vice president at DAUM Commercial Real Estate Services, a provider of commercial real estate services, including brokerage, tenant representation, consulting, leasing, sales and property management. He co-chairs DAUM’s young professionals group alongside fellow DAUM Executive Vice President Casey Mungo. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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