Sponsored by Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services
By Jeffrey Rinkov
What business-minded recent college graduate wouldn’t be besotted with the prospect of making six figures after only a few years out of school? Besides that, the chance of reaping earnings at that level without time cards or working in a silo ought to seal the deal. But with who?
Despite the potential to achieve such a future with the rewards and responsibilities that come with it, commercial brokerage firms are working diligently to attract new blood needed to expand offices or replace noteworthy revenue generators who are gliding into retirement. Because of our rapid expansion in the last 20 years, we can see that the pool of eligible candidates—college-debt free and able to sustain themselves for a year or more before their income becomes more stable and significant—hasn’t grown to meet demand.
The irony is that members of this diverse, tech-savvy generation are better equipped to become technical market experts at vastly accelerated rates compared to the old guard they’re replacing. The bottom line for managers is that we have to be competitive in the local market to identify and attract the best recruits.
This is why we’ve more than doubled our budget for training and that includes recruiting and mentoring. In addition to our venerable Lee University, which features courses taught by our top producing brokers, we’ve hired one of the industry’s most respected educators. He has created a series of 50 videos, teaching fluency in the industry.
We’re doing more than giving associates the basic concepts and principals on how to use available tools and resources to succeed. We pair new associates with senior brokers. This has been our practice since Bill Lee and a handful of veteran brokers opened the first office 39 years ago. It is from them that associates learn applications and methods, for example: prospecting, building relationships, negotiating, understanding market dynamics, interpreting market statistics, conducting a tour and dozens of other real-world skills. We also believe that being socially active in industry and business groups ranging from SIOR, NAIOP, CCIM, ICSC and local chambers of commerce, speeds the growth of the new agent and encourages strong ethics.
Our organization depends on transforming rookies into eligible shareholders in five years or less. We rarely lose agents, and almost never lose them to competing firms. In the last 20 years we’ve grown from 18 offices to 57offices nationwide with 917 agents.
We can’t rest on our laurels, though. I believe the leadership in all our offices is being extremely strategic in their plans for growth.
All this is consistent with the original Lee & Associates concept. Who could guess it would scale so well? All our strengths are well received by industry newcomers as well as veterans. Lee offices and agents have unmatched independence, and we’ve been successful in creating a culture that breeds collaboration within local offices and companywide.
Our training initiative is a manifestation of our best collaborative efforts, making us a better buyer of services, tools and resources that can permeate and advance the objectives of the company. It also takes more of the burden off the individual running that office.
None of our new associates will be under any illusion of when success will come. As is the custom, when we find the right entrepreneurial person who wants to make a commitment to this industry, their path and trajectory to becoming an owner will light up before them.
Jeffrey Rinkov is CEO of Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services.
Learn more at www.lee-associates.com.