Should Brokers Do REALTOR Background Checks

by Victor Lund on January 4, 2017

Background CheckToo often, brokers and managers get caught up in recruiting goals that they skip some basic best practices – Background Checks, Customer Satisfaction Checks, etc. Perhaps agents should be checking out the backgrounds of their broker too.

Before the New Year, Todd Kohlhepp, a real estate broker was linked to 7 murders and a kidnapping. Todd was the broker in charge of TKA Real Estate. Inman news reported that the guy had spent 14 years in jail for kidnapping a 14-year-old girl. Of course – his agent ratings on popular listing syndication websites gave glowing reviews. (The agent has been removed from those sites).

Research Production

This case points to some good fundamentals about proper recruiting. You may want to start out by building a target list of agents to recruit. Just as agents focus on customers, brokers should focus on agents. BrokerMetrics® from Teradatum and Trendgraphix are both good for this. You can see things like historic transaction history. How many brokerages they have worked for. Transaction dollar volume. Transaction location. There is a ton of intelligence available. Do your research.

Recruit Around Culture

Consider the cultural fit. I recently did a research project to look at Agent Profile pages on a broker website. We took stock of the brokerage culture that we could glean from simply looking at the headshots of agents. Diving in deeper, we would look at the profile of office managers and how they looked relative to the agents they recruit. It is astounding to simply look at profiles and pick out agents that look like they fit vs. others that seem out of place (or missing photos all together). Surprisingly, production numbers correlate to profile photos when you ask a group of people to pick the most and least productive agents. A photo says a lot. But deeper than that, take a look at the agent’s social media profiles – look at their friends, their posts, their reach, their engagement. It is never a perfect science, but simple observation goes a long way.

Consider the risks. We all know that a bad apple ruins the bushel. But sometimes brokers take too much risk in bringing in agents that don’t fit. That can really demoralize an office, or worse yet – a brokerage. I seriously doubt that consumers are going to want to work with agents form a brokerage that has felons on their roster.

Build An Emergency PR Strategy

What would you do if an agent member of your firm did something that compromised the brand? Will you suspend the agent immediately? What will you do with their clients? How will you notify the other agents and customers of the firm? Who will create the press release and manage media inquiries? Our advice is not to wing it. If you do, the press or the consumer mob may create the messaging that can become terminal to your brand. You need to operate from a perspective of preparedness.

Stay Connected to Your People

The best way to have a heads up on your agents and prospective agents is to stay connected to them. You should be doing this anyway. Assign the manager to “follow” agents and prospects on social media – read their stuff – and like it if it is good. Find coaching moments if you see something that is off color.

Have quarterly meetings with your agents and recruits. Understand what is going on in their life and in their business. Often you can smell trouble before it crops up.

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