So You Want to Be a Mentor?

So You Want to Be a Mentor?

7 Points to Consider About Mentoring

By John Giffen

As published in Inman News on June 28, 2020

Approximately 80 percent of real estate agents leave the profession by the end of their second year of licensing. This statistic is a very sobering one in our industry. Why is the turnover so high? There are many reasons, but one I feel is at the top of the list is lack of training and supervision.

REALTORS® are independent contractors and have limited accountability with their principal broker. As someone who is not required to show up every morning for work or to attend meetings and training classes, the real estate professional — more times than not — is left swimming in the deep end of the “real estate swimming pool” without any idea on how to survive in this business.

Agent turnover could be dramatically reduced if more agents had experienced and successful colleagues walking with them as they attempt to get their business up and running after they receive their real estate license. I believe every new agent should have a mentor. In fact, mentoring can be beneficial to experienced agents who are either struggling with their business or need to reach the next level of production.

Many mentors have paid a heavy price by not understanding what all is involved in mentoring another agent. A few years ago, one of my agents, Michael, contacted me about his desire to mentor a young man who just passed his real estate license exam. I asked him why he wanted to mentor someone. He said he was looking for a buyer representative to work buyer leads he was receiving from an online lead generation company. His workload had increased, and he couldn’t find the time to effectively handle the leads coming in to him. I asked him if he had the time to teach a “newbie” the ropes and learn how to be an effective and productive agent. He said he did, and I ultimately approved his mentoring the new agent.

Unfortunately, Michael was extremely busy with his clients and prospects and was unable to make the time necessary to mentor the new agent. Eventually, the mentee floundered, left the company, and joined another brokerage that could provide him “on board” training that new licensees need after they enter the business.

Mentoring is not an easy job, and it is not for everyone. It requires a considerable amount of time and energy of a senior agent. It is a commitment that, if not managed well, can take valuable time away from the mentor’s business and cause their production to level off or slow down. If you are considering becoming a mentor, you need to realize what you are getting yourself into before committing to working with a new agent.

Here are a few points to consider about mentoring:

1. Commitment. Commitment is probably the number one characteristic I look for in someone who wants to be a mentor. The first question I ask a potential mentor is, “Are you willing to commit your time, experience, and emotional energy in helping someone become as competent and successful as you?” I then advise them to think long and hard before they say “yes.”

Successful mentoring programs are built by those who are willing to spend the time and effort advising and guiding someone through the “peaks and valleys” of the real estate industry. A mentoring relationship will inevitably fail if a mentor is not willing to invest themselves in the mentee. The mentee must feel they have a dependable and reliable person who is helping them reach the next step in their career.

2. Experience. A mentor must be successful in the real estate industry to provide the expertise needed to ensure success in a mentee. What is success? Success is tied to transaction production, professional development, technological expertise, and industry knowledge and advocacy. Someone who is a top producer probably can bring more to the table for an emerging agent than someone who closed only a handful of homes.

We always say, “The more one sells, the more one knows.” Also, a mentor who is willing to spend the time and money to educate themselves through professional development and involvement in the real estate community will provide the confidence and proficiency needed to advise a new licensee properly.

3. Professionalism and ethical behavior. What we do as real estate professionals is a noble task. We have been asked to steward the most substantial asset a person owns through the selling or purchasing process. To do this, an agent must possess the competence and skill to manage the transaction and the expectations of the client correctly. Their ability to handle multiple and sometimes difficult tasks related to property marketing, buyer representation, and transaction management is critical to ensuring the expectations of the client are met. In addition, adherence to the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics and Standards of Practices enables the REALTOR® to conduct themselves and their businesses in a manner that ensures they are always following the guiding principles of the “Golden Rule” and keeping the interests of their clients before their own.

The importance of professionalism must be conveyed to the protégé early on in the mentoring process for them to understand the critical role of the agent and the legal and fiduciary liabilities associated with it.

4. Encouragement. A mentor must be an encourager. Our work as real estate agents day in and day out requires a tremendous amount of time, money, and emotional energy. We may occasionally become discouraged, especially when we feel our efforts are not paying off. The mentor must always provide ongoing encouragement to the mentee as they, themselves, once knew how it felt when they started in the business. There is “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of the business that all agents will experience at one time or another. The mentor must be someone one who can encourage others to enjoy their successes but also persevere and stay focused so that they can navigate through the difficult times.

5. Patience. The old saying, “patience is a virtue,” really is true when it comes to mentoring someone in this business. It can be easy to get frustrated and upset at the mentee when their performance does not meet your expectations. Mentoring takes quite a bit of time and effort, and the new licensee may not “get it” the first time around. You must be willing to repeat skills and techniques more than once, so they can reach a level of competency in a particular task/skillset.

6. Selflessness. The real estate business can be a very narcissistic one. Self-promotion and personal marketing are a standard part of the business to gain an edge on the competition. We spend a great deal of time and money marketing our services and value propositions to the market so that we can differentiate ourselves from others in the business.

As a mentor, it is not about you and what you can get out of the mentoring relationship, but about the one you are helping and how you can make them successful. A mentor must be willing to help and to put any self-serving motives aside so the mentee can benefit from what the mentor can offer them. Mentoring is more about giving than receiving.

QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK BEFORE MENTORING AN AGENT

Before you enter into a mentoring relationship with a new or inexperienced real estate licensee, you need to ask yourself some fundamental and serious questions:

• Do I have the qualifications to be a mentor?

• Do I have the time and energy to mentor a new real estate licensee?

• What are the benefits of mentoring this new agent?

• What are the disadvantages of mentoring this new agent?

• How will this impact my business?

• What if the mentoring relationship fails?

• Do I really want to do this?

• Am I only focusing on the money?

Once you have answered all of these questions and you feel ready to move forward, meet with your principal broker or team leader to schedule a time to discuss your interest in being a mentor. His or her input will be extremely valuable as you make your final decision.

John Giffen is Director of Broker Operations for Benchmark Realty, LLC in Franklin, Tennessee.  He is the author of “Do You Have a Minute? An Award-Winning Real Estate Managing Broker Reveals Keys for Industry Success.” and host of the Broker Insights Podcast.

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