The real estate industry is famous for hiring any licensed adult with a pulse. The number of agent members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR®) is at an all-time high. Firms would be hard pressed not to discover a significant number of agents on the roster that are not producing. Is it time to fire them?

Years ago, after the acquisition from Brookfield, WAV Group collaborated with a team at Pacific Union to take a historical snapshot of the brand from the eyes of the consumer and the agent. We identified that the local, boutique essence of the Pacific Union brand had been eroded over time by efforts to grow through recruiting anyone and everyone. An interview with one long time top producing agent summed it up in a nutshell. “Years ago, when you were invited to become a Pacific Union agent, you knew that you had put in the hard work to become one of the elite agents in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Man holding box - firedTo some extent, Pacific Union had lost that pride. The new management team came up with a healthy plan to restore the brand reputation to its golden luster.

Step 1 – Fire unproductive agents
Step 2 – Build a P&L for every agent and work with the manager in each office to have a discussion with those who were driving losses. The goal was to get those agents back on track in 90 days. This was done with compassion for life events (death, divorce, etc.), but it got done.

The outcomes were impressive. In a short period of time, top producing agents were sharing feedback with the management team in support of the decision. Hard working agents hated being in office meetings dominated by unproductive agents who have an opinion but do not sell. They prefer to surround themselves with other professionals, and even lend a hand to hard workers who are putting in the effort to improve. Moreover, the move inspired agents from competitors to join Pacific Union to surround themselves with other top agents. Remember, you drive broker dollars through transaction revenue, not headcount.

The industry is on track to sell about 5.5 million homes this year. If you want your top agents who deliver the best services to clients to get their unfair share of those deals, then let the bad agents go. They can move across the street to another broker and drink their coffee.

This may seem a little harsh, but brokers need to own their role in raising the bar of professionalism in real estate – one agent at a time.