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The last year has been a time of great reshuffling across the country and within the world of real estate. As the world shifted, a number of brokerages took the opportunity to rejuvenate agent training and education programs, as agents learned how to work in this new landscape.
With a nod to Back to Basics month at Inman, here’s a look at how some of the country’s top brokerages shifted their agent training strategy as the tide turned in 2020.
Last April, Realogy restructured its online learning platform to help the company’s agents “rule the recovery,” as the company said.
The shift included moving all courses to on-demand and virtual delivery. New content relevant to the moment included COVID-19 guidance and updates on daily market conditions, as the situation continued to develop rapidly.
In addition, Realogy rolled out “just in time” training content with the platform’s updates, which included shorter topical modules to help agents adjust to market changes. Modules also helped agents do more interactive trainings with other agents, making them feel more game-like and allowing for brand-specific leaderboards.
Realogy made the right move by completely overhauling its training program in September 2019, under the direction of Senior Director of Learning Solutions Bonnie Sue Lovelace, which in some ways positioned it to readjust further last year during the pandemic.
In addition to creating new opportunities for agents through defined pathways they can pursue for specific training needs and other customizable education and coaching opportunities, the build of the platform itself is very customizable and adaptable, which is crucial in today’s unpredictable environment.
“We were able to [deploy the changes] really quickly without any work,” Bethany Auclair, Realogy’s senior director of brand product development, told Inman in April 2020 of the new changes rolled out then. “That’s just the way the platform was built.”
Then, in March 2021, the company took its digital training strategy one step further by launching branded mobile app versions of the platform. The move again demonstrated Realogy’s willingness to adapt quickly based on the times. In today’s rapid-fire paced market, agents can easily access the training resources they need from wherever they happen to be running to and from. Some of the platform’s more bite-sized content is especially conducive to this, like podcast and video training content.
Keller Williams also re-engineered one of its popular training courses, its BOLD coaching course, last April in response to the pandemic.
Rebranded as BOLD Pivot, the four-week digital education course was open for all agents to participate for a $99 registration fee, regardless of brokerage affiliation. The digital course was developed out of the company’s KW MAPS Coaching platform, which is highly regarded in the industry and known for its reputable coaches.
The course’s flexible format allowed agents to participate on their own time, which was no doubt a gift as people continued to adjust to work and life from home.
The program, which garnered thousands of registrants, focused on how agents could reset their mindset to adjust to the moment, as well as specific strategies for continuing to grow their business during the pandemic.
The fact that Keller Williams made the training course accessible to the real estate community at large for a relatively affordable price certainly gained it some good will in the community during a time of uncertainty. It was a smart business move that agents are probably unlikely to forget — maybe even the next time they look to move brokerages.
When the pandemic abruptly shut down New York City last March, Marc Alter, Corcoran’s senior vice president of learning and development, shifted the company’s agent development program to a fully virtual program over the course of a few days.
Agent Studio was initially launched by the brokerage in 2017 as a space devoted to agent training and development. But as a result of the pandemic, Alter and the rest of his team shifted that learning online into largely on-demand learning covering a variety of real estate and other topics. Agents can attend classes, top agent panels, workshops or expert author series through the platform.
Corcoran Group’s Learning and Development team’s ability to get most trainings up and running online within a matter of days is pretty remarkable. The first week of stay at home orders, the brokerage held 19 virtual classes. But now it averages around 30 or more virtual classes per week.
The ability to shift quickly with the times is a key asset for any company, and Corcoran proved its worth to agents by making sure they had access to the company’s resources the very week that the pandemic became real for its New York agents.
New York-based brokerage Douglas Elliman also developed a new online agent learning system last spring, which the company sped up production of to meet agent needs amid the pandemic.
In May 2020, the company announced the launch of Elliman Constant Learning, which provides over 70 free courses for Douglas Elliman agents ranging a variety of topics that extend beyond real estate. Whether agents are interested in learning more about how to become more entrepreneurial, improve their business writing or become a more effective public speaker, they can log into the program through their agent apps and find this content and more available.
The platform was built of out Douglas Elliman’s existing Elliman Agent Training Center, which is run by Jeffrey Stanton, senior vice president of learning and development.
With the new learning system, agents are also now able to take virtual classes in a variety of formats — online, video, text or audio. The company also continues to adapt courses and provide new topics as the market changes.
“While the coronavirus pandemic might prevent us from conducting in-person classes at the Elliman Agent Training Center, our coaching prevails,” Stanton said in a statement at the time. “It was important for us to accelerate the development of our Elliman Constant Learning platform to provide agents the education and guidance they need to further their careers while sheltering in place.”
Compass is another brokerage that opened up some of its training services to agents outside of the company during 2020 in response to the pandemic. In its initial plans, Compass was slated to roll out its Compass Academy platform in full during the second quarter of 2020, but as the pandemic started impacting the country at a greater level, the brokerage ended up launching the platform a few weeks early.
The company made the robust platform available to all real estate agents regardless of affiliation, showing its willingness to take “a collaborative approach” to the crisis of the pandemic, as CEO Robert Reffkin said.
The platform has a sizable course library to choose from, with content of varying lengths and formats, including bite-sized videos and live webinars or workshops. There’s also a number of downloadable checklists, templates and other resources for agents to peruse on a number of topics from advertising to hosting another agent’s open house.
As with Keller Williams, Compass’ generosity in opening its resources up to agents of all affiliations will not likely be forgotten. But, given past press about the company’s questionable recruiting tactics, one can’t help wonder if the move to make its trainings accessible to all isn’t both a mix of goodwill and a sly effort to get more agents to come over to the company’s side.
Either way, all agents can still benefit from the robust training and development content while it’s available to them.