Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

Stop Holding Office Meetings

A perennial challenge in real estate is getting agents to attend the office meeting. We’ve offered a variety of ideas over the years. Here’s one more: Stop holding meetings.

Managers and brokers need to ask themselves the following (serious) question: What would happen if you never, ever held another office meeting.

  • Would listing appointments stop?
  • Would buyer inquiries cease?
  • Would showings cancel?
  • Would upcoming closings fall apart?

These four areas are the core activities that matter in real estate. Capturing listings, attracting buyers, showing homes and closing offers. Don’t do these things, and you’re out of business. Simple.

So why hold meetings, where none of these things occur, and agents are diverted from doing them during that time?

Consider the classic rationales for weekly meetings:

  • It’s nice to get everyone together and share.
  • The agents can update each other on their listings.
  • We can recognize last week’s sales and achievements.
  • We can talk about upcoming meetings.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry; I fell asleep writing those lines.

Most meetings are verbal memos. In your next meeting, take note of all of the information that might have been transmitted differently, faster, and most importantly, cheaper. Was anything so important it was worth pulling everyone together for a verbal presentation of it?

More simply: would you have paid $3,598 to have learned that information? (An off-hand guess of lost productivity during the verbal event. You get the point.)

Now you know why some agents don’t show up. There’s nothing of value happening at that time. If they’re honest, ambitious salespeople, they have work to do. And they know it.

Does this mean companies should never gather everyone together at the office? Not at all. But if you insist on doing it every week, at least use the time to get some work done.

Meetings aren’t a good enough reason to take agents away from their jobs. Work periods are much more worth it. Imagine if each week you pulled people together to do some work on important sales objectives. Here are a few ideas:

  • Display every unsold listing in company inventory on a screen. Ask agents to assess why the property hasn’t yet sold. Brainstorm concrete steps to improve its market position and get it sold, such as improving its staging, online appearance or market awareness. Prepare concrete steps for the listing agent to take with clients after the work period. Put agents to work on improving their inventory’s merchantability.
  • Examine consumer data – marriage rates, technology use, wage patterns – anything that might affect your customer’s values and real estate needs (the least of which is who just listed yet another overpriced or underwater property). Identify the impact of those trends upon imminent seller and buyer consultations agents will have that week. Edit, change and refresh presentation kits, blog articles and social media updates based upon these trends. Work on enhancing the firm’s message every week.
  • Diagnose a recent failure. It could be an expired listing, collapsed offer, agent who left or recruit who failed to join. Work on identifying the process, tool or quality problem that led to failure. Determine immediate steps to take to avoid such failures in the future.
  • Explore opportunities. Require every attendee to bring a market opportunity, process improvement, technology or marketing idea to the workshop. No idea, no entry. Randomly pick three opportunities and ask the idea-owner to lead a short workshop for the group. Require participants to work on their professional development, rather than wait for the next class offered by the broker or the local association.

I’m sure there are other ideas, but the central focus is simple. Meetings imply talking about information. Work periods required getting something done. Meetings indicate that some other work has failed, requiring companies to bring everyone together to fix it. A “meeting of announcements” means the real-time communication process has failed. The fix isn’t getting together weekly to communicate. Resolve information distribution issues. Then re-allocate the memo-meeting periods to getting-work-done periods.

Imagine if your company had four periods each month where people got together and worked on the challenges and opportunities of the agents and company. Which agents wouldn’t want to attend?

  • As always something sooo common sense but people cling to past ideas hoping they’ll work next time. Well done & illustrated

  • Samruta

    As usual, you are right on target.Other than getting together and stuffing our faces with doughnuts,putting toothpicks in our eyes and listening to complaints, I really don’t see any useful purpose anymore.

  • Love the toothpicks image!

  • I loved reading this,ironically the day before our ‘office meeting’. I always find value in our meetings,but mainly because it comes from a place of highly intelligent,professional brokers (including our managers) sharing.Our company president (who also writes a weekly blog post) alternates leading meetings at each office every other week or so. Whenever possible,I try to make the meetings,as they add value and knowledge for me. Barring a closing,or some other sort of immovable appointment (like this week I have jury duty likely)…I rarely miss a meeting. If you make the gathering VALUABLE ,suddenly it goes from,I want to poke my eyes out-to I can’t wait to gain valuable insight !

  • I couldn’t agree more. We have weekly meetings and we work ON the business with the agents. They share information and techniques and present challenges that the whole group gives feedback on to solve. When asked if the agents wanted to stop meeting weekly once, the ALL said no – it was the most valuable part of their week.  As brokers/managers we must bring up to date, value to the meeting – delivering tools that they need to go get more business!

  • Agi

    I beg to disagree my
    friend! In
    this high speed tech savvy business, I believe human interaction eye ball to
    eye ball is still synergistic. Gathering together and seeing all the agents
    once a month at the ERA Showcase business meeting is truly a pleasure. Our aim
    is to always provide a beneficial learning experience (tech related) along with
    market updates. Why do they have pep rallies? Will it really win the game? No.
    It’s to perk the momentum, to build enthusiasm, to pump up the team. In this
    real estate environment chock full of short sales, meeting of the minds can be
    quite useful!

  • Agi:

    Thanks for your comment. As it turns out, I’m not actually advocating you
    stop holding meetings *entirely* but simply stop holding the kind of
    *useless memo-announcement* meetings that usually go on at company
    meetings that cause many people to decide to skip them. I agree that
    getting together is important; but getting together to do some WORK should
    be the goal.

    Hope that helps clarify my idea!

  • Peggy

    Wow. All I can say is “Wow.” We have weekly meetings, and I can’t deny I have been attending less and less. (Used to go every single week.) Your perspective and ideas are refreshing, to say the least. Brilliant.