Podcast 15 June 2023

How One Brokerage Defies the Odds and Boosts Agent Retention

Keep Your Agents by Keeping Them Engaged

Chiyoko Kakino, Senior Vice President of Brand Growth, CENTURY 21 Canada, and host of The Real Estate: Real Success Podcast

It can be a scary statistic for new agents, but it’s the truth –on average, approximately 35% of new agents make it to their third year. This spans provinces, brands, and even changing housing markets, but is there any way to change it?

I sat down with Gary Busch, one of our brokerage owners in Saskatoon to hear his thoughts on how to beat this statistic and discovered that his office is already ahead of the curve. At CENTURY 21 Fusion, 70% of new agents make it to their third year and it all comes down to implementing strategies for onboarding, development and engagement, making sure that no agent falls through the cracks.


1. Start strong on Day One

“An agent joins your office with knowledge from their real estate course, but they don’t actually know how to sell,” Gary explains. In his experience, new agents want to jump in headfirst and find the biggest listings they can get, but what they really need is a solid foundation of skills. “That’s where onboarding comes in. They need to know the basics to move onto the next level. You’ve got to learn how to run an open house, how to talk to people, how construction works.”

A lot of onboarding programs don’t go further than a few Zoom meetings outlining what training programs are available, but a more hands-on approach will make an agent feel like part of a team from the get-go and give a good broker the chance to not only teach them the fundamentals, but connect them with essential staff. “New agents are given ‘passports’, which takes them through business essentials while connecting them with different people in the office,” Gary explains. “We don’t leave anyone out, and my staff can sit down with each agent one-on-one and walk them through their department.  It’s a bit of a culture shock, but they need the building blocks, and to build those up you have to start at the bottom.”


2. The job’s not done once they know the ropes

So you’ve done everything you can to set your new agent up for success – does the job end there? Absolutely not! Agents are constantly learning and growing, and a big part of success in retention is recognizing that they still need guidance even as they settle into a new brokerage. “We have constant professional development classes,” says Gary. “We aren’t just teaching how to open a lock box, we discuss business philosophies, we have in-house lawyers and condo professionals to offer expertise, and it’s ongoing learning all the time.”

This philosophy of ongoing development will result in excited and engaged agents who recognize their broker’s commitment to helping them grow, and as a result not only stay loyal, but become valuable sources of success testimonials for future recruits.

“I see my agents as my clients, and my staff and I will do whatever we can to get them comfortable with our programs. We’ll take the scariness out of all the technology, sit down with them one-on-one to teach them what they need to know, and that not only creates loyalty, it creates a better agent.” Also offering an in-house marketing team to let agents focus on the nuts and bolts of getting and selling listings, Gary’s methods prove that providing value to agents results in long-term dedication.


3. Build a culture that leaves an impression

Once you’re doing everything you can to help agents grow and develop, I want to encourage you to take a page out of Gary’s book and think about your company culture. “We’re always looking to do things that treat people like family,” Gary says. “No agent is just a name or a number, we are transparent with them, we tell them how our business is going. Weekly meetings are very important to us, and we spend a lot of time preparing for each one to make it as engaging as possible so that they’re open to sharing their ideas.”

It’s not all business though, and the CENTURY 21 Fusion ‘Fun Committee’ is hard at work year-round planning social events, from the Christmas party to family barbeques to hockey and lacrosse games. You might even see their branded caravan bus coming down the street on a way to a team event! A culture of collaboration and openness keeps agents engaged and helps them see that they have a broker willing to go the extra mile to ensure their company is a place that takes care of its own.


In talking to Gary, it’s clear that the work he and his team have put into onboarding and training is paying off, but none of it would be possible without a broker who genuinely cares enough to put in the effort with every agent. If a broker wants to see their new recruits succeed well into their fifth or tenth year, they need to reach out. Have an open door policy and make the time to check in, whether that’s five minutes, or two hours. Send updates about the company and help them feel like they have a stake in its success from the very moment they walk through the front doors.

I hope any broker who wants to get their agents more engaged finds inspiration in Gary’s strategies for success. And if you’re an agent who might be new to the industry, maybe that three-year statistic doesn’t seem so scary if you’re willing to work with your broker to chart a path for success.

If you’d like to hear more stories from leaders in our network sharing the best practices they’ve learned over their careers, you can check out episodes of The Real Estate: Real Success Podcast on your preferred podcast platform.