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6 Tips for Developing an Agent Referral Program

For many brokerages, one of the biggest struggles is looking for new real estate agents. You may have mastered the art of crafting attention-grabbing job ads, but they can’t guarantee that you’ll actually receive good applications—let alone find talented agents.

One way to help improve both the efficiency of your recruitment and the quality of your new hires is to develop and implement a referral program within the brokerage. This is because your employees are already familiar with what kind of person would thrive in your company. As a result, they will be able to refer not just qualified candidates but those who have a high chance of staying.
If you don’t have an agent referral program in your brokerage yet, it’s time to develop one. Here are some tips that can help get you started:
Identify Specific Goals
Obviously, the goal of a referral program is to find candidates who are best suited not just for the position but with the company overall. You’ll have more success, however, if you identify more specific goals. For example, you can aim to increase qualified applications by 20% or reduce time to hire by an average of 5 days through the referral program.
By doing this, you can more accurately measure if the program is producing the results you want. If you aren’t hitting your targets, then you can make necessary adjustments to meet your goals.
Use the Right Tools
Keep in mind that while it’s a rather traditional method of hiring, agent referral programs still require the use of modern tools to keep it effective. Make sure to invest in tools like Brokerkit, which can help you manage both your recruitment and retention efforts. If you don’t have real estate recruiting and CRM software yet, make sure to get one before you launch your recruitment initiatives—referral programs included.
Make the Process as Simple as Possible
A referral program’s success is heavily anchored on your employees’ willingness to actually refer people. The problem is that if the process is complicated, then they won’t feel incentivized to participate. After all, referring employees is already outside their usual scope of work.
To make your people more willing to refer potential hires, make the process as simple as possible. Do away with paper forms—real estate agents deal with enough of them on the daily—and implement online forms instead. It may also be a good idea to have a designated dropbox for resumes; this way, employees don’t have to wait for HR or recruitment personnel to personally submit these documents.
Finally, consider developing material that your employees can readily give to potential referrals. These include online brochures for the job post, video presentations with employee testimonials, and a company primer, among others.
Keep the Referrers Updated
While it’s your priority to keep the referred candidates apprised of their application process, you should also give updates to the one who referred them. Is the referred candidate going onto the next round of interviews, or perhaps to be presented with a job offer? Don’t hesitate to inform your employees about what’s happening.
When the referred candidate isn’t selected, send a thank you email to the referrer anyway. This way, they will feel acknowledged for their efforts and keep encouraging them to continue referring potential new hires.
Reward the Referrers
One of the biggest drivers of successful real estate referral programs could be the rewards the referrers may receive. Most agents will prefer cash incentives, but you can also offer other forms of rewards such as paid time off, gift cards, or perhaps a new gadget.
To avoid any issues, make sure you’re clear about any stipulations. For example, cash incentives include tax information, so the recipient knows that there will be certain deductions. In addition, you need to state specifically when the rewards will be given. Taking cash incentives as an example, again, you can pay the first half once the referred candidate signs on; then, the other half will be released after the person has lasted two months on the job.
Doing the above can help protect your brokerage and also ensure that the referral is able to give value back to the organization.
Track Your Metrics
Last but certainly not least, you need to keep track of the performance of your referral program. Earlier, it was mentioned that setting specific goals can help make such a project more measurable. Beyond these goals, however, you should also keep an eye on the following metrics:

  • the number of employees who referred candidates
  • the average number of candidates referred by each employee
  • how the time to hire varies between referrals and other recruitment methods
  • how the retention rate differs between referrals and other hires
  • how satisfied are your employees with the referral incentives

By looking at both quantitative and qualitative data, you’ll have a more holistic view of which aspects of your referral program are working effectively and which are not.
What’s great about an agent referral program is that you don’t have to talk up your brokerage to the candidates. Your employees are already doing that for you. Thus, you can allocate more of your time developing other aspects of your recruitment.
Good luck!

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