Lori McCarthy on Being a Mentor and Preparing for a New Way to Do Business

Lori McCarthy, managing broker of the recently Compass-acquired Latter & Blum in Lafayette, Louisiana, has made recruitment and community involvement priorities in her business. She serves on her local REALTOR® association board and is a member of the Young Professional Network, which provides guidance to rookie REALTORS®.

RISMedia touched base with McCarthy for the latest in our Newsmaker Spotlight series, discussing her recruitment and mentorship strategies.

Devin Meenan: How did it feel to be nominated and awarded as a Newsmaker for the first time?

Lori McCarthy: It was very surprising and exciting, honestly. I helped write (my submission), but then as I was writing the information, I was like, I’m not special. So it was really cool to actually have that honor, especially in the group (Luminaries) I was in. 

DM: What does your mentorship program look like?

LM: We have nearly 260 agents in three offices here that I’m the managing broker for. And last year, along with my agent development manager, we brought in 30 or 40 brand new agents. Our company has a great intro program that was called “Latter to Success.” One of the first things we do in this program is say, “Take my number and put it in your phone because when you have a problem, don’t know how to write something or you don’t know how to say something, or you need us to talk to a client, you need to reach out to me.”

I explained to them how a broker level is not the same as a manager level, because in our world of real estate, the broker is the person that you should be relying on to make sure that you’re doing things right. We have a high number of agents that do well right off the bat because they’re not figuring it out on their own. 

For our mentorship program, we pair experienced agents with new agents. They work with them through their first sales, through their first buyers with their first listings. Then, we jump in with our education as well, and we do mock closings and role plays. We’ve been teaching buyer representation agreements since August, which is part of what is required now based on the settlement that NAR has proposed. 

DM: What would your advice be to agents who are kind of unsure what their future is going to be like in a post-settlement world? 

LM: Take a deep breath, get out of denial and we’re all going to be fine. This just adds another level of agreement with that buyer. You’re not asking that buyer to write you a check when he signs the document, you’re just agreeing that we’re working together on this—we’re partners. It’s left to be determined how some of this is going to shape up, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. 

One of the things we stress is that the biggest part of this is really on the seller, and it’s more about the conversations with the seller than with the buyer. Sellers need to understand that we’ve done business this way for this long, and the courts have deemed that it’s not the way they want us to do business anymore. 

As a seller, it’s up to you. It’s always been negotiable. We look at it as a marketing fee because, if all buyers are going to be entering into buyer agreements with their agents, they’re going to have a commitment to fulfill, and by the seller automatically offering what they’re comfortable with, taking that completely out of the buyer’s hat. The buyer can fulfill their obligation without having to negotiate away their closing costs or without having to automatically offer more than the asking price because that seller has chosen to market his property by offering a buyer compensation. 

DM: To brokers who are struggling to recruit new agents right now, what would your advice be? 

LM: It’s not all about the money. Experienced agents tend to want to go where the company dollar is the lowest and they can make the most commission versus what they’re giving to the brokerage. For new agents, that’s just not what it’s all about. It’s all about education, being there for somebody and making sure they know that they can pick up the phone and call you, and that you actually have the answers for them. Many get out of real estate school and are completely lost because they don’t necessarily teach you day-to-day how to be an agent. They teach you more about the big picture. And the big picture is great, but it doesn’t teach you how to fill out forms, how to negotiate with a seller on things, how to work through inspections, and what’s important and what’s not, or how to work through new construction. We have a whole module just on new construction to talk about what it is that they’re going to be experiencing. 

As brokers, a lot of times we get stuck on the idea that we might not be at the same percentage that we’re offering, or we don’t get our agents to a hundred percent cap. It just doesn’t matter as much with those new agents. They want to learn and they’re going to be committed to the person who teaches them. 

DM: It seems like you offer a personal touch with mentorship, is that your secret to retention?

LM: I would say that’s very, very fair. Within the last couple of years, we’ve had a lot of challenges in this market with different variables. Every brokerage in town has strongly pursued our agents, and we have lost less than what I can count on one hand. And they have different splits than us, different policies than us, but these people know that they can come to us at any time. We have an office that’s always bustling. We’re more of a traditional firm, so we have offices, agents and lots of education, CE and admin —all things that are all geared to allowing agents to go out and be successful. I think that’s part of what Compass was attracted to with our company. 

DM: How do you balance offering a personal touch to your new agents with the fact that you are always trying to grow, and that means more and more agents?

LM: I do have an agent development manager that is amazing and she does most of the education, which is really great. But again, we do have a personal touch with so many of our agents. Out of 250 agents, they’re not all needing something at the same time. I do find that if you give good answers and you help somebody, they ask the same question once, so they’re not coming back asking the same thing over and over again. I’m always there to pick up the phone and call another broker to try to work something out or talk things through with an agent. It is hard sometimes, but I answer the phone at all hours of the day. It doesn’t matter when it is, I’m going to be there to talk you off your ledge. 

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