While attending a business conference a few months ago, I was asked a pretty straightforward question: “What do you have to offer Gen-Y Realtors that may want to join your company?” Simple, right? I had prepared for this question! I, of course, started rattling off a list of marketing tools and technology resources as long as my arm. In response, the person just smiled and then calmly delivered a clarification that I was completely unprepared for: “No, not tech stuff. I mean your office environment. Do you have an office that Gen-Y Realtors would WANT to work in?”
As you can imagine, this threw me for a loop. We have been building an arsenal of cool technology for younger Realtors over the past few years, but what kind of first impression were we making on them when they came into our office for an interview? If they did not want a dedicated office of their own (and they generally didn’t), we had old style cubicles to offer them. Clearly, we needed to make some changes. I immediately shared this epiphany with our owner, Rick, and he was completely on board. First order of business, demolish those cubicles! Second, put together a plan for the future!
We started with a simple concept: make a shared workspace that was relaxing, hip, modern, cool AND functional. We had been hearing a lot of buzz recently about “Café” or “Lounge” style shared office space at some other ERA companies, so this set our minds in motion. Could we build a cool space that would appeal to both our existing agents and incoming Gen-Y agents? Could we do it on a reasonable budget?
A few long, but gratifying, months later we are able to give a resounding “YES” to both of those questions! It did take some vision, some inspiration, a trip to IKEA, a lot of paint, a few disagreements about colors, a few compromises on the layout and a ton of patience for putting together furniture (thanks, Scott!), but we officially opened our new “Agent Lounge” in December!
All I can say so far is, “Wow”! First of all, our current agents love it! Even some agents that have dedicated offices like to sit in the lounge for a few minutes to work on a quick project (myself included). It is full of comfortable, modern furniture, bold colors, soft lighting, and even a TV with cable! In short, it is relaxing and fun! The energy is very positive and there is way more conversation and idea sharing than there ever was when the agents were sitting in cubicle rows.
Overall, we could not be happier with the outcome. I have absolutely no doubts that we will make a lasting first impression on any new agent recruits that come through our door. Bring it on, Gen Y!
Matt Mansfield is the Director of Sales & Marketing at ERA Reardon Realty. He is responsible for managing the company’s marketing and social media presence, creating and delivering training courses, managing agent performance and being the default “tech support guy” for the company. He has a passion for training, is hopelessly hooked on both caffeine & technology, and is driven to constantly keep his company on the cutting edge.