Ryan Estis, small business, entrepreneur, recruiting, onboarding, Julie Faupel, real estate, employees
Small Business

Managing Your Business

How to recruit and keep top performers

Fixating on your customer isn't strange—it's essential. At least that's what sales expert and Chase Business Insights Seminar speaker Ryan Estis recommends. In this Chase for Business series Culture Imperative, Estis shows readers how to drive growth with customer obsession.

Choose what's right for your business

Turnover among top employees can be an absolute kiss of death for a small business. Losing your most productive people? It's enough to induce panic for even the most experienced entrepreneur. And, as the economy continues to improve and the best employees have more options available to them, the danger of turnover looms increasingly larger.

But how can companies keep top performers engaged?

Julie Faupel knows. The co-owner of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates needed to create a supportive culture that allowed her employees to adapt and thrive.

Faupel's firm achieved 80 percent growth in 2018 by abandoning the cutthroat culture so common within real estate. Instead, the firm emphasizes collaboration, holding weekly, standing-room-only meetings where agents and brokers are encouraged to seek the advice of fellow employees to resolve problems and develop creative solutions.

"We're all capitalizing on each other's experiences," Faupel says. "If we can work on this together, then we have a greater likelihood of being successful."

Great company culture starts with your hiring process. Inspired by the game-changers at Jackson Hole Real Estate, here are four of my favorite best practices to ensure your recruiting and onboarding process drives your growth in 2019 and beyond.

Julie Faupel, co-owner of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates.

1. Develop a "talent-seeking" culture

Hiring should be an active process. To get ahead, have (at least) your next two target hires identified. Meet with these people. It doesn't matter if you have a position open or not. You never know when an opening will spring up or an expansion opportunity will arise. You'll want to know who are the best people to fill those roles ASAP.

And you may find those winners in nontraditional places. Faupel always keeps an eye on those in the hospitality and service industries, because the skill sets translate well to real estate.

"It can be that they are a meeting planner for an event that we're hosting at a hotel, or that they are a receptionist at our country club—or any of those people that have that spirit of excellence and hospitality," she explains. "I will go and find them and have them come and work with us."

Training employees from the ground floor allows you to mold their skill sets before they develop habits that could hold them back. It's also a great way to gain the loyal employees and brand ambassadors you need to drive loyalty with customers.

2. Build a healthy pipeline

So, you've identified those next two hires. But your relationship with them doesn't end with that meeting.

"It's really that perpetual dialogue," Faupel says.

Cultivate and grow your relationship with them. Make sure that you approach these relationships with a mentality of "when"—not "if." As you cultivate your relationships, you're also gathering intelligence, gauging a potential hire for their fit within your organization and its culture.

Faupel's pipeline prioritizes candidates who have navigated change. It's an especially useful skill in real estate, which is susceptible to market volatility—and even the volatility of buyers and sellers.

"To me, the defining factor of somebody that is successful in sales or successful in business is so much more about how you react during the down times," she explains. The lessons candidates learn during the lean times provide important lessons for the future.

"You already know how you're going to react or how you're going to behave if things go sideways," Faupel continues. "You have that confidence, and that's very powerful."

3. Paint an accurate picture of the job's demands

It's a natural instinct to oversell a job. After all, you've got a great candidate, and you want to do everything in your power to ensure that this person already has a reserved parking spot at your office.

Resist this impulse.

Instead, provide an honest, realistic job preview. Be clear about your expectations from your employees. Lay out the standards and commitments you expect them to meet. Provide an overview of your company culture—and let them know what they can expect from you.

To set expectations, Faupel is clear about the distinct way her agency operates. Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates expects sales excellence, of course. But they also expect an atmosphere of collaboration, mentorship and positivity. Agents are also expected to embrace new technological tools to aid the business.

But for some seasoned real estate agents, these new ways of working are too much. Some people "get so in their groove that they don't want to disrupt themselves," says Faupel.

If a great candidate ultimately doesn't accept the job, that's okay. It beats taking on the wrong hire.

4. Be available during new hire transitions

After your new hire has closed the deal with you, it's time for the transition period. I call it ANOB: Accepted, Not Onboard.

It's not the time to go silent. Your new hire has given their employer two weeks' notice, which means you're now in competition with them. If they are an A player, you should expect they will be aggressively recruited to rescind the acceptance and stay put.

So, stay engaged. I like to have two meetings during the ANOB period to make sure that we're following through with our commitment. Technology can also help during this critical time. Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates uses its broker portal to help people joining the team begin to get familiar with the company, and it helps to begin the process of turning a new recruit into a valued high performer.

Becoming a talent-rich organization is all about making sure you do whatever you can to ensure that when your newest employee walks in the door on day one, they're ready for to make an impact—and ready to provide the level of service and commitment that both you and your customers expect.

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