Game Changers: Driving organic growth by hiring a recruiter

Game Changer Jason Sherman uses a real estate recruiter to help drive organic growth.

When Jason Sherman launched his brokerage in Chevy Chase, Maryland, nine years ago, he had a clear strategy in mind: Focus on his agents and let them deal with buyers and sellers. That approach paid off, and  the CEO of RLAH Real Estate was named a RealTrends 2021 Game Changer for the company’s rapid growth over the past five years.

“Our job is to take care of the agents throughout the life cycle of their businesses and their careers,” says Sherman, who leads six-office team of 350 agents serving the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) market. “So, we do everything an agent would need, including marketing, media, transaction coordination, and contract support, so they help their clients through the home buying or selling process.”  

While Sherman keeps looking for ways to refine and improve the delivery of services to agents, his brokerage model hasn’t changed since 2012. “We’ve become more successful, and having more revenue allows us to reinvest in the company,” he says. “That makes our services stronger and better, and that really was the plan from the beginning.”

Engaging a recruiter

Through the years, the company has grown organically, with only two acquisitions of 10-agent brokerages. Initially, Sherman spent much of his time prospecting for new agents, but several years ago he hired a real estate recruiter with excellent results.

“Our real estate recruiter serves as the point person for our agents’ referrals, and this structure has worked out well,” Sherman says. “I’ve talked with other brokers who say it’s hard for them to give up that role. But to grow a company, you have to be willing to shed certain responsibilities in favor of other priorities, and make hard decisions along the way.”

When recruiting a new agent, Sherman says it’s vital to explain the company’s promise – and be prepared to deliver. “If our recruiter is saying, ‘We will handle your media,’ we show specific examples of how we work,” he says. “Those stories should resonate with the agent and help bring people aboard. You don’t have to be creative. Just tell people what’s going on, and that generally works.

Benefits of new agents

Sherman says a strong real estate brokerage brings both experienced and new agents together in a healthy ecosystem. “You have listing agents who don’t want to sit [in] on open houses, and new agents willing to that every day,” he says. “So you can’t just recruit seasoned people. You need newcomers as well.”

That’s a lesson Sherman learned a few years ago with excellent business results. “This year we had three “30 Under 30” finalists and two winners. We helped them succeed through education, mentorship and business development.

To support his new agents, Sherman takes a personalized approach, including group meetings, Zoom sessions, and one-on-one calls. “Not everyone needs you in the same way,” he says. “We try to understand their needs, look at the obstacles that need to be overcome and figure out the best way to accomplish their goals.  We have spent a lot of time with our new agents over the past few years, and it’s worked out great.”

Retaining productive agents

Along with recruiting, Sherman pays close attention to retaining productive agents. In fact, he feels retention may be even more for growth than bringing in new people. “Once an agent walks in your door, that’s when the real recruiting begins,” he says. “You need to keep them happy and engaged, and show that you care.”

To do so, Sherman spends time listening to his agents about their current problems and how company operations could be improved. That’s the best way to fix things and fulfill the company’s promises, he adds.

While offering robust tools and platforms is important for agent success, Sherman says the key to his retention strategy is showing how much the company cares. “That makes it harder for agents to leave, because they aren’t convinced the next broker will care as much,” Sherman says. “Because it’s so easy for agents to move, you need to honor your word, invest in new products that make sense, and deliver on your promises.”

Reflecting on his company’s success, Sherman says every day brings new challenges. “When you run your own business, it’s exhilarating and scary at the same time,” he says. “You have to keep pushing forward through the tough times and never stop. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut, and you’ll probably be all right.”

Jason Sherman, CEO, RLAH Real Estate, Chevy Chase, Maryland, was named a RealTrends 2021 Game Changer. In the past five years, between 2016 and 2020, he saw 172% growth.