We’ve seen this quite a few times during the past 6 years at TitleCapture. Jimmy at XYZ Title quits his job. He then either joins or starts his own ABC Title. What sucks for XYZ is that Jimmy is most likely going to bring in all his real estate agents and lenders with him to this new company. This is probably one of the worst nightmares of a title company owner, but, at the end of the day, this is competition. So, what to do when your best title reps leave?
According to SHRM, the turnover rate in the services sector is around 30%. That is huge. It means that one on three title reps may leave and, because of the very personal one-to-one relationship between your reps and your agents, it means you risk losing 30% of your client base in one go, at any given time. That may be a devastating blow to your title company’s bottom line.
The good news is this is all preventable. The bad news is most advice on how to prevent turnover is either very basic and generic, or it’s wrong and missing the point.
When you do an online search for preventing employee turnover you will get tips such as:
– Hire the right people
– Fire the ones who don’t fit
– Keeping compensation current and reward employees financially
– Keep employees happy
– Have clean performance reviews
– Cultivate respect at the workplace
and so on.
And while this is definitely good advice, people will leave your company even if you’ve taken all of the above measures.
So why is it that they leave?
Well, it’s tricky and requires you to put on a different kind of hat. It’s pretty much the same reason why people stay affiliated with political parties, religious groups and large brands.
It’s called identity and it’s pretty much what we as humans are always in search for.
As long as our financial needs are met and we have food on the table and a roof above our heads, we, as humans, switch to fulfilling our more “spiritual” needs. One of the most important spiritual need is the need to discover or confirm our identity. In other words, we need to discover and then constantly re-confirm who we are.
It’s the reason why people who want to feel innovative and different stay with Apple. Do you really think that the reason why “Apple people” keep buying the latest iteration of the iPhone is the better camera or the OLED screen? I don’t think so. While these are rational reasons we use to justify the decision to ourselves and our friends, the real reason we buy the latest phone is that we need to re-confirm our identity.
We need to acquire these “tokens” every year so we can subconsciously tell ourselves that we are still the “creative”, “innovative”, “rebellious” person we were when we first saw Steve Jobs on stage wearing his hallmark turtleneck presenting the iPod. We fell in love with that identity and decided that’s who we wanted to be.
90% of our decisions are emotional, not rational, and that includes the decision regarding our workplace, our spouse, the home we live in, the car we drive and so on.
Your employees will wake up in the morning and ask themselves “Why am I even going to work today? Why am I working for this company?”.
There can only be one answer to this: “Because this company best represents who I am and what I believe in.” Any other answer and you’re in trouble.
So, what do you need to do in order for that answer to naturally pop up? You need to develop a brand, a clear identity and a belief system that they can identify with. If you deliver that to your employees and clients, they will want to be part of that collective culture indefinitely.
Building a brand is as much a science as it is an art and there are professionals who can help you with this but let me just give you an idea of what it entails.
The first step is you need to decide what your title company stands for. You need to figure out what is that one idea or set of beliefs that best characterizes you and your title company. Are you all about being smart and innovative? Are you all about celebrating top-producers and grandiose visions? Are you all about providing as much care and personal assistance?
You need to figure this out and most of the times this is deeply rooted in the actual owners’ or founders’ values. Chances you already have a vaguely defined identity or culture around that and all you have to do is bring it forward.
Can you close your eyes and picture your title company as if it was an individual? Could you imagine it had a name? What would he or she wear? What would he or she talk about? What attitude would he or she have towards the outside world?
This exercise is important because once you figured out what your core belief system or identity is all about, you need to get to work and make sure all your “touch points” are in line with that identity.
What do I mean by that?
Well, all the interactions both your employees and your clients have with your title company are touch points and they have to constantly reinforce that idea your company stands behind. It’s through repetition that they will start to become part of this collective culture and brand.
To best illustrate this, let’s assume your title company is all about celebrating top-producers. What you need to do is make sure your visuals (including your logo, collaterals, website, etc) sport strong, reliable, contrasting colors paired with solid, geometric shapes.
You will need to enforce competition, so an open space is not a great idea. You may also need to come up with grand-sounding job titles. Posters on the walls featuring motivational quotes from sports personalities are a must.
Celebrate your title reps and their agents on your social media accounts by posting weekly success stories. Host monthly events where you invite speakers that can talk about growth, success and achievement. Take them to large events revolving around the same topics.
Cultivating a sense of “us versus them”, where you pick a competing title company will drive this culture even further. Signing up for the latest and greatest technology that they don’t have is also something you may want to consider.
There are so many other “touch points” that can reflect your core belief, but I think you get the point for now.
The key thing however is consistency. You need to build and cultivate your brand day in and day out. Year after year, always sticking to the same set of beliefs and not shifting. The worst thing you can do is talk about one thing today and then switch 180 degrees the next day. This is a surefire way of not only confusing your employees but also lose their confidence.
And without trust, there’s no love.
But where’s there’s love, there’s loyalty.