LOS ANGELES—Above all, having a management team acutely focused on driving business and a building an award-winning culture is how Colliers International focuses on strategic planning and driving key initiatives. In this exclusive, David Josker, president of the southwest region of Colliers International, shared insights on how the firm’s laser focus on those two areas are the keys to success. And, how it contributes to Colliers’ ability to recruit and retain the best talent.
“I don’t think there is a more competitive time in real estate for talent, especially on the brokerage front,” Josker tells GlobeSt.com. “Brokerage companies are growing at rates we haven’t seen before. Most importantly, revenue is growing. We’ve been in a really strong cycle for the past decade.”
Josker points to the primary growth drivers of Newmark Knight Frank and Cushman & Wakefield, which were previously working towards public launches. This meant that all the larger international firms were competing for the same talent. And now, the global big five, Colliers International, JLL, CBRE, Newmark Knight Frank and Cushman & Wakefield are all publicly traded at this point, so it remains extremely competitive, he says.
“Lucrative financial packages are being offered to the top talent so we’ve got to make sure that we stay very close to our professionals,” Josker observes. “We’re strategically focused to make sure we have a well-balanced team and don’t over saturate our different specialties. We want to build an environment where everybody has the ability to be successful, collaborate and complement each other’s business.
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Why Workplaces Matter
When considering the importance of retention, Josker says a company’s workplace is extremely important, which breaks down into two aspects: a cultural sense and a physical sense.
“Culture is paramount to our success. We’re focused on creating and fostering an environment that is centered around its employees. Every single experience matters. Every interaction matters. We want to continue to provide an environment where people enjoy coming to work every day. This includes thinking about what the physical space itself has to offer,” Josker continues. “The physical workspace has never been more important. It has to appeal to our diverse group of professionals, which has led us to building more open and collaborative environments that are loaded with technology and workplace solutions. To best serve our clients, our professionals need to be mobile and efficient and our workplace needs to reflect that. As real estate advisors, we are heavily scrutinized on how we design and utilize our own space, which is why we are constantly pushing the boundaries.”
Keeping It Multi-Generational
Retention is not just focused around our top producers, we’re fixated on keeping a good balance of talented multi-generational professionals, he points out.
The top producers are typically the drivers of the business, the ICON’s, most with 20+ years in a given market and/or expertise. They are the centerpiece and focal point of most brokerage firms, as they should be.
“The life cycle of a brokerage career typically progresses very quickly with someone going from being a junior, and in the blink of an eye, it’s seven to eight years later and they have a wealth of experience.”
The mid-generation is important to Colliers because “they sometimes are the forgotten group who haven’t thought about their own business plan and what their future looks like. Sometimes, because they’ve had their head down working for a senior professional” Josker says. “If they are not celebrated and given strategic planning, they become targets to be recruited away. They’re the future of our business.”
This younger generation of professionals are drastically different than the senior brokers, Josker says. “With technology, there’s been a blending of these generations of professionals” he points out. “Some top producers came into the business using rotary phones and had not yet adopted computers. Whereas the younger generation is used to working at a coffee shop and being very mobile. This is where our management team emphasizes the importance of having a custom approach to every professional.”
Don’t Forget the Data
“These days, data is driving everything; every decision is based on data. Every component of every transaction is tracked, reported and analyzed. So gone are the days of the brokers’ gut check on how they think the market is doing. We have data points to know exactly what’s going on,” Josker says. “Our priority is to make sure we are providing our professionals with deliverables from marketing and research to best service their clients and frankly, win business.”
To that point about sharing and collaboration, Josker says the days of being overly protective of information are in the past. “The sharing of information among professionals creates a strength in numbers and provides our clients with real time information.” he says.
Amplifying the Support Network
“Culturally, we are focused on creating an environment centered around collaboration,” he says. “Collaborating between our different service lines has never been more important to servicing our clients and winning new business.”
In addition, Josker says most large international firms, such as Colliers are becoming more diverse in the lines of business, which further highlights the need for his management team to ensure all of those business lines are being used to their full capacity.
Josker credits his management team’s success from a daily focus around a few core priorities: driving the business, interacting and servicing our clients, and having a marketing facing presence.
“Not only are our leaders experts in understanding all of the lines of business, but they are also making sure our professionals are fully leveraging them,” Josker says. “The only way to accomplish this is to immerse themselves in our professionals’ businesses through strategic business planning sessions.”
“This daily focus is what drives our culture and allows us to recruit top talent,” he says. “If you focus on the blocking and tackling, the right culture, and a workspace that’s conducive to productivity and success, retention will care for itself.”