Firm recruiting talent like sports teams

by Neil Sharma16 May 2018

Commercial real estate often takes a back seat to the residential space, and the shortage of brokers has impelled one firm to think outside of the box.

Colliers International has taken to working with Vancouver sports team to learn how to draft and develop its brokers of the future rather than poach them from competitors. Not only does Colliers reckon it’s more affordable, it also allows culture to foster.

“Our scouting team is three people and they’ve brought in about 50 brokers, but the scouting team has a pipeline of 1,200 people,” said Keri Fraser, Colliers’ vice president of people services for North America. “This is where the difference between recruiting and scouting comes into play, because recruiting can be focused on quantity whereas scouting is finding ‘a player’—researching them and watching them talk to their network. Those 1,200 will get narrowed down through research, and that’s the art of scouting. Scouting is really spending time finding the top talent.”

Through meetings with the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions, Colliers learned the fine art of scouting talent. The idea goes back to 2013, when the company began contemplating building from within as opposed to recruiting from without.

“Our CEO read about Manchester Unit and building a farm team,” continued Fraser. “We built a pilot program to train and build called the Acceleration Program. We’re fulfilling that farm team to eventually move them into that broker role.”

Through B2B initiatives and working with universities from coast to coast, Colliers is searching for talented future brokers in the unlikeliest of places. After being brought on board, they’re taught about the company and how to specialize.

“People spend a year learning about our business but they also focus on different specialty areas, whether it’s office or industrial, and it gets more specialized than that, like, for example, learning about legal firms. They work closely with other senior brokers in those different areas.”

The old way of recruiting new brokers was both time consuming and expensive. The courting process was lengthy and, because Colliers initiated the courtship, it usually cost more than it was worth.

“The old way of bringing people into the business is they would come in through research, but it was very inconsistent and unstructured,” said Fraser. “Now, anyone brand new comes in through the program. We’re not leaving it to chance anymore.”


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