“Real estate professionals wear many hats. The best understand that in order to be successful you need to concentrate on money-making initiatives, like selling,” says Matthew Regan of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Regan Real Estate in Mississauga.
“However, if growth is part of a business plan, you need great people. Like most things, finding the right people takes time and takes a strong, systemized process. A recruiter specializes in just that…recruiting. It’s worth the investment. We all know the cost of a bad hire and aligning yourself with a recruiter is like buying insurance to hedge against that bad hire.”
Aiman Attar, founder of AGENTC Real Estate Recruiter, recognized the need back in 2013, when she and business/life partner Ghaz Syed started their Toronto-based real estate recruitment business. But little did they know how fast the business would take off. They had simply wanted to fill a need – helping agents, teams and brokerages hire qualified professionals.
“We didn’t even have a website, just a registered business,” says Attar. But within two months of setting up shop and “smile and dial” (cold calling), they began taking on clients. The need was great – she says she got two clients from every five cold calls. Back then, it was commission only, so she says clients had nothing to lose. (Now there is an upfront retainer, with the balance upon hiring.)
Then, thanks to word of mouth, she says “business exploded.” Regan had used AGENTC’s services to hire an assistant and was so happy with the result that he referred the company to everyone who asked where he found such a great assistant. One client would refer three more, and so on. Most of the business is still repeat business and referrals, Attar says.
It was five years ago that AGENTC helped Regan replace his assistant. Now his team has grown to over a dozen, with a variety of positions hired with the help of AGENTC, the only real estate recruitment company in Canada. It provides service in Toronto, London, Ont., Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver.
AGENTC reviews thousands of resumes and has developed a process for assessing candidates that focuses on interaction and relationship building. “The more interaction, the more access you have to information,” Attar says. “You can see who drops the ball and who is coachable and who is not. You get to see the nuances because of relationships.”
Their database includes more than 7,000 candidates from across Canada. Not every one of those, she says, is good. Some have burned bridges and some have lied in interviews. The database includes all of that information.
“We didn’t think it was going to be so big. We were hiring five positions every month and now have 17 positions on the board.”
AGENTC suggests a one-day paid assessment, where the potential employer and the candidate sit together for the day. If the day goes well the employer can make an offer. This gives the candidate confidence, leaving a job and knowing they will feel comfortable in their new position. She says the day gives both an opportunity to see if they can work together and see things that may not come up in an interview.
One client spent the day with a candidate who never took notes. She would continually need reminders of what to do. The second candidate asked questions, wrote everything down, did the job and returned when the job was done. The potential employer wouldn’t have seen that difference if they didn’t have an assessment day, Attar says.
The company also provides training for real estate professionals, including how to assess candidates and how to interview.
“We don’t work with everybody. We choose who we want to work with and who we won’t. And we never place a person in a toxic environment,” says Attar.
Interested employers and candidates are invited to fill out an inquiry form on their website. Attar says that privacy for all concerned is top of mind. “Everyone signs off, interviews are discreet and accommodating so no one knows the person is looking.”
Attar had sold her previous business and Syed, an IT specialist, suggested they start an IT recruitment company. However she says there were already too many such companies.
“But there was nothing for real estate,” Attar says. “I first started in real estate with a marketing business called Imaginahome (home brochures, virtual tours) in 2002. Then in 2004, I became a Realtor for two years while still running the marketing business. Although I did well in real estate sales, I hated the driving around, so I gave up my license.”
AGENTC opened for business a year before their first child was born. Their second came along in 2015. Juggling nursing and diaper changes, the couple worked on from home until the business grew enough for Syed to quit his job and join Attar at AGENTC full time.