A United Approach to Agent Growth

by Michael Catarevas, RISMedia | Published April 2024 Real Estate Magazine

Michelle Sessor
Vice President & Principal Broker
Charles Rutenberg Realty (CRR)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Region served: Fort Lauderdale & South Florida Kansas 
Years in real estate: 30
Number of offices: 1
Number of agents: 1,180

Key to continued growth and success: Agent support. That’s something that I was brought up with in the industry, and what I feel is important as well.

Favorite part of working in real estate: Helping others. I got into real estate 30 years ago and haven’t looked back. I just love it.

How did you get your start in real estate, and what led you to where you are today?

When I moved to Florida, I worked at another brokerage, which, at the time, had four offices. In my tenure there, we ended up building it to seven offices and over 400 agents, which was an unusual feat at that time because there weren’t many Mega-brokers. I started at CRR as General Manager 12 years ago and became the Managing Broker two years ago, and it’s been a great experience working closely with agents.

How has aligning with United Real Estate supported your growth?

Bringing on the tools and the proprietary technology United offers have been instrumental. Now we’ve been able to position ourselves to really take recruiting to the next level. We have unbelievable automated marketing programs, fully brandable agent websites, a LeadBoost lead-generation platform, retirement & wealth planning services and healthcare plans. We already prided ourselves on being a 100% commission model, but to have exciting services to draw more top producers was instrumental.

You’ve done a great job attracting quality agents. What’s your percentage growth rate between this time last year and the year before?

Agent count is down across the board nationally, but we grew 5% for 2023. We’ve been steadily increasing the percentage, but growth is about more than recruiting: it’s also about how well we retain productive agents and develop new agents. Retention is the important part. That’s why we make sure we are adequately staffed as we grow so we can give a high level of agent support.

What resource has been most helpful to you and your agents?

We now have a state-of-the-art training and education platform, Learning Academy, that flexes to the learner’s needs. Whether self-paced online courses, instructor-led workshops, videos, small group meetings or livestream events, we offer it. We allow them to learn how they prefer to learn.

You were named 2023 Broker of the Year at United’s national conference, Elevate. Tell us about that experience.

Honestly, I’m still a little overwhelmed. It took me by total surprise. I attribute it to building the business and being a team player, working with all the people at our home office as well as those at other offices across our network of companies.

My operations manager, assistant broker and I were coming back to the table after receiving the Velocity Award, which is recognition for total office growth. I was in tears over that, then all of a sudden, I hear (United CEO) Dan Duffy and (President) Rick Haase talking about somebody, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re talking about me!’ I was so overwhelmed that our team had earned the award and how much we had accomplished in 2023.

You refer to Charles Rutenberg Realty as ‘the smart brokers.’ What makes your brokerage and agents smarter?

They’re smarter not just because they are they getting 100% of their commission, they’re also getting 100% support with all of these tools. They made the move, they made the smart decision to get educated further, and they get to keep most of what they earn. Because of that, they’re more valuable to have as your REALTOR®, and so we call them “the smart brokers.” Essentially, we do more for our agents, and that enables them to have more success with clients!

What is your philosophy for what makes a brokerage succeed?

There’s no “I” in team. It’s all support. It’s the team I have here, the loyal staff that has stayed here for years. You have to keep your staff happy, so they help create happy agents to build the team even more. The agents say they love to come into the office because they feel welcome. They feel like it’s a family environment even though we’re a large organization.

For more information, please visit https://www.GrowWithUnited.com. 

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