This is part four in a four-part series. See parts one (property management), two (REOs and short sales) and three (improper drafting of documents & advertising issues).
Here is an important risk management issue for brokers and managers: How do you handle agent-to-agent conflicts that arise? You do not want them going throughout the office unresolved. I am sure you have all seen instances where an agent with an issue starts going around an office trying to garner support or sympathy for “their side” of the conflict. In-fighting can destroy office morale when left unattended.
Sometimes the only solution is to ask one of the offending agents to leave, or both, but that is probably the worst case scenario. A good risk management option for a brokerage would be to check your office policies and procedures and try to shore up areas of behavior issues before they begin.
AAR has received many complaints related to in-house referrals. An agent claims the broker did not want to intercede between the agents disputing the referral or make a decision on the referral for them, and the agent starts seeking outside sources to help them decide what to do next. Again, it would be good practice to look through your polices on referrals or establish a policy to include verbiage such as, “All referrals between agents must be in writing, acknowledged by both parties, and the dollar amount or percent clearly described.” The broker or office manager then has a policy to use regarding the referral, thereby eliminating the need for a controversial decision that could be challenged.
One final risk reduction point for brokers and managers: Agents often call AAR with questions that should really be addressed by the agent’s broker or office manager. When the agent is asked whether or not they have spoken to their broker or manager, the agent responds no. When it is suggested that the agent contact their broker or office manager, all manner of excuses are offered relative to a broker or manager’s availability, managers not having the knowledge, the agent not understanding when or who to contact at the brokerage, etc. Implementing communication policies regarding the chain of command in your offices is something that should be researched in every office. For example, if an agent has a question, who do they go to first: a mentor, the office manager, the broker? At what point should contact with the broker be made and what form does the contact take?