Bye bye bye: Leave Your Team — Without Losing Your Connections

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Co-founder of The Agency’s BZP Group and regular cast member on “Buying Beverly Hills” Joey Ben-Zvi writes that professionalism and respect are essential to leaving the right way.

April is Teams Month here at Inman. Adding nuance on top of our weekly Teams Beat email newsletter, we’ll serve up top insights from the best team leaders across the country as we dig deeper into what it takes to build a team, scale it, and even leave one.

Chances are that at some point in your real estate career, you’ll switch teams. Even if you’ve had a great experience with a brokerage or team, sometimes new opportunities arise that are a better fit for you and your goals.

There’s nothing wrong with moving on to a new chapter. However, there is a wrong way — and a right way — to part ways with your current team.

While it can be nerve-wracking to tell people with whom you’ve worked closely that you’re leaving, your transition will be infinitely smoother if you handle it the right way. Let’s explore how to leave a team without losing any valuable connections. 

Communicate. Don’t blindside

Before you make any moves, communicate with your current leadership team about your decision. Don’t deliver the news via email or written letter.

The most respectful way to tell your broker is to schedule an in-person meeting and tell them face to face. While you don’t need to explain or justify your reasons for leaving, you can speak candidly about the new opportunity you’ve accepted. 

Even if you’ve had problems with your current team, don’t leave without having a conversation. Take the time to thank them for the opportunities they’ve given you and the time they’ve invested in your growth. Failing to do so could damage your reputation.

If you don’t leave on good terms, there’s nothing stopping your former team from speaking ill of their experience with you.  

Stay in touch. Don’t burn bridges

The conversation you have about leaving should not be the last time you ever speak to your former team. Connections are everything in the real estate business, and just because you’ve left a firm doesn’t mean you should let the relationships you built there disintegrate.

It’s highly likely that you might work with your old team again on a deal, and if that need for collaboration arises, you’ll be grateful you put the effort into maintaining a good rapport.

You can easily stay in touch with your former team by periodically checking in via phone or email, sharing resources that may be helpful to them, or reaching out to congratulate them on any major achievements. Burned bridges always come back to bite you in this industry because you never know when you’re going to need someone’s expertise or assistance. 

Be grateful. Don’t bite the hand that fed you

You may be leaving a firm with a lot of opinions about what could’ve been done better. While there are some cases in which it’s appropriate to give constructive feedback to your leadership team, there’s a fine line between that and criticism. Speaking negatively about your experience can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths, hurting your chances of future collaboration.

Instead, focus on the positives and express your gratitude for everything you learned from the team. 

The same is true of what you say to people outside of your former firm. It’s not a good look to sound like you are biting the hand that fed you when you talk about past experiences. This raises alarm bells that you may be unprofessional and untrustworthy, which can damage your reputation. 

Check your contract. Don’t assume

While real estate agents are typically independent contractors, it’s still imperative that you take a look at your contract and make sure you’re aware of any notice periods or non-compete clauses you’ve already agreed to. You want to ensure that you don’t accidentally break a rule you didn’t know about.

This is especially important when it comes to clients. Are you able to take clients with you to your new firm? If so, are there any conditions? Don’t assume that you know what you can and cannot do when leaving. Read the fine print to avoid rubbing anyone the wrong way.

Keep in mind that it’s equally important to communicate your exit to your clients as it is to tell team leadership. You want them to know where they can reach you and reassure them that the change won’t negatively impact them. 

Leaving one team for another can be exciting and daunting all at once. But if you treat your team with professionalism and respect, both in your final days and moving forward, you’ll find that the change can be remarkably smooth. 

Joey Ben-Zvi is a co-founder of BZP Group at The Agency and a regular cast member on Buying Beverly Hills.

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