Who Trains The Trainer? 5 Signs Your Coach Isn’t Above Board

Who Trains The Trainer? 5 Signs Your Coach Isn’t Above Board

At Inman Connect Las Vegas, July 30-Aug. 1, 2024, the noise and misinformation will be banished, all your big questions will be answered, and new business opportunities will be revealed. Join us.

We’ve experienced more than our fair share of upheaval in the real estate industry over the past few months.

As decisions were made in courtrooms, jury rooms and boardrooms about the commission lawsuits and subsequent settlements, staying abreast of the latest changes became increasingly difficult.

Now that we’ve got a better understanding of the way the process of working with clients will look moving forward, it may feel like a good idea to sign up for a class, sign on with a coach, or bring in a trainer to work with your team or brokerage. Watch out, however, for coaches and trainers who are not quite ready to provide the information you need or who are using agent confusion to create a cash-grab opportunity.

Here’s what to watch for as you evaluate your coach or trainer.

5 coaching and training red flags to watch for

Rachael Hite

Marketing and transaction consultant Rachael Hite suggests that before you sign a contract with a coach or put out any money on a training program, it’s important to take some time to ensure that they are specifically qualified as experts in your state or region, and make sure that the advice they’re giving complies with fair housing and DEI concerns.

In addition, watch out for those “I’m going to get you XX listings in XX days” internet lead capture programs that charge a fortune, especially in rural markets, Hite said. These can result in having your social media accounts flagged or disabled, and they fail to differentiate for the number of leads your market can reasonably yield.

“People don’t want to be sold these days — any more than most salespeople want to sell — not in a pushy or pressured way,” said Darryl Davis, founder of the Power Agent Program and a coach with more than 35 years of experience. “Great coaches lead by example — share great ideas, insight, coaching, and tools and invite agents to investigate their platform without feeling like they are in that old familiar pain/aspirin sales pitch.”

Aside from spammy, scammy pseudo-coaching, what follows are the messages you should watch out for. If you hear any of these, proceed with caution.

‘Nothing has really changed’

Plenty of coaches and trainers are out there giving “business-as-usual” advice that seems completely out of touch with the realities of legal requirements, professional obligations and public attitudes. Whether you feel that things have changed or not, buyers and sellers know that they’ve changed — and they want answers to their questions.

Be wary of coaches and trainers who are giving old-fashioned advice that doesn’t acknowledge new realities. They won’t be able to protect you if you put their outdated beliefs into practice, and it all goes sideways.

Darryl Davis

“For our members, business as usual was not the course of action,” Davis said. “We’ve seen in other industries how that approach to change has led to catastrophic results. Look at Blockbuster, Blackberry or Kodak – all had opportunities to evolve but failed to.

“We knew for agents to thrive we had to help them get ahead of the learning curve, ditch the distractions, and lean into the new skills they needed to not just stay in business, but serve their clients. We have been preparing them since October, and because of that, they don’t have the fear that many competitors have, and that’s a blessing.”

Key question: “How has your advice or curriculum changed since Sitzer | Burnett and the NAR commission lawsuit settlements?”

‘The sky is falling’

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find coaches and trainers who are signing up students by catastrophizing and fearmongering. They’re playing off of your emotions and making you worry that you’ll be forced to close up shop without their expertise.

While coaching and training are valuable when things are changing, be suspicious of anyone who plays off your fears and worst instincts for profit.

Key question: “What can I do to take a proactive approach and flourish in the months ahead?”

‘I’ve got a secret workaround’

Denial has kicked in for many real estate professionals, and unscrupulous trainers may choose to take advantage of the desire to, in a sense, “beat the lawyers” by ignoring the letter of the law with vaguely unscrupulous strategies designed to allow clients and students to skirt settlement-mandated changes.

Beware of anyone who tells you what you want to hear — that you don’t have to change a thing, that only they have the answers — in favor of the real facts you need to hear now. 

Key question: “How does your strategy protect my business and my reputation?”

‘You just need to work harder’

Real estate has always valued the power of bootstraps, so some coaches and trainers may tell you not to worry about all of the recent changes. Just get out there and do what you do best — door knock, network, lead gen, follow up.

While hard work is the key to much of your success, you also need to be up to date on the latest changes to transactions, marketing and communications. You have to know the rules of the road now so you can put your work ethic into practice the right way.

“Take a look at the coaches you are considering. Did they personally list and sell real estate? Are they personally talking to and coaching agents every day or do they have a “fleet” of coaches under their umbrella? If it’s not them personally coaching, what is the real estate experience of the people on the other end of the phone?” Davis said. Understanding their background will help you gauge whether their advice is practical or theoretical.

Key question: “What strategies do you have for working smarter as well?”

‘Let’s just wait and see’

In order to delay the inevitable, you may run into trainers and coaches who tell you there’s no sense worrying about changing rules now. After all, final approval of the settlement won’t happen until November; there’s no sense worrying about anything until that happens.

Despite that November approval date, the implementation of new policies is set to go into effect on Aug. 17. That gives you just a couple of months to get yourself trained up, coached up, and up to speed on the new normal.

Key question: “What are you waiting for?” 

Darryl Davis’ 3 green flags of good coaching and training

I asked Davis what he’d view as the signs of a good coach or trainer. Here are his must-haves:


When “what you see is what you get,” Davis said, you’re on the right track. There should be coaching and resources that feel human and caring. “Don’t be afraid to ask what makes [the coach or trainer] different, and see how you feel about the answers,” he said.


Julie Escobar

Whether you’re a new agent or an experienced agent who’s trying to reboot the business in the face of change, coaching programs that are prohibitively expensive are not sustainable over the long term,” Julie Escobar, president of Darryl Davis Seminars, said. Look for a program that fits into your budget so that you can stay with it and grow your skills and your confidence.

Continual learning

“Coaching can’t be cookie-cutter, at least not anymore. A quality coach is going to be addressing real-world questions in real time with real compassion,” said Davis. Since change is scary and the headlines have made it harder to know what you can and can’t say, the right tools and training program can help you navigate the new normal with ease and confidence as long as it’s based in right-here, right-now reality.

And of course, asking for references and checking online reviews and testimonials is a must. “What is the world saying about the coaches you’re considering?” Davis asked. “Some reviews harbor horror stories about ripoffs and lack of response. Be your own best advocate and do some homework” before signing up with any coach or training program.

Email Christy Murdock

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