William Pitt and Julie B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty & Bridge
Making the Best Investments in Dispersed-Workforce Training
The late William H. Pitt opened his first real estate office in 1949 with just $6, a telephone, and his vision to build a full-service, upscale realty company serving Fairfield County, Connecticut. Today, William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty serves Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York with 28 brokerages and more than 1,000 sales associates. As the largest affiliate of the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand, it leverages the extensive Sotheby’s network of more than 760 offices on six continents.
Learn more at www.williampitt.com.
When Lance Pendleton joined William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty as the director of education and training in 2015, less than 15 percent of the company’s agents and employees participated in existing training programs. Low participation was due in part to the company’s inability to mandate training for agents working as independent contractors. But even if more of these external agents opted to participate, training opportunities were limited by the ability of one trainer to reach 1,200 people in 28 offices across three states. To improve the quality, quantity, and flexibility of training programs—and to increase voluntary adoption by external agents—Pendleton’s first priority was to find a corporate learning management system (LMS) that could provide:
- A simple, intuitive interface that wouldn’t require its own user training program
- Mobile access, which would enable agents to complete training on the fly
- The ability to track course completion rates for individual users
After months of what he described as a “horrific experience evaluating complicated and clunky learning platforms,” Pendleton finally found “the game changer.”
“I was psyched to see Bridge,” said Pendleton. “My first priority was to find a training platform that was simple to use and versatile. When I presented Bridge to our CEO, COO, and a roomful of managers, they all applauded. They’d been looking for a training solution for 15 years, and there it was.”
Almost immediately, Pendleton began using Bridge to create online courses. He said it was so easy, “it felt like Moses had just parted the Red Sea for me.”
In addition to developing the company’s first onboarding program for employees, he created a learning path for new agents. This series of online courses will free office administrators from the painstaking process of explaining company policies and procedures to each new agent. More importantly, it will provide a formal yet flexible way to enable knowledge transfer, which will get agents up to speed faster and make them more accountable.
Pendleton estimates the company’s new online training program will save 40–60 hours of annual training time for each agent. To further maximize his time during one-on-one and in-class sessions, he plans to implement a blended learning approach—using Bridge to create online course sections for learners to complete in advance.
According to Pendleton, “Our goal is to have our adoption rate at 30 percent by the end of 2016. Unlike most other corporate training structures, we can’t mandate training. We can only offer it and hope they take it. With Bridge, we can offer it, track it, and most importantly, adapt it to meet the different needs of each office—something we couldn’t do with competing systems.”