Benefits of an Employer Tuition Reimbursement Program & Policy

While they may not have a line item on a balance sheet, employees are your company’s most important asset. Their knowledge, skill sets, and expertise impact your ability to keep customers or clients satisfied and improve your bottom line.

A tuition reimbursement program is an employee perk that shows you’re invested in their long-term success.

What is Tuition Reimbursement?

Just as it sounds, tuition reimbursement in an employee benefit program or policy where the employer pays back employees for education expenses. Although the program’s rules vary from employer to employer, most cover the cost of tuition as well as textbooks and other required course materials.

Employees still have to pay out of pocket for the courses they take, but when the course is over, the employee can get back some or all of their tuition expenses. At some institutions, students with financial constraints qualify to defer payment until their coursework is complete.

Advantages of an Employer Tuition Reimbursement Program

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2019 Employee Benefits survey notes more than half of employers (56%) offer some sort of tuition or student loan repayment assistance for employees, so education is clearly a priority for businesses.

1. More Skilled Employees

As the International Labour Organization (ILO) states, “Many of today’s skills won’t match tomorrow’s jobs, and skills acquired today may quickly become obsolete.” So workers need to update their skills on an ongoing basis.

Investing in your employee’s education can help you custom-build the skills, talent, and expertise you need to grow your business today and in the future.

2. Higher Retention Rates

Employees who take advantage of tuition reimbursement tend to stay with the company longer.

The Harvard Business Review noted one powerful example: when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles partnered with Strayer University to allow its dealership employees and their families to earn a degree free of charge, participating dealerships saw employee retention rates increase by nearly 40%.

3. Lower Recruiting Costs

Companies can promote educated employees to higher-level positions, saving the company time and money compared to filling vacancies with outside talent.

According to SHRM, the average cost of hiring a new employee is $4,425, or $14,936 for hiring an executive. That includes the cost of advertising the position, training, conducting interviews, and providing new hire orientation. Plus, it can take months for the new hire to acclimate to company culture and become fully productive.

On the other hand, promoting people from within generates little if any additional cost to the company.

4. Tax Breaks

The IRS allows employers to write-off up to $5,250 of tuition reimbursements per employee per year. These reimbursements are considered a tax-free fringe benefit, so they aren’t included in the employees’ wages, and the employer doesn’t have to pay Social Security, Medicare, federal or state unemployment taxes on the reimbursement.

To qualify for this tax perk, the tuition reimbursement plan has to be in writing and meet other requirements, including:

  • The program can’t favor highly compensated employees — generally defined as someone who owns at least 5% of the business or received more than $130,000 of compensation in the prior year.
  • The program doesn’t provide more than 5% of its benefits to shareholders, business owners, or their spouses or dependents.
  • The program doesn’t allow employees to opt to receive cash or other benefits instead of educational assistance.
  • All eligible employees have to receive reasonable notice of the program.

You can find more information about the IRS requirements for educational assistance benefits in IRS Publication 15-B.

Eligibility for Reimbursement

Employers can determine their conditions for reimbursement of employee tuition. Some common conditions include:

Length of Service and Performance

The first condition that may limit eligibility is length of service. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement only to full-time employees who have worked at the company for at least six months to a year. They also require the employee to still be employed with the company when they complete the course.

Employers can also require that the employee is meeting all performance expectations for their current position or require that the employee hasn’t been formally disciplined during the previous six to 18 months. The definition of discipline can vary from company to company but typically includes written warnings, demotions, or suspensions.

Program of Study

The next condition that may hinder eligibility is course of study. Many employers require that the courses or degree program can be applied within the organization. For example, a consulting firm may broadly define relevant subjects; on the other hand, a small IT firm may only reimburse specific technology-related courses.

The program can also require the employee to take classes only at a pre-approved educational institution such as a local university or community college or an accredited online college.


Another potential condition is the level of cost the company is willing to reimburse. Most tuition reimbursement programs have an annual cap on what they’ll cover. This limit varies greatly from company to company, but most employers base their caps on IRS limits.

As mentioned above, the IRS allows employers to deduct up to $5,250 of tuition costs per employee each year. Employers who pay more than $5,250 for an employee’s educational benefits during the year have to include it in the employee’s wages and pay all applicable payroll taxes, thus negating the tax benefits of the program.


An employer can require the employee to earn a passing grade to qualify for tuition reimbursement. For example, the policy may require that the employee passes the course with a letter grade of C or better.

Employers can also have scaled grade requirements. For example, the employer’s tuition reimbursement plan may specify that an A grade receives full reimbursement, a B grade receives 80% reimbursement, a C grade garners 60% reimbursement, and anything below a C is not eligible.

Final Word

A tuition reimbursement program is an attractive benefit that can help companies find, develop, and hold on to skilled talent. How you design your program depends on the needs of your business and employees.

If you want to try it out, consider starting by reimbursing employees for one work-related course per year, subject to manager approval. This will give you an idea of how popular the program will be with your employees, and you can decide whether to expand it in the future.


Former Michigan State Football Coach Mark Dantonio Selling $1.28M Mansion

A year after stepping down as Michigan State’s head football coach Mark Dantonio is walking away from his Michigan home. His luxury estate in East Lansing is available for $1,279,900.

The former Spartans boss purchased the property in 2016 for $1.09 million.

Built in 2002, the “rare offering in Whitehills Lakes” offers a 7,500-square-foot estate on 2 acres—surrounded by nature and privacy in all directions.

The well-maintained residence features seven bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms.

Enter via a circle drive to a grand entry with a curved staircase and honed marble floors.

The area opens to a formal dining room with tray ceilings and Brazilian cherry flooring. A double-height living room includes floor-to-ceiling windows, a fireplace, and built-ins with glass shelves.

The designer kitchen features a new, oversized fridge, custom cabinetry, granite counters, a center island, and two bars with seating.

An adjoining sunroom with hardwood floors opens to a spacious deck, patio, and fire pit for outdoor living.

Watch: Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins Buys $5.1M Minimalist Mansion


On the main floor, the primary suite features a two-way fireplace and sitting area that opens to a whirlpool tub, two walk-in closets, a shower, and double vanity, and sinks. An extra room connected to the suite could work as an office, nursery, or private workout area.

A second main-level guest suite opens to the deck, and comes with an en suite bath and walk-in closet.

On the second floor, three more en suite bedrooms open to a catwalk overlook.

The lower-level walkout features slate flooring, walk-in storage, and a wet bar. For relaxation, there’s a family room with a fireplace and a game room. The lower floor also boasts two additional bedrooms, full bathroom, storage space, and an exercise room.

Other perks include a built-in, four-speaker system on the main floor and lower level. An invisible fence is set up in the backyard to keep your pooch safe.

Residents can enjoy lake and park access. Naturally, the location is convenient to Michigan State University, as well as to shopping.

The longtime former coach held his position at MSU from 2007 until 2020. Over that time, he became the winningest coach in the school’s history, with 114 victories.

Although his sudden departure raised questions, because it came amid allegations of recruiting violations, Dantonio posted to his Twitter feed that he planned to continue to be involved with the team.

“My plan is to stay on within the university and athletic department in a role involving special projects, especially transitioning our players, both current and incoming, to their next challenges,” he wrote.

Obviously, he won’t be helming those special projects from this luxurious Michigan residence.

Dantonio also said at the time that the legal issues had “no relevance whatsoever” to his decision to step down, according to the Washington Post.

Thus far, three lawsuits brought against him and other staff members have reportedly been dismissed.  

Lynne VanDeventer with Coldwell Banker Hubbell BriarWood-Okemos holds the listing.


How to Remodel a House

I have flipped almost 200 houses in my career, and I will pass that 200 mark later this year. I have also bought close to 30 rental properties that have ranged from 800 to 68,000 square feet. Over the years, I have learned a lot about how to remodel homes. In fact, even as a professional, one of the hardest parts of the business is still remodeling homes even after almost 20 years. I do not do the work myself. I have in the past, but now I hire out everything, and it is tough finding the right people and deciding what the right mix of fixing and not fixing is. In this article, I will try to give you an idea of the best approach to take when remodeling a home and the major mistakes to avoid.

What are the basics of remodeling a house?

When I flip houses, almost every house I buy needs work. Most of the rental properties I buy need work as well. I want a really good deal, and sometimes that takes buying properties that need to be remodeled. What are the basic steps to take when remodeling a home?

Assess what needs to be done

The first step to take when remodeling a home is to figure out what you want to do! This can often be the hardest part. You don’t want to make the home too nice for the neighborhood or you will never get back the money you spend when it comes time to sell the home. You don’t want to do too little or you might leave money on the table. I like to take the route of doing just enough to make the home as nice as other houses that are selling in the neighborhood. Sometimes that means going to look at those houses for sale and deciding what level you want to be at. Doing $20,000 in work may bring $40,000 more in value, but doing $40,000 in work may only bring $50,000 in value.

This step can be tough to figure out because if you live in the home, you also need to balance what you want as far as creature comforts. You may want to go above and beyond what makes sense due to your personal preferences. That is okay as long as you know you may not get that money back. My article on what home remodeling jobs bring the most bang for the buck goes into more detail on this subject.

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Decide how you are going to handle the remodel

Another big decision is how you are going to handle the remodel. Are you going to do the work yourself? Are you going to hire a general contractor to do it all? Are you going to hire subcontractors and are going to manage it all?

In my business, we act as the general contractor and hire out all the subs, or we use employees. It saves us a ton of money to run our business this way. Here is what I mean by each term:

General contractor

A general contractor runs the show and hires everything out. If you want a new house built, the general contractor or GC should be able to get it all scheduled and completed. Many times, the GC will not do any work themselves: they simply manage everything. A good GC can be great, but they are usually expensive as well.


A sub is someone or a company that specializes in a certain aspect of construction. We hire subs all the time for plumbing, electrical, foundations, HVAC, roofing, landscaping, flooring, painting, and more. Subs are specialists, which means they are often faster and cheaper than general contractors.

Handyman or woman

A handyman or woman is someone who can do a lot of different things but is usually not classified as a GC because they are not licensed or do not have the capability to run a crew. They do all the work themselves to varying degrees of quality. Some can be great, and others can be quit poor! I also find than many handypeople are great at certain things like drywall or painting but are not so great at plumbing or electrical, although they tend to think they can do anything.

We use handymen or women all the time, but we figure out what they are good at and stick to those items. It can be rough trying to use them as a general contractor because they may claim to be able to do everything but not really know what they are doing. It can also take a long time since it is usually a one or two-person show.

Project manager

I run a fairly large operation, and I have a project manager who runs everything for me. She is great at her job and schedules everything, hires subs, decides when work should be done, and basically takes on the job of the GC but for 10 to 20 projects at once. It does not make sense for a homeowner doing a one-time remodel to hire a project manager, but it might make sense for real estate investors who do a lot of deals.

For small jobs that are not complicated, a handyman might do the trick. For larger jobs, you might want to use a GC or try taking on the role of GC yourself and hiring subcontractors. How much you do will often depend on your level of knowledge and time you have to dedicate to the project.

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How to find the right people to help you

Now you have decided what work you want to be done, and you have decided how you want to get the work done. How do you find the people to do the work? This can be tough and can be the number one way people lose money in real estate. We go through a strict recruiting process when looking for people.

  • We search for people by browsing Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, or by referral.
  • We email them or call asking a list of questions about how they work, what they charge, and when they have time to start.
  • We ask them to send a resume to us and a few references of work they have done recently.
  • If they complete these tasks (which many won’t), we schedule a meeting in our office. At the office, we talk about the same things and make sure they have their own tools, truck, and seem like a good fit. We also make sure they are on time and communicate well.
  • If they pass that test, we meet them at the job site and have them give us a bid on the work to be done. We make sure the bid comes in, and we compare it to what we think the work should cost. Sometimes we have multiple bids.
  • If they get past all of this, we hire them on a small job first. I never hire brand new people to start a $30,000 rehab or more right off the bat. I want to make sure they know what they are doing, show up, and get work done in a timely manner before I make a big commitment.

This is the process we use for a contractor or handyman that will be doing a lot of different work. For a sub who may only be doing a small job, we will skip some of these steps as references and a decent bid will be enough to try them out. I have another article that goes into much more detail on how to find contractors, subs, etc. here.

Why are bids so different?

There will be a huge price range for bids on remodeling jobs. Some contractors prey on homeowners who have no idea what things should cost. We have seen one bid on a foundation for $84,000 and another for $5,000. Both fixed the problem and came with a letter from an engineer. We have seen a bid for a sewer cleanout of $7,700 when another company did the work for $185.

Other contractors will be fair, but they still need to make a living as well. There is a trade-off between how much management and effort the homeowner wants to put in versus how much the project will cost. If you are the project manager and act as the GC, it can save a ton of money, but it takes work.

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How do you choose the right bid?

When you are getting work done for the first time, or even for the second third, fourth, or fifth time, it makes sense to get multiple bids, especially if you are not sure what the project should cost. When you get those bids, how do you know which one is better, and how do you keep getting bids?

First off, I would realize that contractors don’t get paid to come up with bids: they get paid to do work. However, most know that part of the business is coming up with those bids and getting some jobs while losing others. I would go out of my way to reward people who are willing to give you bids in a timely manner. Take them to lunch, get to know them, pick their brains about the bids and why they bid them as they did. If you can’t do that, give them a Home Depot gift card.

We often go with the cheaper bid, but I also have a good idea of what repairs should cost. I know if someone is way overshooting things or even coming in way too low and are sure to increase the bid as time goes on. Whatever bid you go with, start them slow! When I start a new contractor, I do not give them an entire house off the bat, I have them start with the bathroom or a small project to see if they show up, do good work and are honest. If there are problems from the start, I know to move on. This process may cost a little more money because small jobs often come with higher price tags relatively speaking, and it may take more time, but it is worth it. Taking a little more time and being careful will often avoid the massive horror stories of contractors taking half the bid up front of an $80,000 remodel job and leaving town.

How do you pay the contractor?

A lot of contractors want a lot of money up front to pay for materials, to pay their guys, and to know the customer will pay them. I hate paying money up front, but I know it is needed on certain jobs. This is another reason to start with a small job first to see how they do and if they will perform. If you spend half of $4,000 to remodel a bathroom and the contractor bails, that is not as bad as losing $40,000 on half of a major job.

This is also another reason it is nice to break up the work and pay subs yourself. If there is a problem with a sub, they are not derailing the entire project and budget. You can often pay subs little up front or sometimes nothing because they have a smaller job and less risk.

For big jobs, I like to pay 25% up front, 25 percent at the halfway point, and 50% when it is all done. A lot of contractors do not like this, but what other profession gets paid half the money before they work even gets started? I also pay for all of the materials. I know many contractors mark up the materials and use the excuse for big upfront payments that they need to buy materials. If I am paying for them, it takes away that need for so much money up front. I can buy things at Home Depot over the phone and with a Pro Account with text messages, so it is not a big hassle.

Should you do the work yourself?

I fixed up a house on my own in 2006. I learned a ton! I learned never to do it again. I learned that contractors are much better at repairs than I am. I learned how valuable my time was, and I was more productive doing other things. I lost money on that house because it took me so long to flip, the work was not as good as it should have been, and the market was decreasing while I owned it. I also lost money because I was not working as an agent or finding other deals.

For most people, it does not make sense to do the work yourself on a house if you are flipping or buying rentals. It takes time away from your work, your family, and finding more deals. If you are a homeowner and living in the house, it might make sense in some circumstances. When you live in the home as you do the work, it does not take as much time away from your family. You do not have to commute to another property, and it can be a fun thing you do together. Since you are living in the home, it is not costing you money every day the house is not finished like it would on a flip or rental.

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What do you do first?

Another question I get all the time is how do you decide what repairs to do first? If you hire a GC, they will decide that for you, but if you go the handyman, sub route, or do the work yourself, that is up to you. Here is my take on what repairs to tackle first:


The first thing is always tearing out what you do not need. This way you can get a good look at the condition of the house and see if any major surprises are lurking in the home. I try not to demo anything that does not need it as the more you tear out, the more money you will spend.

Major systems

Electrical, plumbing, HVAC, foundation, Mold, etc. If there is major work that needs to be done, I have that started first because they may make a mess of the home. You don’t want to install new drywall and paint only to find out the electrician must tear it all out.

Windows and doors

When putting in new windows and doors, it often does some damage to the drywall and sheetrock or trim. This is one of the first things we do.


If the home needs patches or is a complete gut, I would do the drywall and sheetrock next since you need that in place before installing new kitchens and baths.


I prefer to paint early because then you do not have to mask everything you just installed. You may have to come back at the end for touch-ups, but that is usually easier than masking the entire house and then most likely still having to come back later for touch-ups.

Kitchens and baths

I install the kitchens and baths next after the paint is done as we won’t have to mask them off.


We install light fixtures nex,t but it can be done at the end as well. They are not too messy, but we want them installed after the paint is done.


We try to do the flooring last because it gets trampled and damaged if a lot of other work is being done after the flooring is installed. Some reasons might be if the floor needs to be installed prior to kitchen cabinets being installed.


Finally, we blue tape the house for anything that needs to be touched up. The flooring guys usually mark up the trim, and some of the walls might need to be touched up or a few spots may have been missed in the beginning. Make sure you keep the same type of paint for touchups! Use the same sheen and color, and keep an old bucket of paint to mix with the new paint if needed so there is not a glaring difference where the touchups are done.

What if you run into problems?

if you have problems with a contractor or a sub or a handyman, my advice is to cut ties as fast as possible. There is a 98% chance things will not get better, and they most likely will get worse. This is why it is best not to pay too much money upfront or start with small jobs because if there are problems, it is much easier to move on to someone else.

It is also wise to check in on the work often! Do not sit back for a month without seeing the project, asking how it is going, and making sure it is on budget. Be very clear that if there are any change orders that will add to the cost, you must approve them first.


It can be a tiring and frustrating process to remodel a house if you don’t take your time to get the right people to help. It can be a wonderful and fulfilling process with the right people. There are many things that can be done to help the process go smoothly. Do not be afraid to get multiple bids, speak up, or take charge if things are not going as planned!

P.S. My new book was just released! Build a Commercial Real Estate Empire! You can get it on Amazon now!


Employee Offboarding Process – 15 Best Practices for a Positive Transition

A lot of employers put more focus on onboarding than offboarding. But creating a positive experience for departing employees can help to increase retention, keep morale high, and make for a smooth and straightforward transition.

As an employer, you may think you have nothing to offer an employee who has chosen to leave your company. You may even feel hurt or resentful. But it’s important that you put those feelings aside and focus on how to offboard your staff member without burning bridges and providing support and direction to all involved.

How to Positively Offboard an Employee

Here are some tips you can use to create an effective employee offboarding strategy as part of your company culture.

1. Consider Your Organization’s Reputation

Some employers are tempted to let personal feelings take over when an employee decides to leave, but turnover is inevitable in almost every company at one point or another.

Employees choose to leave for a variety of reasons, and it’s important that no matter why a team member decides to leave, you keep your personal opinions in check. Do this not only to encourage a positive offboarding experience for your exiting employee and the rest of your team but to build your company’s reputation as well.

Before applying for a job with your company, many potential employees will conduct a quick online search to see what shows up. If a negative Glassdoor review is front and center, and it details a poor offboarding experience, you’re likely to miss out on qualified, high-quality candidates.

Alternately, a former employee who has a large network or who is involved in different professional groups isn’t likely to speak highly of an employer who behaved carelessly during the offboarding process to other industry experts.

2. Meet With Your Exiting Employee

It may seem obvious, but you should meet with your departing employee after they give their notice. A friendly and informative meeting can help to set the tone for the rest of the offboarding process and let your colleague know where they stand.

Cover the following topics so that you’re both on the same page when it comes to offboarding expectations and responsibilities:

  • What you can do to help them
  • What they can do to help you
  • What you expect them to do before they leave
  • Whether they need to develop training material
  • Who will be handling their job duties

Remember to be kind, positive, and friendly during this meeting. The more support and guidance you offer, the more likely the employee is to help with training their replacement and wrapping up any final projects.

You can also use this as an opportunity to ask where they’re going, what their new position will be, and what made them decide to make a move. However, if you suspect that they’re leaving due to dissatisfaction or unhappiness, this is best left for the exit interview.

3. Meet With Your Team

When an employee quits, it affects your entire team. It can cause a lot of uncertainty and negatively impact morale and engagement. But one of the easiest ways to get ahead of any adverse effects is to communicate early and well with your entire team.

After you meet with the employee who is leaving and you’ve made a plan for handing off duties, you should plan for a group meeting with all of your staff members.

If you’d like, let your outgoing employee announce their departure at the beginning of the meeting and then go over any details that will affect the rest of the team, like your transition plan and whether you’ll be hiring a new employee to fill the open position or if you plan to fill the role from within your company.

This is also a good time to make a short, straightforward speech about your ex-employee by thanking them for their contributions and congratulating them on their new professional adventure. A supportive and encouraging message can go a long way, both for departing employees and your current staff.

Give everyone a chance to ask questions so that there’s no confusion surrounding any new roles or responsibilities within your team. Clear communication makes employees feel secure and eases changes in workflow and job duties.

4. Communicate About the Change in Staff

Once an employee leaves, you want to make sure that everyone knows they’re no longer with your company. This includes the rest of your staff as well as any clients, freelancers, partners, or business contacts outside of the company.

Send an email before your employee leaves notifying anyone relevant of their last day and who will be taking over their duties going forward. Make sure that the email is addressed to your entire staff, including department heads and junior employees. As much as possible, you want to ensure that no one is taken by surprise and that they know who to work with in the future.

Once your employee has left, set up email forwarding so that you can catch any important work-related emails that may be sent to their previous email address in error.

5. Keep Morale in Mind

The rest of the team’s morale can be affected when an employee leaves, especially if their coworker has a negative offboarding experience. Poor offboarding tactics — such as refusing to communicate, letting personal feelings get in the way, or failing to plan and organize a smooth transition — give the impression that you only value your team members as employees and not as people.

Alternatively, a positive offboarding plan can keep morale steady and show staff members that you genuinely care about them and that you take your role as a manager or business owner seriously.

Keep a pulse on morale to determine how your staff is being affected by your previous employee’s departure and address specific issues or problems by communicating openly and honestly with your employees.

If morale seems low and you aren’t sure what to do, try adding a few more ideas to your offboarding checklist to help with engagement and motivation.

6. Work With Your Human Resources Department

Your human resources (HR) department is an essential resource for both onboarding and offboarding.

For example, your HR professional can assist with:

  • Ending health benefits, share plans, and other financial paperwork
  • Ensuring a final paycheck is sent out
  • Retrieving company assets, such a security pass, key, credit card, or laptop
  • Removing access to company accounts and software once the employee has left
  • Conducting exit interviews
  • Creating a job description and recruiting for a replacement
  • Reviewing documents like a noncompete contract or nondisclosure agreement

HR can also provide guidance on how to keep communications positive and productive after an employee decides to move on.

7. Ask Your Departing Employee to Help With Recruitment

When an employee leaves, don’t only focus on transferring duties and redirecting workflow. Have your former employee help with finding their replacement. After all, who knows their job better than they do?

When appropriate, ask them to:

  • Write a job description to use in online job ads for new hires
  • Review resumes and cover letters from potential candidates
  • Sit in on interviews
  • Discuss whether any existing team members would be a fit
  • Meet with a recruiter or hiring manager to explain their role and responsibilities

Involving your former employee in the hiring process for their replacement helps you to find better, more suitable candidates who will have an accurate and realistic understanding of the open position.

8. Conduct an Exit Interview

Although exit interviews should always be optional, they’re an important part of any employee offboarding process. They are a great way to encourage honest feedback and learn where you can improve as a manager and as a company.

Think of an exit interview as an opportunity for you to learn about your employee’s entire experience with you — from onboarding and training to reviews, office politics, company culture, and everything in between.

Some exit interviews are conducted by managers and others by HR departments. It depends on how your company is structured. Regardless of the logistics, exit interviews should be reserved for the last day or two before you and your outgoing employee part ways. If done too early, the employee who is leaving may not feel comfortable being completely upfront about suggestions or complaints.

Although your exiting employee may not have anything bad to say, encourage them to share any tips or advice they have related to their position, the company, their team, or their manager. If they do share negative feedback, remember not to take it personally and to remain professional.

9. Offer to Be a Reference

Depending on your company policy about work references, you can offer to be a reference for your departing employee for future jobs. Knowing that they can rely on you to provide an honest, helpful, and professional reference is a great way to ensure that your employee leaves on a good note.

Most companies prefer that candidates use previous managers or employers as references, so by making the offer, you’re letting them know that you care about their professional future. Plus, it saves them from having to ask you, which can be difficult if they’re not sure where they stand after handing in their notice.

10. Get Your Exiting Employee’s Contact Information

Don’t forget to get your outgoing employee’s new contact information, like an email or mailing address in case you need to contact them with questions related to their previous role. For example, you may need to get in touch about their benefits or to ask about a company account or password. Although you can plan for a comprehensive hand-off, some details can get lost during knowledge transfer, so it’s important to know how to reach your previous hire for a quick question.

And, if they leave on good terms, you may also want to use it to send a friendly message or invite them to a workplace social event down the road.

11. Welcome a Return

Boomerang employees are workers who leave a company only to return later. These employees learned that the grass isn’t always greener and came back to work for you because they had a positive experience at your company. These employees can be a boon to you since they already know the ins and outs of your business, your customers, and the role they held at your company.

But you’ll only get boomerang employees if you facilitate and participate in a proper offboarding process and let outgoing employees know that they’re welcome to return in the future.

If you’re open to having ex-employees work for you again down the road, make sure to communicate that during your offboarding process so that they know it’s an option. If you don’t make it clear, they may assume that you’re not open to it.

12. Connect on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an ideal way to follow your ex-employee’s professional progress and to get in touch about work-related questions, references, or job opportunities. If you aren’t already connected with your departing employee on LinkedIn, send them an invite. You can take things a step further by providing a written recommendation on the platform as well, which can give them a boost during job searches and round out their profile.

And, as a bonus for you, giving recommendations makes you look like a stellar boss to your ex-employee’s connections and network.

13. Plan an Event

Planning an event like a lunch or after-work cocktail can give current employees a chance to say goodbye to co-workers and end the offboarding process on a happy note. Offboarding can be hard for both your former employee and their team members, so offering everyone a chance to have a casual get-together to reminisce and wish each other well can be a welcome change from typical last-day scenarios.

Involve your team in planning the event, and try to choose a venue that your previous employee enjoys. If possible, have the company cover costs for a meal or appetizers to make it even more enjoyable for everyone.

14. Purchase a Gift

A personalized gift from the company is the perfect way to express appreciation and gratitude for your departing employee’s hard work over the years. Some gift ideas for ex-employees include:

  • A briefcase or professional bag
  • Gift cards to their favorite restaurants
  • A donation to a charity or nonprofit they care about
  • Gourmet coffee, tea, or chocolate
  • Personalized office supplies
  • A gift basket
  • A bottle of wine

You can also get a cake, a framed picture of the team, or anything else you think they might like. Talk to their work friends for ideas and choose a gift that’s both appropriate and fits your budget.

15. Send Around a Card

A card is a cost-effective and common way to bid farewell to an employee. Give the whole team a chance to write a personal message and sign their name by sending it around in advance. If you have a good relationship with your departing employee, you may even want to give them a card yourself, expressing how much you have valued them and enjoyed having them on your team.

Final Word

When you offboard employees with morale, engagement, and professionalism in mind, you reap the rewards of being a thoughtful and desirable employer. Your company’s reputation is a powerful tool in attracting and retaining quality hires, and how you treat previous employees can have a significant impact on how you’re viewed by potential candidates.

Keep your offboarding strategy professional, communicative, and positive to facilitate a smooth transition for everyone involved.


A Mentee’s Educational and Marketing Plans

The purpose of a mentorship program is to facilitate field training for new hires that are not experienced so that they will receive the support they need to transition into productive members of the sales force. A mentee will need to participate in a field training program.

Dave Hershman

This program will contain two personalized components:

  • The development of an individual marketing plan.
  • An individual education plan.

The educational plan will be individualized for each mentee and might include the following (some of these may be covered in an orientation):

  1. LOS training delivered by the mortgage company or the LOS organization.
  2. Training on investors/programs of the company and secondary procedures.
  3. Advanced knowledge beyond the training class – secondary, self-employed, advanced qualification, comparing loans, managing a pipeline and more.
  4. Outside courses, such as underwriting, real estate licensing, valuation and other topics.

The Marketing Plan is one of the most important components of a mentorship program for those joining a company that does not provide leads. In the case of a company that provides leads, more emphasis would be placed within the area of sales training, especially with regard to converting leads. But, for the vast majority of companies, a professional marketing plan is needed for every sales person.

  • Formulation of short-term and long-term goals. These goals would include training and improvement, activities and actual production. The goals must be very specific. For example, increasing calls or production is not a specific goal statement.
  • Identification of targets, the solicitation of whom will help us meet our goals.
  • Selection of tools which will help us reach and deliver value to our targets.
  • Choosing actions that will utilize the tools to reach the targets.
  • The implementations of these actions on a regular basis (frequencies).
  • The evaluation of the results of these actions.

It is important to note that the loan officer will be tempted to use every marketing tool available to reach every target possible. This is a recipe for disaster as most sales people who try to sell all things to all people fail. The marketing plan must be initiated by delineating the sphere of influence of the loan officer, as well as the sphere of their target in an “inside” environment, such as a bank. This is the same exercise that a manager would undertake in developing their recruiting plan.

Prioritize. The next step is to prioritize. Who are the most important targets in terms of concentration of business and the importance of the relationship? The loan officer should have anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 within their sphere. They must decide how to market each segment in accordance with this prioritization.

  • The top priority should be potential synergy marketing partners.
  • The second priority should be those with a very close relationship to the loan officer who either have a high concentration of business to refer (for example, CPAs and real estate agents) or can introduce them to the same.
  • The third priority would be previous customers, previous coworkers, personal contacts and those who they have served before.
  • The last priority would be comprised of those who have something in common with the loan officer, for example, members of their alumni association.

Limit the actions. The marketing plan must be compromised of a series of very limited and simple activities that are linked to each other through synergy. Do not try to undertake or use too many marketing methods.

Skills development. The development of skills will help sales personnel implement actions. We are talking about more than the development of basic finance skills and many of these are facilitated through the implementation of the mentorship program’s “field training and educational” segments:

  • How to deliver great customer service through the application process.
  • How to make deals happen through the use of finance skills.
  • Role playing with their peers in sales meetings and training sessions.
  • Listening to others on the phone, taking lead calls and having their conversations monitored.
  • Going out on the street with successful loan officers and rookies.
  • Going out on the street with their manager or mentor.

Monitoring of the implementation of the marketing plan. Monitoring will take place during coaching calls and during general sales meetings. Of course, these activities can be combined: you can perform one-on-one coaching sessions while out on the street together.

In order to be an effective manager or mentor, you must combine activities so that all goals can be met without neglecting others. It is at this juncture that you must adjust training plans and activities in such a way that your sales personnel can increase their performance.

Dave Hershman is Senior VP of Sales of Weichert Financial and the top author in the mortgage industry. Dave has published seven books, as well as hundreds of articles and is the founder of the OriginationPro Marketing System and Mortgage School – the online choice for expert mortgage learning and marketing content. His site is and he can be reached at


798: How to Expand Your Team: Real Estate Recruiting 101 with David Hill

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COVID accelerated migration trends, but is it sustainable?

Even Norman Rockwell couldn’t put a rosier cast to New Hartford, Connecticut, in mid-autumn. On the far western outskirts of the Hartford metropolitan area, the town’s converted brick mill buildings are now occupied by restaurants that sell and serve locally grown produce and locally made artisanal cheese. A river – the Farmington – really does run through the town, shallow and sparkling, punctuated by occasional fly-fisherman. Bridges arch over the river from stands of yellow-leafed birches to groves of flaming maples.

It’s exactly the kind of place that’s attracting pandemic-panicked New Yorkers who, drawing a circle of two hours’ train travel from Manhattan, figure they can set up parallel lives in the country and city. 

The COVID-19 crowds that are now seeking fresh air and socially distanced living are looking beyond what is considered more traditional second-home destinations to small towns that have struggled to catch the updraft of the broadband revolution. As city dwellers scatter, enough of them are landing in the semi-rural spots to potentially realign the very definition of economic development, land use and the consequent cascade of broad band investment, municipal services, taxation and local spending priorities. 

“The economy is moving faster than the population,” said Mark Lautman, an economic development consultant who has helped local organizations in New Mexico and elsewhere forge partnerships that serve residents and employers.

In the past, economic development was defined by incentives for buildings and infrastructure with the aim of winning and keeping employers with substantial numbers of workers. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a longer-term trend of separating talent from location. Economic development leaders are just starting to realize the profound implications of a distributed workforce on their local economies, workforce development, housing and real estate markets, he said. 

“If you don’t have qualified workers, you can’t grow your economy,” Lautman said. “And all of a sudden, the cost of place of operation is zero. States throw massive resources at site-based economic development but remote economic development needs a fraction of that.”  

Investors are already moving money into place to catch the coattails of COVID-catalyzed change. 

Collin Gutman, managing partner of SaaS Ventures, a Washington, DC-based venture capital firm that works specifically with young companies in smaller metropolitan areas far from Silicon Valley, said that the pandemic has propelled high tech companies to redefine where and how they look for talent.

“Previously there had been a perception that these types of businesses could only get critical mass of talent in San Francisco or Boston,” he said. “That perception has changed very quickly in the past 12 months. We’ve seen an outflow to places like Louisville, Lexington, Nashville and people buying second homes in rural counties.”

Daniel Jeram is New Hartford’s First Selectman, the top official of the 7,000- resident town. He said he hasn’t seen anything quite like this year’s real estate sales burst.  

“The game is on and it has been for months,” Jeram said. “You can tell from the license plates driving around town.” 

He isn’t kidding. Regional market reports from the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors released at the end of 2020 show that year-over-year, pending single-family home sales rose 49.9%, days on market dropped by 32.1% and the median home sale price rose 13.3% to $280,500. 

Maintaining the growth

With young families pouring in, New Hartford’s challenge is how to keep them, especially as support for enhanced broadband has been under discussion for years, with little progress, Jeram said. New Hartford is on the eastern edge of a subregion of northwestern Connecticut and southwestern Massachusetts that suffers from weak cell coverage and tepid broadband. 

“We’re okay,” said Jeram, of New Hartford’s cable service, “but that is an ongoing debate that state and local leaders are struggling with, because cost to get broadband in is extremely high. Everyone knows it’s the wave of the future, but how will we pay for it?”

Rista Malanca is trying to figure that out. She is director of economic development for neighboring Torrington, where broadband somewhat peters out. 

“We’re attractive and affordable for a lot of people, but how do we keep them engaged, so they center their lives here, and spend their money here?” Malanca said. 

Powerful broadband paves the digital way for not just telecommuting and remote collaboration, but also for telehealth, remote education for children and adults and a host of other services that frame the new hybrid of a sophisticated information economy invisibly driving growth.  

Consultants with McKinsey project that 22% of companies expect to hire more remote freelance workers in the foreseeable future. Before the COVID-19 pandemic reordered the American workforce in March 2020, only 4.9% of full-time U.S. workers telecommuted from their homes. By the end of June, 42% of the workforce was home-based, and workforce researchers expect that the dramatic shift is largely permanent. FlexJobs, a Boulder, Colorado-based employment site that serves both individuals and employers, projects that capturing work-life balance and reducing commuting stress are top priorities for people who want to move and either bring their jobs with them or find remote work.

Changing lifestyle

Professionals who bring high-paying jobs with them also transplant demand for higher-end dining, grocery, local entertainment and home renovation and maintenance services, said Shaun Greer, vice president of sales and marketing at Vacasa, a Portland, Oregon, company that provides property management services to more than 21,000 vacation homes in North America. 

Unlike short-term renters, professionals relocating for a full-fledged second hub where they can work and attend school remotely, need functional and municipal services largely different from tourist demands. 

“If this trend continues, it will affect municipal budgets,” Greer said. “Most of these communities are restricted in some way, such as [their level of] power or utilities. If this growth continues they’ll have to put in a lot more infrastructure to keep up.”

New Hartford could take a cue from The Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative in McKee, Kentucky, population 800. 

In 2007, the cooperative, formed in 1950 and serving two rural Kentucky counties, decided to go all in on broadband, related Keith Gabbard, who has been the cooperative’s CEO for the past 25 years. Patching together about $50 million from federal, state and local sources, the service committed to bringing broadband to every home in its service area. 

“Since 2014, we’ve had gigabit service to every home and business,” Gabbard said. “Once we got it built, we realized, ‘what do we do with it?’ We had to become more economic-development minded.”

Gabbard took on the role of one-man employment liaison, workforce training advocate, lobbyist to state legislators and public relations cheerleader, relentlessly promoting the cooperative’s ready, willing and connected workforce at conferences. Working relationships with national workforce development agencies and platforms – including FlexJobs – produced a stream of inquiries from American companies seeking to bring operations back to the U.S. from overseas, and looking to expand domestically. 

“It’s been amazing,” Gabbard said. “In the last five years we’ve had 1,100 teleworks jobs created. People move here because of the internet and we’re seeing even more of that because of the pandemic.” 

McKee still lacks a Starbucks, but it is making inroads with establishing a healthcare clinic that will pivot on telemedicine. And, Gabbard has even drawn local Amish into the high-speed loop as the cooperative hires their construction crews to expand into neighboring counties. 

Communities that were a step ahead are both riding the first crest of post-COVID change while demonstrating the importance of close collaboration among regional economic, workforce and housing development authorities, investors and the private sector.

Broadband brought jobs to northwest New Mexico in 2017 and has anchored the local economy even as the COVID-19 pandemic has rolled from crisis to chronic. Shelly Fausett runs the SoloWorks program in the area, which advocates for workforce development and related supports, and which helps employers find and hire connected workers. SoloWorks had just moved to a new a co-working space to build capacity for distributed teams but the health care crisis kept workers home…and working. 

“Right now in customer service, there are more jobs than people,” Fausett said. 

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerated long-term trends toward remote work, annihilating embedded cultural resistance and rapidly realigning work processes to support sustained collaboration and productivity from any location, said Brie Weiler Reynolds, the in-house career development coach for FlexJobs. 

Remote work surged for both staffers who have always had the capability to work from home and among the current and aspiring self-employed who immediately seized the opportunity to redesign their careers around the location and lifestyle they had always craved. In March, the FlexJobs platform received a 50% increase of inquiries and applications from workers, she said. 

Companies and employment agencies – private and government-run – that already collaborated with local economic development and workforce training programs had a big head start on those that had in place only traditional programs, Weiler Reynolds said. Cross-functional workforce development programs that “combine broadband outreach with remote work training and company partnerships and that partner with FlexJobs to find the actual jobs, are serving people who already live in their areas and are hiring specifically from economic groups hard-hit by the tourism and hospitality industries.”

Workforce housing that is designed around and for home-based work will ensure lower paying, broadband-dependent jobs, such as customer service, highly skilled software developers and managers cut a very different profile, SaaS Ventures’ Gutman said. They are “six-figure Millennials” who expect, if not big-city culture and amenities, at the very least, transportation services that can quickly deliver the big city to the rural doorsteps of spacious houses with dedicated home offices. 

And, the ability to quickly get to major cities will be a key plank of rural economic development, especially as patterns of post-pandemic life emerge, he said. High-tech transplants want lots of fresh-air recreational amenities but also want to take just one connector flight to a major air hub. 

“It could be that saving the regional airport is your key to economic prosperity,” Gutman said. 

COVID redefines tourism economies

The return on remote work-equipped workforce housing is short and sweet for communities long tied to cyclical tourism economies. A solid base of long-term second-home owners is already redefining tourism economies, Greer said, extending the 2020 season well into autumn, and thus continuing demand for cleaning, maintenance, renovation and some municipal services and activities. 

“What we’re excited about is that this change means we keep more of our seasonal employees, hopefully longer,” he said, adding that a greater number of staycation homeowners could permanently stabilize tourist-town employment, municipal and local business cash flow and demand for broadband and other services.

The pandemic has proven the possibilities and powerful potential of a distributed workforce and, by extension, distributed economic development, said one longtime broadband researcher and advocate. 

“The pandemic could yield a lasting legacy if municipalities, counties and states forge regional alliances for economic development, and use their combined power to rapidly build universal broadband, align tax policies and regulatory incentives to encourage private and public expansion of broadband to connect all American citizens,” said Rouzbeh Yassini, executive director of the Broadband Center of Excellence at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire. “States need to relinquish counterproductive strategies focusing on stealing businesses from each other and combine forces. That’s the only way that many small towns and rural areas will gain critical mass to justify private investment in 5G, both through wired (cable and phone) and wireless services. 

“If you get five or six state governments together, and get regional connectivity vision established, they’ll improve the economic value of that entire region for web-based daily services and for mapping, driverless cars and gain scale for recruiting residents, farmers and business,” Yassini said, citing the cascade of connected services that could support remote working, aging in place and other life-enhancing functions. 

Lautman, the economic development consultant, detects a rapid realignment of the definition of economic development with state and local resources to support distributed workforces. Hybrid strategies that blend satellite nodes for regional managers and occasional team meetings are a natural evolution of the urban model of co-working spaces, he said. The pandemic has also elevated the importance of health care, childcare and related services as essential to workforce stability and productivity. 

As professionals and corporate leaders become acclimated to working from their second homes, they might become influential advocates for their industries to pivot to distributed workforce development, potentially bringing economic development authorities and broadband providers with them.  

“To create an environment that incentivizes and supports remote work, if I were a local economic development executive, I’d be at my state legislature asking for the same incentives to build houses with home offices that they give to industrial developers,” Lautman said. “Now we have a residential real estate platform for economic development.” 


Northwestern Mutual Expands New York City Presence

MILWAUKEE, Feb. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Northwestern Mutual, a financial security company focused on comprehensive financial planning through both insurance and investments, is announcing the opening of two new offices within the New York City area in Harlem and Cedarhurst.

Northwestern Mutual. (PRNewsFoto/Northwestern Mutual)

“This exciting expansion is an opportunity to deliver financial planning solutions to historically underserved communities,” said Tim Gerend, chief distribution officer, Northwestern Mutual. “We’re looking forward to developing deep community relationships in both Harlem and Cedarhurst – providing meaningful financial guidance to clients and offering rewarding career opportunities to current and future advisors.”

Financial Advisor Anthony Williams will oversee the Harlem office, comprised of several financial professionals who grew up in the neighborhood or nearby in the Bronx. The group plans to draw on their understanding of area residents to identify opportunities for financial education and support for businesses owned by Black, Latinx and other historically underrepresented groups. As the team works to grow its presence in the area, they will focus recruiting efforts locally and within Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Financial Advisor Moshe Alpert will lead the Cedarhurst office in the predominately Orthodox Jewish community of Five Towns Long Island.

Williams and Alpert will work in close partnership with Managing Partner Steve Abbass, who collaborated with Northwestern Mutual’s new Distribution Growth Ventures group to identify the opportunities in Harlem and Cedarhurst. Northwestern Mutual Distribution Growth Ventures is focused on underpenetrated market expansion, competitive recruitment and other innovation within the company’s distribution system.

About Northwestern Mutual
Northwestern Mutual has been helping people and businesses achieve financial security for more than 160 years. Through a holistic planning approach, Northwestern Mutual combines the expertise of its financial professionals with a personalized digital experience and industry-leading products to help its clients plan for what’s most important. With $290.3 billion in total assets, $29.9 billion in revenues, and $1.9 trillion worth of life insurance protection in force, Northwestern Mutual delivers financial security to more than 4.6 million people with life, disability income and long-term care insurance, annuities, and brokerage and advisory services. The company manages more than $161 billion of investments owned by its clients and held or managed through its wealth management and investment services businesses. Northwestern Mutual ranks 102 on the 2020 FORTUNE 500 and is recognized by FORTUNE® as one of the “World’s Most Admired” life insurance companies in 2021.

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM)(life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries in Milwaukee, WI. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (investment brokerage services), broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® (investment advisory and trust services), a federal savings bank; and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company.

SOURCE Northwestern Mutual

For further information: William Polk, 1-800-323-7033,


People on the move: Feb. 12

Dhaval Patel Interfirst.jpg

Interfirst Mortgage Co., which relaunched last June after a three-year hiatus, promoted Dhaval Patel to senior vice president of consumer direct production. Patel joined the company as vice president of that segment in January 2020. Previous to joining Interfirst, Patel was the area lending manager with Carrington Holding Co. and held leadership roles at Azure Knowledge Corp. and Citizen Financial Mortgage Corp. “Over my 30-year career, this is the first time where I trust a company enough to recommend its products to my family, friends and neighbors,” Patel said in an announcement about the promotion. “This speaks to the strong belief I have in Interfirst’s culture and corporate vision.”

Licensed in 19 states, the company is headquartered in Chicago, where Patel expects to grow his team of originators from 120 loan officers to 250. Interfirst, founded in 2001, had exited the origination market in 2017 citing oversaturation and overvaluation in the market.