Laying the Foundation for a Successful Real Estate Team
(as published in Georgia Realtor magazine, Spring 2017)
There has been plenty of talk about real estate teams the last few years. Many agents have formed successful teams and some have “sort of” tried to start a team, but not necessarily implemented their vision. Creating a team is hard work and requires a different skillset than selling real estate.
Let’s take a look at the reasons for having a team, some of the decisions to make beforehand, and how to get started – or how to get a fresh start – if 2017 is your year to start or grow a real estate team.
Why Have a Team?
There are three primary reasons to have a team – to be able focus on what you do best, to empower others to have success in real estate, and to build a saleable brand and have an exit strategy to retire or hand over your business one day. You may have any one of the three or a combination of them. If you’re just looking to be the “lead dog,” I would suggest you stick to hiring an assistant or two, rather than building a team.
You should write out an “elevator pitch” for your team – what do you do specifically (selling real estate isn’t an answer, being the best/biggest isn’t either!). An example would be, “We have specialists in each area of the real estate transaction so that we have an effective, efficient team and the consumer reaps the benefit of having the most knowledgeable people in the right seats.” Another approach could be, “We’re a family that also sells real estate together – specializing in land/farm properties in Macon.” As simple as this sounds, it’s hard to condense what you do all day everyday into something you can explain to someone you just met in line at Starbucks.
Steps for Starting (or Re-Starting) a Team
The best first step to starting your real estate team is an honest self-assessment. There are a number of tools to help with this, but the hardest part is recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. I recommend the Tony Robbins DISC profile (FREE) and StrengthsFinder 2.0 (about $15) for easy ways to start this process. I also suggest writing out (personally, I prefer pen and paper) things that you love doing and things you don’t love doing.
The most likely next step is to hire (or find a partner) to offset your weakness – this is one of the hardest parts. Not only do you have to recognize (and admit) some weaknesses, but you have to learn to identify someone UNLIKE yourself, who you can trust and will get those things done. You also have to get out of their way and let them do these things, possibly in a way of thinking that’s very different from yours.
You will also need some sort of basic, written plan. The key word here is basic – just a direction to get you started and help make decisions. You’re not trying to figure it all out and you will learn as you go.
I would generally recommend picking a name that’s bigger than you, especially if your exit strategy is to build something you can sell. Think about names that embody your unique value proposition, your geographic area, or something that’s not tied directly to you if you want your business to be bigger than just you.
You’ll find that most successful teams are open to sharing – and it’s more interesting to share with people who are trying, rather than just talking about it. So as you start, open up dialogue with a team you admire and see if you can buy the owner or manager lunch, get a tour, or mastermind with them. Try to make it a win-win situation where you both benefit. I’ve found over the years when I explain why I do certain things, I start to rethink if my way is still the best process or if there is a better way.
Reading is another great way to learn about teams, leadership and management – there are so many great books out there. Ask others for book recommendations. A few of my personal favorites are The One Minute Manager (Blanchard/Johnson); 168 Hours: You have more time than you think (Vanderkam); Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable (Grover); and
Choosing to Cheat (Stanley).
Where do you want to be in five years? What will your company look like then? What does it “feel” like to work with your team? What is the best role for you to occupy in five years or more? What tangible assets do you have (think about items such as a handbook, database, processes, training, etc) that are valuable to others? All of these questions should be outlined in your five-year plan.
Set aside time each month or each quarter to focus on reviewing what you’ve done and also think about your next steps. Real estate sales require a lot of reaction to events, but you’ll need a plan to slowly implement day-by-day and month-by-month if you want to build a sustainable business.
Lee Adkins is the Founder of Amplified Solutions – a consulting company focused on operational excellence for real estate teams and brokerages. He has served in many leadership and committee roles at the State and Local Associations and is currently a Vice President at the Atlanta REALTORS Association. He frequently teaches and speaks at various conferences around the country. Visit our Resources page at AmplifiedSolutions.com to learn more
or find free resources, tools and suggested reading list.