By Dirk Zeller
RISMEDIA, July 31, 2007–I see more agents today trying to establish teams in their practices than ever before, and they are trying to create them much earlier in their careers. I even see agents with less than one year in the business that are marginally successful trying to attract others to work with them in that unstable environment.
For too many people, their team building days are premature. Many agents don’t have the sales, marketing, leadership, and business skills to find their way out of a wet paper bag but are still trying to create teams. If sales and lead generation are inconsistent, a team will not solve those problems.
If you don’t have a powerful administrative assistant, hiring a bunch of inexperienced buyer’s agents won’t solve the revenue problem. The real truth is it will make the revenue problem worse. The buyer’s agents will divert your attention from the revenue-generating activities that you must do. You will end up helping the buyer’s agents manage and shepherd their transactions to closing. You will gain a portion of their production but will lose most of yours to do it. That certainly isn’t the pathway to becoming a champion team.
The birth of real estate teams really began in the early ‘90s. Agents looked to leverage themselves through other people who could help them serve their clients better. By removing some of the more repetitious activities of the business that generated little new revenue, the administrative assistant was born. A few years later, successful agents were beginning to expand or leverage themselves by hiring sales assistants on the buyer side of the transaction. These successful lead agents would have buyer’s agents (or buyer’s specialists) to handle the buyer side of the business, which is more labor intensive.
I hired my first administrative assistant in 1991. I had no idea what I was doing, and neither did she. In those early days, there wasn’t a blueprint to follow. Most everyone, including me, learned the hardest way—through trial and error. I messed up a lot but eventually figured it out. I created a mountain of success on top of piles of failure. Fortunately, you won’t have to learn that way. You can be the beneficiary of my experience to vastly lower your mistakes.
Before you dive into birthing your new team, I really believe you have to answer some key questions about yourself and your business.
1. Am I really prepared to lead people?
2. Do I have enough leads to support a team?
3. What size of team do I see five years from now?
4. What sales volume do I expect in five years?
5. Am I willing to increase my prospecting now?
The pros of a team
The positives are easy to spot for most agents who are considering expanding their business through a team. It’s easy to put on the rose colored glasses to evaluate the possibility of establishing a team.
The positives are certainly that you will have more people working to service your clients and prospects . . . even if you are just adding an administrative assistant. Your level of service with a well trained, professional administrative assistant is higher than a singular agent can provide. All of the administrative functions such as feedback from agent showings, sending copies of advertisements to sellers, and creating marketing flyers and brochures can be done quicker, better, and more efficiently through an assistant than by a single agent.
Certainly, you will also be able to achieve greater balance between your business and family time by leveraging yourself through a team. Being able to have weekends off for your family is a large benefit in my view. I truly believe my effectiveness as a salesperson and business owner was enhanced because I didn’t work Friday, Saturday, or Sunday—as most agents did. It allowed me to be “on vacation” each weekend to enjoy the fruits of my labor with my wife, Joan. It would be even more important for me today with children to raise and enjoy.
As the lead agent, you will have a larger amount of time to invest in Direct Income Producing Activities (DIPA). That’s where most lead agents who are building teams fall off the path to success. They fail to increase their DIPA time to increase their revenue.
With a team, you gain the ability to delegate what I view as the worst segment of real estate sales, which is dealing with the emotional roller coaster ride that clients often take you on. The roller coaster of emotion can last through the entire listing process and includes hand holding, extra service, and the high expectations of many clients. These clients are often on the razor’s edge of emotion. We need to service them well, but often, their worst fears and problems can set even the most seasoned, experienced agent into an activity funk. When you achieve a sale, you can often start back up the roller coaster again. Having a skilled team can protect you from these emotional swings, peaks, and valleys. A great team or great assistant can help protect you from a client’s challenges that could wipe you out and keep you from revenue producing activities for a few days.
One trait of a Champion Lead Agent is their ability to avoid being taken off the track toward their goals. The arrows of running a service-based business don’t cause them to go down for the rest of the week or day. The mark of a Champion is someone who, when they go off track, doesn’t allow that time of frustration or lack of focus and intensity to be more than a few minutes, rather than hours, days, or weeks.
The cons of a team
The biggest con of a team is the inevitable trial and error that change creates. Even with a complete blueprint to success, errors will occur. Change is a constant.
There are certainly cons that are created through hiring more people. The management, motivation, and coaching of staff is a blessing and a curse. There is nothing more gratifying in life than assisting and guiding people in growth. There is nothing more frustrating in life than assisting and guiding people in growth. The management challenges grow exponentially with each person you add to the team. Your skills as the leader, coach, and motivator need to grow, as well.
If you hire talented people, your biggest challenge will be staying ahead of them in terms of your learning and skills. The most challenging aspect of my job is staying ahead of my staff, my clients, my coaches, and the real estate industry. It takes a tremendous expenditure of time, emotion, and energy to accomplish that.
Dirk Zeller is an agent, investor and President & CEO of Real Estate Champions. His company trains more than 250,000 agents worldwide each year through live events, online training, self-study programs, and newsletters. He’s the author of Your First Year in Real Estate, Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies®, The Champion Real Estate Agent, and over 300 articles in print.
You can get more information by visiting www.RealEstateChampions.com
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