By Craig Proctor
RISMEDIA, Oct. 8, 2008-If you’re in a situation where your lead generation and conversion systems are effectively and efficiently allowing you to grow your business, you may reach the point where you feel you can no longer do everything on your own. Many agents decide, at this point, to hire an assistant to help with some aspect of their business, be it administrative duties, buyer’s agent etc.
Getting a good person on board who is capable of performing the tasks you want is an important and often difficult process. But let’s assume, for the sake of this discussion, that you’ve already completed the first two steps of the process (i.e. recruiting and hiring).
The fatal mistake that most real estate agents make is to leave things to chance once they’ve made a decision to hire an assistant. The relief is so great to have another body to share the work load with, that the tendency is to split the pressure and run in opposite directions. This is a recipe for disaster, and one which many of you have surely encountered. Before too long, the employee who was supposed to be your savior is just another headache you have to deal with because they’re not performing the way you wanted them to perform.
But ask yourself — how did you want them to perform? Did you lay it out clearly? Did you show them, tell them, work with them to make sure they understood what was expected of them and train them in areas specific to the skills necessary for superior execution of the position they are filling? Probably not.
Training is a sorely neglected task in most organizations and, as a result, instead of decreasing, your workload increases. The problem is, you tell yourself, “I’m so busy doing my own job, I don’t have time to babysit my new assistant — I want them to help me!”
However, unless you take some up-front time with a new employee, you’ll more than likely be hanging an albatross around your neck that will slow you down even more.
But here’s the good news. While the training portion may be time consuming first time round, it’s time invested in your future. By creating a system to train a new employee, you create a program that can be duplicated in order to make things much easier when you hire the second, third and subsequent person in that position. For example, if you create a manual or position contract for each position, it will require less of your hands-on training with each subsequent new person.
The position contract will act as a map for how you will train your new assistant step-by-step. Sit with your new people and talk through exactly what you expect of them. Set clear goals with clear time lines. If the assistant is an agent, have them shadow you in your listing presentations, negotiations, offers; have them listen in on your follow-up phone calls, etc.
Make sure you give them adequate work space to learn in. This is important even if this new team member will ultimately work from his or her home. Even if it’s only a temporary arrangement, make sure they have a place to work inside your office during the training phase so they immediately feel part of a team, and not like an outsider.
As soon as possible, arrange an opportunity for them to meet all other team members –not just a casual hello in the hallway, but a scheduled meeting (even if it’s only 20 minutes long) where they have a chance to sit down, understand what each of your other team members do, and establish the beginnings of a rapport.
My team meets every Monday morning, and I first have new team members join me for this meeting so I can introduce them to the entire team. But there may be key team members they will be dealing with more than others. Individual meetings should be scheduled with these people to ensure a productive working relationship from the beginning.
For example, all my new buyer agents have individual meetings with my office administrator, customer service manager, call coordinator, inside sales agents and so on.
Each of these team members have highly specialized functions that are essential for my new agents to understand. The structure of my office is very different from what most of them will be used to, and they must understand my system before they can follow it.
You must also make a point of giving this person some uninterrupted time with you. Tell them about your personal philosophy and work ethic. Tell them what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.
Collect and organize some training material for them to get through which will give them needed knowledge for the job they have taken on, and a big picture view for where they fit in. A few hours spent now will save you days and weeks and thousands of dollars later. The only way you will ever realize the exponential power of leverage with respect to your assistants is if you properly train them from their first moment on the job. Before you know it, this part of your job will be much less time consuming and you’ll be free to attack all the neglected areas of your business that you hired this person to free you up for.
Never Assume Anything
A good rule of thumb is to never assume anything. If the new team member is a quick study, you can move through the steps of the training process more quickly, but don’t leave any steps out. What’s obvious to you because you’re living and breathing your business may not be obvious to the person you hire.
It’s a good idea to establish a probation or trial period upfront — usually 3-6 months depending on the position. Let the Team member know that you’ll meet formally on a certain date to mutually review progress to determine if you are meeting each other’s expectations.
If you’re currently operating on your own, you’ll have to shepherd this process through by yourself to begin with, meaning that you will be responsible for the training of both licensed and unlicensed team members. Because I already have some team members in place, I’m able to delegate some of this responsibility to others. For example, while I stay involved in the training of new licensed team members, my Office Administrator controls (with my ultimate veto) the hiring and training process for all unlicensed team members. Clearly this makes sense given that she is much closer to the duties that these new people will have to perform and is thus in a better position to administer training.
If you omit the critical step of training new team members, you will almost certainly end up in a situation where they will quit, or you will have to fire them. It’s just a matter of time. Without training, you’ll likely find yourself back at the drawing board, having to recruit all over again.
“I recently had this young partner in my office to discuss his production and went into a role-play situation with him. Of course, we role-play in team meetings on a regular basis, but that is done with play books in hand. When I role-played with him, where he had to rely on his memory, he failed miserably. He failed to ask some of the questions and was simply pathetic when making the Homebuyer profiling offer.
“Since that discovery, I made sure I spent time with this young agent to train him on effective use of the script I wanted him to learn. I know it sounds so basic, but it is so true and probably one of the most overlooked shortcomings of our business. Training is a vital and basic necessity if you want your business to grow.
“By the way, my young selling partner has set more appointments in the past 4 weeks than he did in the last 8 months. Good for him! Good for me!” – Lester Cox, Tempe, AZ
To find out more about recruiting, hiring, training and managing your real estate team, you can visit http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a33a081008/ where you can learn about my 3-day SuperConference where I train agents on how to profitably grow their real estate businesses by effectively leveraging themselves with marketing, technology and people.
Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years. To receive free training from Craig with no obligation, visit: http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a33b081008/.