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By Lesley Geary

Diane & Betty Honeycutt
Team Honeycutt.
Allen Tate Realtors
Years in real estate:
Diane: “I have been in real estate since 1991. My mother has been in it forever.”
Years as an agent team: 17
Number of team members: 12, seven realtor partners, one office manager, one closing agent and one listing agent.
Region Served: Cabarrus County (30 miles outside of Charlotte, North Carolina)

I formed an agent team because…. My mother and I formed a team because our business had grown to the point that in order to give the same level of service we had to have help. Our team members get to do what they do best. We have a happier group of people because they get to work to their strengths.

How do you determine when it is time to add a new team member? By the sanity of our agents. When they start getting crazy, we know we are ready for more help.

How do you do so while maintaining profitability? That is the challenge always but certainly in this market it is a huge challenge and very important. We look at creative ways of marketing instead of the old customary advertising and we track what is effective and hold strictly to what works best. The Internet is leading to a lot of our activity today. So we are using it more effectively. It is cost effective. So we are always looking at cost and return and trying to make smart decisions.

What are the top characteristics needed to succeed in an agent team? Passion, drive and consistency.

How do you indoctrinate/train new team members? I am active in the Star Power Organization. So I send team members to the Star Power University. Then we grew so fast-from four to twelve in a year-that we had no one central system in place. But we have had our team now for a few years and we just now have our systems in place. But for 2009 we hope to have a whole new training system. That said, we do have a new agent check list. So when someone comes in, it tells them all of the things that we expect them to do for each transaction. We also have an internal training system and team meetings each week where we do role playing and concentrate on lessons learned each week. Last but not least, we do a retreat each year and bring in outside trainers to help us learn new things.

How does having a team help you with new listings? My mother and I concentrate on the listings so because we have a team, we are free to focus on listings only and let the team take care of buyers.

What’s the one thing your team can’t live without? Technology.

What’s the best way to build a brand? We have been in this area for 17 years and so we are very well known. We are very community driven. We do a food drive every year, a coat drive, we work at hospitals, we support Habitat for Humanity and the list goes on and on. We just feel the community has given us so much that we want to give back. We always tend to get much more than we give. I mean the rewards are huge. To be sure, branding and building our name is not why we do community service but there is a huge benefit and it does get our name out there. Also if I am going to do community service I do it 110 percent. People see how hard I work at their charity and they think, “If she does that for free and works that hard in volunteer work how does she work when she is being paid?” My feeling has always been that anything you do, you do it all out.
What is the average number of hours each team member works? I really don’t know. We have been doing our planning for 2009. We have had each team member doing their own business plan. We really feel that one size does not fit all when it comes to our team members. So this is all by way of saying that each team member works at their own pace and for however many hours they feel comfortable working.

What is your philosophy on life in real estate?
I have come to the conclusion that I need to just breathe. This business is so often like riding a roller coaster. But I can breathe now because I have a team. Take my closing manager-there are so many ups and downs for every closing but because I have a team with a closing manager the closing is not a roller coaster I need to ride anymore.

Why is real estate a good career for you?
There is a lot I enjoy about it. Perhaps the most important aspect is that there are no limits. I determine what I make. There is no glass ceiling. I have the ability to create and to determine my own worth.