When thinking about what makes a brokerage successful, what is the first thing that comes to mind? More often than not, successful operators would say it’s the importance of process and efficiency. Processes should be created to boost productivity, streamline tasks and cut manual action from your operation, saving you time and resources that you can invest into expanding your business and your bottom line.
When identifying your process, you first need to identify what goals you are trying to achieve. What service metric or SLA (service level agreement) is required to keep your business above par? Having a streamlined process in place will not only assist you in meeting your goals, but will also give you the power to exceed them.
I define a process as a fully documented workflow with a step-by-step instruction manual on how to complete the specific task at hand and a defined length of time it should take. With a mapped out process, anyone should be able to perform the task and you should know exactly what it costs your brokerage. For instance, consider transaction processing. As a brokerage operator, it’s crucial you understand what it costs to process a transaction. The first step is deciding what your revenue goal is on net profit. You need to know by how much your revenue must exceed your cost per transaction in order for you to hit your goal. To determine the cost per transaction, you need to take into account the number of minutes it takes to process a transaction, the fully burdened salary and what your staff’s slack time is. If your cost exceeds your revenue, you won’t hit your goal.
Processes around staffing are also important. You may be able to process 1,000 transactions with only five people, but are you prepared to scale if needed? Come up with your company’s calculation for when it’s time to add staff so you’re always prepared and never fall behind if you grow quickly or unexpectedly. Maybe it’s time to staff up when you hit a certain number of agents or a certain number of transactions. Your onboarding for an employee also needs to be efficient so productivity doesn’t slow due to the time it takes to train—processes speed up onboarding.
Now here’s the kicker… Just because you have processes in place, doesn’t mean you can become reliant on them forever. It is important to review processes on a regular basis to continue streamlining your operations and be flexible enough to know there is always an opportunity for improvement. Ask for feedback on a regular basis from your internal and external customers, and listen! If there is a common pain point, solve for it. Recognizing areas for improvement in your processes and implementing tools to help will allow for the ability to run your operation leaner while providing the best customer experience possible.
As a best practice, fully analyze each process in your task list on a quarterly basis with a goal to refine and improve during each review. Do not settle for the status quo. There are a large number of tools available to assist with the streamlining process.
For example, if processing a transaction takes 10 minutes and it’s costing you too much money that you’re not hitting your revenue goals, you need to figure out how to reduce the time it takes to process. Consider implementing a technology solution to automate and streamline the process in a digital way. The key is tech that keeps the process simple–not a tool that makes it cumbersome or increases workload.
At HomeSmart, it is one of our goals to limit repeated manual processes and instead use technology that can eliminate human error. All HomeSmart International franchises utilize the company’s exclusive, proprietary technology which was built to standardize the transaction process and make business more efficient and scalable for our owners, staff, brokers and agents. Through the continued streamlining of brokerage operations by way of innovative systems and tech, our largest brokerage based in Scottsdale, Arizona manages over 30,000 transactions each year with a team of eight, continuing to set and exceed what most brokerage operators would consider ridiculous expectations. Process is what makes this possible.
Britton Sanchez is the vice president of national brokerage operations for HomeSmart International, responsible for managing the paperwork, closing, education, transaction management, agent services and reception teams.
For more information about HomeSmart International, please visit HomeSmart.com/Franchising.