The big ugly monster in the room right now for many agents we speak with is “The Assistant” or “The Buyer’s Agent”. As the world gets more complicated, and real estate gets more demanding, many agents are feeling overworked, and overwhelmed. With so much talk about “the team” approach, more agents are considering bringing on help to do some of the work.
It’s a beautiful vision. You have a person or two running your well-oiled machine and all you have to do is go get listings signed, negotiate offers and deliver house warming gifts. You’ll have more time to spend with family and friends, you’ll be able to take a vacation now and again and you’ll have time to take care of you! Sounds pretty good eh? Keep dreaming!
Here’s the problem. Most of us don’t have a well-oiled machine ready to be run by hired hands. We have a chaotic cesspool of inefficiencies we call our real estate business. We imagine we can hire someone to organize it, fuel it and run it. I’ve even heard some agents imagining their assistant making prospecting calls. Let’s be real, if someone can and will make prospecting calls that get leads, they won’t work for you for $50k a year. (and, they must be licensed).
Hiring is the next step if you have a consistent business built on an excellent foundation. If you have many high quality leads, systems that work and you are ready to learn some new skills, definitely consider it. The learning you will require is leadership and management. There is a saying in corporate coaching when a high level employee gets promoted to management, “What got you’re here won’t get you there” and it’s just as true for entrepreneurs.
Here’s a few do’s and don’ts to consider:
- Don’t consider an assistant unless you are doing serious volume now and have an oversupply of qualified leads. The Assistant worth having is $50k per year. The Buyer Agent worth having will cost you more. You can justify that cost if it allows you to close more of the leads that you already have. A good rule of thumb is an increase in GCI of 3x the new hires salary. (There are many expenses beyond what you pay them).
- Don’t hire someone expecting them to bring in leads. It won’t happen. You hire someone because you have more high quality leads than you can service and you have the ability to increase your lead generation significantly. (This is your job, not theirs)
- Don’t hire someone whose claim to fame is that they are good at organizing. I’ve learned the hard way that this means they would rather organize work than do it.
- Recognize that leveraging your expertise is the path to more balance and freedom. You do this by delegating some tasks to someone else. You must be the one to design the system to get tasks done consistently. Then you hire someone to run the system.
- Get excellent at making rain and you’ll have the foundation of an excellent team model. The rainmaker brings in more leads than the team needs so you are not paying someone to work with and mange low quality leads. This leads to financial ruin.
- Know that people who are unable to sell real estate before you hire them are not all of sudden going to be doing deals. The only difference is you will now be paying them to not sell real estate. Don’t hire that agent in your office who isn’t selling much to be your licensed assistant.
- Understand hiring someone is a big deal. They are going to give you the largest chunk of their week. It is your responsibility to make it meaningful, rewarding, and enjoyable. No one worth having is going to work strictly for the money.
Most agents understand how important it is to master the art of listing presentations. Each appointment is an opportunity to earn a great commission. Keep in mind, the skills to hire and manage people are just as important or perhaps more so. A well-managed assistant or buyer’s agent could be worth 10X what that commission is.
Shifting away from the solo-preneur model of real estate and building a team is a wonderful opportunity to serve your clients even better, but don’t make the change until you really understand what’s involved and you are prepared to learn the new skills to make it successful.