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5 Questions to Ask Before You Build a Real Estate Team

Dec 10, 2018 by

If the thought of building a team has piqued your curiosity, but you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got some help for you!

I started in real estate back in 2004, joining Bob and Fran Medley who had a small team here in Louisville, Ky. They were star power agents and learned from the best in the country. The Medleys retired in 2008—and I took over and started expanding, and grew the business to where it is today. I’ve been the leader of my 20-agent, five-admin team ever since. Last year we sold 419 homes, and this year we are on track to do about the same level of production.

We’ve compiled five questions to ask yourself that illustrates our recipe for success:

  1. Why are you interested in creating a team? Dave Ramsey says you need to have the heart of a teacher to be a real estate agent. Yet, to become a team leader, you not only need the heart of a teacher, but the enthusiasm of a cheerleader, street smarts, technology fingers and the brain of businessperson.

Don’t get scared if you don’t have all those parts—like me, you can grow into them with time and diligent practice. The very first step is determining how big a team you want, what your end goal is in terms of production, and how much time and energy you’re willing to devote to the process.

  1. How do your buyer’s agents make money? Once you’ve determined you have the drive and energy, you need to decide how you’re going to bring agents onto your team. Simply put, what is your value proposition to other agents in your market? A basic answer to that question might be summed up with one word: leads. Agents want to know what you’re going to do more of, or differently, to get listings—other than just sitting them in front of a phone or sending them out to knock doors. So, forming partnerships with lenders and other industry professionals is imperative to help offset the cost of inbound leads.

As a coach for Workman Success Systems, I can tell you most agents cannot work with more than 25 new leads per month. For a buyer’s agent, however, that may not be enough. So, you need leads coming in from a variety of sources, including personal pay-per-clicks, national lead-seller companies, sign calls and social media. Getting all these things to work together is a subject for another time; the bottom line is, we try to make sure our agents are getting more than 50 leads a month, knowing that at least half of those are going to be people who already have an agent.

  1. What type of team structure do you need? Before you start adding team members, make sure you’re busy enough to support the sharing of leads. Also, be sure to have at least one administrative assistant working with you—one who knows what they’re doing and who you can trust. The key to success is being able to duplicate processes over and over again. That’s why you need systems in place that are foolproof. Using a contact management system that cues your admin to upcoming events and needed reports is imperative. Knowing how to use part (or all) of that contact management system is important to you as a team leader.

One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to gear up for a team is to bring in a coach who has been in your position before and currently owns or manages their own team and knows the pitfalls of growing it. There are a lot of great coaches in our world, but the ones who learn what they’re doing from a book can’t compare to the team leaders who are in the trenches every day handling their own problems on the fly.

Finally, perfecting your office communication, integrating with current technology, adhering to a philosophy, setting and reaching goals, and developing and maintaining systems are absolutely indispensable to finding success in today’s market.

  1. How do you start to grow your salespeople? Growing your team can be as simple as walking up to an agent with whom you’ve done business and had a successful closing and asking if they’ve ever thought of being on a team. I’d love to tell you it’s that simple all the time, but it’s not. Your steps to growing should include communicating with your broker and explaining to them you’d like to create and grow a team.

Ask the broker to be on the lookout for anyone they think would be a good fit. Talk with other agents in your brokerage. Ask your broker to review agent metrics in your city and be on the lookout for people who have potential, but just don’t seem to be getting traction. You can also contact other agents in your marketplace with whom you’ve had positive experiences and build a relationship in which they would consider working for you.

Broadcasting your need for new agents (I would never say you’re “starting a team”) on social media with the words “We are growing again” is a great way to get attention. You also might consider forming a small budget for radio ads with local stations explaining you are growing again and need agents.

  1. How do you keep the team moving forward once you’ve created it? The best suggestion I can give you is summed up in one simple word: transparency. As you bring on more people, everything you do should be agreed on by the group. Once you have an administrative person and bring on your first agent, all other decisions should be made by the group. Sure, you will retain the final say over those decisions, but agents and administrative staff need to feel they’ve had a hand in shaping their destiny. Those who do are more likely to stay with you longer and be more dedicated to the final goal.

For example, say a new agent is identified by your broker. You invite that agent to the team meeting (which should be taking place at least once a week), have the agent sit in on what you do, and, at the end of the meeting, you as the team leader get up and leave the room. Give the agent permission to discuss you with your team, and ask your team to ask the agent questions about their personal goals. This gives your team an opportunity to gain insight into the prospective team member’s attitude and see if they’re a good fit. Any one of your agents objecting to the new team member needs to be acknowledged and any concerns worked out ahead of time.

This gives you a very basic framework for growing a team; you can learn a lot more by attending masterminds around the country, communicating with other team members and listening to what coaches have to say about growing your team. Owning or managing your own team gives you more freedom, but it also brings on a lot more responsibility, and you must be prepared to handle that.

Bob Sokoler is a coach with Workman Success Systems, owner and team leader of The Sokoler Medley team at RE/MAX Properties East in Louisville, Ky., and a video specialist. Sokoler’s team sold over 400 homes in 2017 and approximately 440 properties in 2016. Before becoming a REALTOR® in 2004, Sokoler was a two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. For more information, please visit www.workmansuccesssystems.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Give Thanks to Your Clients, Referral Sources and Team

Nov 19, 2018 by

Expressing gratitude is an incredible act of showing appreciation, thankfulness and offering kindness in return. Never miss an opportunity to show how much you appreciate someone. 

In today’s fast paced, digital and sometimes impersonal environment where people are easily distracted, personal relationships and how we foster them are so important to maintain—not only for business relationships, but for true relationships to grow.  Giving thanks during this time of year to those who have helped you grow, both personally and professionally, is a way to keep your important and personal relationships meaningful.  Showing gratitude to your clients, your referrals and your team members is great way to show those people how important they are to you now and in the future.

Thank your clients for their business over the years.  Be sure that you personally thank your clients, whether they sold or purchased their home with you this year, or five or 10 years ago. They need to know that you value the relationship and sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence they had in choosing you to help them with their home purchase or sale.

Make it a point to call them throughout the year, but also call them now to say thank you and wish them a happy holiday, and that you hope they and their families are well and you look forward to seeing them soon. Personal phone calls in today’s world are often received with extra appreciation. The phone call doesn’t have to be long; it’s the thought of you taking the time to personally call them and thank them for being a valued client.

If you have too many past clients to call, send them a video of yourself thanking them and wishing them a happy holiday, and telling them how much you appreciate their business and their referrals. I would still recommend calling your list of top clients personally. It really is meaningful when you take the time to make a phone call.

Be sure to thank your referral sources. Business referrals are the cornerstone of your success, so making sure you thank those who refer your services—both at the time of their referral as well as several times a year—is so vitally important. These are your top 50-100 referring sources who are card-carrying fans and refer to you their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Be sure to thank them with a special gift, gift certificate or meaningful act of appreciation. When people trust you enough to refer you to someone, there really is no better compliment. Be sure to personally call them or stop by to drop off a gift and thank them again for their trust and confidence in you and let them know how much you appreciate the relationship.

Thank your team members and staff. It is so important to let people on your team know that you appreciate their hard work and dedication every day, that you know how much they put in to make the team successful, and that you don’t take any of that for granted. Showing your appreciation with a special hand-written note and a small or large gift of appreciation goes a very long way. Especially when it is not expected.  Go the extra mile to take your team to a holiday luncheon or special dinner with guests.  This is a very considerate and first-class thing to do for those who helped you all year.  Don’t miss the opportunity to thank your team and staff and recognize them for their contribution to the whole organization. It is a gesture that is most appreciated by the recipient, but also will make you feel good too.

Consider holding a client-appreciation event or special thank-you gift. A client-appreciation event is a great way to bring your clients, referral sources and team together for a holiday cocktail party, dinner or fun night out. Schedule an event at the hip, new place to go in your town, or consider having it at your home. In either event, you will be providing a great venue to treat your tribe to a fun night where you can say thank you in person. Other client appreciation events can be family-oriented craft events or even an annual golf outing. Inviting your clients, referrals and team members gives everyone a chance to enjoy the event and brings people together for you to show your appreciation to them for their continued, long-term loyalty to you and your business. 

Thank your affiliate partners. Don’t forget to thank those affiliated partners who also helped you grow your business or sent referrals to you. All the mortgage, title, home inspectors and insurance professionals who helped keep deals together or assisted to keep your sales closing on time. Sending them tickets to a great movie or theater production, a generous gift card and a personal note of thanks will show your appreciation for their part in your success.

Again, valuing your professional relationships shows you are a genuinely grateful person and that this isn’t just a job but that you are truly serving the community where you live, work and play.  Gratitude is an action and there is never a better time to show appreciation than the holiday season between Thanksgiving and the New Year.   Spread gratitude and show thanks to those who helped you grow personally and professionally and watch great things happen.  Everyone wins, and everyone feels good.

Show your gratitude and thanks by visiting my Facebook page and comment on your client appreciation event, or drop a picture of the annual thank-you appreciation gift you give to clients, referrals or your team at  https://www.facebook.com/sherrijohnsonconsulting/. Have a wildly successful listing and sales week!

Sherri Johnson is CEO and founder of Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting. With 20 years of experience in real estate, Johnson offers coaching, consulting and keynotes, and is a national speaker for the Homes.com Secrets of Top Selling Agents tour. For more information, please contact coaching@sherrijohnson.com or 844-989-2600 (toll free) or visit www.sherrijohnson.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Creating a Business Plan With Team Buy-In

Oct 22, 2018 by

It’s that time of year again. Fall. Fourth quarter. Business planning. Some teams think the quiet time between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the best time to update their business plans, but I think it’s a great time for personal reflection and goal setting for the year ahead (e.g., fitness goals, travel planning). Teams who think strategically are working on their business plans well before the final week of the year.

To be ready for a seamless transition into a new year, a strategic team leader is preparing their troops for business planning with the goal of having it set in stone and underway by the end of October. Why so early? In order to hit the ground running in Q1 with business coming in, we need to be manifesting that business 2-3 (or even four) months beforehand. Hence, now is the time to get things rolling.

On many teams, the team leader or manager creates the business plan for the year and then dictates it to the rest of the group. There may be a small amount of community brainstorming, but it’s the team leader who determines the goals, budget and action plan. In order to be truly cohesive as a group and to get everyone on board, however, working together is the best way to produce the most effective business plans.

Here are five steps to make this happen:

  1. Individual Plans – Each member of the team creates their own written business plan. Provide a template or workbook for each team member that shows, step by step, how to think about their business, from individual SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analyses to training plans. As REALTORS®, our own drive, motivation and planning creates individual success which then impacts our team as a whole. So, each person on the team, whether they are a sales agent, manager or working on the administrative side, needs to create their own individual goals and plan. This cannot be dictated—it has to come from within.
  1. Team Plan – The team leader creates their own plan, but this one is at the macro level—a plan for the overall business with projected revenue for the team as a whole, the budget, net revenue goals, etc., and the team leader’s plan for execution. Again, the same template or workbook is used, but this time at the highest level.
  1. Meet to Review Individual Plans – The team gets together, preferably for a day or two, to dive into the planning. As a team or in small groups, work together to dissect each individual plan from step one and enforce team accountability by sharing individual goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc. This is a time to be honest, be helpful, be strategic and get motivated as individuals for the year ahead.
  1. Bring It All Together – Now, as the team leader, you have your macro goal and budget and your team’s individual plans. Rolling it up, are you all on the same page? Is one person’s weakness another’s strength? Will the individual goals reach the goals you’ve set for the team? If your team goal is 100 transactions for the coming year and the individual goals total 75, where are the other 25 going to come from?
  1. Fill in the Gaps – Look at your numbers: your transaction goal, your sales goal, your budget goal and your gross and net revenue goals. From step four, you know what you need to do. If the individual goals exceed your team goal projection, then perhaps you are reaching too low. If they don’t quite meet your plans, it might be time to look at adding to the team to achieve the growth you are projecting.

Planning as a team creates excitement and buy-in long before the year starts. If the team leader is creating the plan alone, the team members have no say in the goals and plans, and are therefore working in their own silo. This leads to frustration for the team leader as goals aren’t met. (“Why does no one pay attention to our numbers but me?”) Sharing in the planning goes a long way to creating a cohesive team and vision, and will provide a solid foundation for the year ahead.

Sarah Bernard came to real estate from a career in corporate marketing and property management. Licensed in 2014, Bernard sold $ 6 million in properties with 12 transactions in her first year and was Rookie of the Year. Five years later, she has grown a team that includes three buyer agents and support staff. Expected sales in 2018 are $ 18-$ 20 million and 80 transactions. She hopes to double her business in 2019, and is committed to learning and improving her team management every day. For more information, please visit www.workmansuccesssystems.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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3 Secrets to Building a Real Estate Team That Won’t Drive You Crazy

Aug 9, 2018 by

Real estate teams are incredible, but they’re not for everyone, according to 18-year real estate veteran Leigh Brown. Brown is a broker/owner of Leigh Brown and Associates with RE/MAX. The 2017 president of CRS, Brown is also a recipient of Lifetime Achievement, Hall of Fame and Circle of Legends recognitions with RE/MAX International.

Building a team will either be a smart idea or a money pit, according to Brown, and you need to know how to make it successful before you start hiring. It’s not just earning big numbers; it’s about the earning the right numbers. The three secrets to building a successful real estate team are:

  • Understand why you’re setting up a team
  • Create a solid foundation (hire the right administrator and agents)
  • Create a true team environment

“I know a team who was doing $ 50 million in volume, but the team leader was only taking home $ 50,000 in sales. That was a money pit situation,” Brown says.

Do your research so you don’t end up in the same situation.

1. Understand Why You’re Setting Up a Team
Is a team the way to go for you? It could be if:

You need better work/life management.
If you feel like you’re going to explode if the phone rings one more time, your work/life balance is probably “out of whack.” You’re burned out. A team can help you restore balance.

You consistently have excess opportunities.
Are you staying busy but still getting calls you can’t get to—or are you so busy you’re not able to give your clients the level of service you want to? A team may help you seize the opportunities you’re missing, and help improve the service to the clients you already have.

Your strength is management, not sales.
You love the field, but what you’re really good at is managing, marketing and lead generation. Part of setting up a team is understanding yourself, your strengths and your skills. As a team leader, you’ll need to be a good manager, or hire one. When you’re putting together a job description for yourself, be honest: What is it you really love to do?

Things to Consider Before Setting Up a Team

Lead Generation
You have to have enough leads coming in to sustain you, as well as your team. As a team leader, you’ll be responsible not only for your income, but the income of others.

Control Freak
Can you control your inner control freak? You need to understand that you’re not going to have a team that does things 100 percent like you do. Understanding that if your team does things “right” 80 percent of the time, you’re ahead of the game. When you allow people to make mistakes, they’ll stop walking on eggshells and start working harder to get things right. Learn to let other people shine and they will.

2. Create a Solid Foundation
Before you hire a team of agents, you need a foundation. That foundation begins with a talented administrator.

However, before you can hire an administrator, you need to run your financial numbers. Look at the number of hours you work per week, including administrative work, email, DocuSign, Dropbox, showing houses and making calls. Now, add up the commission dollars you’ve made and divide that by the hours you’ve worked. What do you earn per hour? What does it cost to hire in your market? How many hours a week will you need them? Five? Ten? Twenty? With those numbers in hand, you’re ready to start building your team, and the first person you need to hire is an assistant.

Assistant
Before you hire, you must know what you want your assistant to do, so create a detailed job description for the position. Create a checklist of any NRP (non-revenue producing) activities you want your assistant to handle, including paperwork, signs and lockboxes, putting out postcards, inputting people to your CRM and DocuSign requests.

Include “at-bats” (at least one lead generation or referral a month) in the job description. If you don’t ask people to bring you a referral, they won’t. 

Referral Agent
You may not be ready or want to train, hire and manage a buyer agent right away. If so, you can seek out a like-minded agent who is great at closing, but who needs leads.

Expectations are the key here, Brown emphasizes. Know what you will pay them. Have systems in place for tracking leads and closings. Figure out what happens after the closing and what your role with the client is after the closing. Build a relationship on honor and trust with these agents.

Buyer Agent
The job description here is critical. Be very clear when setting and communicating your expectations. You should also take time to figure out what kind of personality you’ll work best with. Look for someone who will balance you, and whom you will balance.

Hiring tips:

  • “Hire the people who are great at what you suck at,” Brown says. “Check with REALTORS® who are not built for sales or who don’t want to put in ‘REALTOR® hours,’ but who want to be in the business.”
  • Pay a little more to get the best people possible. If everyone else is paying $ 10 an hour, you should pay $ 13-$ 15 an hour. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much more for you, but it will create loyalty in your employee. It also shows others you take care of your people.
  • Hire in your local market, not offshore. By hiring locally, you become known as a local employer, and people you hire can also refer people to you.
  • Hire part-time. You can hire someone for 5-10 hours a week and build. If you hire someone who will hustle and generate leads to increase your business and their hours, all the better.
  • Hire for qualities, not task performance. “Attitude matters more than skills,” Brown explains. “Phone skills, handwriting, personality and people skills matter.”
  • Take the DISC personality profile. Take it yourself first, then have them take the DISC personality profile to ensure you balance each other. Pay the $ 29 for the full test, not the free one. It’s more accurate.
  • Take your time hiring. Make hiring a multi-step process so you get the right person.

3. Create a True Team Environment
Once you’ve built a team, how do you stay the course? Start with the details. This includes meetings, goal-setting, team evaluations and individual reviews. Unless your team is one cohesive unit with excellent communication, specific goals and opportunities for everyone involved, your team won’t work.

In a recent webinar, Brown went into extended details about how to structure payment schedules, training, reviews and team-building. Get tips from Brown and watch the full webinar for more detailed steps to ensure you find, hire, train and retain the right people to get the best team members possible.

For more information, please visit marketing.homes.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Get Your Team Together and Trust Them

Sep 17, 2017 by

Today we have Carl White on the show who tells us that we need to get our team together and trust them!  Good advise!

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