Your guide to hiring a better real estate team

Team Management
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Is your real estate firm ready to go next-level? There comes a point where you’re not going to be able to grow any further as you are, so hiring a team is your next step to ramp things up.

There are only so many transactions per year (most experts suggest 40-50) that you can handle without needing an assistant or a team to spread the workload. Without expanding your staff, you reach a plateau and further growth becomes very difficult.

Apart from plateauing, hiring a team is a good way to sort out division of labor so that you are able to run a more efficient firm. This can allow your business to keep ticking over, even if you are not present.

So, how do you ensure you are hiring the best possible team for your business? Let’s take a look at some pointers.

Have an overall “Why”

A good place to start is to take an overall look at your business and determine your goals as well as a big “why.” Why the big “why?” As Inman points out, teams need an overriding goal or purpose in order to be successful.

“Sharing a common purpose minimizes conflicts since each team member is working towards a goal that is beyond just earning money.” – Inman

Before hiring team members, you should identify your “why” as well as the very specific values and goals of your business. If your main purpose behind hiring a team is just to make more money, you’re not likely to set the scene for a harmonious team environment, and what kind of people might you attract if it’s only about money?


Image source: Nathan Stephens on Flickr

Get specific

You could have business and personal reasons for hiring a team, for example:

  • You need more time out away from work.
  • You want to provide a better service to customers.
  • You want the business to be able to grow and serve more people.
  • You want to be able to give back to your community.

How will you know if you’re succeeding? Make your goals measurable so that there is a clear determination of what success looks like. You could use a methodology such as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) as an overall guide for creating sensible business goals.

An overall “why” is more like the guiding light as to why those goals are there in the first place. For example, in this Inman post, the big “why” of an agent interviewed is to be able to give back to the community. This is highlighted by the donations the team have made to their community and is shown on their website.

The big “why” should help you to develop a set of values by which you want your team to operate. How do they need to conduct themselves in order to achieve your goals and “why?”

[tweetthis]Have an overall “why” for your real estate team before hiring anyone.[/tweetthis]

Hire People Who Align With Your “Why”

The reason you should identify your business values and “why” before hiring anyone is because they can then act as a guide for who you actually end up hiring. If your “why” is to give back but a potential hire is all about money, money, money, are they going to fit in with your larger vision?

If you’ve been a small team or a solo operator, many agents recommend starting small rather than trying to get big all at once. Start with a first hire, a person who is going to take on some of your current responsibilities and help you to pave the way for how a team will be managed. If you’ve never really envisioned running a team, starting big can be too overwhelming as it is a learning curve to go from minding yourself to managing a team.

A good place to start after identifying your goals is to list all the tasks and responsibilities you want to hand over. Your hiring is then based on both who will fit with your vision and values and who is capable of taking on those tasks.

How do I identify the right person?

To begin with, you need to find out during interviewing what candidates’ goals are moving forward. This along with any past record can give you a fair indication of fit.

If you want to be more sure that a candidate is not just blowing smoke, you could use more in-depth testing such as DISC personality profiling or any of the various strength-finding tools available. These should not be used alone to make a decision, however, as it is possible for people to “game” tests at times and get a less-than-honest result.

Other things you should consider before hiring:

  • Your own strengths and weaknesses—ideally you want someone who is stronger in areas where you are weak.
  • A job description showing the tasks you will require of your new hire and what strengths are needed to successfully complete those tasks.

Of course, none of these methods are fool-proof, so some agencies recommend hiring team members on a trial period initially. A three month trial should give you enough time to figure out if they’re the right fit or not.

Why do teams fail?

This is actually a simple one: Inman identified that one of the primary reasons teams fail is a lack of a business plan along with sensible, measurable written goals. It’s difficult to make a good decision if you don’t have a clear plan for where you are going and why.

Interestingly enough, many real estate agents have made the mistake of diving into hiring before creating any kind of specific, documented job description. This is only a recipe for potential disaster. As a leader in the team, you need to be able to “know the way, show the way, go the way,” again difficult if there isn’t a clear direction!

Hiring mistakes

Who do you really need as your first hire? Could it be that you really need someone to take care of follow-ups and administrative tasks first?

Inman points out that a common hiring mistake is to dive right in and hire a buyer’s agent first. If you’re already in a position where you’ve got administrative work piling up, hiring someone whose job is to bring in business via buyers will only exacerbate the problem, and could lead to poor customer experience as you fall further behind.

Logically, your first hire should probably be an assistant who is strong on administrative tasks and able to help keep your office compliant along with providing some level of customer service. It goes back to that earlier advice about starting small: it’s easier to scale a well-oiled machine with good systems in place than to suddenly add a whole lot of new tasks.

That buyer’s agent might then become your second or third hire; that way they can enter a business that already has processes in place to efficiently handle the business they bring in.

Final thoughts

Hiring a better real estate team begins long before you interview your first candidate. Before you do anything else, you should identify your big “why,” your values and the goals of the business.

You should also have a clear business plan, including job descriptions of who you need to hire. Start small rather than trying to grow too fast, and put trial periods in place if you want to be sure of hiring the right person without taking on too much risk.

If you lay the groundwork first, you can better identify candidates who are going to be a good fit for your business.

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