Creating a Teamby Dirk Zeller
Because of the increase in required disclosures, inspections, and documents, it is becoming more difficult for an agent to do all the functions of real estate on his own. The need to create a team of specialists is becoming more necessary for success in the real estate field. The three main reasons to create a team are better quality service for your clients, increase in production, and increase in quality of life. There are still a few agents who advertise that they do not have assistants. They promote that they provide better personal service than agents who have them. Giving better service is a commitment that you make to your client, whether you work alone or have assistants. I have seen both agents with large staffs and single agents who give good or poor service to their clients. The service you render is based on your service commitment and your definition of customer service.
Probably having a well run staff of assistants can provide more service to clients than working alone. Based on the sheer volume of man hours that are expanded on administrative functions, freeing up the highly skilled agent to spend more time finding the home for the buyer or looking for the buyer to fit his listings or finding new listings will provide better service. This increased time doing only "selling" functions will have a dramatic impact on their income. If we try their method of using the time freed by having an assistant to do more "selling" functions, we also can increase our income, by as much as 100%.
Most agents spend less than 25% of their time in "selling" functions. My definition of "selling" functions are prospecting, lead follow-up, going on listing appointments, and showing property. These activities directly relate to income earned on the bottom line. Agents have a tendency to spend far too little of their day in these functions. Even a 5% to 10% increase in time spent in these areas can equate to huge gains in commission earned. For example, assume you earn $100,000 using only 25% of your time in "selling" functions. Currently, for every 5% of your time you spend in "selling" functions you are earning $20,000. The more you increase your selling function time the higher your income will go. An increase of only 10% of your time will create for you an additional $40,000 or more. I believe the better you get at the "selling" functions, the more income you will make. The more you participate in the "selling" functions the more skilled you become at selling. When your skills increase you will need less time to achieve the same result. You may see a $60,000 to $75,000 return on your 10% increase in time in "selling" functions.
A good staff can create more time off for you. If you structure your staff properly you can create more time off with your family. I usually had a staff member "on call" daily, so I was able to enjoy time with my family without interruption. I could focus on my family completely without the distractions of deals, pages, buyers, sellers, and other agents. My family time was sacred and my clients were also serviced at a high level.
Once you have decided to enter the world of assistants you must decide your team structure. By structure, I mean what tasks you are going to delegate, who will do them, how many people, and who reports to whom. You also must look long term in this area. What you need today may change in the future. You must spend enough time reviewing this area. You do not want to have to reinvent your whole team a few years down the road. The more time you invest in this planning stage the less frustrated you and your team will be later on down the road. Take the time to determine your desired production and schedule for the next few years with your team.
All the people and job functions you should consider:
Listing coordinator: This person manages all the files from the generation of the listing lead through the time an offer is written. These functions include correspondence to potential and current listings, preparation of pre-listing packages and CMA’s, follow-up will sellers and agents who show the property, preparation of all ads and flyers, and any tasks that fall between the generation of the listing lead until the time of a sales agreement.
Escrow coordinator: This person takes the file from the listing coordinator at the time the offer is made. This person handles all inspections, earnest money agreements, disclosures, lender issues, and title and escrow issues. This person is responsible for everything from time of contract through close of escrow.
Field coordinator or runner: This person reports to both the listing coordinator and escrow coordinator. The runner handles all signs (putting up and removing), lock boxes, flyers, and delivery of documents and pre-list packages. This person does all the important activities in the field that we all hate to take the time to do.
Buyer’s agent: This person handles all buyers. He strictly shows property and prospects for new buyers. Once he gets a contract accepted he hands the transaction off to the escrow coordinator and looks for another transaction. He should be constantly looking for the next deal.
Prospecting agent: His job is to prospect daily to find new listings. He should be on the phone or face to face with someone six hours a day. His whole goal is to set the appointment for the lead agent to go on. He needs to generate leads, but most importantly generate appointments.
The above structure would be for a highly specialized office, which your business may not be ready for at first. When you decide to hire your first team member, choose one to combine both the listing and escrow positions. You should be able to close 50 to 75 transactions with a highly efficient person in the combined positions. This person does not necessarily need to be a licensed real estate agent.
I would recommend even getting a part-time runner, such as a high school, college student, retired person, or someone who wants to work a few days a week in the afternoon to earn extra income. This person will free up a tremendous amount of either your time or your other assistants' time.
Your ability to select the proper structure for your team and then to select the proper team will ultimately determine your success or failure. Studies have shown that 95% of success is determined by the initial selection of the team members. It is difficult to build a strong team around the wrong person. If you try to do that you will eventually need to replace that person. Take your time to make the selection right the first time.
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