Real estate sales teams are a great resource for buyers and sellers, as well as for agents. With the ability to utilize a number of skills and resources, it’s testament to the old adage ‘more hands make less work’.
If you’re a real estate professional, there are very real benefits to making the jump from selling solo to joining a real estate team, but in doing so you need to be aware of all of the ins and outs of this kind of a move.
As Tom Ferry puts it, the real estate team is not the future of real estate, they are the NOW. With almost 50,000 real estate teams selling across the United States, this trend isn’t going away anytime soon.
Making the Jump
First, let’s establish WHY you’re considering this move. Are you considering the change from solo to real estate team sales because you want to make more money? Because you want a more flexible schedule? Because you want to learn from the experience of others? WHY matters in assessing this decision. Make sure you spend the MOST time on this part of the process.
If you’re sure this is the move for you, you then need to make an important decision: Do you want to start your own real estate team, or join an existing one?
Joining an Existing Real Estate Team
This is the easiest way to get onto a real estate team. Join one. The benefits are that in joining an established team, there’s a better sense of organization, establishment, and continuity. But this isn’t to say that all real estate teams are created equal.
Tom Ferry identifies four separate types of real estate teams and some of the ways to identify them.
Purely focused on sales and lead production, not service. Most easily identified by a lack of backend/customer support. Unless you’re the person BRINGING this focus on backend/customer support, this is a problematic model to join because it’s highly competitive and doesn’t particularly stress repeat business in the face of numbers-driven volume and month-over-month growth.
The largest segment of teams; spouses, children, siblings, etc. Very difficult to maintain a work/life balance and often muddles roles if you’re in the family. If you’re coming in as a non-family member, there’s a chance you’re facing the most difficult role on the team, as you could end up caught in the middle of family disputes. This can also create scheduling difficulties around holidays if they all make plans together.
You could be left handling all business at times when the rest of the team has family plans like vacations or family gatherings. Unless you’re being brought in specifically to fulfill a support role so that their schedules are freer for these contingencies, you want to ensure that there are very clearly defined roles for all team members.
Control freaks, weak leadership and micromanaging. These are very, very, very difficult teams, and tend to have the highest turnover of all team types. These teams are usually best identified by a team dynamic dominated by one prescribed leader and overall poor interpersonal communications. To be clear, not all teams with a clearly defined leader are ‘bad’ unto themselves. Rather, it’s the leadership qualities (or lack thereof) possessed by the said leader which dictate the effectiveness of the leader, thereby dictating the effectiveness of the team as a whole.
Micromanagement is never a good environment under any circumstances. If you think you’re possibly joining one of these teams, ask a lot of questions about the leadership structure and decision-making process as part of your due diligence. If it feels ‘off’, go with your gut.
The Team Builder
Someone realistic about their weaknesses who surrounds themselves with strong people who augment those weaknesses for the purpose of building a complete service unit. This is THE best team scenario you can come into. A strong team core comes from a place of honesty and self-awareness. This is the fundamental difference between the ‘hero’ and the ‘team-builder’.
Again, this is where a clear definition of duties and roles is essential. What does everyone do? Which skills does everyone bring to the table? What is the expectation of your contribution? Are the necessary supports in place to help you fulfill these expectations? These are the questions you need to ask if you’re coming into a ‘team builder’ situation.
This is a great point to transition to the next section; what if you want to START your own real estate team?
Building Your Own Real Estate Team
This is a much trickier process, but when done right, the upside is literally limitless. But, just like any building process, a solid foundation is of the utmost importance.
So what is a solid foundation built from? In a word, self-awareness.
You’re not perfect. You can’t-do it all. If you could, you wouldn’t be looking at building a team. Your mission as an effective team-builder is to be fully and honestly aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a team MEMBER and contributor.
You’re not building a team just to watch the team do all the work, you’re building a team so that all of you can prosper and succeed.
Tom Ferry identifies three essential solutions to any real estate team during the building phase:
1.Know Thy Self.
3.Build the Hub!
1. Know Thy Self
As has been a theme in this article, the key is to know what you bring to the table. Thoroughly, accurately, and unapologetically. Is your intended role on the team going to be sales and sales alone? Then you need to find someone as an administrative/operations manager first and foremost.
Every successful team has a strong and reliable back-end manager who handles all day-to-day tasks which aren’t relevant to sales and/or brokerage. This leads into the next point.
2. Define Roles
Before you recruit ANYONE, you need to know precisely what roles for which you are recruiting. As mentioned in the previous point, you want an experienced and dependable back-end manager; preferably as a first hire to help you decide on a team structure. From there, you can go through your list of prospective team members and identify the roles in the team which you think they will best fulfill.
Also, don’t assume you can do all marketing in-house unless you are ABSOLUTELY confident in the quality and efficacy of the results. Even if it’s just on a part-time/piecework basis at first, hire someone who can handle social media, ad design, copywriting, photography/photo editing, videography/video editing, and proofreading (this is ESSENTIAL) duties.
Trying to divvy these skills up among team members is ill-advised and distracts from the more important sales and lead generation work.
3. Build the Hub
This is where you build the nucleus of your team. Odds are you had a few key people in mind when you decided you wanted to start a team, and as mentioned, you also want to secure a back-end manager and part-time marketing person. These are the components of the hub of your team. Sales agents and brokers will come and go, but the hub of your team – the people who keep things running day-to-day are where the majority of your staffing efforts should be going as you build your team.
While not on Tom Ferry’s list, this one is extremely important. Some might be tempted by the lack of structure in the early-going of building a team to take their foot off of the gas pedal. This urge should be resisted at all costs. It’s in the early stages of building a team that you decide on the culture of the team. You need to set a milestones calendar as one of your first priorities, and that calendar needs to dictate EVERYTHING you do until the process is complete.
As a team-builder, this is your first exercise in self-accountability, and it’s a weakness for the majority of people. You need to be fanatical about satisfying your milestones, and this means that you don’t get to take time off during this process. You need to have sleepless nights, missed meals, canceled plans and – odd as it may sound – hurt feelings.
If you’re perfectly balancing work and life while building a real estate team, you’re probably slacking at least a little bit. Those in your life will understand ‘short-term pain for long-term gain’, and are willing to accommodate you while you build. Be willing to accept that accommodation to help speed up the process so that the amount of time required for their understanding is minimized as much as possible.
Whether you’re joining a team or starting your own, it’s a decision which needs to be prefaced with self-honesty. You need to know what you bring to the table, and how you will fit into the larger concept of a team.
Complementarity is absolutely essential. You need to offer something while surrounding yourself with others who can offer what you personally cannot. This is the very nature of the interdependence which makes commerce and trade work.
From there, you need to be willing to put in the time and expense to bring in the BEST people for the roles as defined in your plan if you’re starting a team. Don’t just bring people in and assume you’ll find a role for them, everyone needs a purpose.
The strongest teams – whether sales, sports, or otherwise – aren’t built overnight. They begin with a vision and are painstakingly forged through hard work, planning, and sacrifice.
And most importantly, all of the components understand their role in the bigger picture. Whether you’re joining a team already in progress or starting your own, know your role, have a purpose, and execute as best you can.
Hard work will always pay off!