By Sue Styles
Working with a team may not appeal to every real estate agent, but those who persevere through the growing pains can enjoy support not available to the lone ranger.
When Calgary agent Sano Stante fell off his roof and broke his wrist, it put him in the hospital for a few days, but it didn’t affect his business. His trusted assistant of two years was well-trained and able to take ownership while the real estate professional healed under the medicine prescribed by his doctors.
A few summers ago, agent Donna Rooney needed heart surgery and had to take two weeks off from her thriving real estate business in Calgary to fly to a specialist in Toronto. Her clients didn’t even know she was away. Her team of three other Realtors and two administrative assistants kept the business churning as if she continuously had her hand on the wheel.
In 2017, Tanya Eklund, leader of the No. 1 team for that year in Re/Max Real Estate Central’s Calgary office went into labour with her second child. Although she hadn’t intended to negotiate deals throughout her labour, she worked on three deals until her daughter was born! Some of her clients hadn’t even realized that she was expecting. Her team of four salespeople, two extraordinary assistants and a gifted nanny kept the status quo while Tanya paid attention to her new family member and recovered over the next weeks. Nothing was missed, clients were cared for and the business continued with the help of a finely tuned machine.
Let’s face it – life happens! And when it does, your business can be affected, whether you get sick, get married, have important events with children or need to be on hand to help aging parents. One challenge about working as a solopreneur is that YOU ARE IT.
If you have ever wondered about the benefits of having a team – or if you are trying to build one but don’t know how to create ideal dynamics – here are the best practices I have seen teams implement.
- Processes are defined and agreed upon. The foundation for your business rests on having succinct processes and systems. Your checklists should be simple, chronological and adhered to. Everyone should understand the workflow and what is expected.
- Ideally, I would love each new agent to have 12 months of administrative training (while they are not “full-time” busy). Their opportunity in learning the best practices while gaining valuable experience is one of the best ways to fast track. They should also be expected to discover ways to improve and differentiate using their fresh point of view.
- Each agent adds their own “special sauce”. If two heads are better than one, then multiple personalities can be an advantage when meeting new potential clients. If your personality isn’t a good fit, your teammate might help convert the lead. When you are in the safety of a group, you have more freedom to really express the best of your uniqueness.
- You can share the costs of office/administrative support. Many hands make light work and the more people sharing costs makes on easier on everybody. Enough said.
- The leader grows in their leadership ability. One thing I know for sure is that if you think you’re a leader, but no one is following you, then you are just taking a walk! Just like leading a church or any volunteer organization, when you build and grow a team, you put yourself in school. The best way to learn is by doing.
Once you have your team in place, here are some of the best practices for success:
- Implement regular team meetings (weekly or monthly).
- Task one agent at each meeting to share something and teach the others (a great way to learn is to teach).
- Commit to accountability amongst the group. Be intentional with goals and rise to meet them.
- Support one another, socialize together, appreciate your differences in the dynamics.
- Team mentorship! Mentorship is a key to development.
Recently I was visiting the west coast admiring the beauty of the gigantic redwood trees. They have very small roots – no more than one-inch-thick and they are unusually short, going down only six to 12 feet.
If they were on their own they would be blown over in a mild breeze. But they join their roots with other redwoods and intertwine with other trees. The whole forest is strong and can withstand any storm. They are together in their foundation and each helps the other to stay upright when they couldn’t stay up on their own.
This is how your team can be, stronger together so that each one can grow to their full capacity.