By Aiman Attar
There are two important indicators of the right time to hire your first employee: time and money.
If you find yourself running out of time every day, and you’re unable to handle all aspects of your business, it’s time to hire. This, however, is a bit reactive. You could have already done some damage to your reputation because you are being stretched in too many directions, resulting in some customer dissatisfaction.
If you find that your business sales/profit are such that you can afford to make the hire, even if you are not strapped for time, then it’s time to hire. This proactive approach gives you more time to ramp up a quality employee to your standards and processes. When you have the funds is the ideal time to setup your business for growth.
How much revenue does a salesperson make or how many transactions does a salesperson typically complete before hiring an assistant?
That depends on the dollar value of the homes the salesperson sells. Some are able to afford investing in a new employee after 25 transactions, others may wait until they have reached 40-50 transactions a year. On average, a salesperson needs to close 30+ transactions (or $300k GCI) before bringing on a full-time assistant.
Who are the typical first hires?
The best first person to hire in an up-and-coming team has to be a real estate assistant and/or a buyer agent. These are preferably professionals with more than two years experience in the industry, who can help take the agent and their team to the next level.
Once the lead salesperson is freed from the bulk of the administrative responsibilities, they will have more time to build a bigger business, focusing on sales, marketing and training of any new salespeople that join the team.
What are the benefits of virtual assistants over a full-time assistant?
I’m a bit of a traditionalist and feel that someone who resides locally, even if they are not working from your office, is a better prospect. An assistant who is physically able to pick up and file paperwork, drop off brochures at a property and put a lockbox on the door is invaluable. These are important tasks that will go a long way to relieving the lead salesperson of much of the administrative work. But that doesn’t mean that I advocate for a 9 to 5 assistant sitting in morning commute just to sit at your office to do the same work that can be done from home. See my views in this CBC article.
How will I know I made the right decision when hiring?
The probationary period is the time to uncover if you’ve made the right hire. If you haven’t, you still have a way to manage the situation that is fairly painless. A candidate might interview really well, have a great work history and be amazing in certain aspects of the job, but they still might not be the right hire.
Where hiring can go off the rails is if you don’t have a clear definition of what you are looking for. The result is that you might hire for one skill, thinking that this is what you really need, but then you realize, “Oh… I really needed this and that too, but this person is not able to do that.” The ability to hire well comes with experience.
Start with your vision of your team and what you want it to be. Once you have a vision, you’ll draft a job description and list what hard and soft skills will be good for you.
How much hands-on training will I have to provide to any new employees?
Even if you hire someone with 10 years experience, you should still be available to them throughout the day to answer questions and give the new hire guidance, especially in those crucial first three months. However, with an experienced candidate, you will only need to provide the nuances of how you prefer to get things done and they will bring on their structure to follow the vision of your team.
For less experienced hires, expect to provide 30 to 60 minutes of training a day. If you don’t have the time to do this, you need someone from your team who is capable of training this individual to run with it.
Do family and/or friends make good employees?
I don’t think so. I personally would never hire family or friends. I’m even reluctant to hire my own children! The boundaries are often blurred, and we see a lot of issues around respect for employer and abiding by the rules when family or friends are involved. Worse still, if there is a misunderstanding at work, it can trickle into the personal relationship, making things sour on both fronts.
On the flipside, sometimes we demand too much from an employee simply because they are family, asking them to do things we could never ask an employee to do, and thus we become oppressive as an employer.