Starting a Team for the Right Reasons

Combine Purpose and Fun to Propel Renewed Team Success

While real estate teams have grown in popularity over the past several years, there are still misconceptions regarding why and how to start one, and whether they will truly be both beneficial and profitable for the team leader.

For instance, some agents just want some extra help during their busiest months and don’t want to take on the management and leadership responsibilities that come with hiring, training and coaching agents on their team as well as staff members. Other team leaders want to scale their businesses on purpose to maximize opportunities and expand markets, hiring partners, buyer’s agents, social media marketers and transaction closing coordinators. Whatever your own motivations, it is important to know your real reasons for starting and building a team, and then to analyze them honestly before moving forward.

Here are some helpful points to get started:

1. Focus on being profitable first.
At the end of the day your business needs to make a profit, not just churn out lots of sales and high volume. Those stats are fantastic for our egos, but I’m more impressed with how much money an agent earned. Paying yourself first and making sure you are growing your brand and business while remaining profitable are key to your long-term success.

2. Know your reason (your motivation) for starting a team.
Is it to scale and double or triple production with year-after-year growth and profits? Or do you just need some help to manage your time and make more money for yourself? It is vitally important to answer this question honestly. Don’t just start a team because it seems like the trendy way to sell real estate. Have a deliberate, on-purpose business plan for how you are going to start and grow your team. If you act hastily and hire a bunch of people without a plan, you can end up spending months undoing a bad hire that, at the time, seemed like the best decision. This can also hurt your brand and derail you from months of selling because you are cleaning up the mess of a bad hire. So, know your reasons and motivations for starting a team and design the model first.

3. Have short- and long-term plans.
Starting a team doesn’t happen overnight. You must have a plan and, depending on your current production, it may not be feasible now to add buyer’s agents until you have enough leads in your system. If you’re looking at the big picture, start by hiring part-time help to leverage your time. I recommend a person who can offer “all-in-one” assistance by managing listings and social media marketing and assisting with closings. This gives you the ability to go on more appointments and leverage your time to get more accomplished. Once you have built that, and it’s clear you have about $10M in consistent sales, you are ready to bring on a buyer’s agent. Remember, you must make money first.

4. Attract talent.
Once you are ready and have a plan, attract talent to your team with a culture of success, opportunities, compensation and incentives. Once you hire the right people on purpose, provide them with a written job description. This should include how they are going to generate business for themselves and your team. It is important to lay the groundwork, such as telling them you will provide tools, training and leads, but there is an expectation that they will need to generate a certain amount of new business for the team each month.

5. Use a trial period.
While I know you are anxious to get your team up and running quickly, it pays to take it slow. Try out prospective agents that want to join your team on a trial basis. Prior to making a big announcement and officially signing them on, refer a couple leads to see how they conduct business. Have them hold open houses for you and see how well they convert leads. Once you know they are a good fit, you can then have them join. Trial periods will tell you everything you need to know about the candidate.  Hopefully they turn out positive but, if you don’t like what you see, you haven’t invested too much time or money into the relationship.

6. Put it in writing.
Create and sign a written agreement with terms of pay, referral fees, incentives and an exit clause in case of termination. Ask your broker for help or hire a coach to help you determine what terms and conditions need to be included. Seek the advice of your attorney if creating an agreement to make sure you have covered all areas. This will make sure everyone is on the same page and in alignment before you enter into this important business relationship.

There are many great reasons to start or grow a team. Before proceeding, make sure that your motivations are truly your own, and then use the suggestions above to implement your plan successfully and profitably.

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