‘Work smarter, not more’ is a great motto to follow in real estate.
So why do so many agents find themselves stressed, grumpy, exhausted and burnt out?
The run-off-their-feet, frazzled agent is a bit of a stereotype in the real estate industry, but it’s a stereotype for a reason – it happens.
I’ve seen it in my own teams, I’ve seen it in other agents and, I’ve been there myself.
I know what it’s like to be caught in a cycle where everything looks glamorous on the outside, but you’re struggling to earn enough to pay your team, let alone take home a wage yourself.
Then, when you do make a dollar, you’re spending it on a holiday, healthcare or wellness to try and make up for working yourself into the ground.
So how do you change this?
Creating an effective business unit, or EBU, can lead you exactly down this path.
But it’s not as simple as just hiring some help.
I’ve seen many agents build an EBU the wrong way. They hired the wrong people in the wrong roles and don’t align them with the business vision, values and goals.
If you build an EBU in the wrong way, it can have a worse outcome than not having one at all.
So let’s make sure you get it right the first time.
Know your ‘why’
When you make any change in a business or set a business goal, you need to be crystal clear on why you’re doing it and what you want to achieve.
It might be more time with your family or it could be about creating a career with longevity.
Knowing your ‘why’ helps you stay on track.
A team of three
There are many variations in building an EBU, but I’m going to focus on the most popular model – three in a team.
This consists of the lead agent, a co-agent and a personal assistant.
I use one of two models when I build or restructure an EBU:
- The selling principal model is where you use your EBU and co-agents as a feeder program to build your agency. In this model, the principal must make enough sales to support and grow the business. The co-agents usually work with the principal for six to 18 months and then become a lead agent themselves.
- The high performing agent model sees co-agents remain with the lead agent for a number of years. Stability is key, and each team member needs to have clearly defined roles.
Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
Double handling tasks can be a bugbear in any industry, but it’s particularly the case in real estate when you want to make everything you do as dollar-productive as possible.
That’s why it’s critical that each team member has a specific role and tasks.
The PA: Your PA is the backbone of your team and essentially an operations manager who oversees everything from accounts to marketing, appointment forms, preparing listing presentations (the process and kits), contracts, settlements, gifts and everything else you can think of.
The co-agent: The co-agent’s job is to free up the lead agent to ensure they are the most dollar-productive entity in the team. They handle buyers, inspections, open homes, contract signing, photoshoots, building and pest inspections, valuations and oversee marketing assets. They also find listing opportunities and, if experienced enough, list properties themselves.
It’s critical that the lead agent and co-agent have separate roles. It’s a waste of time and resources to have the lead agent and co-agent doing the same tasks.
I recommend having a structure, process or checklist for every task in every area of your business. This will ensure everyone knows their role and nothing is missed.
The three big mistakes lead agents make
There are a lot of mistakes lead agents make when setting up their EBUs, but I’m going to share the biggest three so that you can avoid them.
- Let it go. Learning to let go of some tasks and delegating them to others is something a lot of agents struggle with. But if you’re to focus on listing, negotiating and selling, you need to create the time to do that.
- Be a team manager. You’re no longer a solo agent, and your role is to manage the team. This can be a hard step for some agents as they still operate with a solo agent mentality. But if you want to see change, you have to make changes.
- The game-changer. This has the power to change and grow your business exponentially – you have to share your vision for the business with your team. Knowing your vision and goals helps them see the bigger picture and creates buy-in.
Make a clear plan
Knowing where you want to go starts with understanding where you want to end up.
Ask yourself where you want to be in five years. Would you like to be a business owner? Or perhaps you’d like to be writing a certain amount in GCI or maybe you’d like to work less in your business whilst still earning consistent income.
Once you know your end goal, break down the tasks you need to complete to reach your goal. Each task needs to be assigned to the right team member according to their skill sets and personality traits.
How do you hire the right people?
Getting the right people on the bus is essential to your EBU’s success.
Another big mistake I see many agents make is hiring people just like themselves, rather than people with complementary skills and personalities.
I recommend doing personality and aptitude testing to determine their ability for the role and how they will work in with you and the rest of the team.
Where to find a co-agent and PA
One of the best tips I can give is when hiring a co-agent, you should look for someone who is already in the industry, and that understands the paperwork, rules and guidelines for selling property.
Better yet, look for someone who is already a co-agent for another high performing agent.
You need a PA that can be the backbone of your EBU. Someone you trust implicitly to get the job done and keep everyone else on track.
If you’re an agent that’s great at listing and selling but not so good at at writing letters, emails or putting together call sheets for prospecting, you need to ensure your team is.
Ensuring every job gets done at the highest standard is the secret to your success.