5 Questions to Ask Before You Build a Real Estate Team

If the thought of building a team has piqued your curiosity, but you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got some help for you!

I started in real estate back in 2004, joining Bob and Fran Medley who had a small team here in Louisville, Ky. They were star power agents and learned from the best in the country. The Medleys retired in 2008—and I took over and started expanding, and grew the business to where it is today. I’ve been the leader of my 20-agent, five-admin team ever since. Last year we sold 419 homes, and this year we are on track to do about the same level of production.

We’ve compiled five questions to ask yourself that illustrates our recipe for success:

  1. Why are you interested in creating a team? Dave Ramsey says you need to have the heart of a teacher to be a real estate agent. Yet, to become a team leader, you not only need the heart of a teacher, but the enthusiasm of a cheerleader, street smarts, technology fingers and the brain of businessperson.

Don’t get scared if you don’t have all those parts—like me, you can grow into them with time and diligent practice. The very first step is determining how big a team you want, what your end goal is in terms of production, and how much time and energy you’re willing to devote to the process.

  1. How do your buyer’s agents make money? Once you’ve determined you have the drive and energy, you need to decide how you’re going to bring agents onto your team. Simply put, what is your value proposition to other agents in your market? A basic answer to that question might be summed up with one word: leads. Agents want to know what you’re going to do more of, or differently, to get listings—other than just sitting them in front of a phone or sending them out to knock doors. So, forming partnerships with lenders and other industry professionals is imperative to help offset the cost of inbound leads.

As a coach for Workman Success Systems, I can tell you most agents cannot work with more than 25 new leads per month. For a buyer’s agent, however, that may not be enough. So, you need leads coming in from a variety of sources, including personal pay-per-clicks, national lead-seller companies, sign calls and social media. Getting all these things to work together is a subject for another time; the bottom line is, we try to make sure our agents are getting more than 50 leads a month, knowing that at least half of those are going to be people who already have an agent.

  1. What type of team structure do you need? Before you start adding team members, make sure you’re busy enough to support the sharing of leads. Also, be sure to have at least one administrative assistant working with you—one who knows what they’re doing and who you can trust. The key to success is being able to duplicate processes over and over again. That’s why you need systems in place that are foolproof. Using a contact management system that cues your admin to upcoming events and needed reports is imperative. Knowing how to use part (or all) of that contact management system is important to you as a team leader.

One of the easiest and most beneficial ways to gear up for a team is to bring in a coach who has been in your position before and currently owns or manages their own team and knows the pitfalls of growing it. There are a lot of great coaches in our world, but the ones who learn what they’re doing from a book can’t compare to the team leaders who are in the trenches every day handling their own problems on the fly.

Finally, perfecting your office communication, integrating with current technology, adhering to a philosophy, setting and reaching goals, and developing and maintaining systems are absolutely indispensable to finding success in today’s market.

  1. How do you start to grow your salespeople? Growing your team can be as simple as walking up to an agent with whom you’ve done business and had a successful closing and asking if they’ve ever thought of being on a team. I’d love to tell you it’s that simple all the time, but it’s not. Your steps to growing should include communicating with your broker and explaining to them you’d like to create and grow a team.

Ask the broker to be on the lookout for anyone they think would be a good fit. Talk with other agents in your brokerage. Ask your broker to review agent metrics in your city and be on the lookout for people who have potential, but just don’t seem to be getting traction. You can also contact other agents in your marketplace with whom you’ve had positive experiences and build a relationship in which they would consider working for you.

Broadcasting your need for new agents (I would never say you’re “starting a team”) on social media with the words “We are growing again” is a great way to get attention. You also might consider forming a small budget for radio ads with local stations explaining you are growing again and need agents.

  1. How do you keep the team moving forward once you’ve created it? The best suggestion I can give you is summed up in one simple word: transparency. As you bring on more people, everything you do should be agreed on by the group. Once you have an administrative person and bring on your first agent, all other decisions should be made by the group. Sure, you will retain the final say over those decisions, but agents and administrative staff need to feel they’ve had a hand in shaping their destiny. Those who do are more likely to stay with you longer and be more dedicated to the final goal.

For example, say a new agent is identified by your broker. You invite that agent to the team meeting (which should be taking place at least once a week), have the agent sit in on what you do, and, at the end of the meeting, you as the team leader get up and leave the room. Give the agent permission to discuss you with your team, and ask your team to ask the agent questions about their personal goals. This gives your team an opportunity to gain insight into the prospective team member’s attitude and see if they’re a good fit. Any one of your agents objecting to the new team member needs to be acknowledged and any concerns worked out ahead of time.

This gives you a very basic framework for growing a team; you can learn a lot more by attending masterminds around the country, communicating with other team members and listening to what coaches have to say about growing your team. Owning or managing your own team gives you more freedom, but it also brings on a lot more responsibility, and you must be prepared to handle that.

Bob Sokoler is a coach with Workman Success Systems, owner and team leader of The Sokoler Medley team at RE/MAX Properties East in Louisville, Ky., and a video specialist. Sokoler’s team sold over 400 homes in 2017 and approximately 440 properties in 2016. Before becoming a REALTOR® in 2004, Sokoler was a two-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. For more information, please visit www.workmansuccesssystems.com.

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