The Power of a Team Assistant
Truer words have never been spoken, particularly for teams. It was early on in my career that my coach first told me I needed an assistant. Being a multitasker at efficient levels (or so I thought), I pushed off her advice for several months. Why, oh why, didn’t I just listen the first time?
What I didn’t understand is that one doesn’t just set out to hire an assistant and have someone hired the next day. It takes time to hire. During the hiring process, you want to hire slow and fire fast. By hiring slow, it allows us to go through the process step by step to ensure the best hire possible within reason.
Hiring for an assistant was also extremely hard for me because I want control. I do it better than anyone else and, therefore, I should just do it—or so I thought, again. My coach walked me through writing the ideal job description and what to do through each step. Hiring an assistant is about elevating your performance. It allows you more time to focus on the higher dollar-per-hour-producing tasks and to be the rainmaker for the team.
If you’re currently an assistant to yourself because you don’t have one, I recommend you rethink your goals in 2020 and how you’re going to get there. (I’ll even save you the work and tell you how to do it.) The key here is to think about hiring this person for 90 days—just 90 days. Don’t worry about what their hourly rate or salary would add up to on an annual basis. Just focus on 90 days and you’ll see that this person will quickly pay for themselves in the amount of time you gain back to do what you do best: sell houses!
Here are the steps to hiring the right assistant:
- Place an ad for a part-time assistant. Yes, you may eventually need a full-time assistant, but why bite off more than you can chew? I’ve used Craigslist, Indeed, local college/university job boards, and more for posting my ads. In the job ad, list a few of the criteria you’re looking for and a few details of the position. It doesn’t have to be in extreme detail. Ask applicants to send their resume with at least three references to a separate email address set up to receive resumes. A special hint: In the body of your ad, somewhat hidden, state “Put the word apple in the subject line of your email.” It doesn’t have to be the word “apple,” but some sort of word that just tells you if they followed the directions or not. Someone in this type of role needs to be detail-oriented and needs to follow directions well.
- As you receive the resumes, automatically send a canned “We’ll be in touch if you’re a fit” response to any applicant that didn’t follow the directions in the job ad—for example, if they didn’t send references, didn’t mention the special word in the subject line of the email, etc. The ones that did follow directions receive an email from us stating that we’d like them to take the DISC assessment at the link provided in a 48-hour timeframe. We know what DISC type we’re looking for in this position (SC/CS). Although the results of the assessment are only 25 percent of the weight of our overall hire/don’t hire decision, we like to know what type of person is applying. Those that don’t complete the DISC link within the given amount of time are also immediately taken out of the running. Those that did, move onto the next round.
- Schedule a phone interview with your applicant. Have a list of probing questions to ask. Remember, you want the applicant to do most of the talking. One of my favorite questions is, “You graduated from high school and then what?” Some people will talk all day and tell you too much, but it’s a great way to learn more about them. Listen for negative comments about past jobs/employers. During this phone interview, you’re listening for a positive attitude, nice phone voice, professionalism and politeness. If they have those attributes, they move on to step four.
- Remember when I said to hire slow? All of these steps are crucial to doing all you can to find the right fit. Step four is to call references. Ask the references if they’d hire this person again, how they got along with coworkers, anything that they’d say was a strength/weakness of that person, etc. You can also try to go deeper with them (three-deep, as it’s sometimes referred to). You ask the person giving you the reference if they know someone else you could call that knows the applicant. Then, you call that person, ask the same questions and ask them if they know someone else that knows the applicant that you could call. Good reference checks mean moving onto the last step.
- Interview the applicant. Look again for professionalism, attitude, proper attire, timeliness, and more. It’ll be helpful during the interview process to ask each applicant if they’re open to more hours and/or possibly working up to a full-time position. I sat through many interviews where I was told “yes” to a future full-time position. If you have multiple applicants still in the running at this point, it may be helpful to have another team member sit in on the interview with you, or even the whole team if you have multiple team members. Offer the job to the one you feel will fit best with you and your team culture.
I’ve found it nice to offer a possible pay increase at a 90-day review based upon performance, but not promised. Also, offering an incentive of a special bonus per closed file works well.
I got lucky and my very first assistant hire has been with me for three years now—and that control issue I had? It’s completely gone. (Well, with her role at least.) I know she does it better. She has come up with amazing processes for our team and I always tell her how much I appreciate her.
This is all about elevating your performance and maximizing your time! Trust me—you’re worth it and your team’s business will flourish because of it.
If you’re a Workman Success Systems coaching client, you have access to the AMP (Admin Mastery Program) training. This is a series of over 60 in-depth training videos for training an experienced assistant and/or (as I experienced) someone with no previous real estate experience. It’s an amazing tool to utilize!
Brooke Sines is a Workman Success Systems Senior Coach and full-time REALTOR® with RE/MAX of Grand Rapids who has been in the business of working with people all of her life. After working for several years as an entertainment agent that kept her traveling a lot during the week, she wanted a profession that would allow her to be home more to enjoy the day-to-day with her family. It was her love of people and real estate that lead her into a career as a full-time REALTOR®, where in her first year she was awarded the Rising Star Award for Sales & Excellence.