Working With Teams in Real Estate
Teams are an increasingly popular method of serving clients in the purchase and sale of a home. Today’s episode is all about teamwork in real estate — whether you want to build a team, join a team, or communicate better with a team. Our guest, Matthew Rathbun, comes with firsthand experience from his own firm of setting up agents with success for team building. Monica and Matthew will discuss what a healthy team looks like, how you can start building a team well, and for new agents, helping them understand what they need from the team, what they are getting from the team, and what they need to provide for that team.
After years of observing teams and being a part of them himself, Matthew has learned what works with teams and what doesn’t. Most states have neglected the team concept, which has left brokers and REALTORS® to figure out things on their own. A number one failure is that teams become an agent and an assistant and they get to a point where they just start throwing people together as a team, rather than sitting down and making a plan for moving forward. We typically default to what we do best, and when you look for people to fill out your team, you want someone whose skills and traits are compatible with yours, but not exactly the same.
Another thing to consider as a team leader is the element of training. When you’re ready to hire or bring someone new on your team, you have to have a plan to allow a period of time to train them to be able to do what you want them to do as part of your team. If you’re going to invest time to train this person, you want to make sure they’re the right person. Matthew suggests using online personality tests and a two-system interview process. It’s also important to find a firm and environment that supports teams — not just a place to work, but things like technologies, policies, and training. Business planning is a huge part of starting a team. You need to consider what a new member of your team will need, and there needs to be a conscious effort about hiring people that the company can support.
Teams are the future because the job is getting harder — it’s almost impossible for one person to do it all on their own without dropping the ball on something. This allows sharing of responsibilities, but it is important to make sure you have a plan before you jump into it. As instructors, our job is to help people have healthy teams. A very healthy team is a great work environment.
What about lead generation in teams? A team should provide new members with some leads, with the expectation that they eventually start to generate their own business. There should be a balance between personal production and supporting the team. As a team leader, it’s also important to be aware that you are potentially training people to go out and start their own teams or move on to new teams. While they are on your team though, it’s important to train them to be the best they can be.
When it comes to administrative help, Matthew recommends using any of the virtual assistant programs out there in the beginning. The virtual assistant sites probably have someone with experience and ideas that could work for you. You can potentially save money by hiring a virtual assistant at a lower hourly rate. This is probably not a long-term solution but can be good in the interim until you find and can afford the right person to bring on.
When you get to the point when you’re ready to hire someone, you want to have a written job description. You need to have something to hold them accountable for and they need to have something to measure up to. Every team is unique in what positions they need to have filled but it all needs to be written out, from a practical standpoint, as well as for legal purposes.
Setting up expectations is one of the most important parts of setting up a successful relationship. This helps establish the relationship with you and your team members, as well as among your team. If you look like you have your stuff together, you will have more success finding a good fit for you. A good team needs to have structure and vision to help itself grow.
With a huge influx of newer and younger agents, they might be expecting education and mentoring. As a team leader, you are taking responsibility for people’s livelihoods. Once you find the right person, you have to intentionally spend time with them cloning your good skills, as well as sharing where you’ve made mistakes so they don’t do the same thing.
With large teams, communication can be very difficult, both within the team and between the team and the client. Having a good rapport with the buyer agent and the client is crucial to continued business. A big part of the systemization of your team should be focused on how you can communicate literally, clearly, and well. If you have a transaction coordinator, they should be introduced early on to the client and the opposing agent of the team and all communication should funnel through one person (or one or two people).
There are different levels of rules for every state and also every broker. Matthew and Monica discuss some of the legal aspects of agency. The broker needs to make decisions about dual-agency and make sure the client signs an agreement if that’s the case. Team Leaders should ensure that listing specialists are not sharing more information than they have to with buyer specialists. Any potential conflict of interest should be disclosed. If you think of the team as an entity, it makes it much easier to make the rest of those decisions.
Financial splits are specific to your team, how many people, and what they’re doing. Every situation is different, and in many cases states do not allow agents to pay other agents, so the broker becomes responsible for this. You have to start with what the broker permits. If you’re starting a team, there should be a higher percentage of compensation for agent-generated business than team-generated business. A portion of everything that comes in should go into an account for fees. It’s important that the team leaders not go crazy with high splits.
What should a new agent be looking for in joining a team? You have to look at the total value package of the relationship. The commission itself isn’t the only number you should look at. Matthew’s opinion is that new agents shouldn't start off on a team. Team members should be looking for people who are a doing a moderate amount of production and could benefit from the training of the team, both for themselves and the team as a whole. It is a great opportunity for a new agent to join a team if the broker isn’t providing what a team leader can.
There is a new C-RETS designation — it’s now one day instead of two days. In cutting out a day, they’ve amped it up a notch; there are some fundamental things that they have to cover, but they are looking for people who are clear-minded. The class is focused on the business mindset of a team leader and practical things a team leader should know how to do.
In closing, the team concept is incredibly important for risk aversion issues as well as increasing your production. But you have to do it well. This requires training and learning from the successes and failures of others. Look for materials outside of the industry. You’re an entrepreneur! Treat it like a business and get a mentor to help you.
- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, by Michael E. Gerber
- Matthew Rathbun’s web site: matthewrathbun.com
- Matthew on LinkedIn
- Matthew on Twitter
- Matthew on Facebook
- Web site: TheAgentTrainer.com
- Center for REALTOR® Development
- Live Designation Classes — Training4RE.com
- Certified Residential Specialist live and online classes
- Certified Real Estate Team Specialist certification