Building a Real Estate Team - Step by Step

Build a real estate team . . . . how would I even start?  The idea of utilizing a real estate team can be quite daunting and sometimes even unattractive.  As a real estate trainer and coach of some top producing real estate teams, I have witnessed that by grasping some fundamental principles an individual agent can increase customer service and production without sacrificing lifestyle.  With the help of some of the top producing teams in my company I have outlined some of the essential components to growing a successful real estate team below.

Know Why You Are Building a Team

Many agents think that they can skip over this seemingly elementary initial step before initiating their ascent on empire building.  Growing a real estate team is not easy.  The lack of a firm grasp of "why" you are heading down such an arduous path typically results in de-motivation and a team that ultimately does not benefit the lead agent.  
All teams are not created equally, so your team's purpose must be crafted to fulfill your own needs.  Do you want to dramatically increase production and income?  Is providing better customer service your focus?  Will the team enable you to increase your standard of living by spending more time with your family or other pursuits? 

Why Build a Real Estate Team

Hire in Advance of the Need

"If it is to be, it is up to me." -  If you have made the decision to build your real estate team, then commit to the idea and start acting like you need a talented team around you.  You should never make a hire until you already have more business than you can handle.  So if you can commit to proactively attempting to generate business on a systematic and continuous basis over time it is realistic to assume that you will need the help of other people to continue lead generating in the future.   

 Hire in Advance of the Need

Take Time to Hire Top Talent

Agents that don't hire in advance of the need will often wait until they are far too busy to make an effective hire.  They hire out of emergency to avert a crisis rather than hire strategically to grow a business.  If you want to be a top producing agent, you must learn that you are only as good as your last hire.  So its important that you make and take the time to be selective so that you don't end up pushing the panic button and hiring your cousin that just happens to need a job right now. 
If you want your next hire to be talented, please understand that the likelihood that this person is already waiting on your doorstep for a job is slim.  Just like with business, you will need to proactively look for talent.  Accept that this will take time away from your existing business.
"Before bringing on my last administrative executive I personally met with over 35 applicants and conducted 12 behavioral assessments over the course of a few months before ultimately making the hire."  - Larry Harper of The Harper-Bishop Team - 273 homes sold in 2012
Agents will often sacrifice talent to hire people they already know because a proven commodity isn't as likely to produce undesirable surprises later.  This is why it is important to ascertain as much information about prospective applicants during the recruitment process itself.  One useful method for assessing the talent of a potential candidate for your team is to "Go 3-Deep" when checking applicant references

 Going 3-Deep with Brian Icenhower

Give Your Job Away . . . Slowly

Start with one or two tasks that you can quickly delegate by the simple use of checklists and other systems.  Indulge yourself and try to leverage the work that you naturally hate to do to your new hire.  You always want work in your strengths and a good hire should thrive in your weaknesses. Your new hire should complete you!
It often takes a few months of slowly giving portions of your pre-existing job description away before this person actually saves you time.  Be patient in the meantime.  Remember to look at your new hire as an investment and not as an expense.  Spending time and effort training in the first few months will eventually free up more of your time to pursue more business later.  

Utilize Collaborative Systems 

Top producing real estate teams must implement proven organizational systems to effectively function.  Cloud-based servers such as DropBox, Google Docs and iCloud enable team members to access each other' s documents and calendars quickly from any location.  Skype and GoToMeeting allow teams to meet consistently when geography would typically not permit. An easy to use online lead management platform like Market Leader or eEdge are critical to the growth of the team's business.

"The time spent learning and implementing our online systems was well worth it.  The implementation of these systems ultimately provided us with the time and resources to double our production the following year."  - Jillian Bos of the Jillian Bos Team - $13 million in 2012 Sales Volume and 2013 REALTOR Magazine 30 Under 30 Finalist.  

Communicate Regularly

A real estate team's demise can often be attributed to a breakdown in communication. The responsibility to instill a team environment that fosters regular and systematic communication falls squarely on the shoulders of the team's lead agent. Effective communication doesn't just happen, it must be purposefully initiated continuously. Therefore, it takes a true leader to create and maintain this successful environment and not simply dismiss the need to communicate for a lack of time.

Time must be blocked, protected and enforced to ensure that team members ask questions, update, brainstorm, create and receive direction and feedback. For a group of individuals to truly be considered a team working towards a common goal, they must regularly communicate with one another.

Conducting Real Estate Team Meetings
 with Brian Icenhower

Develop Self-Managed Team Members

Self-managed team members are learning based individuals who understand that in order to grow they must first get uncomfortable to get comfortable with a new task or skill.  This often becomes a matter of attitude. They need to optimistically seek solutions with an abundant mindset that welcomes the difficulty associated with learning new things.  If team members are instilled with this positive philosophy of achieving personal growth by tackling tough problems they will develop a greater stake in the team's results. 

My Admin Owns It - Seth Campbell

Provide & Receive Feeedback

Reward the members of your team frequently.  Regularly check in with them to see how they are doing, how they feel about their job, and what ideas they might have for making it better.  Do not make the mistake of only being present to correct them and assign more work.  If you want more business, let your team members co-author the path so that they own the outcome. A leader that succeeds through others will out perform any individual.

"I conduct regular meetings with my team where we provide and receive feedback to assess our progress as a team and as individuals.  This helps my team members focus on our team goals and their individual roles in achieving our goals." - Kevin Blain of the Kevin Blain Real Estate Team - 473 Homes Sold in 2012.

The most underrated benefit of running a real estate team is the fulfillment derived from growing and succeeding through others.  Leaders understand that time and effort expended on the growth of individuals will exponentially increase the growth of the team as a whole.