Real estate agents are by nature independent and driven. We have an eye for opportunity and are always reaching for that next step. For many of us, having our own team is an important milestone — and a powerful experience that can burnish leadership skills and grow financial success.
But as with everything in this business, there are pros and cons to starting a team. Shifting your strategy, not to mention your day-to-day work experience, requires significant thought and preparation.
Managing people always has its challenges, and working toward a goal as a group is a vastly different thing than going it alone. But, done right, leading your own team can yield tremendous rewards for both you and your colleagues.
Before you begin the process of assembling a team, there are several important, soul-searching questions to ask yourself. It pays to go into the experience with clear eyes and realistic expectations — and communicate them accordingly — before taking the leap. Here are five things to consider and answer before you start a team:
1. What are your goals, and what is your strategy?
What is your reason for starting your own team in the first place? Is there a certain type of market or properties that you want to tackle, a financial goal you want to hit or innovation you want to explore?
How will building a team help you get there, and what is your step-by-step plan for the team (flexible and iterative, of course) to help you get there? Before you start a team, speak with your broker, and create a team procedure manual.
However, before you even take practical steps to creating your own team, you must manage expectations around this goal and its execution strategy.
It’s important to set these with yourself, and your potential team members, from the very beginning. Ensuring that you are all on the same page will go a long way in avoiding problems later.
2. Can you manage yourself?
Many of the agents I know are great at selling but don’t necessarily like to share with other agents or have strong organizational or leadership skills.
As a team leader, you will be required to manage, motivate and direct people — and to share the rewards that teamwork yields.
3. Can you yield control?
As team lead, a big part of your job will be to delegate responsibilities and play rainmaker to other people. You won’t be able to (and shouldn’t) do everything.
From the outset, you’ll need to shake the mentality that no one is as good as you, and empower your team members to do the jobs you’ve given them. Identify and play to their strengths so that the team is always firing on all cylinders.
4. What will be your team’s structure?
Once you get a handle on your own mindset and approach, it’s time to get down to map out how things will function. What will everyone’s roles and responsibilities be, and what should their activities look like day-to-day?
How will you communicate, share feedback and generate ideas and strategies? What does success look like, and how will you measure it?
And last but not least, the detail everyone will want to know: Who is going to get credit for the transactions, and how will the commission structure work?
5. Are you willing to train your future competition?
You will be taking agents under your wing, feeding them business and teaching them all of your techniques. The fact is that while you are training your team members to make your own team successful, you are also enabling them to compete with you.
No matter how successful your team, or how pleasant the interpersonal dynamics, some folks will inevitably depart and set up their own operations.
Don’t be surprised (or angry) if they decide to go out on their own and become a “clone” of your business because you have taught them so well, but do prepare. If you’re flexible and strategic, your team will be fine.
Even once you’ve settled on answers to these questions, it is important to always have an eye toward the future. Most teams I’m familiar with have a turnover of about two years, meaning you should always look to recruit new members to continue growth.
Learn from successes and missteps, and maintain a clear vision of where you are going and how to get there. In our business, things don’t just happen — they take constant communication and effort.