Ahead of ICNY 2020, Homeward CEO Tim Heyl talks about hiring mistakes, creating actionable goals and creating win-win lead generation partnerships.

Ten years ago, Tim Heyl was struggling to find a job in the finance industry after graduating from Texas A&M Mays Business School. Reading became Heyl’s respite from a grueling interview schedule and unbeknownst to him, the gateway into a thriving real estate career.

“I found myself interviewing for jobs and reading books in my spare time, and I stumbled across The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller,” Heyl said. “It just gave me this excitement about the entrepreneurial fulfillment that you can get by being a real estate agent and building a real estate team.”

Fast forward to 2019, and Heyl has become the founder and leader of four businesses, including his Keller Williams’ team, The Heyl Group, real estate startup Homeward, lead generation platform Phone Animal and Mint Title, which he sold in 2017.

Ahead of leading the charge during Inman Connect New York’s Teams Track in January, Heyl sat down with Inman to share a few keys to building the perfect team.

Inman: The popularity of teams exploded this year, and I’m sure there are many agents out there thinking of starting their own team. What questions do agents need to ask themselves to make sure it’s the right step? 

Heyl: The reality is the way to build the best team is when it happens organically. The best teams out there are lead-generating machines, and it’s sort of in their blood. They’re so good at going out and getting business, but they get so much business for themselves that they don’t physically have enough time to manage that business anymore. So, they don’t have any other choice but to begin turning business down or go build a team.

There’s a lot of great agents out there who are fantastic working with customers and they know the area really well. But if going out and getting business isn’t something that they not only like, but are really, really good at, then building a team will be hard. That’s why they call the team leader, the rainmaker. The job of the leader of the team is making sure they’re constantly generating new business.

If someone comes to the conclusion they need to create a team, what are the steps to finding team members, determining goals and building systems?

One of the things a lot of people get wrong about building a team is that they think about going out there and just getting a bunch of real estate agents. The reality is the best teams focus on building a really strong operations staff first.

The first thing you want to do is hire an executive assistant or operations manager and build out a small operations team that allows you to do what you do best, which is generating business and working with those customers.

Once you have that strong operational foundation, the next thing to consider is having someone show houses. One of the things that take up a lot of time as a real estate agent is showing houses, and one of the most leveraged activities for an agent is listing houses.

The next person to think about bringing on would be a showing specialist who can show your clients houses or a buyer’s agent who works with those clients all the way through.

The very nature of a team is to think about, “How can I leverage my time so I can put more of my time towards the most important and effective activities that help continue to drive the business forward?”

Once you’ve built your team, what’s the process of creating a vision and actionable goals that everyone can get behind? 

The difference between a group or a brokerage where everyone is an independent contractor, and everyone is for themselves, the very nature of a team is that everyone is growing together in the same direction.

The most important thing we’ve done at The Heyl Group is get everybody together on an annual basis to do goal setting, aligning those goals together and driving accountability toward everyone’s individual goals on a weekly basis.

Everyone meets with their team leader to make sure they’re taking their weekly goals toward their monthly targets and their monthly targets toward their annual goals, and to make sure all of the personal goals line up to meet the company’s goals. It’s something that’s been embedded in the organization from the very beginning.

What do teams need to do stay competitive and successful in the upcoming year and new decade?

The number one thing teams need to do in this evolving landscape is to figure out how to partner well and create win-win partnerships with innovative companies that are generating massive amounts of leads.

There are companies like Zillow and Opendoor and Homeward that offer a radically unique value proposition to customers and, because of that, generate thousands of leads in whatever market they’re in. Those companies are helping the customer in part of the transaction, but they aren’t the buying agent or the listing agent.

Agents that work on real estate teams are used to working for lower splits and transacting a higher number of units, so they’re primed to work with these companies on their lead flow.

[Partnering with these companies] might be different than what you’ve been used to over the past ten years, but different isn’t bad. Different is just different. Just figure out how you can win in the future.

Email Marian McPherson

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