In this monthly column, Anthony Askowitz explores a hypothetical real estate situation from both sides of the broker/agent dynamic.
A broker wants his top producer to hire an assistant so that she can focus more on selling and securing listings — and less on the process and busywork.
The agent, however, feels more comfortable knowing that she is handling every detail and trusts the technology around her to make her more productive.
Anyone can see this agent is primed to make a “next-level” jump in her sales and production. She gets along with everyone, does her homework, makes smart decisions, and goes the extra mile for her clients and colleagues.
Her numbers have steadily improved each year, regardless of market conditions, but I know she could be doing even better if not for one problem: She insists on managing every single minute detail of the sales process, from start to finish, without handing any of the busywork off to an able assistant.
It’s frustrating to see this reluctance to delegate hold back her limitless potential.
I’ve tried to demonstrate how there are different types of assistants: Ones who handle closings, others who show properties, some who just run errands, etc., and any one of them would help her significantly.
When I asked her if she cuts her own grass or cleans her own pool at home (and she replied “no” to both), I compared that to her situation at work and explained how we all tend to outsource regular tasks because doing so creates time we can spend on bigger priorities.
The idea is to free up “the money maker” (her!) so that she can focus on what she does best: securing and selling listings, which is what I consider “A” or “B” level work. But if she is too bogged down in “D” or “E” level work (like reviewing closing documents or cleaning out her inbox), she’ll never maximize her valuable time.
Although I can see my broker’s point on this issue, I’m sticking to my guns.
My focus on details and commitment to overseeing the entire sales process are the foundations of my successful career and have propelled my steady improvement. When I look a client in the eye and tell them I will be with them from start to finish, they know I mean it and that truth distinguishes me from my competitors.
I have certainly thought about hiring some help at times, but the technology we use keeps advancing year after year, making me increasingly efficient and productive.
It’s very easy to design and send email blasts to my list of contacts, ensure my customers e-sign their documents, and I even have Siri to make my calls and texts for me without even touching my smartphone! Best of all, I know a task is being done 100 percent right when I’m the one doing it.
I honestly believe that too much time, money and energy would be spent on training and hiring any assistant, and honestly, where would I even put one? I literally have no space or extra equipment to provide them in my office.
How to resolve
First, the agent must acknowledge that time is the only guaranteed limitation in life. No matter how she may handle it, there are only 24 hours in a day. That means it’s critical that she makes the best use of it. Each activity takes a piece away that cannot be recovered.
There are statistics in real estate that are generally accepted as being the average. An agent can make 100 calls to reach 10 people interested in selling or buying, out of which three will be interested in speaking with them. One in 3 will list with that agent.
Calculate the average sales price in their area and the average commission earned based on that price, and one can see the return on the time it takes to make 100 calls.
Let’s just say it can be significant, depending on the price range. If that agent had the time to make just one additional call per working day, five days per week, 50 weeks per year, she could have potentially two and a half more closings! But if she is bogged down with paperwork, that time is lost.
The second step for this agent is learning to trust that, though someone else may not do things exactly the same way she would, their way might work even better!
Hiring is key. Just as in any business, the criteria for any candidate should require that the candidate actually possess the necessary skills for the job. They should also have a personality that complements the image the agent wants to project.
Many can be interviewed to get the right fit. Because the agent in this situation is correct — it takes time, energy and money to train someone. But in the end, the increase in business will more than make up for it.
Once “time” and “trust” issue has been resolved for the agent, there are a number of ways to help them gradually become more comfortable with the benefits of an assistant, without fully committing to one right away.
One suggestion would be to connect them with a colleague who has successfully made the “leap of faith” with regards to delegating work to assistants. (This would offer her a different perspective than her broker’s.)
The broker might also suggest having this agent join another solo colleague in hiring a shared assistant for both of them, softening the financial impact and allowing them to grow comfortable with using an assistant over time.
The agent might also consider hiring a “virtual assistant” who can manage emails, prepare research, marketing pieces, book travel, complete invoices and expenses, and a variety of other time-saving tasks at very reasonable costs, all without the need to rent additional space or purchase equipment.
Anthony is the broker-owner of RE/MAX Advance Realty in South Miami and Kendall, where he leads the activities of more than 165 agents. He is also a working agent who consistently sells more than 100 homes a year. For two consecutive years (2018 and 2019), Anthony has been honored as the “Managing Broker of the Year” by Miami Agent Magazine’s Agents’ Choice Awards. NOTE: Anthony is not an attorney and does not give legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney regarding matters discussed in this column.