This July, Inman’s editorial theme is Teams — what it takes to build and join one, how to optimize your team for summer 2020, and even when to consider leaving one. And if you’re not already a subscriber to our Teams Beat email newsletter, sent every Thursday, sign up now.
Back in February, Daniel Hartman, then an agent at Show-Me Real Estate, started talking with two agents he knew through professional contacts, Starla Janes and Brigette King, about coming together to form a real estate team. Little did the trio know the upheaval 2020 would bring, and soon they found themselves trying to work through the ins and outs of licensing and crafting a business plan over conference calls while sheltering at home.
“After two months of waiting, they finally accepted our licenses under Show-Me,” Janes told Inman. “May 27, we had team pictures taken, and we got our license in the mail that same day, so it was a big celebration.”
The Smithville, Missouri-based team recently brought on their first agent, Jaime Jimenez, who started the process of obtaining his real estate license back in March, but only acquired it in the past few weeks because of delays in license testing related to the pandemic.
With their varied experiences — Janes had previously served as an agent with both RE/MAX Innovations and Keller Williams, and King had worked as an agent at United Real Estate — the three felt their backgrounds complemented one another, and each are now stakeholders in the company.
Inman recently touched base with the team, and despite the uncertainties of the times, Hartman Real Estate Team remains enthusiastic about their formation and looks forward to building their business together for the foreseeable future. Here’s what they had to say.
Inman News: What made you decide to form a team now?
Hartman: I’m going on three years with my license. I read Gary Keller’s book right when I was getting my license, and what was interesting, is I didn’t quite know how it worked or what it looked like. So, I started studying it when I first was licensed, but I also knew there were a lot of teams out there that were doing well, there were synergies formed from that, so it was just a dream of mine I think to start a team.
I had watched Starla — she had been doing this 18 years and she is phenomenal at marketing and being involved in the community. And I actually had worked with Bridgette and her husband on a deal; I met them at an investors-type meeting.
King: My husband and I renovate houses that we flip, and Dan actually got us our first house to flip.
Hartman: I just wanted to surround myself with [these] bright, intelligent ladies, and I started talking to them back in February about it. I talked to my broker and my broker was open to it. Because it’s an independent brokerage, it’s not a large franchise brokerage like Keller or Reece or RE/MAX or any of those.
We started looking at how Keller Williams modeled their team environment with their caps, and we basically overlaid and that’s what I presented to my broker and he signed off on it. He said, “In order for you to go, though, you’re going to need Starla and you’re going to need Brigette,” so I knew I had to seal the deal there and brought them in as equity partners.
The past few months have been a very challenging time for everyone, but what specific challenges do you think you’ve faced in choosing this time to start up your team?
Janes: The biggest challenge was getting licensed. Getting the business plan together was not so much a challenge, but the bigger part was that we weren’t able to meet in-person like we are right now. [The team has started meeting in-person again recently.]
We’ve tried to do all this over the phone — figuring out the business plan, determining how we are going to do our licenses, working out our own systems, figuring out our logo, social media, how we’re going to market, what expenses were going to be included here and there, and what’s your own and what’s the team’s — all of that over the phone.
We were trying to do conference calls and there’s millions of other people on the phone, so of course connection sometimes wasn’t the best. And then we couldn’t do much until all our licenses were approved at this team, so we couldn’t really announce that we were going to be a team.
For a couple months, we kind of functioned as a team in our minds, but we couldn’t announce to anybody for awhile. That was a huge challenge for us, too.
King: I’m also a newer agent, so what’s great about teams is the mentorship and ability to work together and have someone who I feel like can kind of walk me through the deals a bit as I’m learning. They can make sure I’m doing everything right and dotting all my i’s, crossing all my t’s. Of course, this is also during the pandemic, so I remember writing one of my first contracts and Dan was trying to — on the phone — make sure I’m doing everything correctly and walk me through [it].
Janes: That part’s been a huge challenge, but we persevered. And we figure if we can make it through that, we can do about anything at this point.
Hartman: We were operating as independent agents as well. So as independent agents, we had our customers, we had our deals, and yet we’re operating in the mindset of a team trying to pull it all together and we’re excited about it.
I think one of the keys is that it wasn’t just about the business. Every week, the good news is that a couple of us were up and somebody would be down, and the emotional struggles that you have with working from home, being stuck at home [were shared]. Bridgette has a one-year-old daughter and her husband was still working out of the home. Starla was doing some things as well, and so I think it was beneficial to have each other to support and talk to and just vent. We can hold each other up, take care of our emotional well-being and our mindset and just stay positive. That was a challenge, but it was also a benefit.
King: Every week we would take a moment on our calls just to go around and say how we’ve all been feeling and mentally, how we’ve been. Some days, I would say, “I am mentally not ok, I need to get out and my baby’s driving me nuts!” And the next day, it would be Starla’s turn…
Janes: You know someone else is going through what you’re going through, but not as bad that day. We all had our moments of lifting each other up and staying positive.
Are you glad that you still went through with forming a team during this time? Or is there any part of you that wishes you waited a couple of months?
Janes: No, I’m glad we did, honestly.
King: I feel like it kind of made us closer.
Janes: Yeah it did. I think we didn’t have to rush as much. We were going to try to get everything going by April 1, and then we had that time again to study our business plan a little bit more, learn a bit more about each other and how we’re going to work together and how we’re going to do everything. I don’t think I’d do it over again. I think in a way, it worked out well.
Hartman: It did.
Janes: And like Brigette said, it taught us all patience, which was a good thing. We all need a lesson in that every now and then. It’s such an instant-gratification kind of a world.
King: And it’s a good story! We’re going to be 20 years down the road, kicking butt and talking about starting during the pandemic.
Are there any other tangible benefits you think that starting up your team during this time has had for you?
Hartman: Before, we operated independently as agents and to be able to shift some of the workload and share it is a big benefit of a team. Brigette and I are closing today on a deal that we’re working within our brokerage, but I would have, traditionally on my own, been handling both sides. So it was nice to bring Brigette in and help her win.
That’s another tangible benefit: We celebrate our successes together, and there’s no better feeling than seeing Brigette win or Starla win, and they do the same for me. That’s a huge benefit of a team that doesn’t get talked about enough— the fact that there’s more than just a deal, it’s more than just a transaction. It’s a win, and it’s a win for our team and it’s a win for their families as well.
Janes: On that note, it’s going to be a little different for the three of us because we are equity partners, but when Jaime got his license, it was a big celebration between all of us. We were so excited for him because the poor guy had to wait so long and keep studying. And I feel like we’ll continue to do that; we’re going to have our own partnership celebrations as well as team celebrations. We are just a lot closer from doing this.
King: I think the pandemic also allowed time to reach out to past clients and new clients to build that relationship, to say, “I’m just thinking about you, hope you and your family are healthy and well.” It gave us a moment to breathe and check back in with clients in that way.
Is there anything you wish you knew ahead of starting your team, or is there anything special you’ve learned in the process that you’d like to share?
Hartman: I’ve started other businesses, so I knew it would be a challenge, but every business that I’ve started has been different. I think we had a good idea of what things would cost, but we’re thankful for Starla who keeps us in check on a regular basis. Because we’re starting fresh and from business cards, to marketing, to sponsoring a chamber lunch to sponsoring local events, there are a lot of expenses. So I wouldn’t say that I didn’t have an idea that it would be costly, but I was thinking so much about the nuts and bolts of the business, so I was thankful for her really focusing in on that.
Janes: I’m part of this team as the broker, and that’s been a huge learn for me, because I’m not the broker of our office, of Show-Me, obviously, but I am the broker for our team. So after having 18 years of individual agent experience, I am learning what my role is as a team member.
I think being part of a team is amazing. I think it’s awesome when I’m able to call one of these two and say, “hey I can’t get out to show, can you do this for me?”
We can trust each other, and that’s a big thing too. When you’re financially involved in something, you want to know that you can trust the other people you’re with. We have been able to develop that trust and know that we can speak freely with each other. If somebody doesn’t like it, well there’s three of us, so majority rules.
King: We’ve had those moments, too, where we don’t agree, and we just have to talk about it. We’ve decided a majority will rule, and we just move on.
Janes: But most of the time, usually the positives will get the negative to sway even just enough to go, “Ok you’re right.” And I don’t think anyone has ever had any hard feelings with any decisions that have been made.