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Building a great real estate team is all about finding the right people and cultivating a strong culture, speakers at Connect Now told attendees on Thursday.

The panel, entitled “Key Foundations for a Successfully Structured Team,” was moderated by Veronica Figueroa, who leads The Figueroa Team at eXp Realty, and speakers included Laurie Reader, founder and CEO of Laurie Finklestein Reader Real Estate, and Christina Welch, owner of the Welch Team at Keller Williams.

Laurie Reader | Photo credit: Laurie Finkelstein Reader Real Estate

Reader stressed that building her real estate team has always been about finding the right people to join, a factor that every other part of her business is based on.

“As you’re growing a real estate team … you have to learn a lot more about the human,” Reader said. “We talk now in our company about, we are building a culture from the bottom up — not from the top down, but the bottom up.”

“What we’re looking for is to meet the right human beings,” she added.

Reader noted that team building is an incremental process that takes time. She finds new team members by thinking first about the values and standards that are important to the company, like being caring toward clients and the community, and working hard to make contributions to the business. Reader emphasized that if there’s one word aspiring team leaders needed to know, it’s “standards.”

Christina Welch | Photo credit: LinkedIn

“You’ve got to have those standards in place because it will define … your culture,” she said.

Welch added that having a shared team culture as reflected by a unified brand is one of the things that’s helped her team stay strong.

“I feel like in the very beginning, I had to get out of my own way, which a lot of people have a hard time doing,” Welch said. “At the very beginning I thought, this is ‘The Christina Welch Team’ … but at the end of the day, it wasn’t about me — it was about the team.”

“In the very beginning, it’s setting that foundation, and sometimes you do have to reset expectations to make sure everybody’s on the same page,” she added.

The three team leaders also agreed that helping cultivate the careers of other team members is just as crucial to ensuring the team’s success as a whole. For example, Reader shared how she mentored another agent on her team Matt Weiner and helped him develop his career such that he could eventually adopt her role in the company while she migrated to the growth side.

“We’re about other people’s success,” Reader said. “We’re taught success through others, never around them.”

“I’ve spent many years of being on a journey of becoming a better leader,” she added. “When you make it about other people and their success, you cannot lose.”

Welch added that her team’s growth came about organically through existing team members maturing into new roles within the team as they develop their career. Then, that creates opportunity for new hires to replace them in their previous roles.

A lot of the panel’s attendees wanted to know how the speakers handled commission splits, which sometimes become a point of contention among agents. But all three team leaders said it usually wasn’t an issue. More often, agents were more focused on and attracted by the team culture aspect.

“They want something bigger than splits,” Reader said. Splits almost never come up for her team, she said.

“I think the better question is how much money do you want to make as an agent, as a manager,” Welch said. “At the end of the day, focusing on splits is not what any career path does.”

With their teams, Welch and Figueroa noted that they were more comfortable affiliating with an existing brokerage because of the support and resources available to them.

“I think it all goes back to support system for the people you work with, and it’s a cultural base,” Welch said. “At the end of the day, when you’re looking at the numbers … what makes sense?”

Veronica Figueroa | Photo credit: eXp Realty

“I think everybody does what works best for them,” Figueroa added.

Reader, on the other hand, said she wanted the freedom to build something big with her team, which was her primary deciding factor when deciding to go independent.

And the three team leaders’ favorite new tech?

“We just implemented Propertybase, which is through Salesforce,” Welch said.

“I’m going to have to go with Follow Up Boss, I can’t live without it apparently!” Reader said.

“Optum has been a game-changer for data analytics,” Figueroa concluded.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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