As anyone who has ever tried to lead a team of real estate agents knows, team culture is the backbone of almost anything else — if the people in your brokerage click, everything from getting leads to getting those properties sold goes more smoothly. The key, however, is to understand that this type of team environment is not a stroke of luck but something brokers have to constantly work to create.
“Culture is is the key to success in your business as a team leader or as a brokerage owner,” Nicole Lopez of The PR Group said at a session entitled “Top Tips for Creating Culture and Streamlining Processes” at Inman Connect Las Vegas. “One of the big things for us this year in keeping the culture going was streamlining our team.”
Here are four tips for building a strong and productive team culture:
Streamline your team
Creating a team that is intimate and works well together is paramount. Frequently, that means making difficult decisions about who you will or will not hire but just know that, unless you have the resources and backing of a major brokerage, smaller usually works better at the start — a small team is easier to manage and allows you to get the basics down before you expand further.
“We went from 12 agents down to five,” Lopez said. “I wanted to make sure that we were able to provide an experience to our agents that was going to be conducive to building better relationships with our clients. I also wanted to make sure that our agents aligned with our core values and were champions of our culture.”
Lay out your values
Almost as critical as building your team is determining and laying out your key values as a brokerage: are you going to be a small team serving a tight-knit community? A luxury brokerage bring top-notch service? A family-run business helping people who may not otherwise afford to buy their own home? Are you trying to bring in as much business as possible or give each customer a tailor-made experience? These are important decisions to make at the very beginning of your business so that, as you bring new people onto your team, you can make sure they know and communicate your core values.
“You have to have confidence in your brand,” Creig Northrop of Northrop Realty told the audience. “You can’t be a brand ambassador unless you’re confident but your brand should also be out there. You can’t be the secret agent; your brand has to be out to be seen.”
Be kind (and make real estate fun)
It may sound trite but caring about your team is an integral part of any successful brokerage; it is what’s going to help your team members feel proud and happy to keep doing this work. This could mean fun team-building events and regular out-of-office celebrations (Lopez once hired a photographer to capture her team in 1980s rock-and-roll outfits) but could also be as simple as following up with your agents and being understanding when things are happening in their lives outside the office.
“For us, it’s been about getting back in front of the agent and making sure that they know that not only are we there for them we are also there to support them and their clients,” she said.
Keep it going
When things get really busy, it can be easy to forget about team culture as individual agents run off in all directions chasing leads.
This, of course, is the one thing you shouldn’t do because regular check-ins with the team is what will allow you to maintain a sense of unity and keep members of the team feeling connected to one another. If your team is large, this could be as simple as a weekly roundtable and some regular events, and if your team is smaller it’s even easier to schedule regular meet-ups.
Lopez has overseen a practice she calls “Feature Property Fridays,” where, once a week, members of her team would go out and tour some properties in their market together.
“I believe that you can’t oversee from afar,” Northrop said. “It is very important to roll your sleeves up and make that happen.”