By focusing on team development and a team-oriented culture, you can gain a stronger, more experienced team that outsells the competition.

There’s so much noise out there on how to navigate a challenging market. This April, let Inman help you cut through the clutter to make smart business decisions in real time. All month long, we’re taking it Back to Basics and finding out how real estate pros are evolving their systems and investing personally and professionally to drive growth.

Rising interest rates, expanding inflation and even bank failures are all contributing to an economic environment that has some buyers thinking about hitting the pause button on their plans to find their next home. Even where demand remains strong, those increased interest rates are also causing sellers to reconsider because they don’t want to lose the low-rate mortgage they currently enjoy.

All this combines to make a real estate market that’s often more difficult than we’ve been accustomed to in the past. During times when completing contracts is more difficult, it’s extremely important to have a well-honed team who can keep bringing in business.

At our brokerage, we focus heavily on the following four key areas of team development.

Regular sales training

In Southwest Florida, as with most areas, our housing market is constantly evolving. In fact, it’s changing faster than ever, which increases the importance of keeping a team abreast of market trends and statistics. It’s not enough to expect team members to research the market themselves; it’s much better to have regular all-team meetings to cover developing market trends.

But these meetings can and should be more than just a rundown of market statistics. With the entire team together in one place, team meetings are also a great time to go over problems team members faced. Discuss how to address them in the moment and how to prepare should those problems happen again in the future. 

These problems can range from how to save a contract when a pipe bursts in a house just before final inspection to how to prevent situations such as title companies not discovering liens until shortly before closing. Working on issues as a team and, where possible, pre-training them to have a plan of attack ready when they happen can be very valuable when contracts are on the line.

It’s important to address these problems as a team so everyone, not just those involved, learns. If these problems are avoidable, all team members now know how to avoid them. If not, they know how to navigate them when they happen.

Team meetings are also a perfect opportunity to hold more formal classes, especially if you have newer agents. From contract best practices to holding open houses effectively, you can teach a class on anything real estate related to ensure your team is trained well and is the best in the area at helping the customer.

Don’t make the mistake of holding all team meetings in the office. We do at least one community tour per month as a team so agents can learn about the new communities being built in our market. 

Service-oriented mindset

We take pride in giving back not only to our community but also to our team. Part of our core culture is that all successes and challenges are the team’s successes and challenges. We’ve created a culture in which everyone is a team member at heart. If one team member needs help, the rest of the team is only a Slack message away. 

But we don’t stop at helping each other internally. Our team emphasizes being part of the community we’re in. In fact, one of our team’s core values is that we act with compassion toward our clients, partners and team members in support of the greater good for our community

With beach cleanups, food drives, toy drives for Christmas and being ready and able to help in recovery efforts following Hurricane Ian, the team takes pride in finding community needs we can help fill. 

By living out our team-focused principles through our daily work, we create a place where people want to come and where they enjoy being at work.

Guest speakers

As a team, we’ve begun a program that brings in guest speakers from outside our market to give us insights. From hosting panels of marketing and business experts to our team coach, these events can do what team leaders alone cannot. Bringing in people from outside gives us a fresh voice with a different style. Those different perspectives can increase understanding in a way that’s hard to achieve if your team learning remains insular. 

Book club

Probably the most unexpected tactic we’ve taken to develop our team as highly as possible is our employee book club. We select a professional development book to read and discuss, starting each meeting with a review of the reading so people who didn’t have time to finish can still participate.

Our book club is valuable because it encourages us to read development books we otherwise might not, and as a leader, I personally find value in directing the discussions. Because I have to think of questions and discussion topics for the reading, it forces me to pay closer attention to the material. 

If you decide to try a book club with your team, know that it will take time to get it off the ground. Attendance may be strong at first, then fall off for a while. I’d encourage you to keep at it! Even if attendance is low early on, it’s worth growing. Being able to discuss concepts as a group opens minds and deepens relationships within the team. 

Building a stronger team not only leads to stronger sales, but also a happier team. Happy team members tend to be less prone to leaving, which further strengthens your team by keeping experience with you rather than losing it to another brokerage.

Our industry’s retention rate is, if we’re honest, abysmal. But by focusing on team development and a team-oriented culture, you can buck the trend and gain a stronger, more experienced team that outsells the competition.

Marcus Larrea is the co-founder and team lead of Palm Paradise Real Estate based in Fort Myers, Florida. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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