“You’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said top-producing agent Dawn McKenna at Inman Luxury Connect.

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When luxury agent Kofi Nartey started to attract his new client base, he knew the people he was hoping to work for had certain expectations that he wanted to emulate.

They typically had assistants handling their meetings. Nartey was an agent on a team of one. So he decided to hire a creative “assistant.”

“I literally created a secondary Gmail account so I had an ‘assistant’ who confirmed all my appointments,” Nartey told a crowd at Inman Luxury Connect on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Kofi Nartey speaks on stage at Inman Luxury Connect on Tuesday, Aug. 8. Image by AJ Canaria

“Knowing that there were certain things that would resonate with my clients like an assistant confirming appointments on behalf of Mr. Nartey” might help win more business.

Eventually, Nartey knew he needed to value his time more by hiring a team and delegating tasks, and he soon hired actual assistants to help with the tasks of running his business.

The question of when and how to scale can overwhelm solo agents who haven’t yet built teams.

Dawn McKenna, who runs one of the biggest Coldwell Banker teams out of Chicagoland, said agents need to “lean into discomfort” when first deciding to scale.

Dawn McKenna, of Coldwell Banker in Chicago, speaks on stage at Inman Luxury Connect in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Aug. 8. Image by AJ Canaria

“I didn’t think, ‘Oh, my gosh, how much is this going to cost me? How are we going to do this?’ I just leaned into it,” McKenna said. “You’ve got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Once they’ve built those teams, agents need to be prepared to lead them, McKenna said.

“You need to be prepared to be a leader of a team. You’re running a business and selling, and you have to be 10 miles ahead of every decision,” McKenna said. “You have to think about HR and accounting and all these things that we generally as great salespeople aren’t good at. You need to do it yourself or do what I did and hire the right people to do it.”

Jonathan Spears, founder of the Spears Group & Compass 30A, recalled a time when he realized he needed to scale up.

“When I saw a client miss an experience I knew I wanted to deliver on, I had to let go,” Spears said. “I had to hire an assistant. That’s the first step.”

In the current market, he has his team focusing on the basics, client outreach and maintaining relationships, Spears said.

Those kinds of clear directives and vision are key to running a luxury team, Nartey added.

“As a leader, we have to own the vision and mission of our team,” Nartey said. If our team members cannot articulate that mission and vision, then we’re missing the mark.”

Email Taylor Anderson

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